The difference between frugal and cheap
In the past two months that Nancy and I have been writing this blog, I've thought a lot about the difference between being frugal and being cheap.
I'll keep it real: I was not frugal before my husband and I bought our house and the recession threatened our income, jobs and retirement. I routinely pulled cash out of the ATM only to wonder a day or two later: Where did it all go? Coffee, lunch, happy hour, Ann Taylor Loft -- my money just seemed to disappear.
Now that I'm trying to reform my spendthrift ways, I wrestle with the value of my discretionary purchases. Is skimping on a friend's birthday present being frugal? Or is that just cheap? What about insisting on only paying for your meal when dining out with a large group of people? Frugal or cheap?
Since I'm new at this, I decided to get advice from some of our favorite bloggers. Here are their thoughts on the difference between being frugal and being cheap. Share your thoughts with me via e-mail or just leave them in the comments. I'll post the most insightful ones!
David Weliver of MoneyUnder30.com: In a nutshell, I would define being frugal as protecting your hard-earned money by looking for ways to save on the things you need and want and getting the highest value from everything you buy. I would define cheap as spending as little money as possible, whatever the cost.
For example, somebody who is frugal would probably buy a used car instead of a new car, but they would choose a high quality vehicle and choose to maintain it properly even though that maintenance costs money. In the long run, they know that maintenance will save them from needing to buy another car too soon. Somebody who is cheap would look for the least expensive car without regard for quality, and they might choose not to spend money on maintenance. Both methods save money, but the frugal car-buyer will get a lot more value out of the vehicle thanks to their decisions. The cheap consumer might wind up with a car that breaks down on them once a month. Sure, it may not have cost a lot, but it also might not provide reliable transportation.
Julia Scott of BargainBabe: Being frugal is making choices to conserve money in your own life: riding a bike instead of driving, renting a movie instead of going to the theater, brown bagging your lunch instead of buying it.
Being cheap is forcing your frugal choices on others: buying a gift on sale even though it is the wrong size for the recipient or insisting on ordering the cheapest bottle of wine at a restaurant.
Being frugal feels good. Being cheap leaves a bad taste in your mouth (and it ain't the wine)!
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