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


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” [3] blog, understanding the ways of the saving money mindset is second nature to me.

I love the creative aspect of saving money. [4]

I love that my role as a Family Manager [5] embraces the idea of making my home a haven for pennies on the dollar [6].

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, [7] 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 [8], reuse Ziplock bags [9] and have their own garden [10], 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 [11], 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. 🙂


starbucks coffee beans [14]

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.... [15]Have you missed one of my “31 Days to more with Less” posts? Follow along here. [16]