Friday, January 23, 2015

Being Called Stingy

Hi Everyone,

This is not a new idea, but one that resonates with me.  There are quite a few posts within this community talking about being frugal vs. stingy so add this one to the list.  Tonight, my wife and I went out for happy hour with a few friends of ours. While sitting at the table, one of my friends called me cheap.  I'm not exactly sure why I continue to be called cheap from this particular friend, but it produces a weird feeling that almost hurts when it is said.  So I want to talk about what could make someone cheap...

A little background:  I have been friends with this individual for roughly 8 years.  We get together frequently as couples, we have puppy play dates and we invited each other to our weddings.  The first time I was called cheap was probably about 3 years ago from this individual and I believe it was because I said that I did not have cable or internet in my newly bought house.

My question to you all is:  Is not paying for cable or internet being cheap?  What is Cheap?  What is Frugal?

I've read multiple articles on this subject and I've come to the conclusion that being cheap is when you take advantage of others to save money.  It involves sacrificing good times with family or friends over minuscule amounts of money or going against social norms in order to save a few pennies.

Examples would include not buying the next round of beers for your friends after they have all bought rounds for you.  Not bringing a food dish or gift to a house warming party or baby shower.  Squeezing ketchup packets out into a jar when you go to a nice restaurant. Wearing torn clothes when going to a work function.  All of these examples involve saving money while sacrificing life experiences.  You are creating a bad stigma and not being generous.

Being frugal on the other hand is what you might expect:  The opposite of being cheap...   Now this does not mean that you should buy your friends a beer every time while out at the bar.  Being frugal means that you do not spend money when you think about spending money.  If you go to the store and you see a nice cashmere sweater for 75% off, ask yourself, "Do I need this sweater or do I want this sweater."  If you already have 5 of these sweaters in all different colors, then most likely you do not need the sweater and not buying it would mean you are staying frugal.

Other examples could include going to the grocery store and buying items when they are on sale or you have a coupon.  Running around the neighborhood and buying a workout DVD for $20 instead of a $100 per month gym membership is being frugal.  Keeping an old flip phone instead of a Smartphone is being frugal.  Saving money on cable and internet, groceries and sweaters while going on a long vacation to a place you love is being frugal.  Being frugal does not mean that you do not spend money, it just means you spend money on things that create quality, value and enjoyment in your life.

The biggest take away between the two is that there are no friends or family around to judge your spending/saving habits.  Social norms these days are to stay on pace with the Jones's.  Buying things that you do not need only to try and impress your neighbors.

 If you are just starting out, ask yourself these questions: "Do I need this or do I want this item?"  "Will this purchase better my life?"   "How often will I use this item?"  "How long will this memory last"

I do not consider myself cheap.  I never want to "be in debt" to my friends.  Whenever someone buys me something, I buy something for them around the same price point.  The occasion varies but the "debt" is always repaid.  Lets evaluate the questions above using the cable and internet or flip phone examples:  Do I need those items:  No.  I have an amazing wife that did not need cable or internet and I have internet 8 hours a day at work so why do I need a smart phone.  Will the purchase better my life?  No.  The past 3 years without C & I have been amazing for our relationship. Not having C & I allowed my wife and I to have intimate discussions about kids, money, life, etc.  How often will I use it:  Everyday.  This is good and bad but after 3 years, of not having C&I, I do not know what I am missing so who cares.  Finally, I believe the memories I have made with my wife talking and enjoying intimate time with each other far outweighs the time we would have had with C&I.

In conclusion, there is only one friend that calls me cheap and I consider it as a sense of insecurity for this individual.  I'm sure they feel that they need to bring me down/belittle in order to feel better about themselves because they are not as well off.  It does not make it any easier to shake off in the moment, but as long as the savings continue and the excess continues to be invested, the American Dividend Dream is only right around the corner!

Have you ever been called cheap?  How did you respond to the accusation?

*Photo from


  1. Great post, ADD. It resonates with me as I've found myself in similar situations on numerous occasions. My two closest co-workers don't understand why I drive a piece of junk car while their cars cost in the neighborhood of $50k each. They consider me cheap, while I consider myself practical. I don't NEED that expensive car and choose to drive one that isn't visually appealing but does what I need it to.

    I do notice that you have ads on this site so you are earning income. Therefore the operational costs of this website including hosting -- including Internet -- would be a tax write-off. Something to keep in mind in case you wanted to add Internet again at some point.


    1. Same here with the car situation. I'm proud to say I have never had a car payment because I only bought what I could afford. As long as it gets you to point A to point B safely, a corvette is the same as a prius in my mind.

      Thanks for bringing up the tax write-off issue, I never thought about that.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. ADD,

    I've had somewhat similar experiences. I faced some resentment from family. However, that wasn't really a frugal vs. cheap thing as much as it was a my success vs. their lack of success thing. Nothing we can do about those situations.

    But I think you hit the nail on the head at the beginning. Cheap is taking advantage of others. If you're a mooch, you're cheap.

    Being frugal is about realizing that money doesn't buy happiness and focusing on other areas of life that don't require large capital outlays. It's about being intelligent with your spending.

    Being cheap is hoarding money and doing anything and everything possible to do so, even if it means hurting others. Big difference.

    I also agree that the individual who keeps referencing this is insecure about his own financial situation, much like what I experienced. Again, there's not much you can do about this. I say keep on doing your thing.

    As an aside, I limit my contact with people who try to bring me down. That's how I roll, but you'll have to figure out the right situation there.

    Best regards!

    1. I read your Resentment post and had similar feelings. Last night just struck a cord so I decided to post about it. None of my family or friends know the extent to how well off we are but I have that feeling that if they did, I would face more resentment like you did.

      It is a fine line between Cheap and Frugal but I like to think I stay more on the Frugal side then the Cheap side of things.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Frugal and cheap aside, going without cable and internet is quite a feat, especially since you are blogging! Do you do all your writing at work?

    My wife and I are fairly frugal, although we don't really intend to be. Just natural savers I guess. A natural extension of that is we tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to us, which alleviates the comments and comparisons.

    Lastly, the tax write-off is a good point, and something that I do as well.

    1. Yes, I do most of my writing at work either before or after my actual work day. Sometimes I use the old pen and paper and then just type it up. My wife and I visit the library a lot which is also a great resource. Finally, to be completely transparent (and yes, this can be considered cheap) my parents live 2 houses away and have C&I. I like to think its a wash on expenses because I cut their grass, mulch, odd chores, etc. in exchange for a few hours a month. Also, they have the added benefit of seeing their baby boy haha

      I definitely married a great chick that is a natural saver herself so it makes this lifestyle much easier to live with.

      Thanks for posting W2R

  4. Great post! For those outside of the personal finance community, there isn't really a difference between cheap and frugal. There is so much pressure from society to spend money, that to do otherwise makes people view you differently. It's a good thing we're not alone in the fight for financial independence!


    1. I wonder what the world would be like if everyone saved money and invested? Could be a potential post...

      I agree that it is wonderful to have people out there with the same goals in mind!

      Have a nice day F2R30

  5. I've always replied that i am not CHEAP i am COST EFFECTIVE if it dont make cents IT wont make dollars :)
    I want all my money to work for me. Every dollar has a name.

    1. I like that idea. When the rest of my excuses run out, I'll use that one!!