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The Difference Between Being Frugal and Being Cheap

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January 15, 2016 · 4.4k Views

Source: Business Insider

We all know who they are. Maybe they’ve pulled the “I forgot my wallet” trick a few too many times. Maybe they load their plate a little too high when a free meal is provided. Or maybe they consistently ask for financial assistance without returning the favor.

Whatever the case, these habits can get extremely frustrating, and eventually lead to strained relationships. We’re talking of course about people who are cheap.

Unfortunately this negative stigma can sometimes drag the frugal lifestyle down with it. I’ve seen these two terms used interchangeably throughout the Web. It’s also glorified on the TV show, Extreme Cheapskates, for people’s viewing pleasure and amusement. It has lead to a growing confusion of what living a frugal lifestyle actually is.

In all honesty, a frugal lifestyle is an extremely positive way of living, while being cheap is not a desirable quality to possess.

Let’s dive further into what the frugal lifestyle is, and how it is vastly different from being cheap.

Cheap is selfish, frugal is a personal choice that has no negative impact towards others.

Cheap is spending less. Frugal is spending smarter.

Frugal people strive to spend their money on what they truly care about and eliminate frivolous spending on other expenses. It’s about being your own person, without being pressured to blow money on material possessions and status symbols, in order to “keep up” with the rest of society. It’s about the freedom that comes with no longer comparing yourself to others.

Cheap is fixating on cost. Frugal is spending money only on the things in life that actively bring a person value.

Frugality is about having different priorities for what you spend money on. It’s a way to be smart about your purchases and know why you are spending and saving. It’s about having awareness instead of spending mindlessly. It’s about further stretching the value of a dollar in order to reach your financial goals

Cheap is going for the lowest priced option, without considering the alternatives. Frugal is about finding the most value.

Frugal people are willing to spend more as an upfront cost if the item is high quality and will bring more value over time, especially if the item is something that is used often in day to day life. They research the best options to find the best bang for their buck.

Cheap is only focused on cost. Frugal is about focusing on what’s truly worthwhile.

Cheap is freeloading off others. Frugal is saving and spending where it matters.

Frugal people tend to teach themselves a wide variety of skills in an effort to save more money. Areas such as auto and home repair, cooking, gardening, cleaning, and more. They shop sales and stock up on essential non-perishable goods when finding a rock bottom price. Frugal people cook almost all their meals at home, instead of going out all the time.

Cheap is avoiding pitching in, cutting corners, or saving money at others’ expense. Frugal is being generous with others.

This can be financially, or also with time and service. Frugal people value community and relationships more than their own financial gain.

Cheap is squabbling over small monetary discrepancies. Frugal is letting petty differences go, because money is no longer the most important aspect of life.

Cheap is complaining and being jealous. Frugal is contentment with what you have.

Frugality is about simplicity and finding enjoyment out of activities and pursuits that don’t cost a lot of money, yet still bring a huge level of fulfillment in life. It’s about fun nights in with family and friends, centered around quality time and conversation.

Cheap people are focused on the short term, frugal people are focused on a long term outlook.

Cheap is entitlement. Frugal is no longer “needing” more.


Final Thoughts

While both of these traits are centered around spending less money than the societal norms, the attitudes and motivations behind them are completely different. Being cheap has a negative effect on the people around you, is selfish, and often comes with a sense of entitlement. On the other hand, being frugal is a personal decision that is all about choosing to spend money on only the valuable and fulfilling parts of life.

We’re all about #TeamFrugal here at DealsPlus. Be sure to check our site for all the best coupons and deals, updated daily.

by Matt Spillar
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A lifelong Bay Area native, Matt Spillar graduated in 2013 from Fresno State with a Sports Marketing degree. He strives to combine his passion for sports marketing along with his interests in finance and budgeting. In his spare time, he writes for his personal blog, spillsspot.com

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