Frugal vs Cheap: How to Tell the Difference


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Have you ever been the type of person who doesn’t leave a tip or leaves the minimal amount? Do you calculate how much you owe someone to the penny instead of rounding it up? If this sounds like you…you are probably cheap.

But don’t worry, in this post I will help you understand the difference between being cheap and being frugal.

Hopefully, by the end, you will see why cheapskates always finish last. Frugal living is something to be proud of.

wallet held together by clamp
Photo by Pixabay

There is a Major Difference between being Frugal and just being Cheap

Both types of people love to save money and there is nothing wrong with saving money, you just have to make sure it’s the right way.

I love to save a dollar myself. I always get water at restaurants because I just can’t bring myself to pay $2 for a drink. I also use money-saving apps like Ibotta and GetUpside

I also get my clothes from Poshmark

I clip digital coupons and real ones (yes they are still out there and no it doesn’t make me that old)

I make my own coffee at home…this morning is a good example of this. We go to eat breakfast as a family and I order water while I sip on my coffee I brought from home (but I do have really good coffee. You can try mine here.

I also wait until movies come out on DVD to watch them instead of paying $10 a person to see it at the theater. (you know you will get popcorn at the movie!!)

Being frugal is about prioritizing.

Frugal people usually have their budgets in check. They know where all of it is going and how to make it work for them.

If you need help getting your money in order…check out these posts.

The Easiest Budget for Beginners

Simple 50/30/20 Budget Method Explained

Here is some advice on things to check to make sure you aren’t being cheap…

Make sure you aren’t Hoarding

There is nothing wrong with saving useful things (this is frugal). I do this with my kids. I have a 9-year-old and 5-year-old boys. I buy the oldest clothes at places like TJ Maxx so I’m not spending a fortune on his clothes, then when he grows out of it…I hand it down to my 5-year-old. (and at his age…he could care less plus he still thinks his brother is cool…that will change I’m sure)

This is being Frugal.

If I were Cheap…I would save everything. Even if it was broken or not useful anymore. Cheap people save clothes that don’t fit and keep old calendars (I had a boss that did this…I have no idea why).

Check your Values

Frugal people still have values. They will research to figure out how to save money while still spending money on what’s important to them.

Cheap people don’t care about values and will do whatever it takes to save a buck.

These are the ones who will ask for a ride but either never give you gas money or offer to drive the next time. These are also the people who leave lousy tips. They don’t care that the waitress is making $2.30 an hour and relies on that tip to earn a living.

You Aren’t Happy

Cheap people are never happy. They do some much to save a dollar that they end up being miserable. This can make you feel lonely. If you skip social activities to save then you aren’t living your best life.

If you can’t enjoy somethings in life then what is the point?

Frugal people are ok with waiting to get the best deal and feel a sense of pride about the item they purchase at a lower price.

hands holding money
Photo by Pixabay

See the Bigger Picture

Think of ways you can still be happy without sacrificing the things you love.

Buy a nice reliable used car instead of a brand new or super fancy one. We purchased a used SUV that had all the “fancy” things for about one-tenth of what a new one would cost. My kids get to watch DVDs in the car and we were able to pay cash for it. We also utilized an offer from our Credit Union to get a 3-year warranty on it so we don’t have to worry about things tearing up and leaving us out in the cold.

Know when it is important to pay for value.

Put people above the money you would save.

Give to worthy causes.

Remember that just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean the overall value is better.

Now I hope you know the difference between cheap and frugal! Go follow me on Pinterest