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The Difference Between Being Frugal And Being A Cheap Person

Updated on December 11, 2013

Saving money is a good thing but some people take it too far and end up costing themselves more time and funds in the long run. If a person honestly doesn't have the money, that's different. I'm talking about the ones that have plenty but choose not to spend it.

How do you know when being a tightwad is getting out of hand? Do you have Spending Anxiety Disorder?

I’ll give you some examples of situations.

Home Repairs

Too Cheap

Leaving a roof leak so you can keep your money in the bank drawing interest. For some it’s a challenge to see how long they can go before actually paying a repairman or taking care of the situation. They rationalize that they are too busy or tell themselves, “It can wait.”

Eventually the hole gets bigger, water tends to run along boards and pipes making its way to other areas. Sheetrock crumbles, mold grows, clothes and flooring ruin and before you know it that small crack in the ceiling has created a large problem and will cost the homeowner much more than he bargained for.


A better solution is to address the problem early on, calling around to get the best deal having service people give you estimates and referrals.

If you are good with your hands, consult manuals and look online for ways to fix the problem yourself. Just beware because if you don’t know what you are doing this can be just as bad as doing nothing at all.


Too Cheap

Giving too small of a tip or none at all. “Those guys are just begging. I work just as hard as they do and no one gives me a tip.”


Waiters and other service people often work for less than minimum wage and live on tips.

The conservative thing to do would be to figure out 15% of your total bill and pay them what they deserve.

The word tips comes from an old practice in Europe standing for “To Insure Prompt Service”. They paid in advance to get better treatment. Today we give at the end of the experience and should tip according to the quality of their work.

Out With Friends

Too Cheap

Borrowing money and expecting other people to pay your way or cover for you.

You have enough money you simply see this as another way to save and figure your friends enjoy your company; that should be compensation enough. They shouldn’t always choose such high priced places to go.


A better way to save money would be to ask your buddies to go to less expensive places on occasion. If you don’t want to pay the asking price look for coupons online or stay home when they go to higher priced places. Look for days when they have half price or two for one deals.

Car Repairs

Too Cheap

Letting oil leaks go until they have left a stain on your driveway and those of your friends and family.

When people start asking you to park in the street you know you’ve gone too far.


Not only is the leak leaving a horrible mess it’s not good for the environment.

Concrete is a porous material that absorbs liquids and holds color indefinitely. Getting oil out of a driveway is impossible and the only thing you can do is cover it with another material that isn’t cheap and the process is labor intensive.

Check around for a reputable mechanic that doesn’t charge too much and get the problem repaired or get rid of the vehicle and buy another one.


Too Cheap

If your wardrobe is the joke of the family or your friends, then perhaps it’s time to go shopping.

Fashion changes frequently and you can wear basic items for years to come but if your current items are threadbare or more than 20 years old, it might be time for an update.


Shop for sales, look at consignment shops or thrift stores. Garage sales sometimes have good choices people have outgrown or no longer need.

You can still look good for less if you check around. The day after Thanksgiving is a good time for brick and mortar retail bargains but if you don’t want to brave the crowds try Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving. Look online and you can find all kinds of deals, many with free shipping.

At the end of winter is a good time to buy coats and outerwear, the end of summer is a good time for cooler clothing purchases.

Wearing outdated or ratty looking outfits could cost you a raise or promotion. How you look is important and an investment to your career and even personal relationships.


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    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Feliscattus, being frugal is a good thing even for people who have plenty.

    • feliscattus profile image

      feliscattus 6 years ago

      I have to be frugal. I'm on fixed income, Social Security and have to budget myself. Pay the rent, utility bills, buy food, etc.. If I have money left then I can think about buying luxury items.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Case1worker, saving money is a good thing but some take it too far.

      Angie, I lover your bag lady comment. As long as you have a few pieces you can wear in public, being comfy around the house is okay.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 6 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Very well put, Pamela ... it would appear to sometimes be a fine line between being tight and being frugal. My own frugality is with clothes, I just hate having to shop for them ... I often leave it until everything is very shabby.

      I just think of it as practising to be a bag lady ...

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Great hub, you are right there is a difference between being careful (frugal) and too cheap- those are too cheap might find themselves without friends especially if they always have to pay the large half of any entertainment bill

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Randomcreative, we can take anything too far, even saving money.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great points! I love the way you broke everything down. There definitely is a difference between being frugal and cheap, and it's important to remember the distinction in so many different aspects of life.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading. Being frugal and saving is good but some take it overboard.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      You make a good distinction between being too cheap and frugal. Some people rely on others to pick up the tab; or they don't leave tips; or they don't maintain things well. This is not being frugal ... this is being way too cheap!

    • homesteadpatch profile image

      homesteadpatch 6 years ago from Michigan

      You are correct, avoiding spending money on repairs is not the way to go. Not fixing small problems just ends up turning the small problem into a big problem. That said, I'm cheap and I wouldn't have it any other way. Great hub!

    • jfay2011 profile image

      jfay2011 6 years ago

      very good hub. My grampy used to be so thrifty and always saved his money. He always used to argue with all of us when we would spend our money.