Are you frugal, or are you cheap? There’s a difference.
Change one letter of the word ‘cheap’ and it becomes ‘cheat’, but frugal doesn’t cheat anybody.
Cheap is a negative and undignified way to save money, while frugal is fashionable, even necessary.
Cheap doesn’t brag about it. Frugal does.
Examples of frugal vs. cheap:
Frugal takes advantage of the ‘early bird’ or another special at a restaurant. Cheap doesn’t bother to leave a tip, or leaves one based on the discounted price, not the regular price.
Frugal buys coffee at a local coffee shop instead of at a national chain like Starbucks. Cheap would rather walk around or drive around looking for the local coffee shop with the lowest price.
Frugal buys a party dress on sale. Cheap tucks in the tags in so nobody can see them, wears the dress to the party, then returns the dress for a refund.
Frugal sneaks a snack or two from home into the movie theater, rather than pay for ridiculously over-priced candy and soda. Cheap sneaks into the theater itself.
Frugal takes home the tiny hotel shampoo bottles and soap that you used once twice and will be thrown out by the housekeeping staff if you leave them behind. Cheap doesn’t stop with the toiletries. Cheap also takes hotel towels or other knick-knacks.
Frugal buys artificial sweeteners and sugar. Cheap pockets a handful from the restaurant or coffee shop.
Frugal finds an online data entry job to save money on commuting. Cheap, keeps a regular job because they don’t want to invest in a new computer.
Frugal books a hotel where the rate includes a free breakfast. Cheap eats that complimentary breakfast at a hotel where he or she is not staying.
Frugal finds stray golf balls in the rough at courses and uses them. Cheap sells them.
Frugal finds gloves or goggles in the ski resort lodge and turns them in to lost and found. Cheap keeps them.
Frugal switches from baths that use lots of expensive hot water, to quick showers, which don’t. Cheap showers less often.
Frugal cuts back on the number of premium TV channels to reduced the cable bill. Cheap piggybacks for free on a neighbor’s wi-fi signal.
Cheap friends or frugal friends?
Many American households have cut back since the economy took a nosedive and unemployment soared a few years back, and many have not recoved what was lost since the economy and job market improved.
Many economists believe frugality is the new lifestyle, which includes a renewed popularity of coupons for grocery and clothing shopping, and a proliferation of coupon and ‘frugal living’ websites.
So what are you – frugal or cheap?
And just as importantly – would you rather have cheap friends or frugal friends?
ecoXplorer publisher Evelyn Kanter also publishes NYC on the Cheap, your go-to destination for hundreds of inexpensive things to see and do in my hometown.