The Difference between being Cheap and being Frugal

I was recently talking to a friend about some ideas on how to save money that were really easy to do and he laughed at me saying, “so you want me to be cheap huh?”.

A lot of people equate frugality with being a cheap-skate or a scrooge-like character but there is actually a huge difference between being cheap and being frugal.

In my opinion, being cheap is to buy the least expensive item every time no matter what, to deny any money for pleasurable activities, to be ungenerous with others, and to cut corners in order to save money.  Basically, people who are cheap have minds that are constantly obsessing and worrying and stressing about money.  Their whole world begins and ends with how much money they’ve managed to stockpile.

Being frugal is a whole different deal.  Frugality, to me, implies a knowledge that money is a useful tool to make your life and the lives of the people around you more comfortable, whether that be for the present or the future.  When someone is frugal, it means they are not spending money for frivolous reasons but putting that money away for a specific purpose, whether it be paying for a reliable car or their children’s college education or their own retirement.  They don’t deny themselves happiness but merely find different ways to enjoy themselves without spending needlessly and when they do buy something, they pick the best quality for the best price.

So, ask yourself why you’re saving money?  Those reasons should tell you whether you are being cheap or frugal.


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