Being Frugal without Being Cheap
By Nancy Twigg
Have you ever noticed how frugality is often confused with being
cheap? Isnít it a shame that those who choose to live frugally are sometimes
accused of being selfish and stingy?
Although these accusations may be justifiable in rare cases,
Iíve found that with most frugal people, quite the opposite is true. The thrifty
people I know are very generous; they just choose to give in ways that are
different than their spendthrift counterparts. Let's look at some of the
differences between being frugal and being cheap.
Being frugal means making smart spending choices. Letís say that
for your friendís birthday, you give her a book. You paid only 50 cents for the
book at a yard sale, but it was in like-new condition and it is by an author
your friend loves. Some would say that it is cheap to only spend 50 cents for a
gift, but if itís something you know the recipient will love, why does it matter
how much you spend? Why spend more on a gift if you could get something the
person would enjoy just as much for a lot less? This kind of gift giving is not
being cheap; itís just good money management.
Frugality is getting the most for your money. Suppose you donít
have Internet access or email. Rather than making long distance phone calls to
your friends and relatives to stay in touch, you save money by writing letters
instead. By doing so, you get more for your money. For the cost of a 37Ę stamp,
you could practically write your life history, include pictures, and even send
small goodies like a bookmark or comics youíve clipped from the newspaper. But
how many minutes could you talk for 37Ę of long distance charges? Not too many.
Besides, a letter is something the recipient can read over and over and enjoy
many times. Thus, you get much more value and enjoyment by writing the letter.
Frugality is making your dollars go farther. Suppose that to
save money on your utility bill, you keep your thermostat at 68 degrees during
the day in the winter. Your kids complain that it is a little chilly in the
house, but you tell them to put on sweaters. Some might feel that this
money-saving technique is an example of being cheap. However, making your
dollars stretch this way is smart for the whole family. If you spend less on
utilities, youíll have more to spend on other things such as fun outings with
Frugality is showing you care without spending a lot of money.
Let's say it is Motherís Day. Instead of buying a gift and greeting card, you
use your time and creative talents to make something special for your mom. The
gift doesnít actually cost you much except your time and a few supplies you
already had on hand. Some people might think this is being cheap because you
didnít buy your mother anything. However, the frugal person knows that giving of
her time and talent is much more valuable than spending a lot of money without
giving it much thought.
Nancy Twigg is the editor of Counting the Cost, an ezine about simple
and frugal Christian living. She is also the author of two books on the
same topic. For more information about how to be frugal without being
cheap, visit Nancy online at