Be Frugal, Not Cheap

Be Frugal, Not Cheap

My Strategic Dollar Budget, M$D Wisdom 7 Comments

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Today’s post is going to be a bit short, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out that I’ve been thinking about. One of my friends calls me cheap. They say this because I’m pretty good at saying no to things that cost money and I don’t want to do. I call myself frugal. Who is it right?

Don’t Get It Twisted, I’m Frugal Not Cheap

I would consider myself a frugal and strategic spender or money. I place the value of a dollar higher than many people I know since I know the purchasing power of $1 invested in many years down the line. Because of this, I allocate a specific amount of spending money for myself each pay period and that’s all I get. A friend of mine divides their paycheck by the number of days before they get paid next which gives them the amount they can spend each day to ensure they don’t overspend. Then the day before they get paid they move a little into savings if they have anything left over.

I do the opposite of that. I put money into my 401K, savings, real estate accounts, investment accounts, etc. the day I get paid. I generally have $500 or so a pay period to spend for all things before I get paid again. I ONLY allow myself to spend that much money. This means that I must be strategic with the money that I spend. I’m a master of delayed gratification (mostly 😊). If I want to purchase something that costs more than the $500 I have, then I better keep that money and wait until the next pay period.

This strategic thinking leads to me declining invitations or telling people I can’t do something now. That’s not cheap. That’s frugal.

Cheap People Only Focus On Price

Cheap people only look at the price of something and decide whether to purchase it. In general, someone that is cheap bases their purchase decisions exclusively on whether the price is attractive. If I were a cheap person, I would only ever buy the least expensive option of anything I ever needed to buy. I don’t do that.

Bring Frugal Is About More Than Price

Being frugal means being cautious with the way you spend your money so that you don’t break your goals. Frugality is all about evaluation.

Being frugal is evaluation which pair of jeans to purchase based on more than just purchase price. In addition to how much it would cost, I generally consider a ton of reviews to get an understanding of how something held up over time. Jeans are a great example because the cheapest jeans are generally cheap because the quality sucks so I opt for a more expensive kind. I could buy jeans at Walmart, Target, Old Navy, etc. – those would be the cheapest at around $15 a pair if I waited for a good sale.

Be Frugal, Not Cheap

Those are some cheap jeans. The only problem, they’d probably last 2 washes. Instead, I opt for the much better reviewed Levi jeans. As I write this, I’m wearing a pair of Levi’s I purchased almost 2 years ago and they have little signs of wear and tear. They cost me $32. I’d rather pay the $17 different to get an extra year and a half out of my jeans before I have to replace them. In the long run, that’s a huge saving. #winning

Don’t Be Shamed For Your Frugality

People will shit on your money habits if they disagree with them. Don’t let that bother you. Remember that your finances are personal and you’re in control. You’re the only one who knows what’s going on in your life and what your goals are. Be persistent and march towards your goal.

-My Strategic Dollar

Comments 7

  1. Totally agree – Frugality has a bad rap by those who don’t really know what it’s all about. It’s all about maximizing your dollar, your time, your energy, and even so far as minimizing your footprint if that’s important to you.

    Sometimes that means buying the least expensive thing or skipping out on something, or perhaps doing something yourself instead of paying someone else to do it.

    Other times it means paying for quality because it ultimately leaves you with the best ROI.

  2. My goal is to spend with intention. If buying something will make me happier than saving for my goals I should buy it. If not, I pass. I’d pay big money to go on a dream vacation but would pass on an eh vacation even if it’s inexpensive. You are not cheap. You just have your priorities in order. I wonder what your fiends will call you when you have financial freedom and they are still dependent in the rat race.

  3. Less is more and I agree going for quality is best. I have three, quality pair of jeans that will probably last me a good year or two (probably longer). I think being frugal is being able to see the value of things and also appreciating what you already have, and rejecting the need for excess. Three pairs of jeans is enough and I’ll happily buy another pair or two once these are worn out, but for now they meet the need.
    My friends at work go out to eat every day. They used to ask me to go with them, but soon heard no from me a lot. I wasn’t being rude, I just thought it was a bit excessive to go out to eat everyday, plus it’s an ideal time for me to workout (the gym is free on campus and I don’t have much time to go after work). They know I’m good for a morning cup of coffee, lunch once a month, or an occasional after work beer. Heck, I even convinced one of them to work out with me at lunch. Sometime, you just gotta do you. Keep doing you!

  4. The Jean example makes me think that you are more of a minimalist than frugal.
    Frugal people will tend to go for the cheapest option while minimalists will go for the better quality and think in the long term. I did not know the difference between being a minimalist and being frugal until a great choosefi podcast!
    I think it’s important to be frugal and not cheap. Cheap people always seem to deprive themselves even of small pleasures whereas a minimalist or a frugal person will know how to treat him/herself but will optimise the hell out of it!

    1. Post

      Interesting perspective. I would still call myself frugal since I weigh my options and purchase the best long-term solution at the best price. I would also consider myself a minimalist since I only have a few pairs of jeans and a few shirts, nothing in excess.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I totally second on that. Being frugal does not mean you are cheap and miser there is a very fine line between the two. A frugal person wouldn’t mind paying for the necessities but a penny-pincher may not pay a penny. Frugal people would give more value to people rather than savings.

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