December 19, 2014

Cheap vs. Frugal: What’s the Difference? Share Your Examples…

Sep12

I knew that many of you missed this post the first time I shared. I just had to revive it, since the comments are much more entertaining than the post. I can’t wait to read your new comments and experiences.

Since I write what some may consider a “Frugal Lifestyle” blog, understanding the ways of the saving money mindset is second nature to me.

I love the creative aspect of saving money.

I love that my role as a Family Manager embraces the idea of making my home a haven for pennies on the dollar.

I love the challenge to see how we can stretch our dollars and make wise, prudent decisions that affect our family’s financial tree.

I love swapping money saving idea with my frugal friends, and encouraging each other to create a new renaissance of classy, frugal minded divas.

What I don’t love is the stark contrast between making financially savvy decisions for your family, which I would consider frugal,  and just being plain, old cheap. And please believe me when I say there is a HUGE difference.

In order to save money, many have gone past the point of being thrifty and have spiraled to the point that their choices, if known to the public, would just leave a bad taste in our mouth. Often, we can slowly slide down that chasm and not even realize it, but others see it.

I understand that my choices to many may seem different, yet my hope is that they are inspirational, intriguing, cutting edge, and yes, quite possibly odd. Living this lifestyle may not be for everyone, but then being strapped with debt is not for me.

To be frugal means making wise, thoughtful decisions with what you have, so that you can give more generously of both time and resources.

It means understanding the value of the dollar and thinking long term about that value.

Someone who is “cheap” doesn’t think intentionally about their money saving. Being cheap leads to decisions where anything goes to save money and you will always choose the minimum route in order to save.. Value isn’t put into the equation, so often poor money saving decisions are made just to save a buck.

And honestly, I think it’s just perception or maybe even semantics in the words.  Both a frugal and cheap person may drive used cars, reuse Ziplock bags and have their own garden, but it comes down to the heart attitude.

My goal as we build our financial future is to not just be able to spend more, but to give more, to help others in their time of need and be a blessing through our finances. (And hopefully, you won’t even know because if I give generously and then go tell everyone, it kind of defeats the purpose of dealing with the heart attitude, right?

At the Cracker Barrel recently, we had to talk through this topic of frugal vs. cheap with our children.

Since we typically drink water when we eat out (frugal, not cheap), everyone puts a slice of lemon in their water to jazz it up. This time, they decided to add a sugar packet to their lemon water and realized that some delicious home made lemonade could be created. I was fine with this…once, but when they asked the waitress for more lemons, we quickly deduced that with five children, the amount of sugar packets and lemons needed to create fresh squeezed lemonade was no longer staying in the frugal realm, but quickly spiraling to utter cheapskate. We had to halt the creations. Adding  a little lemon to your water is one thing, but when you are purposely using other people’s resources for reasons that it wasn’t intended, then you have to rethink your decision

fru•gal – 1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.

cheap– 1. stingy; miserly:

In this next section, I will NOT lie.

I was cracking myself up for about an hour thinking of all the examples that I have experienced with cheap vs. frugal, but as I typed them, I had to erase many of my examples because I KNOW the people who have done them.

All the ones I have shared, I have witnessed personally, but my best ever post is now written completely in my mind and I can only laugh with myself and my husband. Believe me, a few of the examples would have even given you the gag reflex, but maybe some of you can share your own examples in the comments. :)

CHEAP vs. FRUGAL

  • If you stuff your purse with sugar packets when you go out to eat, you’re cheap, not frugal.
  • If you go to a fancy restaurant, order only a drink, and then eat only the yummy baked bread, you’re cheap, not frugal.
  • If you buy bakery, produce and meat when it’s marked down at the store, you’re frugal, not cheap.
  • If you save your extra napkins from the drive through and stick them in your glove compartment for later use, you’re frugal, not cheap.
  • If you sneak a cheap McDonald’s hamburger into Fuddruckkers so that you can use all their yummy toppings for your burger, but don’t buy one, you’re cheap, not frugal. (And I admit that I did that in high school, but in my defense, I did by their fries.)
  • If you’ve ever eaten out and left a Bible tract saying, “Here’s your tip for the day,”  with the ways I can get to know Christ (which doesn’t help because I already do), but then you barely leave a tip, you’re cheap (and I remember you from all my years of waitressing).
  • If you use “Buy one, get one free” meal coupons, you’re frugal, not cheap.
  • If you use “Buy one, get one free” meal coupons, but then don’t tip on the price of the full meals, you’re cheap, not frugal and shouldn’t be eating out.
  • If you grab tons of plastic straws from the fast food restaurant, you’re cheap, but if you then use them and reuse them by washing them in the dishwasher, you’re really cheap. (Seriously, you can buy about 1,000 at the Dollar Store.)
  • If you buy an outfit at the store with the intent of only wearing it once for your fancy occasion, and then taking it back, you’re cheap, not frugal.
  • If you purposely use up 90% of an item from a grocery store only to then take something back with a complaint for a full refund and free item, you are taking advantage of their wonderful return policy.
  • If you are always the one mooching off other people or always grabbing for the left over food to take home from functions, just don’t. (Although, often people do send home left over with us because they know we have a big family, but I don’t ask….)
  • If you photocopy internet coupons, you are neither frugal nor cheap. You are a crook because that is illegal, and I know you don’t want to ruin it for the rest of us couponers.
  • If you break the coffee container that holds your precious Starbucks coffee beans, you sweep the top beans up off the ground, and you still grind them you’re…desperate. ;)

starbucks coffee beans

The comments are open and ready for some good ones! Please, please, some of you share the ones that I really want to type, but just can’t bring myself to cause a strain in relationships. ha ha

31daysmore1251 This is What We are Striving Towards....Have you missed one of my “31 Days to more with Less” posts? Follow along here.


Comments

  1. I find it interesting that cheap people will sometimes spend money indiscriminately. We have clearance items marked down to $2 right now. People will buy it like crazy, even though it’s not something they wanted or need. that’s cheap, to me, and it doesn’t really save them any money.

    [Reply]

    Rubber Chicken Girl Reply:

    @janet,
    I am guilty of that…..how many years has it taken me to learn NOT to buy just anything that is $9.99!? And remodeling our home….I tend to buy cheap and have to replace it in no time. Should have spent more initially and would have spent less in the long run. It’s kind of like A Stitch in Time Saves Nine only with money. Is there a saying for that?

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    Theresa Reply:

    @Rubber Chicken Girl, I believe the term is “pennywise and pound foolish”. It is a hard habit to break and sometimes it can be really difficult to know whether it would be smarter to buy one good thing or two cheap things. Sometimes it comes down to a gamble based on how long you think you will need whatever it is.

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    Kristina Reply:

    @Rubber Chicken Girl, Penny wise, pound foolish, my mother always says…

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  2. Ha! Love ‘em. Taking extra straws/napkins etc. from fast food places is so totally wrong…

    I remember working at a department store when I was in college and so many people would return expensive dresses and designer jeans that you just KNEW were worn, but couldn’t prove it, so of course we had to give them their money back! That always frustrated me…

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  3. Love this post! I strive to be frugal, and my hubby finally “gets” it. He used to think I was being cheap, but he’s now understanding the difference. I also use my frugal ways to help others (buy items for our school clothing closet at yard sales, stockpile and share, etc.) It’s a lifestyle, and I embrace it (wearing my less-than-$15-thrifted-outfit and loving it.)

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  4. I love your cheap vs. frugal list! Too funny!
    http://ashleyanderic.blogspot.com

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  5. Oh, I’m sure I’m guilty of all kinds of cheap activities, but I think I’ve blocked most of them out of my memory.

    I do remember a couple of years ago I needed to meet my (college student) husband on campus for something. I walked our two kids in the stroller to the middle of the campus, and there was some sort of event going on. (It happened to be a campaign to encourage students to donate money to the university.) They were grilling and handing out free hamburgers, so our family of four got in line. “Two burgers?” the volunteer asked, looking at my husband and me. “Um, three. One for the kid,” we answered, pointing to our two-year-old.

    We enjoyed our burgers, watched some jugglers, listened to a musician play a guitar, and our son got all the free “Choose to Give” stickers that would fit on his shirt. When we’d finished eating, we noticed that the burger line was still pretty short. Can you guess what happened next? Yup. We went through again. But we only got two hamburgers the second time around. :)

    I don’t know if it’s cute or sad, but our kid talked about that afternoon for weeks like it was the best thing that had ever happened to him. “Can we go back to Daddy’s school and eat a burger?” Definitely one of our cheapest moments.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    oh Joanna – I do believe we have all done that. That’s a hard one, especially when it’s an event giving out free food, and you are a starving college student. lol ;)

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    Amanda Reply:

    @Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor, There’s nothing wrong with being resourceful, when you’re a starving student or a starving student’s wife, especially when you’re far from “home.” Right? ;-)

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    Teresa Reply:

    @Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor, What a great memory Joanna! Good for you guys :)

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    Traci Reply:

    @Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor, You probably paid for that hamburger anyway in your husband’s tuition and fees so I wouldn’t feel bad at all.

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  6. I love your list. One time I had a “friend” tell me that she photocopied grocery store rainchecks, so that she could enjoy reduced prices whenever she wanted. Eventually this particular grocery chain switched from white raincheck slips to blue. Our friendship weakened and I’m not sure what she’s up to now. I would call what she did beyond cheap, I viewed it as cheating.

    Cheap is participating in events with others, but not contributing your fair share. Enjoying meals prepared by others, but not recipricating (when you have the means) is cheap.

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  7. Please tell me the thing about using a tract for a tip is not real!! That is so sad. Do people really do that?? Leaving a generous tip seems like such a nice way to make someone’s day. I’ve never worked in the food service industry, but I would imagine that if a waiter/waitress worked hard to serve patrons at a table and then found a tract on the table in lieu of a tip, the waiter/waitress would just become angry.
    Loved the list!!

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    I waitressed for SEVEN years and I can not even count the number of times that happened. It is SO sad because yes, everyone in our restaurant couldn’t stand the “Christians” that did that.

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    Kimberly Reply:

    @Jens, Unfortuneately, it is a known fact that Christians are the worst tippers :( Our pastor has said numerous times that if you’re going to leave a tract, leave a generous tip, because it reflects on your church (and other Christians). We do all we can to try and break that mold! We give 20% when we get great service and when we use a coupon, we ALWAYS tip on the original amount!

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    Amanda Reply:

    I’ve also heard that a lot of famous athletes are bad tippers :)

    @Kimberly,

    Dana Reply:

    @Jens, Agreed. I waited tables as well and sometimes I would get tracts and sometimes I got Avon samples!! I’m sorry, but lotion does not put gas in my car!

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    Crystal Reply:

    @Jens, Having worked in food service for a short time (although, not as a server), I learned that if you visit a restaurant often enough, everyone there gets to know what type of tipper you are. My husband and I use a lot of coupons for meals, but we always try to tip generously. I mean, when it comes down to your reputation and the possibility of ever developing relationships with a person, what’s a couple of bucks?

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    erin Reply:

    @Crystal,

    i used to wait tables in a restaurant located across the street from a certain well known megachurch. no one ever wanted to work sunday lunch, the running joke was that all the tips went in the offering plate. lots of tracts/no tip.

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Ally C., I’m sure that all of ‘us’ were attentive, friendly, and prompt waitresses. Have you ever had a waitress so awful that you couldn’t leave a tip? A friend and I went out to eat (many moons ago) and had the most useless waitress ever. We left her two pennies. The restaurant wasn’t even full – she didn’t hustle, didn’t try. My friend had to go get drink refills for both of us.

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    sherri Reply:

    I’m proud to say that I love being frugal at a restaurants, and use b1g1 about 80% of the time we do eat out, but I ALWAYS leave the tip based on the real price as waiters don’t get paid like the rest of us do, and they still do all work even though I used a coupon.

    Here’s an example: Birthday meal at BD Mongolian BBQ, mine was free and so was the birthday sundae. My husband’s meal came to 15.98, original bill was $31.77 and I left a $6 tip.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    I wish I always had people like you to wait on. :)

    Mary Reply:

    @sherri, My husband always asks that the price before coupon is on the check so he doesn’t have to add it up in his head before he figures out the tip. LOL

    Krystal Reply:

    @Ally C., Now I have to say this is a two sided street. We often use coupons and always tip on the precoupon price. We try hard not to be needy customers as well. Here is the trouble we are having the last few years. Many wait staff are being trained on how to push your tab up. In theory this is great for them but often they are just plain rude and pushing. Just last night I overheard someone say to a customer(and loudly) “You only want water, well thats no fun”. If we don’t order a drink ( we happen to like water), share a blooming onion, get add ons and get dessert then we have gotten picked at and sent a guilt trip. Often this has gotten us ignored by our wait staff and I can only assume it is because they are miffed with us. I will never forget going out for our 9th last year and having a very unhappy meal because of all of this. I’m getting sick of being treating like this because I order what I can eat instead of gorging myself and because I happen to want water that day.

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  8. Allison C says:

    I love the list. I often say I am frugal not cheap. I alway look for the best deal for our family but consider my time and the quality of the item.
    We own a diner and our waitresses often get a tract instead of a tip. I think this is terrible and give christians a bad name. If you are too cheap or poor to tip do not go to a sit down restaurant!!

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  9. Oh I’m glad to know that I am mostly frugal…OK so I’m somewhat cheap to, but it saves money right?
    The only other thing I can think of to add to the above list is that I NEVER throw food away. The girls I work with keep waiting on me to get food poisoning, but I say if it smells OK and isn’t growing anything–I can eat it!

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  10. As a server I will attest to the fact that some people leave tracts in place of a tip, especially on Sundays after church when they come eat for lunch. I think they assume that because I am working on Sunday and obviously didn’t attend church, that I am not a Christian. It’s very frustrating and yeah, it makes me angry.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    Christian or not, it’s just SO wrong, and completely defeats the love of Christ that they think they are sharing. Ah, it’s been a few decades and maybe that pent up frustration is coming back…lol.

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  11. Not going to lie. I have been known to stroll the aisles of Costco to appreciate the fine sampling fare. Yup. I said it. I love it when they have their Cheesecake Factory samples. Oh lordy. But quite honestly, I never met anyone cheaper than my husband’s grandmother. This woman knows how to make a penny pinch ’til the little thing is SCREAMING. She will drive an HOUR out of her way so she can avoid a $0.75 toll. She’ll take SCRAPS from the table because she is convinced she will eat it and there’s no use in it going to waste. She kills me.

    I have learned quite a thing or two about the value of a dollar from her. She’s inspiring.

    AWESOME post! And FYI, your review was awesome, I hope you liked it. :)

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    @Ammie @ Domesticallyobsessed.com, You were so sweet!
    And Costco samples are open to all. ) But it works because we have purchased quite a few items that we have sampled. The beauty of marketing.

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    Abbie Reply:

    @Jens, We always take samples, but I’m not sure I’ve ever bought something after …

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    Jens Reply:

    oh, they got us at the BBQ…it was pretty close to the same price I could make it for, so it was a done deal. :)

  12. Freshman year in college, one of my “friends” from high school was rushing for a sorority. Her Mom went to one of the nicest dress shops in town and took quite a few outfits out “on approval” for her daughter to try. Of course, said daughter wore them to all of the rush events and then Mom quickly returned them all to the store.

    Not long after that, said “friend” went to the grocery store with me and she picked up a bunch of grapes from the produce section. She proceeded to munch on them throughout the entire store and then placed them on a shelf, in another section of the store, because she had decided to not buy them after all.

    To say the least, we didn’t remain friends long!

    [Reply]

    Michelle Reply:

    @Anna, That is absolutely AWFUL!

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  13. I think the difference boils down to how it affects other people. If it affects other people negatively, then it’s cheap. Meaning, if it takes advantage of a company or a person’s generosity (like purposely taking extra straw, ketchup packets, etc. from the fastfood restaurant), or if it gives the bare minimum or less (leaving minimal to no tip) to someone deserving of more, then it’s cheap.

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  14. Loving the post. Here are a few more to add to the list:

    If you purchase a movie ticket for a matinee and hang in the bathroom afterwards then sneak into a later movie, you are cheap (and committing a crime).

    If you order a water when out to eat and add your own Crystal Light packet, you are frugal, not cheap.

    If you order off of the kids menu at a restaurant (for portion purposes) and don’t tip properly (as in, don’t tip based on the kids portion price if you are an adult) you are cheap.

    If you notice a like-new pair of jeans or Coach purse in a trash can and you dumpster dive, you are frugal, not cheap.

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    Jens Reply:

    oh my goodness…please tell me you did not find a Coach purse or I would have joined you. ;)

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    pam munro Reply:

    @Jens,
    Hvn’t found purses dumpster diving – but DID find a Coach purse for practically nothing at a thriftshop & last week a Michael Kors for less than $5!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Reply:

    @Jens, I have found three different Coach purses (two ended up being knock-offs, one was real) next to the garbage cans of neighbors. The real one still had tags. Turns out the husband was cheating and it was a “guilt” gift that the wife didn’t want!

    [Reply]

    Amanda Reply:

    I think it is ok to tip on whatever you buy at a restaurant. If you order a kid’s meal than just make sure to be on the generous end of tipping for the whole meal. When I waitressed, if people left 20% on whatever they bought, I was happy and felt like I was being treated fairly :).

    @Kelly,

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  15. I agree with all of your examples! This is a really awesome post! The only thing I would do different is instead of washing and rewashing the straws you took from a fast food restaurant (I agree…very cheap) or buying of your own disposible ones (a better idea, but wasteful if you use several straws every single day), just go to the party supply store and buy the straws in really cute colors for $1. I’m an adult and I still love to drink from them and I don’t have to throw them and the paper they were wrapped in away everytime I want a straw!

    I also have been a waitress for several years and I still get angry when I think of the people who leave pamphlets instead of tips.

    Lastly, this may make me cheap, but I will never turn down leftovers if someone wants to give them to me :) I will however, try to let someone else take them if they ask. In my circle of friends, I know every little bit helps and if someone is asking for leftovers, they probably really need them.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    Trust me, I don’t turn down leftovers either. That’s why when after the football team dinner was over and they had a complete restaurant sized pan of mashed potatoes left over and no one else wanted them, I was happy to oblige. ;)

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    Lynne in NC Reply:

    You and your ‘taters :-)

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  16. Great list! I’m sure I’ve had some cheap moments, but I try to just be frugal. Oh I got one:
    While at Sam’s last week, we all ordered lunch before we went shopping. We were waiting for my nephew’s pretzel and there was one on the counter. I asked if it was ours and she said that it wasn’t and she didn’t know why it was there. (it had salt, the one we ordered didn’t)
    She grabbed it and went to throw it away and I joked, “I’ll eat it”. She gave it to me! LOL! I was joking, but I did feel pretty cheap. I’m glad it didn’t end up in the trash can though. That seems so wasteful.

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    Kassandra Wood Reply:

    @Our Nifty Notebook, that is frugal, ma’am… it was going into the trash! SCORE! LOL

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  17. All I could think about was your coffee – on the floor! Yikes!! What a morning that was. I have picked the top of something off the floor, and swept the rest into the trash. Love – Love – Love your list.

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    Mary Reply:

    @Lori, Me too!!! I thought I was frugal but with the coffee I’d have been cheap;-)

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  18. I have a question….I’ve been searching around for gently used winter coats for my boys (ages 7 & 8) but haven’t found anything yet. How long do I search and how far do I go to get a “good deal” before I give up and just spent the $24 at Costco for brand new ones?

    Thanks for the help,
    Melissa

    [Reply]

    Marian Reply:

    @Melissa,

    I think you could still buy them at Costco. Buy an extra size up so that they’ll fit for a couple of years. Then you can be frugal and still get a new coat!

    [Reply]

    Gina Reply:

    @Melissa,
    I agree! If you pay $24 but get 2 years out of them, then resell them, you’ll get better value for your dollars.

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    Sharon @ UnfinishedMom Reply:

    @Gina, Or try looking on half.com – It’s similar to Ebay, but without the auction.

    [Reply]

    hippie4ever Reply:

    @Melissa,

    Or Land’s End has a number of boy’s winter coats Overstock ranging from 19.99-24.99. You can sign up for emails, they often offer free shipping, or look online for a coupon code and if you don’t like…return to your local Sears.

    http://www.landsend.com/ix/overstock-liquidations/Boys/Outerwear/index.html?seq=1~2~3&catNumbers=318~338&visible=1~1~1&store=ov&sort=Recommended&pageSize=72&tab=8

    Also TJ Maxx has some boy’s jackets decently priced :)

    [Reply]

    hippie4ever Reply:

    @Melissa,

    Update Land’s End has an additional 20% off and free shipping with code EXTRAFALL and pin 5298 at checkout :)

    [Reply]

  19. This doesn’t exactly fit in w/the frugal vs. cheap debate, but it’s about savings, so I’ll share. I came across an old saying a few months ago and my husband and I have been trying to live by it. We’ve stopped ourselves from several “necessary” purchases by repeating it to each other: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!

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    AQHorse Reply:

    @Rachel, Speaking of wear it out – my barn work boots are there already. I bought Blundstone boots on ebay for about $50 maybe four years ago, and man, I hate to see them die. I love them, and I don’t think I’m going to find ‘em that cheap again! I’ll make do until the lining lets go (because the leather quit in one spot already).

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  20. My friend filled his freezer with boxes of Cheerios because he got a good deal. No room for anything else! That same friend helped someone pull the remains of some dead bushes out with a chain and his truck. Then proceeded to take them home and replant them. They were just brown, dead stumps!! Not sure what the two incidents would be called, but we sure had a good laugh out of both!!

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  21. I think this is my favorite post of your of all time. Love.

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  22. The one that got me was a lady at the grocery store who had two carts full of gorceries and a wad of coupons. One coupon wasn’t scanning, and she had the bagger unbag all the groceries to prove that she had the item required for the coupon. It was a 30 cent off coupon. I normally wouldn’t complain, but this was the only lane open, there was a long line, and did I mention that she had TWO carts full of groceries to go through? In that case, her frugality crossed the line to cheap.

    I think of it this way: If it inconveniences you, it’s frugal. If it inconveniences others, it’s cheap.

    ps- I’d sweep up those precious coffee beans, too!

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  23. I had a friend who worked at a charity shop {a second hand shop in Ireland where the proceeds go to a specific charity}. He and all of the volunteers would grab the best donations for themselves.

    What I thought was cheap was this was before the items were priced & inventoried.

    A frugal approach would be to volunteer at a Goodwill & keep your eyes peeled for bargain buys for things you and your family need. Then purchase them when you find what you are looking for.

    Great list. Keep ‘em coming Jen. I am really loving your postings this month!

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    Rubber Chicken Girl Reply:

    @Teresa,
    I’ve always wondered how picked over the thrift stuff is before it hits the floor. Confirmed.

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    Abbie Reply:

    @Rubber Chicken Girl, It actually depends on the store, I know many that anyone who is employed can NOT even buy items!

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  24. Rubber Chicken Girl says:

    My pet peeve is the NON-TIPPER. And I tend toward cheap I hate to admit in the area of taking all the samples from the hotel room. Is that bad?!

    College friends used to justify not tipping saying they couldn’t afford it. Our thought was that if you cannot afford to tip, you cannot afford to eat out. There anyway….we always chose (and mostly still have to) to go to a non-tipping restaurant.

    OTOH, my dh is far more generoug a tipper as he was a waiter longer than my short career and he is NOT cheap, ever. So, he tips and I don’t look!

    RCG

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    I take the hotel soap as well because they leave it for us and probably just throw it away too. I think this is included in our hotel price.

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    Carrie Gordon Reply:

    @Jens,
    Me, too! I thought I was the only one to take the hotel soap. Clearly it can’t be reused–I’m talking about the little cake of soap that we’ve already unwrapped and used. I leave the boxed soap, though, b/c it will be restocked.

    [Reply]

    Amanda Reply:

    @Rubber Chicken Girl,

    I worked in a hotel for a couple of years and did housekeeping from time to time. From experience, if you can’t tell if the products have been used then it gets thrown out. Generally anything in a bottle will be tossed but things that are wrapped in paper (and are obvious if they have been opened) will be left if untouched. Just wanted to share so you wouldn’t feel guilty. Anytime we go to hotels I take the toiletries. :)

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    Intentionally Katie Reply:

    @Rubber Chicken Girl, My husband always chooses non-tipping restaurants, too, but what people don’t realize is that servers are paid $2.12/hour. The paycheck is almost always eaten up by taxes and many servers have to share their tips with the hostesses and bus help. So they’re serving you for free if you don’t tip!

    [Reply]

  25. Here’s one that falls w/in the cheap/cheating realm: I was in the produce section of my local grocery store & watched a “lady” pick up a bunch of asparagus, BREAK OFF ALL THE TOUGH ENDS, and leave those on another grocery shelf while she checked out, and paid for, the tender tops. Yes, I know how much asparagus costs, that’s why I only buy it in February. To do what she did smacks of cheating!

    AND, if you eat dinner at 4:00 every afternoon to get the early bird special, and go to bed at 7:00 so you won’t get hungry, you’re cheap, over 65, AND probably live in Florida! :)

    [Reply]

    Teresa@where in the world? Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, That’s interesting. Broccoli was $1.99 a pound at my local co-op this week. I thought it would be a decent buy, but when I got there I saw it was all stalk and very small florets. I just left it on the produce table, I couldn’t justify 2/3 of the weight being in stalks.

    [Reply]

    Elaine Pool Reply:

    @Teresa@where in the world?, Oh, eat the stalks – they’re delicious! In Chinese restaurants, the cook peels the stalk & cuts it into pieces, then stir fries it with the other veggies. It does not taste like broccoli, but is a tender and mild-tasting vegetable. Peel the stalks & eat them. Yummy!

    [Reply]

    Teresa@where in the world? Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, I agree they are :)…but these were dry, brown around the edges & with a hole up the center. I should have disclosed this.

    I try for a 50/50 ratio when I buy though b/c my husband won’t touch them.

    I like to eat them raw like you suggest while doing prep (just like celery & cabbage hearts…)

    Anne Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, OR you are my IL’s, lol.

    [Reply]

    Jess Reply:

    @Elaine Pool,

    Funny. I’ve never done that but I have been known to get annoyed at how long the “bad” part of the asparagus is. I’ve even been guilty of thinking that the grocery does this on purpose..

    [Reply]

    hippie4ever Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, I heard an interesting tale along these lines…A young (whippersnapper) city-person ventured into the country to purchase a large sack of chestnuts. He stopped at a roadside stand and demanded the proprietor deduct the weight of the sack from the total purchase price. He took out his iphone, calculated the difference, then handed the proprietor what he believed to be a better deal. The proprietor quietly and calmly allowed the young man to make all his protestations and accepted his money. All went well until the city-person gleefully tried to load his cheaply acquired merchandise into his car: the proprietor stopped him, removing the sack (allowing chestnuts to bounce along the dirt floor) because he had not paid for it ;)

    [Reply]

    Intentionally Katie Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, I had a cashier tell me once to break off the stem of the pineapple when they’re sold by the pound so it will cost less. Of course, I only buy fresh pineapple when it’s in season for under $1 each, but apparently this is legitimate with my local grocery store. I’m not so sure about the asparagus thing, though…that’s pushing it!

    [Reply]

  26. Lue Hamrick says:

    We would take an older couple we know from work out to eat with us. I noticed that by the end of our meals, the sugar, salt shakers or other items would disappear from the table. She always carried a vinyl book bag with foil and baggies in it to buffet restaurants and would dump plate-fulls into the bag to eat later. We always had to cover their tip, since they hated to leave any money for the waitstaff. The ultimate came one day as I waited with my husband to pay the cashier. I turned to grab a mint from the counter and found an empty basket. It was completely full when we all stepped up to the counter and the wife was placing her “food” bag back on her shoulder as the sound of cellophane wrappers rustled in her bag. When we got home I told my husbsnd that we coulld NOT invite them again.

    [Reply]

    Meghan Reply:

    @Lue Hamrick,
    That is just plain stealing. Sheesh. And for not taking them out anymore, I say good for you!

    [Reply]

  27. I love this list! My husband finally gets the difference between frugal and cheap as well. My two pet peeves are these: when there is a special on anything at any store, and a coupon available, the shelves are cleared and you find out later a few people got all or most of it! Also when people take the blinkie coupons from the grocery store, and sell them on eBay – that really bugs me. I am guilty of stockpiling Kraft cheese in my freezer to the point where there’s been a small avalanche, so now when I find a cheese coupon, my husband tells me to throw it away!

    [Reply]

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Amanda, Stockpiling – same with me and shampoo this year. My husband hasn’t made me throw any coupons away, but the look on his face when I bring another bottle of $0.50 JFrieda home is priceless!

    [Reply]

  28. Ok, I admit it. Occassionally I will grab a couple extra plastic forks/knives/spoons when I get food to go so I can keep them at my desk at work for lunch. However, I recently donated some silverware to Goodwill but pulled out one of each to keep at work…thus being green AND un-cheap :)

    And I’m all for taking the trial-sized stuff at hotels. I totally think its built into the price. I also do the whole add sugar to my lemon water when eating out, but I definitiely don’t use up a lot of lemons/sugar packets.

    [Reply]

  29. I think it is cheap when you buy the refill popcorn tub at the movie theater and then refill it after the movie is over and you are leaving. Saying that, I bring my own bottle water (never soda) into the theater (in my purse) although I know the sign says ‘no outside food or drink’. I will buy the smallest bag of popcorn.

    I also take the motel soaps – (even the one that is opened and used – I know I know but they are just going to trash it). I do not take the spare toilet roll – I’ve been at a hotel when the maid forget to replace the share roll :-(

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    Don’t worry, I take the soap too…it’s ours and we paid for it and it’s perfect for my sons gym bags. :)

    [Reply]

    Mary Reply:

    @Natalie, Shampoo and soap cool. TP seems to be crossing a line.

    [Reply]

  30. LOVE this post!

    I agree with the restaurant cheapness. I served from 2000-2008 and I am a Christian who cringed when Christians sat at my table. True Story.

    Let’s see….
    If you take your stack of coupons and clear out 546,256 tubes of toothpaste, leaving none for other couponers, you are rude… I don’t know if that counts as being cheap. Ha! Ha!

    If you and your husband hit Goodwill up every other day to look for “throwback” or “vintage” jerseys because you choose not to pay $85 for the newer ones, you are Frugal… and the key conversation at sporting events! :) ((Might I add that my husband found one valued at over $150 bucks a few weeks ago?))

    If you borrow money from your neighbor and then attempt to pay them back with gas, that is in your truck in a gas can, that your company provided for their lawn care equipment… you are cheap… and a thief.

    If you remove Wal-Mart sticky clearance tags from one item and place it on another, and then ask for an over ride… you are cheap. ((Someone actually admitted this to me when I was sharing my frugal adventures.))

    If you dig through a K-Mart buggy marked 50 cents, filled with socks and undies whose packages were accidentally damaged during their opening…. Please, friends tell me that is frugal because I just did it. :) Ha! Ha!

    If you are at a church yard sale and are told, “Everything that you can fit into this bag is $3. We are just trying to get rid of stuff.” and you fold things and stack things so meticulously that you fit nearly 100 items in the bag you are…. again… please, please say frugal! LOL

    Tootles!

    [Reply]

    Sharon @ UnfinishedMom Reply:

    @Kassandra Wood, Let’s see… 1) clearing the shelves of toothpaste? Cheap! 2) Goodwill jerseys? Frugal. 3) stealing gas from employer? Criminal! 4) WalMart tag switching? Cheap and possibly criminal 5) buying open packages of clothes? – FRUGAL! 6) 100 items in one $3.00 bag – FRUGAL! That’s my 2 cents.

    [Reply]

    Kassandra Wood Reply:

    @Sharon @ UnfinishedMom, Thanks! I thought those things were criminal, too! And thanks for saying my craziness was frugal! Yaaaaaay!

    [Reply]

    Kassandra Wood Reply:

    @Kassandra Wood, Meee tooo! Yes! Most of my friends think I am crazy, too! We live in an old, brick house, drive old cars and bargain for a buck. I just keep reassuring our children and telling them it will all make sense in a few years! LOL

    Michelle D Endicott Reply:

    @Kassandra Wood, I was at a church yard sale that had everything you could put in a brown paper bag for a buck. There was a beautiful Faux fur coat. I rolled it up neatly and put it in a bag. The cashier congratulated me. She said she had been waiting all day for someone to have the guts to take that coat. That was 10 years ago and I still wear it every winter. It is a timeless classic. Now that is frugal!

    [Reply]

    Kassandra Wood Reply:

    @Michelle D Endicott, I LOVE it!!!! :) I would have congratulated you, too! Woop! Woop!

    [Reply]

    Sharon Reply:

    @Kassandra Wood, Moving a clearance price tag to another item – I’d say criminal. My brother did this on a pair of sunglasses when he was a teen and got caught. He was told to never come back into that particular store.

    [Reply]

  31. Love, love, love it!!!!!! So true, every bit of this post. I come by my frugality honestly. My mom just dumpster dived yesterday and got a small space heater and a hand-held steam vac (Bissel?) out of the dumpster behind their house. When she plugged them in, they worked perfectly!! Thanks so much for all your great posts!!

    [Reply]

  32. I despise paying retail for clothes for my family. I would say about 97% of our clothes are from the thrift store. And I do not like to pay “high” prices at the thrift store. Paying $6.88 for a almost new pair of jeans is pushing it for me. Once bought a sweater for my daughter and it was $3.88 and I debated on whether I should get it because of the price. CRAZY!!

    Also, in my frugalness (such a better word than cheap) I have been making many more of our menu items from scratch. I find that it tastes yummier, cost less, and much healthier for my family. Coupon clipping never worked out for me, but cooking from scratch works beautifully in my house.

    [Reply]

  33. When you use something that’s dangerous because it costs less, you’re cheap. This go for a variety of things – one that comes to mind is old carseats. Their expiration date is one worth heeding!

    [Reply]

    Clare Reply:

    @kriswithmany, I agree. That is such a tragedy, when you see a family with a really nice car and an old (I am talking over 10 years) carseat. Isn’t our children’s safety (and comfort!) worth the money? I won’t buy carseats used because you can’t know if they are safe. Even if you spend $150 on a new carseat that your child uses for 2 years (often it can be used longer if it is convertible) then it averages out to less than $0.50 a day! Cheap is not valuing your child’s safety over saving money! However, I totally advocate hand-me-down carseats from family that are in perfect condition and less than 3 years old-that is frugal.:)

    [Reply]

  34. My mother in law is guilty of pretty much all of these… especially the “homemade lemonade.” So embarrassing.

    [Reply]

  35. @Gina, I totally hate to admit this…. I once bought flour that was severely marked down – like to $1.00/5 lbs. The problem? The packaging was open. When I brought it home my husband made me throw it away – no telling how it had been tainted. Yes, I was having a cheap moment. Fortunately, my husband was the sane one in this instance.

    [Reply]

  36. Ok, so my hubby TOTALLY does the lemon/sugar in the water thing every time we go out. (Though, I always order a drink…soda or tea). He only uses the lemon they bring with the water and one or two sugar packets. Soooo….my question…is THAT still cheap? I guess my thinking is, the sugar is there for use, and he’s not asking for extra lemons, and, especially since I order the drink; they’re sugar packets that I’m NOT using. Interesting to think about… I know that restaurant sodas are a complete rip-off to begin with, so I feel absolutely no guilt for sure as long as I’m ordering a drink (which are always free refills, of which I normally get only 1 refill), but you’ve got me thinking about if we both were doing it. (And I just really HATE the chlorine-y taste of restaurant water, so I probably won’ t be giving up my drink any time soon….LOL). Great post!

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    haha…no, I would not consider that cheap. One glass, no extra lemons…all good.
    Now, envision five children asking for extra lemons. Note the waitress bringing out a HUGE bowl of lemons. See five children tear up at least 25 sugar packets…now that would be cheap. :) And yes, they are all mine. But, in their defense, they probably just thought they were being creative so we had a talk about it and put a stop to it. ;)

    [Reply]

    erin Reply:

    @Jessi, i’m a waitress and i don’t mind bringing extra lemons. i love it if people ask when they order the drink, saves my feet a little. homemade lemonade at the table doesn’t really push my buttons either, as long as there isn’t a huge sugar packet/lemon rind mess on the table or no tip.

    however, at my particular restaurant, there is no rule that the lemons must be washed before they are cut. so lemon abusers beware.

    [Reply]

  37. I consider myself frugal – but I have known cheap people over the years. One was a journalist who lived on free snack foods like salted peanuts & crackers given away at meetings of all kinds – He was the sort who loaded himself down with SEVERAL freebies rather than one (0r 2)- & his apt. was filled with givewaway stuff. His idea of a date was to go to a cocktail hour with munchies!
    Then I knew a woman who skimped on her clothes – Everything came from a poor box or thriftshop – but it was all AWFUL & she looked like a bag lady! She just didn’t have enuf taste to pull it off. (For ex. she still wore anklet SOCKS with dressier shoes rather than buy panty hose! whereas I bought my pantyhose at a discount via mail… ) She was the one who re-sold the carpeting she took up off the floor of her mobile home – now is that cheap or frugal? Oh – when we go out to eat hubby & I get iced tea – sometimes they will give you a pitcher – which would be good for the kids.

    [Reply]

    Lynette Reply:

    @pam munro, I’d say selling the used carpet is frugal…..but buying it is cheap!

    [Reply]

  38. My husband told me about a person he works with who has a reputation for being cheap. One time a group of co-workers all went out to eat and everyone chipped in some cash for the tip. This “office cheapskate” counted all the tip, figured the wait staff didn’t deserve such a big tip, and used part of the group tip to cover the cost of his meal!

    [Reply]

    Anna Reply:

    @michelle, WHOA.

    [Reply]

  39. These are great! I love reading them all. Here’s my embarrassing tidbit. I sign up and receive all sorts of free samples. I love it because they usually come with coupons on the product. Well, we recently ran out of conditioner and had about 8 samples of conditioner in our bathroom drawer which I then squeezed into the empty container. LOL We are still using it. I’m not sure if that’s frugal or cheap…..I’m hoping for frugal. They were free!

    Oh this is cheap. When you stay at a hotel, taking the toiletries in the room= frugal. Calling the front desk and asking what amenities they have available (tampons, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairspray) and asking for them when they are not needed but for the sole purpose of getting them for free is CHEAP.

    [Reply]

    Elaine Pool Reply:

    @Amanda, combining all the samples in a bottle is BRILLIANT! The hotel begging: this summer, my husband & I had a “plane broke down, so we have to put you all up in a hotel” situation. One couple checking in before us asked for toothbrushes, as the airline had lost their luggage. The clerk directed them to a small room next to the lobby where there were teethbresh, etc. He looked over there several minutes later, & there were 2 guys LOADING UP on everything in there – only the teethbresh were free. THAT’S cheap!

    [Reply]

  40. I currently live in Utah, where large Mormon families are prevalent. And I have known people who have worked as waiters/waitresses here who say that the large Mormon families (and Mormons in general, sadly) are the WORST tippers. That’s sad because oftentimes, these servers will work the hardest with these large families. If you can’t afford to tip nicely, then DON’T EAT OUT!

    My husband and I are both Mormon, but we always tip our servers. It’s the Christian thing to do.

    [Reply]

  41. Great list! I do strive to be frugal and not cheap.

    My teens no longer cringe when I pull out coupons, they head to the sales racks first when shopping, when we decide to eat out they ask which restaurants I have coupons or gift cards for, etc.

    When eating out we sometimes split orders (I do not need to eat an entire 4 egg omelet with a pound of hash browns and two slices of toast) or just order appetizers and share. Rarely do we order dessert in a restaurant. Often we will stop at the store on the way home and pick up ice cream, slices of cake (each gets their own – Safeway just had large $1 slices) or we will make something at home.

    I do save extra fast food condiments, napkins, spoons, etc. I have one drawer designated for them with dividers. Everyone knows where they are and they come in handy for lunches.
    Note: I do not take extra, but do not throw away what they give me in the bags.

    [Reply]

  42. Did you know that the cut up lemons served in restaurants are breeding grounds for bacteria?

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23355862

    One more reason not to drink “cheap” lemonade.

    [Reply]

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Joy, Sorry, can’t scare me with bacteria. I have yet to be ill from eating in my (not telling) years, and I think there’s a point when people become too fastidious about germs.

    [Reply]

  43. Cheap is having three college-age friends (whom I had given very nice $20+ gifts to in the past) give you a gift worth $11 (yeah, works out to a whole $3.33 each) AND leaving the price tag on! These people were all living at home and working, and their parents gave them money. Seriously? It was not even worth $11, maybe $5,-it would have been fine if it had been a great item on sale. That is offensive- don’t give me a gift at all if you are not going to take into consideration what I could really want and/or use. Frugal is making a great gift that cost pennies but is full of your time and talent. Cheap is thoughtlessly buying something inexpensive to give so you can cross an item off your list. There is thoughtfulness, generosity and good intentions in frugality, cheapness is motivated by greed. I also had someone once give me 2 candy bars for my 18th birthday-CHEAP! Also, I am all for reusing gift bags- that look new=Frugal. Crumpled, torn, disheveled ones=CHEAP! If you refuse to give nice (which don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful) gifts, just skip it. It will hurt less in the long run.

    [Reply]

  44. I went out to eat with someone who snagged a handful of straws as we went out the door. And decided that I would never do that :)

    Sometimes I do take a straw to the table, purposefully not use it, and then take it home with me though. I figure I could have used it then, but decided to save it for something else. And always save extra napkins they give you–super handy in the car! (But don’t take extra on purpose :) )

    [Reply]

  45. I took my wife to Country Buffet and tomorrow her parents are taking us to Village Inn. In both cases I checked online and found Buy One Get One coupons by joining their e-clubs. Of course, tipping is based on before-coupon prices.

    [Reply]

  46. I shred unsolicited credit card offers, and add the shredded paper to the compost heap. It composts well, plus it adds one more layer of security to my financial info.

    [Reply]

  47. Jen, this is a great post! Loved reading those bullet points & as I figured, I am frugal, but not cheap. :) Glad to know that for sure.

    [Reply]

  48. This is one of my pet peeves: “If you are always the one mooching off other people or always grabbing for the left over food to take home from functions, just don’t.” At church potlucks, it really bugs me for people to ask if they can take home a plate to their husband, mother, or whomever. Oftentimes, even before everyone who is in line has been served! If their husband, mother, or whomever wanted to eat our food, they should have come to the event! One woman at our church loves to make up plates for everyone to take home for their husbands’ lunches the next day! She feels she is being generous, but it is everyone else’s leftovers! If someone does not want to take their leftovers home, they can offer them. I do not feel that she should offer their food for them. Honestly, this really bugs me! LOL

    [Reply]

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Lady Dorothy, I understand your agitation, but I guess you’ll have to find a different way to view it (unless you plan to change churches). What if you choose to think of your potluck item as a gift? (Not the dish, mind you! Hands off my Pyrex!)

    [Reply]

    Lady Dorothy Reply:

    @AQHorse,
    Oh, I don’t really care about MY food. (Actually, I’m the pastor’s wife! LOL) It’s just that she goes around getting everyone else’s food before the attendees have finished! As soon as she’s done with “her giveaway plates”, she starts cleaning up! (She doesn’t eat much herself.) She’s scraped out people’s dishes, stacked stuff, wrapped up food — and people aren’t even done eating! She’s so bent on giving away everyone’s food that she almost doesn’t let them eat any!

    [Reply]

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Lady Dorothy, Eeek! She isn’t being entirely thoughtful. As second-in-command, I suppose it falls on you to discuss it with her – ever so tactfully. What if she had a ‘job’ to do – perhaps drink refills? – that would keep her occupied until people had a chance to eat? She could be helpful and feel good about it.

    Pat Reply:

    @Lady Dorothy,

    I know how you feel. We had an outdoor wedding for my daughter at my MIL’s house. The reception was also outdoors. Before we got all the food on the table and about 1/3 of the guest served she was wrapping up food to send home. When I told her we needed the food for the serving line she had already given 1/2 the food away. At the holidays she is known for wrapping up food before everyone is done and practically shoving them out the door still chewing. Makes me feel like not even showing up.,

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    @Lady Dorothy, I know what you mean, We had a fund raising dinner to send out kids to church camp this year, and we had been given some high quality steaks that we cooked. We ended up having a really low turnout and so people were piling cooked steaks up to take home when they had only paid a few bucks for a steak dinner. What was really frustrating is that one of the helpers was planning on selling them to her father and could of helped our kids but there ended up not being enough left for her to take to his family. We were all upset after all the work, and no one even asked, they just came in and took, definately CHEAP

    [Reply]

  49. Well….this has been a great post. I have to admit I have not been frugal or cheap most of my life. We’ve just lived without or made do with what we could afford. I have used coupons off and on over the years but not consistently. However, I have a son who is both frugal and cheap. He has found many a thing on the side of the road, by the dumpster in his apartment complex or asked his friends if they know anyone wanting to get rid of something he needs. Usually he gets it given to him. He recently bought a house at 25 and have learned alot from him and all of you! So I am in my more frugal stage right now and love all the examples. Now I wish I could find some great fashion for the prices you do Jen. I did buy a pair of jeans at TJ Maxx last week for $24.95 which is frugal for me.

    I’m loving learning to be frugal….Connie

    [Reply]

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Connie, In college my friend and I found a few very useful items at the dumpster. College students aren’t the brightest people – keeping in mind that they’re just dorky high school kids let loose from their parents. We found a vacuum cleaner, and I knew our friends could use it for parts if nothing else. The thing had a nail wedged in the beater bar so it couldn’t move (and a never-emptied bag – and tons of hair twisted on the bar). It ran perfectly well.

    [Reply]

    becca banana Reply:

    @AQHorse,
    No joke… college students don’t want to drag stuff home. Sometimes it’s a couch, a microwave, lamp, nice shelf. True treasures found at the dumpsters during finals week. :)

    [Reply]

    Rebecca Reply:

    Don’t forget bicycles! Around here, at least, a lot of my fellow students who leave for summer just leave their bikes on campus (and buy new ones when they come back!). The pawn shops make a killing gathering up the abandoned bikes and then selling them back to the students at the beginning of the next semester.

    “Unfortuneately, it is a known fact that Christians are the worst tippers :(”
    That doesn’t make sense though. More than a few studies have shown that Christians are the most generous when it comes to charity giving, why would this not be true when it comes to tipping? Personally, I think that there is a very specific, vocal, cheap group of people/demographic that leaves tracts instead of tips, but that it is not a general “Christian thing”. How would a waitress know whether the people are Christian unless they fit a specific image? I doubt our waitresses/waiters know that we are Christian, because we don’t leave tracts or try to discuss it with them.

    “If you purposely use up 90% of an item from a grocery store only to then take something back with a complaint for a full refund and free item, you are taking advantage of their wonderful return policy.”
    This is super annoying after a while. Back when I worked at Petco we had this one lady who would buy an expensive bag of dog food, use most of it, then bring it back saying that her dog “didn’t like it”. If he didn’t like it why did he eat 80% of the bag? But that was our policy, so I couldn’t refuse her. Know though, that if you do this, the employees do notice and you will get made fun of. :P

  50. Wonderfully written post! And great list. I grew up in a very frugal family… maybe sometimes bordering on cheap. My husband used to tease me about how frugal I am, but I think he’s beginning to appreciate it now. (Especially since we just found out that we are expecting our first child!) We are hoping to be completely debt free by the time of his/her arrival. :)

    [Reply]

    Tammy aka @SkipsMKGirl Reply:

    @Mariposa @ A Stranger in this Land, congrats on working towards being debt free, I hope you make the goal before your little one arrives :)

    [Reply]

  51. If you say you can’t afford family Christmas presents but have a brand new leather living room set when everyone comes over, you are cheap. I don’t even mind if that’s how you choose to spend your money, but let’s call a spade a spade.

    [Reply]

    Pat Reply:

    @Tammy aka @SkipsMKGirl,
    I think that is frugal. You bought a new leather couch to make your home more inviting, and will last years instead of some cheap tacky Christmas gifts that no one really needs or wants. You are missing the meaning of Christmas if your happiness depends on family gifts. Use the time to enjoy their couch while enjoying their company.

    [Reply]

    Tammy aka @SkipsMKGirl Reply:

    @Pat, I think it’s the ‘can’t afford’ part that makes the difference to me. I don’t mind if someone believes that it’s a better use of funds (I agree) and I don’t mind if someone says they simply choose not to participate (they don’t owe me an explanation of their budget decisions). I was thinking of a time a person claimed not to have $10 for a kids-only gift exchange at the last minute, when she was hosting, but she had new furniture she hadn’t planned on purchasing…and talked about it the entire gathering :(

    We also knew a couple with twins when we were new parents that routinely used seasonal items then returned them to the store at the end of a season. They were literally banned from returning items at certain local stores. I just think that is sad :(

    [Reply]

  52. Frugal is a mindset

    … cheap is normally taking advantage of a situation by doing something borderline unethical! Great post!

    [Reply]

    Tammy aka @SkipsMKGirl Reply:

    @Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish, what a great way to summarize ‘cheap,’ I guess that actually makes Pat reply to mine more understandable to me…this person’s behavior wasn’t necessarily unethical…just disrespectful in my opinion.

    [Reply]

  53. Here’s one of my favorite cheap stories. My friend was so proud of himself that he pulled this off. He bought a winter coat at the Gap that he really needed, but didn’t like the price so never took the tags off and wore it. He eventually (in the Spring) decided to take the thing back. Didn’t need it after all. While the clerk is processing the return, he asked her what she was going to do with it. Just out of curiosity, he said. She said “put it on the clearance rack” (winter coats were long gone). He asked, “for what price?” She looked it up and said $9.99. He said, “I’ll take it!”. And he bought it. Right there, right then. Without even the walk outside and send your wife in to buy it… I think that was cheap. And maybe frugal too–he did get a nice coat. :0)

    [Reply]

    Teresa@where in the world? Reply:

    @dawn, You know, your story reminded me of a good frugal tip I learned in college, but rarely use since I haven’t needed to buy clothes in years (thank you overspending in my 20s).

    If you pay full price for an article of clothing at a retail store & it goes on sale within the first 14 days, bring your receipt back to the store and they will adjust the price down for you (usually for store credit).

    I just checked Banana Republic’s (the place I learned about this) website & they still have the policy…check your favorite stores “Price Adjustment” policies before you shop!

    [Reply]

    Elaine Pool Reply:

    @dawn, Sorry, I couldn’t tell from your syntax, but did he not take the tags off and not wear it, or did he not take the tags off and DID wear it? If the latter, that’s cheating; the not wearing and then buying for the clearance price is cheap!

    [Reply]

    dawn Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, sorry that wasn’t clear. he left the tags on and did not wear it. CHEAP. right?

    [Reply]

    Elaine Pool Reply:

    @dawn, Cheap, indeed!

  54. I’ve learned that If I’m splurging for a Starbuck’s drink, I’m grabbing an extra straw because inevitably one of my 7 kids will knock it out and it will fall on the floor. ;o)

    Since we’ve taken our eat out money and put it into our grocery fund, we have more money to eat healthy whole foods instead of cheap processed foods; we’ve saved more money on OTC remedies and tissues eating healthy over cheap! We weren’t sick much before but we’ve had amazing health since making the change.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    With the price of a Starbucks, you definitely go for a few extra straws. That example was for those people that stuff their purses…;)

    Eating whole foods really does make a difference, doesn’t it?

    [Reply]

  55. Loving this discussion!

    On a more serious note, here is another recent article on frugality that I really enjoyed: http://www.challies.com/christian-living/the-heart-of-frugality

    [Reply]

  56. And Jen, I did want to ask you and lots of your followers – do you guys use spaghetti sauce from a jar? I’m sorry, but to me, that’s not really frugal. Hunt’s pastes & (unseasoned) sauces in cans are really inexpensive, and I could teach you how to make 4 different flavors of spaghetti sauce in one paragraph, with under 10 minutes of prep time. I understand that it’s easier, but not nearly as tasty as fresh (said the Italian momma), and some of those things are full of preservatives!

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, well, if I was paying much full price for it, nope, not frugal, but I only buy it when it’s almost free and I can’t make my own for that. But you’re right, not nearly as healthy, but with our schedule, sometimes it’s just about ease. On my great meal planning months, I have lots made up to use, but that doesn’t always happen. :)

    [Reply]

    Johanna Reply:

    @Jens,

    Perhaps, though, would you be willing to have Elaine write a guest post for you and teach us all how to make “4 different spaghetti sauces, each with under 10 minutes prep time”? That sounds frugal — and yummy!

    [Reply]

    Elaine Pool Reply:

    @Johanna, Ooh, that would be fun! Although, I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. If Jen would like it, she knows where to find me (right here):)

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, I refuse to buy pasta sauce in a jar. Aside from the discomfort of onion chopping (snif), sauce is quick and easy. Dear readers, PLEASE watch Cooking with Lydia (or Lydia’s Italy) on PBS, or find her books/recipes online! Lydia Bastianich whips up some excellent sauces that are quite simple to make. She’s also frugal.

    [Reply]

    Terri Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, I buy sauce in the jar when it is free with coupons, or drastically discounted… and then I give to our church food pantry. I buy the giant (128 oz?) can of crushed tomatoes at Costco and make sauce in the crockpot, freeze it in (free with coupons) ziploc containers, and it is ready to quickly thaw in the microwave for easy dinners. My meat is also cooked separately, and frozen. I can combine them for spaghetti, or use the sauce alone on pizza. Before I make my sauce, I usually ladle off a cup or two of the tomatoes and make salsa, too! Blessings!

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    @Elaine Pool, ME? Get my toes stepped on? Hardly. ;) If you’d like to do one, that would be great.

    I have about 100 pics of food/recipes on my camera that I still have to write posts for that never get written, so if you want to do a recipe post on homemade pasta sauce that would be great. When I do make homemade sauce, I always do it to taste with no specific amounts, so I’d love for someone else share 4 different homemade sauces in ten minutes. :) (With pictures of the process?) Let me know.

    [Reply]

    Elaine Pool Reply:

    @Jens, That sounds like TONS of fun! I’ll start thinking of logistics for cooking, while you start thinking about logistics for posting! Yay, collaboration!

    [Reply]

  57. Jennifer H. says:

    I’m very frugal, but I think that most of the “cheap” items you mentioned would be considered unethical. If I have the hint of something being unethical, it probably is! You made a great point about using items for their intended purpose.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    @Jennifer H., You are absolutely right. :)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer H. Reply:

    @Jens,
    And I must point out that my husband sometimes has the greater conscience than I do!

    [Reply]

  58. Cheap – Going into McD’s later in the day with the cup from that morning or another day and refilling it.
    Also Cheap- Taking condiments from a restaurant to “stock up for the weekend” or fill your desk drawer.
    Known all these.
    I have, however taken a few extra straws to use in the van when it is one of the MANY times that they have left them out. And only for that reason. I know – cheap, but not so irritated at the restaurant employees any more when they forget the straws.
    I do keep the napkins & condiments that are leftover in the bag only, though. The napkins stay in the van and the condiments go in a container in my pantry (that container is emptied out every couple of months because they do have a shelf life – have you ever squeezed mayo that has expired onto your beautifully made sandwich?)

    [Reply]

    Susan Reply:

    Even worse – carrying your McD’s cup into Whataburger and refilling it at the soda fountain. My daughter works at Whataburger and she has witnessed this many times.

    [Reply]

  59. I am a receipt keeper and a couple of times I’ve bought something such as expensive bed sheets the day or so before they’ve gone on sale at the same place (such as Target in the centre where I worked). I’ve gone back, bought another set on sale and then returned the set I bought on sale with the full price receipt. If I’d already used the sheets at home, then it would have been cheap but I think if I haven’t used the ones at home yet, its the same as if I’d brought the ones at home back.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    My mom has done that before. Many stores even have that policy.

    [Reply]

  60. Cheapest story I know – Many years ago I went to a seafood buffet with friends. One person brought along a plastic container in her purse that she filled with shrimp. I was mortified and have never forgotten this. It was 30+ years ago, too.
    Frugal tip – Save the tissue paper from gifts to use when you need to crumple paper for the bottom of the gift bag.

    [Reply]

    DeeR in OKC Reply:

    I like to run the leftover tissue thru my paper shredder – makes great “fluff” for gift baskets.

    [Reply]

  61. Great post!!! We’re only recently trying to be frugal, and I can see the fast road to becoming cheap by accident!

    [Reply]

  62. Growing up in a family of six kids, eating out was a real treat! We were sooo excited when our parents would take us to McDonald’s! But my Dad was so ultra cheap…he would ask for 6 courtesy cups (the small ones) and then buy a large, re-fillable soda. Then he would fill all our cups up and get some free re-fills on his soda! How cheap is that! I’m glad to say that all 6 of us kids have grown up now, and are not carrying on that tradition with our children :)!

    [Reply]

  63. Great, great, great post, Jen. Years ago when our kids were little we figured out every time we ate out x 3 drinks + per year, would be ONE plane ticket to somewhere fun. At that point, our kids drank water. They still do to this day. Habit I guess! Really loved this post.

    [Reply]

  64. If you don’t buy candy for Halloween, but are willing to take your kids trick or treating for an hour, then come home and pass out all but 5 pieces of their candy you’re cheap, not frugal. (I heard an acquaintance boldly share that “money-saving tip” at a party last week…)

    I will admit that when I’ve RUN OUT of candy in past years, I’ve snagged a few pieces of my kids’ candy for the 8:30-9pm teens that are still trick or treating with their full pillow cases, but that’s after I ran out of what I purchased!!

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    @Intentionally Katie, Katie – that is too funny, and yes, I would definitely “Steal” my kids candy in time of need. Honestly, they do not need that candy and I let them pick out their favorite pieces and then they have to dump it into our “community pot” to stretch over the next month or two. :)

    [Reply]

  65. I like to make clothes for my daughter, but as she grows I keep needing to make different sizes. With the multi-size patterns that are commonly available it can be hard to cut out one size accurately without making it impossible to use the pattern again for the next size up. My “frugal” solution is to trace each pattern piece onto light colored tissue paper I’ve saved from gift wrapping. I label each traced pattern with the pattern number, the piece number and the size for future use. This makes sewing different sizes from one pattern easy. However, I think it would be cheap to resell the uncut pattern after I’d traced all pieces…

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    @Theresa, That’s definitely not cheap, that is smart and savvy. :)

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  66. I never realized that you were suppose to tip for the whole meal, especially if part of the meal was free, ie: like a free kid’s meal. I learned something, I always thought that it is whatever you get charged for and that you pay a certain percentage on that.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    @Michelle, I think it’s just because I waitressed for so many years that this particular one would stand out to me. The kids meal wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but imagine if you had a table with three couples, each using a buy one, get one free coupon (which is awesome, BTW). You would do work for a $75 meal, but then the bill would only be $37 and people tip on the $37. :) That is a tricky one if people don’t know, so no worries.

    [Reply]

  67. Were you in my kitchen last week when the coffee canister slipped out of my hands and hit the tile floor? Worse than the scenario you pictured, our Costco beans were already ground – aarrgh! I’m not even going to tell you how I dealt with that! Let’s just say it’s not as gross as what my husband would have done in the same situation – he believes in the 30-second rule.

    [Reply]

  68. oh no….. this is probably cheap:
    We live in an apartment complex, and I have been guilty of raiding the trash can by the mail boxes at least a couple times in the 3 years we’ve been here: Once for a coupon to a coffee shop that was for “Free coffee and bagel” (no purchase necessary!) another time was for $10 off $10 purchase at Kohl’s (explained to my eye-rolling husband: “babe! that’s like grabbing 10 dollar bills out of the garbage can!”) Though I forced myself to give (…most of….) the extras away since the policy read one per customer. (figure this is cheap since I insist on doing the digging in the cover of darkness at night! haha, any time you don’t want to be caught doing something it’s probably because you shouldn’t!)

    but FRUGAL i think, is using that 10 dollar coupon for an item that’s 10 bucks, that you already needed to buy anyway, and walking out only 34 cents poorer. :)

    Thanks! fun post!

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    If I had recycling bins right by me and I knew that all those Sunday coupons would be there waiting for me…I’d go for it too. So, if it’s cheap, we can be there together, but I see it as saving our landfills. and reusing…now that’s smart. :)

    [Reply]

    Michelle H. Reply:

    @Jens,
    Thank you! When I take our papers to the big recycling bin at the local elementary school I grab any coupon inserts I see on the top. I never do this if anyone is around to see, of course. : )

    [Reply]

  69. Jennifer, I just found your website and was so happy to see your familiar face from our old iP site. Your blog is great and very dear to my heart. I have definately fully embraced frugality and love couponing and getting things I would already get for next to nothing– or better! One area I often struggle with in my head is the line between frugality and cheapness. It is a balancing act. What do you think about this in the area of gift giving? For instance, if I get something nice, still in packaging, from a yard sale for $5 but I know it would be $30 retail (although I would never pay that much for it) is it okay to give as a gift? Should I ‘fess up if discussing the gift? Similary, often in my wanderings while getting stuff for my kids I’ll come across a super red hot bargain and buy it for the gift closet. When gift giving time comes (this is very common at baby showers) I usually just grab five or six of these. Problem is, I know many of my friends know I am frugal like this and worry they will be offended that the gift wasn’t purchased personally for them (even if it is appropriate and would have retailed for as much as I would expect most gifts retailed for). I don’t want to be considered cheap or thoughtless but I also don’t want to spend money unnecessarily.

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    hi bonnie…refresh my memory of what the IP site is?

    And yes, this is actually a post that I am working on as well. Having a gift closet is wise, not cheap. As much as we would love to lavish our friends with personalized presents every time, it’s just not feasible and isn’t the best use of money. Our culture has gone overboard on “Stuff” and I think the parties and the amount of money spent on even kids bday gifts is crazy. I love knowing that I can give a wonderful gift (not cheap), without breaking the bank. Otherwise, sometimes people just don’t want to come to the festivities because they know they can’t afford the gift and I know that’s not what the hostess would want either. I don’t think you need to fess up…
    But I am working on a post for this….sometime. :) It’s titled in my drafts…lol

    [Reply]

    Bonnie Reply:

    Jen, I was referring to iParenting, didn’t you used to keep a journal there? I kept one for a while in Babiestoday then Toddlerstoday for my daughter Ella (now 9 with two younger sisters). Anyway thanks for the feedback. I started my frugal gifting (and regifting) initially around the birthday parties and didn’t feel guilty at all. It is more the personalized presents for my good friends that has been bothering me, although I DO continue to do it and feel pretty okay with it. I mean, they are NICE gifts, just not personalized, and perhaps implying that I spent money that at didn’t.

    [Reply]

    AQHorse Reply:

    @Bonnie, You sound frugal and wise to me. You can’t always find the ‘perfect gift’ within the time provided, and you may not have funds available. Your gift closet sounds like a treasure box, packed with special items that will make your friends/coworkers happy when the occasion arises.

    [Reply]

  70. It saddens me when people are poor tippers or do not tip at all. We make it a practice to always tip 20-25% whether it is added in or required or not. In our community we have found this has been a very positive witness for Christ (we are pastors). We are not wealthy people and could put this money to good use elsewhere however, we want to live and share everything we have with generosity and this is one way to do that. I love your post and your heart in writing it!

    [Reply]

    Lady Dorothy Reply:

    @Julie,
    I agree with this whole-heartedly!

    [Reply]

  71. Jessica Y says:

    I have a question for the former/current restaurant servers. We normally pay with a debit card. Sometimes you pay up at the cash register and not the server( eg., Cracker Barrel.) I generally leave a tract at the table, but always pay a tip at checkout. Would you just assume I was a loser Christian not tipping or do you find out quickly that someone paid you via debit/credit?

    [Reply]

    becca banana Reply:

    @Jessica Y, I wonder if you could either give it by hand or just pass in a situation like that. It is so important to witness and spread the Gospel, but I can imagine that it might come across as an “out” to giving a tip (even though you are tipping at the register). People need to hear our words of love and get to know Jesus through getting to know us personally. I wouldn’t be thrilled if a political flyer or Avon brochure was left for the waitress and I think they aren’t especially thrilled about a tract. Anyone else?

    [Reply]

    Carrie Gordon Reply:

    @Jessica Y,
    Jessica, You’re not asking me, and I’m not a former server, but after reading all these comments from former servers, I think it’s safe to assume those folks have all the tracts their hearts could desire.

    [Reply]

  72. I can’t believe you wrote a post on this! It’s totally ok that you wrote a post on this, but i have the same thing in draft form for my up and coming blog! The crazy thing is that I even have the dictionary definitions!!! i actually talkd about this when I spoke on frugal living before. Great minds think alike! Or maybe it’s frugal minds. I laughed out loud at the coffee beans because I could see me doing that too!
    Very excited to meet you at relevant!

    [Reply]

  73. Amanda Hagler says:

    I waitressed all through college and experienced something even worse the tract-ers while I was working at Olive Garden… the all you can eat tippers! So many people would come in and eat 4 or more bowls of pasta and tip on the original $7.99 price! I once had a single man eat 11 bowls of pasta over a 2 hour period of time and he only left me a DOLLAR!

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  74. I can’t believe that I forgot my best tip. I keep 2 liter soda bottles with water frozen in the freezer. It’s a win two times. It keeps the freezer full, which means it runs more efficiently, and I never buy ice for the cooler. Frugality is such a part of who I am that I didn’t even remember this until I needed the ice bottles for the tailgate today.

    [Reply]

  75. Once I went to clean off a table and the person left me a penny in a shallow bowl of syrup. Cheap and mean. I quickly dipped it in a glass of water, dried it off and met them by the coat rack and said, “Sir, excuse me, but you left this at the table.” and handed him his penny. He was a bit stunned embarrassed and didn’t quite know how to react. But I walked away with a smile and triumphant feeling. Working graveyard shift was rarely fun during bar rush times.

    [Reply]

  76. I remembered another one! This is definitely cheap!

    A while back in Australia they withdrew all 1c and 2c coins from circulation, leaving 5c as the lowest physical currency. Things can still be priced at pricepoints ending in 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9 cents but at the point of sale, if paying cash, the price is rounded up or down (1 and 2 cents down to 0, 3 and 4 cents up to 5, 6 and 7 cents down to 5 and 8 and 9 cents up to the 10).

    Anyway when this first happened I was working in a supermarket and I heard of instances where people would want their whole load of shopping processed item by item and pay by cash so that items would be rounded down saving them a maximum of 2 cents on each item ( thats only if every item was a round down item anyway). So even if they had 100 items in their trolley, they would save a maximum of $2 and in the mean time inconvenience sooo many more customers.

    [Reply]

  77. I’ve got another one that’s affected me recently.

    Frugal – going to coffee shops and restaurants on Sunday mornings and taking the coupon inserts that people left on the tables because they didn’t want them.

    CHEAP – Buying ONE paper from a newspaper dispenser, and then STEALING the coupons out of ALL the other papers in there. I buy newspapers out of the dispenser at my apartment, and the last couple of times, ALL the newspapers inserts had been gone. I thought maybe it was just a careless carrier, forgetting to put them in the newspapers, but when I called the newspaper offices, I found out it’s been happening all over town.

    [Reply]

  78. Frugal *is* getting the big kids meal at Fuddruckers because they don’t care about your age there. You get a great burger PLUS a bonus chicken strip AND a cookie! All for one low price. :) Kelly

    [Reply]

  79. I’ve a friend whose father takes the tip that she leaves for himself leaving no tip for the server. He says if she can afford to tip then she can afford to give the money to him! And she always pays for the meal so he makes money out of going to dinner with her!!!! In the uk we get a lot if families that think it’s ok to let their kids eat a packet of crisps in the store and then leave the packet on the shelf and not pay for it, that’s cheap!

    [Reply]

  80. I giggled at your lemonade story remembering a similar story of my own. When I was in high school (I’ve always been frugal!) I was out to eat with some friends. We had taken our own Kool-Aid packet and asked for a pitcher of water. Once the restaurant discovered that we had used that pitcher of water to make our own Kool-Aid, they added a pitcher of lemonade to our bill. I think it was around $15! It seemed like a good idea, didn’t it???

    [Reply]

    Jens Reply:

    oh my…that is funny. What a great story, but wow, $15? I would have been dying. lol

    [Reply]

  81. Cheap is when you go out with a group of gals and when it comes to splitting the bill, someone nitpicks down to the penny and then doesn’t want to go in on the tip. Our family does not go out to eat, unless we can order what we want including drinks and tip without any guilt or blowing the budget. If we cannot do that (and we use coupons all the time for eating out), then we don’t go. If it causes stress or you can’t afford it, it just isn’t worth it.

    [Reply]

    Teresa@where in the world? Reply:

    @Deb, The nitpicking! What a great reminder. We have friends who pull out calculators at dinner. My husband and I live on a tight budget, but would rather round our meals up and pay last in order to avoid this bad habit!

    [Reply]

  82. I had a coworker that drove her fancy Mercedes Benz SUV to Cotsco to eat lunch out of the sample items they usually have at noon.
    Another “friend” when we where young and working at the mall, she would get there a few minutes early, head for the big expensive department store, use their makeup and perfumes before heading to work.

    [Reply]

  83. I have a friend who travels a lot, and brings me back the hotel soaps, shampoos, etc. Since my husband walked out on the family last year, we’ve really had to figure out ways to stretch the budget. I shave my legs with the conditioners, use the shampoos for handwashing items, and grate the soap to make liquid soap. It’s been kind of fun, actually, to figure out how to make do. I’ve also started to make a lot of my own cleaners. White vinegar and baking soda will clean just about anything (and food stamps will cover them.) I’ve always been frugal, but this time has shown me how much waste has still been in my life.

    [Reply]

  84. Frugal or Cheap?
    I only shop at BJs warehouse, avoiding the $45 annual fee, when there is a free sign up month. Usually there is two free coupons per year. After signing up about 10 free times, a store employee asked if I wanted to pay like the rest of the people and contribute my fair share? I replied no thank you. I continue to use the free month coupon when BJs sends it to me.

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  85. I went to a buffet restaurant, where they serve wonderful hot rolls and honey butter with their buffet. i witnessed someone ask for extra rolls and then stuffed them all in her pocket, with the butter packets to take home!! then, she went over to another person’s table (who had left) and took the rest of her rolls and butter and did the same thing!! i was shocked!! i asked the waitress if what i saw was true and her response was simply, “yep!”. cheap and soooo disguisting!!

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  86. OMG, Im loving all these comments!! What a fun post! My favorite “cheap” story to tell is about former coworker. He was so cheap he saved his cups from all the local fast food restaurants. Every day he went out to lunch and took a cup out of his desk for whichever restaura nt he intended to go to and got his free drink every single day! One day we decided that we would fix his wagon and Polk pin holes in the bottom of every single cup! It took him three days to realize we had sabotaged his entire stash. He literally threw a fit and ranted for weeks how many years had taken him to build that supply up! The punchline to this story of that this man was a very high paid engineer whose wife was a doctor. He was proud of being cheap and was always looking for new ways to take advantage of the system. Fortunately, I’ve been frugal but purposely cheap.

    [Reply]

  87. I think it’s just wrong to eat 90% of something and then complain to get a free item and a refund. If someone is going to use that much of something then they’re an owner. The store shouldn’t take the loss because customers are cheap.

    [Reply]

  88. DeeR in OKC says:

    Reading thru these comments I realized how closely related cheap is to cheat. Only one letter difference. Love this post, love this blog also.

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    How did I not thing about that? You are SO, SO right!! One letter away, but it makes all the difference!

    [Reply]

  89. Annette Conrad says:

    Jen,

    I love all your ideas and have learned so much from you in saving money, etc.

    My thoughts on this “Cheap vs Frugal” is that in many of the examples when you stated that this
    was “cheap”—I think often it really is not just “cheap”, but downright STEALING. For instance, taking extra sugar packets and putting them in ones purse to take home. Also when people just leave a Bible tract and not a tip, shows no respect for the server/waitress and is such a poor witness for Christ. When one does not tip on the full meal (due to having a free entree meal or a discount coupon) then they are not “cheap” but stealing away money from the server because they count on tips for income. Just wanted to set this straight. We should not “kid” ourselves in thinking were are either “cheap or frugal” because, we really are sinning by cheating someone out of their rightful due. Jesus was always loving and gracious to others and said “Love your neighbor”—so if we are to love our neighbors (people in our lives) then we should be obedient and treat them with love, kindness and fairness, not cheap or stealing from them.

    [Reply]

  90. Personally, I usually find out that I’ve been cheap the hard way…and the lesson is normally an expensive one. All too often I have purchased something without doing enough research, and ended up regretting the purchase.

    Case in point ~ putting new carpet in my two-story house…all I could see was the bottom line…so I didn’t ask all the questions I should have about things like padding thickness, stain resistance, durability against wear, etc. So I wasted $4000 on a carpet that has half the padding (and believe me, when we are on the floor wrestling with the boys or the dog we feel the lack!) and at two years old looks far worse than the 7 year old carpet that we replaced! Cheap!

    I find that I can be effectively frugal when I make educated decisions.

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    MEredith – that is a GREAT point! And trust me, we are replacing our carpet this year. I will GO with the high grade padding.

    [Reply]

  91. sheri grennille says:

    i’m back to the straws – my husband and i rarely use them – do the straws that waitresses toss on the table have to be thrown away or are they reoffered? maybe we should do a better job of saying no, and make them not put them out or take them home so we at least use them when we have a smoothie or frozen drink…

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Once they are on the table, they have to throw them, so if there are extras on the table, my kids snag them, which I totally think is fine.

    [Reply]

    sheri grennille Reply:

    @Jen,
    thanks, that’s pretty much what i thought. i will have to make sure we refuse or keep them in the future. we could always keep them in the car for when we get take out sodas and need a straw.

    [Reply]

  92. OH, brother, I am loving these comments! Yup, frugal crosses the line to cheap sometimes, especially when it harms someone else or ourselves. It’s just not worth it.

    My Uncle Bob was frugal, bordering on cheap sometimes. One time, he found a “great deal” on cans of tuna he bought, which were brown, full of bones, and smelled like cat food (he offered some to my mother, who politely declined). He also had a really decrepit, much (and ineptly) mended ladder that he had out in a walnut processing plant my family runs, and which also employs several people. My dad likes to tell the story of the time my grandpa took that ladder, looked Bob in the eye and put his foot through every single rung, shattering the old brittle wood! Then he marched the pieces over to throw them on the burn pile. Nobody is more frugal than an old farmer like my Grandpa, but he wasn’t cheap — risking injury or a lawsuit isn’t frugal, just cheap and dumb.

    [Reply]

  93. As a youngster in church many years ago, I watched as a man sitting in front of me turned around and reached into the offering plate, making change as the plate passed in front of me.
    I was about 11 years old, and I’ve never forgotten it!
    Cheap? For years I’ve said yes.
    But maybe it’s better to give a little than none at all!

    [Reply]

  94. I worked in food service years ago for a short time. Many people who work Sundays would rather not. They would rather go to church or just don’t feel it’s right. Employers require them to and they have no choice over their schedule. I feel it would be better to give a bonus tip on Sunday to make up for this sacrifice if you choose to eat out on Sunday or holidays. I was a single mom and once went out with a friend that was also a single mom. She complained about her’s and her daughter’s food. She ended up with a totally new entree as well as keeping the original meal and complained again, getting her bill free. I felt the food was good and couldn’t understand the complaints. She had all the food packed to go after the meal. By the time we left I was terribly embarrassed and have never been back to that restaurant. I’ve never gone out to eat with her again either. The location had been her choice. CHEAP and unethical!

    [Reply]

  95. Great article! This is always such a debatable topic. I think it all comes down to everyone’s particular background.

    I took a stab at trying to define the difference here if anyone is interested: http://www.moneyahoy.com/the-difference-between-being-frugal-and-cheap/

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  96. When you buy make-up at 70% off, in a town that is 30 miles from your house, to get home and realize that you didn’t get the 70% off and spend the difference in gas to go back and complain to get the 70% off, is cheap.

    To complain about the price of gas, but make several unnecessary trips to the store is cheap.

    To not correct the cashier when something rings up in your favor so you can get the cheaper price is cheap and dishonest.

    Getting upset with your child because she accidentally put $10 into the Salvation Army bucket instead of $1 is cheap. Guilty as charged! But I quickly corrected myself and told her how proud I was of her.

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  97. I love this post. Here is my cheap mama moment:
    We have three little girls and one huge extended family. We often get hand me downs from the older cousins. I used to bring the items that we couldn’t use to st. vincent dupaul, but someone who worked there told me that they don’t even open the bags, they have to pay money to bring them to the dump, as they have way to much stuff. So I started bringing the items to our local children’s consignment store, and when they sell, I use the store credit to get something the kids need, I don’t take out the cash. I do tell the moms who are giving us the hand-me downs this tidbit, in case they want to give to someone else, but so far they are just happy that I take it off their hands. If one of my friends needs an item, I will give it to them before I sell it at the consignment store. I think it’s ok b/c I tell the person, what do you guys think? I also trace sewing patterns over as I have the 3 sizes to sew for, and we save our “extras” (napkins, etc.) from restaurants but don’t take them just to hoard! Also, I will make the cashier re-ring an item that she didn’t see the coupon for, even if there is a line. I always give my coupons first and I am very organized. If there is only one line open it’s not my fault, but I do feel bad if people have to wait. I do let people in front of me if they have just a couple things, or even a cartload if I know I will take a long time. Thanks for sharing everyone, great post!

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  98. Good post!!! I work with a woman who is so cheap she’s DANGEROUS! She’s sleeping on the same mattress and box spring since the Bee Gees were on stage, (1976) and wonders why she’s walks as if she has a severe case of sculiosis. Dr said replace it, and she only wants to buy a mattress — everyone knows they are purchased in sets!!!

    Not only is she cheap with herself, she balks when she hears that someone spent what she calls an exorbinant amount of money on whatever. The dangerous part comes when she gathers up picked over food from conferences and takes home for dinner. She’s single no kids, makes a decent salary. She complained that her utility bill was $35 during the summer and that it was too much. So I ask? What does she spend her money on? No one knows and/or cares. Her sweaters are elbow holey so its certainly not clothes. Its very annoying that she judges how others spend their money, while she cries poverty. It annoys the heck out of me!

    I consider myself frugal. I don’t waste money on things like movie rentals, paper plates (why do people do this), and napkins (I use cloth) and I don’t buy expired food. I grow my own greens, cook my own food, bring my coffee & lunch to work, and drive a paid for car. I buy toilet paper in bulk and make my own detergent (a fun project and works better). On the other hand, we vacation 2x a year (1 road trip) and (1 out of country). If I see something I want like a cool pair of $200 boots — I BUY THEM!!! I have an emergency fund and investments and I am an office worker. It can be done!

    Cheap people are cheap thinking and believe they are saving money for the Perfect World — well this is the Perfect World where money is made to be spent and enjoyed — you CHEAPOs better get with the program. Everything we have is borrowed and you can’t take it with you!

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