Cheap vs. Frugal: What’s the Difference?

Cheap vs. frugal … there’s a difference. It’s important to understand that difference.

Here’s why. Frugal living is a lifestyle choice. If you fully understand why you have made that choice, then you’re more likely to stick with it. Moreover, you’ll be glad that you did.

In contrast, if you save money and reduce spending without really considering why then you aren’t as likely to benefit from the experience.

Your life is yours to choose, so make sure that you’re doing so in a conscious, informed way.

Cheap vs. Frugal: The Main Difference

The main difference between cheap vs. frugal living is in how you feel about money.

If you’re cheap, then you find it painful to spend money. You are a tightwad. You hang on to every penny. The underlying reason that you do that is a negative feeling. For example, it might be fear. You’re afraid that you’ll run out of money, therefore you don’t ever want to spend it.

In contrast, the underlying feeling of a frugal life is one of joy. Someone who lives frugally takes pleasure in saving money. If you’re frugal, then you still have everything that you want. You just go about it in a smart way. When you save money, you feel good. You’re motivated by the delights of getting a good deal, making things yourself, and focusing on the small enjoyments of life.

In many ways, cheap vs. frugal comes down to a scarcity vs. abundance mindset. If you’re cheap, it’s because you don’t fear that you don’t – or won’t – have enough. If you’re frugal, you see what you have as enough, and it delights you to make the most of it.

Frugal: It’s Not A Dollar Amount

As you can see, cheap vs. frugal isn’t about a dollar amount. Instead, it’s about a mindset.

A cheap person and a frugal person may both choose to spend the least amount possible on a particular item. Or they might not. Whereas a cheap person is always looking to spend as little as possible, a frugal person wants to spend less but that isn’t all that they take into consideration as far as spending goes.

In other words, a frugal person will still sometimes splurge on things. A cheap person will do without. They might be happier, or be able to make a loved one happy, if they spent a little bit more, but they won’t do it because the goal is always to spend less. In contrast, a frugal person will weight their options carefully, look at ways to reduce spending, and refuse to spend money when it isn’t necessary for their quality of life. However, a frugal person will spend money on things that make them and their loved ones happy.

So, Are You Cheap or Frugal?

It’s important to ask yourself if you’re cheap or frugal. Cheap has a negative connotation. However, if you have examined it carefully, and you are happy with your reasons for being cheap, then there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone should live the way that they want to. If you find that what you most want from your money is a sense of security and that being cheap gives you that security, then that’s okay.

I, however, would prefer to be frugal. I don’t want to live in fear of spending. Instead, I just want to be smart about how I spend. That’s what living frugally is all about.

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