Are You A Cheap Person? Or Are You Being Frugal?

By Todd Kunsman

Saving Money

Published on

Updated on

Saving money and finding ways to make your dollars stretch farther is not necessarily a bad thing by any means. After all, not everyone can live lavishly all the time or never worry about their finances.

However, sometimes your money saving ways puts you in a category of being a cheap person.

This means you are becoming too obsessed with money, savings, and looking for ways to never spend. The problem is others start to notice and you may begin alienating yourself from friends and family.

Instead, you want to practice being frugal and scale back on being cheap.

But what is being cheap about? What are the signs of being a cheapskate? And how can you tell if you are being frugal or cheap? Don’t worry, I’ll explore all these questions below!

What Does It Mean to Be A Cheap Person?

A cheap person is someone who always buys items at the lowest possible price. People who are cheap do not care about the quality of an item and try to spend as little money as possible.

They often buy items just because they are on sale, and will still use them years after they’re worn out.

Cheap people hate spending money in general, and are willing to sacrifice time in order to find good deals. In general, a cheap person will only focus on price and believes that the best value is always the cheapest.

Being Cheap Is A Mindset

Being cheap is generally a harmful mindset, but depending on your situation it might have some short term benefits.

For example, if you are trying to pay off debt or live within your means for a specific amount of time, being cheap will help you get there faster.

However, in the long term, being a cheap person actually does more harm than good. That’s because people who are cheap are usually only thinking of short-term benefits rather than looking at the bigger picture.

Sometimes it’s better to spend more on higher quality items, such as a good mattress or high quality jeans.

Not only that, but being cheap can also be seen as unkind or selfish; if you’re always trying to get a free ride, or “forget” your wallet, people will think twice before being generous with you and it could even cost you some friendships. 

Being cheap is a mentality that focuses more on the present rather than the future; if you’re seriously struggling with money, this may be helpful.

But in general, you want to be able to gain an overall perspective over your spending and not only focus on the price.   

Signs You Are Being a Cheapskate

Often being cheap or just a frugal person can sometimes have similarities.

But generally when you are being a “cheapskate” you not only are living stingy, but you are clearly avoid paying your fair share of any costs or expenses.

Here are some common signs that you are being a cheap person.

1. You don’t tip well

The medium wages for tipped employees varies, but tends to fall in the $10 per hour range in the United States.

Waiters and waitresses rely on tips to make a full time income and make a living wage in the US. It’s not the best system, but it means that tips are essential for servers to sustain themselves.

If you have enough money to eat out, then you have enough to tip your server. Someone who doesn’t tip well is generally looked at as cheapskate (or a more harsher word, I’ll let you decide a good name for someone who doesn’t tip). 

2. You’re always looking out for free furniture

You’re cheap if you drive around neighborhoods looking for furniture that people leave on the curbside.

It’s free and it could even be in good condition — if that is something you enjoy doing in your free time then you’re leaning towards being a cheapskate.

Don’t get me wrong, getting a nice couch or dresser from a friend can help you save some money. However, if you can easily afford items (especially when thrift stores offer great deals too) yet are still looking for handouts — you are a cheapskate.

3. You make toiletries last as long as possible

You try to get out every last inch out of the various toiletries you use.

Whether that’s folding toilet paper sheets to get double the amount, diluting the soap so it lasts a few more weeks more or cutting the toothpaste tube in half, a cheapskate tries to get the last drop out of everything they use.

Not only are you wasting your time, but the soap and other items become less effective. 

4. You number crunch excessively

Are you that person that always “forgets” their wallet when you go out in a group? Or do you need to split every single bill to the last cent?

Then it’s likely you are a cheapskate.

It may work the first few times, but after a while your friends and family will notice. You may save a few dollars, but you could also lose your friends. 

5. You buy just because of deals

You’re cheapskate if you see a good deal and you buy it just because it’s a good deal. Although you may feel like you’re winning, spending something is still more expensive than spending nothing at all.

Someone who buys something just because it’s cheap or on sale is not actually being frugal since they aren’t being intentional with their purchases.

6. You don’t like spending on essential items

There are some items which you really shouldn’t buy low quality. Those could be shoes, mattresses, important household items, etc.

And there are a few items that if you purchase them, they could save you money in the long term. If you’re someone who doesn’t like spending even on the most important items, then you could be a cheapskate.

7. You never drive

Are you someone who never offers to drive or is constantly trying to get free rides? Then you could be a cheapskate.

Gas can be expensive, but trying to freeload on other people’s cars means they need to pay too. Offer to split the bills or drive yourself. 

8. You hoard stuff

Cheap people have a hard time getting rid of things. They hoard items and random stuff in their trash, cupboards and attic hoping that it will be of use one day.

It most likely won’t be, and sometimes you just need to give it all to charity, friends, or throw it out if the items are in bad shape and of no use.

9. You take as many free items as possible

Toiletries in a hotel? Tupperware to a buffet? Taking a wine bottle back with you after a party? Whenever there’s something that’s free, it’s always worth taking if you are a cheapskate.

If you get excited at the notion of something just because it’s free, then you are focusing more on the price than the actual item.

Frugal Person Vs. Cheap Person

Someone who is frugal is someone who cares about the price as well as the quality of an item they are purchasing. They also usually value their time and won’t spend hours looking for deals.

As a frugal person, you enjoy saving money but you also appreciate good quality items and spending your time intentionally.

That means you’ll do your research, read reviews and compare items before making a purchase — you won’t just buy it because it’s cheap.

There are quite a few differences between being frugal and being cheap. Which from the above sections, you probably have a good idea by now. But let’s dive in a bit further.

The Differences

Cheap people believe that everything is too expensive. They hate spending in general, so they’ll always complain about prices. A stingy person won’t like spending $10 on a burger, or even $5.

However, frugal people understand that things cost money and will be savvy about their spending or look for alternatives.

Friendships over money

Frugal people will also prioritize friendships and people’s living income over a few bucks.

When you go eating out with a frugal person, they may have picked a restaurant because of a good deal or a coupon they have, but they won’t tip badly or complain about the prices. A cheap person might use coupons too, but try to save on tips.

Generosity over greed

Frugal people tend to be more generous with their money too. They will still donate to charity, invite their friends to coffee and won’t fret on saving a few bucks.

Cheap people see their money as only theirs, and won’t enjoy spending it on others or even think about giving it away.

Value over immediate savings

Think of it this way: Cheap people will tend to value money over time, while frugal people usually value time over money.

A cheap person will spend hours searching for a good deal — it’s more like a fun game to them to see how much they can save.

But frugal people know when to stop and prioritize their time and the value of the product they are buying. They look for savings that are intentional, such as doing home workouts rather than going to the gym, making their own coffee, and then spending that additional money on travel and other activities that they care about.

Cheap people focus only on spending less no matter what; frugal people focus on their priorities and understanding what is worth spending on. 

Final Note

So what category are you falling in right now? Are you being too cheap or have you found the right balance as a frugal person?

And don’t worry if you fall into the cheap category, you can still change your cheapskate ways!