Frugal vs Cheap: Does It Mean the Same Thing?

Frugal vs cheap is an age-old debate. Is being thrifty a sign of being cheap or a sign of being wise just because you want to save a few dollars here and there? My wife would probably call me both cheap and thrifty in the same sentence!

During conversations with friends and family, this issue may often turn highly heated.

People’s views on both of them vary, primarily since everyone interprets the terms frugal and cheap differently.

Frugal vs Cheap

Let’s look at the definitions of each term – cheap and frugal – to see if we can reach an agreement in this discussion. Then, to evaluate real-life instances, look at a frugal vs. cheap chart.

We want to know what it means to be thrifty, and we don’t want to be perceived as cheap.

In this post, I’ll talk about how I can save money without being cheap. You will save money while living the lifestyle you choose.

So does “frugal” automatically mean cheap? 

Perhaps. It most likely depends on how you view each of them. Do you possess the characteristics of a scrooge? Or that green guy that stole Christmas from Whoville? Or would you instead learn how to be economical without being cheap (especially in terms of appearance)?

People who are cheap, unfortunately, are looked down upon. However, all they want to do is save money and live a little more frugally. Others have a fixation with being cheap, and they will do it regardless of who or what they are dealing with.

Are there any differences between being cheap and being frugal?

We’ll soon look at the answer. But first, let’s look inside our own cheap or thrifty souls. Let’s not name our cheap uncle. Let’s dive in.

The reason for this is because you never know what someone else wants in life.

What are their goals? Is it to go on more trips? Early retirement? It’s possible that being thrifty will play a role in their financial path.

Most of the time, how you see being cheap or frugal is influenced by your viewpoint.

Related Reading: The cheapest way of living – Check Them out Here

What do “frugal” and “cheap” mean? 

Too often, the terms frugal and cheap are interchanged to imply the same thing. Do they, however, have the same meaning?

Frugality is defined as the prudent and efficient use of material resources. That’s deep.

It might also mean charging or making anything available for a low price (like cheap tickets) or making something available for less than the going rate or the actual value.

On the other hand, Cheapness might either mean stingy (ouch, that one stings) or done with little effort. For example, there’s a famous saying that goes, “talk is cheap.” 

Cheap vs Frugal 

cheap vs frugal

Both imply that you are looking for methods to save money. These money-saving suggestions can benefit you in the long run. That’s not a bad thing, right?

Being frugal with money implies making the best use of the resources available to you in layman’s terms. It’s about being frugal and making the most of your money. Because they don’t grasp the actual concept of being frugal, many people may envy (or reject) you for being thrifty.

A cheap person is someone who dislikes spending money, even when they know they should. When it comes to money, cheap individuals just care about one thing: the price.

Always the price, only the price.

If there were a money motto for cheap people, it would be “price is more important than value.”

They despise spending cash. Period.

Being cheap with your money may imply two distinct things. The first meaning is getting a good deal on something you were planning to buy anyhow. The second meaning is to refuse to spend money even if you have the means to do so.

When you’re trying to save money, it’s often a good idea to look for a good deal on something you already intended to buy. Is that to say you’re a cheapskate? Or does that imply that you are intelligent and thrifty?

Every day, we have the option of spending or not spending our money. Making a financial plan is usually a good idea. That way, rather than having your money rule you, you are in charge of it.

When does being tight with money become an obsession? 

When does being tight with money become an obsession?  Frugal vs Cheap

We often have such a strong desire to save money that seeking a good bargain or obtaining something cheap becomes an obsession. You will go to extraordinary measures to save money.

Let’s talk about being stingy. Opening your hand is one of the first steps toward becoming less stingy and cheap with your money.

 Keep the money you have in your hand and give the remainder to someone who is in need. Giving back is one way to do this. It might be a matter of time or money.

It’s difficult to be frugal when you’re helping so many people and letting the excess cash go to waste.

Items are now manufactured for a meager price. Often, this indicates that the quality will only survive a few uses. Yes, you can get a bargain for a buck. However, it would have been better to spend a few dollars more on something that is of higher quality and would not break.

Consider what you most frequently replace. Is there a method to improve your quality of life and save money in the long run?

Clothing is a great example. I used to buy items that seemed cost-effective (read cheap!). I started to realize that I was replacing items more than I should have. I now prefer to buy fewer quality items that will last a long time. As a result, the cost per wear is most likely in the cents at this point.

How To Be Frugal Without Being Cheap 

Being frugal entails making sound financial decisions. For many people, this is a difficult decision to make.

Because it implies that you may need to begin living within your means in order to avoid debt, it entails paying cash rather than taking out a loan.

Consider what you might do with your money and how you buy differently. Is it possible that instead of paying full price for blueberries, you’re buying goods on sale at the grocery store? As a result, you may begin to save money on groceries.

Consider putting a spending freeze in place to understand your wants vs. necessities better. What about switching to cash envelopes for those places where the temptation is too strong?

Before making every purchase, a thrifty person thinks twice. He is concerned about both the price and the quality of the goods, and he would not sacrifice one for the other. For example, if you got a fantastic bargain on a used Xbox game you’ve been eyeing for a while but saw it brand new for only $4 more someplace else, you’d go for the new one. 

A person who is deemed cheap, on the other hand, is constantly concerned with the lowest possible price and would refuse to purchase anything, even if it is absolutely required.

When it comes to priorities, thrifty individuals use various cost-cutting techniques to save as much money as possible. Still, they prioritize the things that are most important first. 

They take their time to prioritize matters before making a choice. They constantly make investments in items that will endure a long time. The term “cheap” refers to the fact that specific individuals will buy anything at a low price. 

Related Reading: Why Is A Budget Important – Find Out Here.

The Benefits of Being Wise With Money 

Financial abilities provide you with rewards that go beyond money. Being financially savvy is beneficial to your emotional and physical well-being.

It reduces financial stress.

For example, people who are stressed financially might start drinking, for example. Family financial problems can be harmful to a family’s well-being.

According to studies, children who are financially disadvantaged experience higher psychological discomfort. When you’re in a challenging financial situation, your self-esteem suffers, which can contribute to sadness. 

As a result, being financially savvy and avoiding financial difficulties keeps you healthy in the long run.

People with a solid financial education are considerably more likely to plan for and save for their retirement. Long-term financial security requires financial knowledge. With defined contribution pensions, you must determine how to save and how to split your retirement assets. You will be more equipped to do so if you learn about financial concerns.

For example, we all run into emergencies from time to time. As a result, when they arise, the necessary resources are typically not included in the typical budget. There will be pressure to find additional cash on short notice. 

If the emergency involves a sudden sickness or automobile accident, the situation might become even worse. It may be a life or death situation. Savings can go a long way toward helping to alleviate the problem. 

The needed therapy will be given to the patient right away. Funeral expenditures, urgent housing repairs, and even automobile maintenance are examples of other situations that savings may cover. However, such cases generally need a large quantity of money.

Related Reading: Think Outside the Box – See How Here

Final Thoughts 

Economists and psychologists credit financial success to people’s feelings of control when they plan ahead and know what they need to do to go from where they are now to where they want to be. 

Research has shown that those who have a sense of control over their lives are happier, cope better, and are more resilient in stressful situations than others. People, on the other hand, are particularly dissatisfied in cases where they believe they lack control. 

As a result, it’s no wonder that commuting is at the top of the list of things that make people miserable.

It’s no wonder that the most significant investment is in financial education, as it yields the highest returns. Being financially savvy allows you to make the best decisions in all parts of your economic life. For example, individuals with better financial literacy choose less expensive loans such as mortgages. 

People with better financial knowledge accumulate more personal wealth over time than those who do not.

The advantages are apparent. Financial savvy may help you bring in a lot of money, and frugality is one of the best ways to achieve it.

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Brooks Conkle

Brooks is an entrepreneur, father, husband, & follower of the golden rule. He has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur after graduating with a Finance degree from Auburn University. Addicted to starting new business projects, he believes in creating multiple income streams and a life of flexibility. Business should work around your life, not the other way around. He creates content on his website, sharing his projects to help other hustlers in marketing, personal finance, and online business.