Frugal people and cheap people both love to save money. But there is a difference between being frugal or thrifty, and being cheap and stingy. Frugality makes you a more conscious spender. Being cheap means you try to avoid paying for anything.

Related: 30 signs you grew up in a frugal family

  1. Frugal people have the patience to cash in on simple savings strategies. They plan out their purchases, use a little patience, and buy at the right time. They are astute shoppers and look for deals, compare prices and negotiate for a lower price. Frugal people are not obsessed with brand names. They will buy good running shoes rather than the low cost version, but will pay less for last season’s model when it goes on sale.
  1. Frugal people will not try to save money at the expense of others. Cheap people are inconsiderate to others. A frugal diner will share a large entrée. A cheap diner will stiff the waitress on her tip, or put $10 in the pot to cover her $9.95 dinner, overlooking tax and tip. Cheap people will ask for extra packages of ketchup so they can fill up their bottle at home.
  1. Cheapness uses price as the bottom line. Frugality uses value as the bottom line. For items that have long or frequent use, frugal people will not sacrifice quality to buy something just because it’s less expensive – especially if it will fall apart after a few uses or washings.
  1. Cheap people are driven solely by saving money. They will try to get the lowest price on everything and are willing to forego quality and durability for price. They feel they deserve a special deal or get something for free. Cheap people can be “penny wise and pound foolish,” and will spend hours to save a few bucks. Frugal people also like to save money, but are driven by maximizing total value, including their time.
  1. Those who are cheap are unwilling – and often afraid to – spend money. Cheap people worry a lot about their money and have a fear of losing it or getting “ripped-off.” They never splurge, even when they have the money. Cheap affects quality of life. Frugality is about prioritizing your spending so that you can have more of the things you really care about, maximizing your dollars to fund the bigger picture. Frugal people have financial goals and are thrifty to achieve those goals. They can allocate resources to bigger dreams – travel, going back to school, retirement. They may spend a lot on items they really care about. Frugal people will workout in their basement or jog rather than paying for a pricey gym membership, but may own a more expensive bike.

Final Thoughts

Cheap people care about the cost of something. Frugal people care about the value of something.

There is a fine line between being cheap and being frugal, and the side you are on can make all the difference.


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