Frugal vs. Cheap: Difference Between Being Frugal and Cheap

Frugal vs. Cheap: Difference Between Being Frugal and Cheap

Frugal vs. Cheap: Is there a difference between being frugal and being cheap? Yes, there is. As a matter of fact, there is a huge difference. Although people use frugal in place of cheap, and vice versa, but that’s wrong. They both mean two different things, which we will discuss in this article.

People hate being called cheap. The society sees cheap as worthless, something that nobody wants. On the other hand, being frugal is associated with honor. You will often see people boasting and bragging about how frugal they are, especially about money and material things.

When you’re trying to sort out your finances, it’s tempting to go the cheap route, but we’d recommend leaning more towards frugality than outright cheapness.

Before we proceed with frugal vs. cheap, let’s see the meaning of each term.

Frugal vs. Cheap: What does it mean to be frugal?

Being frugal simply means the act and practice of making careful and economical use of resources, avoiding unnecessary expenses, and making mindful choices to save money.

With our current knowledge of being frugal, let me explain the meaning of a frugal person. Simply put, a frugal person is someone who prioritizes mindful spending, avoids unnecessary expenses, and seeks ways to save money without compromising on quality or necessities.

Is frugal positive or negative?

Frugality is generally viewed as positive. It involves being mindful of spending, making wise financial decisions, and prioritizing needs over wants. However, like any trait, it can become negative if taken to extremes, leading to a reluctance to invest in necessary items or experiences.

Wow, can you believe it? Almost 92% of Americans find being frugal pretty appealing!

Frugal vs. Cheap: What does it mean to be cheap?

Being cheap generally refers to a person who prioritizes saving money to an extreme extent, often at the expense of quality or social considerations. It may involve cutting corners excessively or being unwilling to spend on even reasonable or necessary items.

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Unlike frugality, being cheap is often associated with a negative perception due to a lack of balance in spending.

Frugal vs. Cheap: Differences Between Being Frugal and Cheap

While people often use “frugal” and “cheap” interchangeably, they’re not exactly the same thing. There’s a nuance worth noting.

1. Mindset towards spending

  • Frugal: Prioritizes mindful spending and making informed choices to save money.
  • Cheap: Focuses on cutting costs without considering value or quality.

2. Long-term perspective

  • Frugal: Often has a long-term financial plan and aims for sustainable savings.
  • Cheap: May prioritize short-term savings without considering future consequences.

3. Quality consideration

  • Frugal: Values quality and is willing to spend on items that offer durability and functionality.
  • Cheap: Prioritizes the lowest cost, sometimes at the expense of quality.

4. Approach to investments

  • Frugal: Willing to invest in items that provide long-term value or savings.
  • Cheap: May avoid necessary investments, impacting long-term satisfaction and efficiency.

5. Social considerations

  • Frugal: Balances saving money with social experiences and may spend on meaningful events.
  • Cheap: Might avoid social spending altogether, impacting relationships and experiences.

6. Attitude towards value

  • Frugal: Seeks value for money, considering both cost and benefit.
  • Cheap: Primarily focuses on minimizing upfront costs without evaluating overall value.

7. Resourcefulness

  • Frugal: Embraces resourcefulness and finding cost-effective solutions.
  • Cheap: May resort to extreme measures that compromise quality or reliability.

8. Flexibility in spending

  • Frugal: Adapts spending based on priorities and is willing to invest in areas of importance.
  • Cheap: Often rigid in spending, reluctant to allocate funds for essential needs.

9. Financial planning

  • Frugal: Incorporates spending plans into a broader financial strategy.
  • Cheap: Tends to focus solely on reducing immediate expenses.

10. Perception

  • Frugal: Generally viewed positively, associated with smart and thoughtful financial management.
  • Cheap: Often carries a negative connotation, suggesting a lack of consideration for quality or long-term consequences.

What are examples of frugal behavior?

Frugal behavior includes the following:

  • Creating and sticking to a budget to allocate funds wisely.
  • Using coupons and discounts to save money on purchases.
  • Planning meals in advance to minimize food waste and control grocery expenses.
  • Engaging in do-it-yourself projects to save on labor and material costs.
  • Settling for generic or store-brand products instead of name brands to save money.
  • Turning off lights and appliances when not in use to reduce utility bills.
  • Shopping at thrift stores or second-hand markets for clothing and household items.
  • Researching and comparing prices before making a purchase to find the best deal.
  • Embracing a minimalist lifestyle, focusing on essential possessions and reducing unnecessary purchases.
  • Fixing broken items or appliances rather than immediately buying new ones.
  • Purchasing items in bulk to take advantage of lower unit prices.
  • Sharing rides or using public transit to save on fuel and transportation costs.
  • Negotiating when possible, especially for big-ticket items or services.
  • Taking advantage of loyalty programs and rewards to earn discounts or freebies.
  • Growing your own fruits, vegetables, or herbs to reduce grocery expenses.
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What are signs of a cheap person?

The examples of cheap behavior include the following:

  • Choosing the cheapest option without considering the quality or longevity of the product.
  • Refusing to spend on essential items or services to save money.
  • Selecting the cheapest solution without considering its long-term consequences or benefits.
  • Cutting costs to the point of sacrificing comfort, health, or overall well-being.
  • Being overly frugal in social settings, especially when it comes to tipping service workers.
  • Avoiding necessary maintenance on items to save money in the short term, leading to more significant costs later.
  • Haggling aggressively in situations where it’s not culturally appropriate or for small, reasonable prices.
  • Declining invitations or avoiding social activities altogether to save on associated costs.
  • Resisting any spending outside of the bare minimum, even when circumstances warrant it.
  • Choosing the cheapest, potentially unsafe options in areas like transportation or housing.
  • Collecting free items excessively, even if they’re not needed, just because they’re free.
  • Being overly frugal with shared expenses and refusing to contribute fairly in group settings.
  • Avoiding necessary insurance coverage to save money, risking financial stability in emergencies.
  • Attempting to DIY critical tasks that require professional expertise to save on service fees.
  • Being unwilling to invest in education, personal development, or opportunities that could lead to future financial growth.

Real-Life Example of Frugal vs. Cheap

I am fully committed to making you understand the difference between being frugal and cheap. Therefore, I will give you a real-life example to buttress my points.

I will tell you a story about two friends, Sarah and Emily, with different approaches to managing their finances.

Sarah, a frugal individual, always prioritizes mindful spending. One day, she decides to buy a new laptop. Instead of going for the cheapest option available, she carefully researches and selects a model known for its durability and performance.

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Sarah also takes advantage of a discount she found online and opts for a slightly older version, which still meets her needs but comes at a lower price.

She’s got that frugal mindset shining through—thinking about the long-term value and quality, and finding clever ways to save without giving up those essential features.

On the other hand, Emily, a more cheap-oriented individual, decides she needs a new laptop too. Not wanting to spend much, she chooses the absolute cheapest model available without much consideration for its specifications or reviews. Soon after purchasing, Emily realizes the laptop struggles with basic tasks and lacks the durability she needs.

Regretting her decision, she’s now dealing with the consequences of choosing the cheapest option without factoring in the value or long-term benefits.

This story illustrates the difference between being frugal and cheap. From the story, it is obvious that Sarah is frugal. Her frugality was clear in the way she chose quality and value. It resulted in her buying a laptop that aligned with her needs.

On the flip side, Emily’s cheap approach leads to regrettable decisions. Prioritizing immediate cost savings, she overlooks the long-term consequences and benefits. Well, it is good that her experience taught her a valuable lesson that might even make her leave the cheap life and embrace frugality.

Top Tips for Frugal Living

Follow these tips if you want to live a frugal life:

  • Create a budget: Create a detailed budget to track your income and expenses. This will help you identify areas where you can cut costs and allocate your money wisely.
  • Cut unnecessary expenses: Review your monthly bills and subscriptions. Cancel or downgrade services you don’t need. Small savings from multiple sources can add up.
  • Cook at home: Eating out frequently can be expensive. Cooking at home not only saves money but also allows you to control the ingredients, leading to healthier meals.
  • Shop smart and compare prices: Look for discounts, use coupons, and compare prices before making purchases. Consider buying generic brands for everyday items to save money without sacrificing quality.
  • Embrace secondhand items: Consider buying used items instead of new ones. Thrift stores, online marketplaces, and garage sales can be treasure troves for affordable, gently-used goods.
  • Save money on utilities: Be mindful of energy and water consumption. Unplug devices when not in use, switch to energy-efficient appliances, and explore ways to reduce your utility bills through simple conservation practices.

Frugal vs. Cheap: Things you should never skimp on

Avoid skimping on the following things:

  • Healthcare
  • Safety equipment
  • Education
  • Mattress and sleep quality
  • Footwear
  • Legal representation
  • Home maintenance
  • Insurance coverage
  • Dental care
  • Professional services

Conclusion: Frugal vs. Cheap: What’s the Difference?

Being frugal and cheap are not the same, no matter how you try to twist it. Also, you cannot be both at the same time. So which side do you belong to? Are you cheap, or frugal?

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