Cheap or Frugal


There’s a running joke at our house. When Greg and I were first married, my mother warned him that I was cheap. She followed this cautionary advice with little chirping sounds. Cheep! Cheep!

Thanks to my mom, I never rid myself of that label. Thanks, mom.

I’m okay with it though. I know I’m not cheap, but I am frugal. There’s a difference.

Cheap is swiping sugar packets from the office coffee bar.

Frugal is buying sugar in bulk. The heck with those little packets! What a waste.


I’m patient. There is almost nothing I want that couldn’t wait until I could afford it. I can’t even remember the last time I paid full price for something.

Still, being called cheap has negative connotations. I don’t worry about it. Words only hurt if you let them. Besides, I’ve had forty years of Greg calling me cheap every time I wouldn’t let him buy some flashy new toy. I’m used to it!

It’s all semantics. Frugal, cheap, tightwad, skinflint, penny pincher. I’m good with any of those. Just don’t call me high maintenance or extravagant. Them are fightin’ words.

Do you consider yourself frugal? Does it bother you if someone calls you cheap?


I posted this on Facebook but this was too cool not to share here too. There’s a personality test that seems surprisingly accurate. My personality profile is INTJ-the Architect. According to the test, I’m the rational, chess player kind of personality, more interested in the truth than being touchy-feely. It didn’t say anything about being frugal, but I imagine most practical people are inherent penny pinchers.

Take the test if you haven’t already and let me know if it profiled your personality correctly.

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  1. When my husband and I were first together and starting out, we had little to no funds. We’d wander around the bookstore but rarely be able to buy anything. Many years later, we wander around the bookstore and can pretty much buy what we want. However, we don’t. We both still stop and think, do we really need this, do we really want this, do we have a gift card or a coupon etc.

    • Madeline: We did a lot of ‘window shopping’ when we were first married. Things were so tough back then.

      In a way, being so far away from family was a blessing too. It forced us to stand up on our own feet and make it work.

  2. For the most part, I’m frugal. I used to be bad about spending money I didn’t have, but I reined that in in a huge way. Every once in a while, though…

    I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone actually call me ‘cheap’. Wouldn’t matter if they did. I sometimes look at other people’s spending habits and think ‘no wonder you complain about not having money’. To each their own. :shrug:

  3. BE:
    Re: I sometimes look at other peopleโ€™s spending habits and think โ€˜no wonder you complain about not having moneyโ€™

    LOL. I came to the same conclusion. They tend to confuse ‘need’ with ‘want’. Totally different animals even though they wear the same hide.

  4. I took the test; I came out to be ISFJ-T. Not sure what the T at the end means, but the ISFJ is for introverted, sensing, feeling, judging. Fascinating.

    I think there is definitely a difference between cheap and frugal. I’m trying to be more frugal these days, but I don’t think I’ve been cheap in many aspects of my life ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. In the early days, when funds were tight, I could squeeze a penny with the best of them. But my hubby is world class frugal (cheap). Last Thursday, we wanted a pizza. I was placing the order and realized the coupon we had was only valid on Monday. So he cancelled the order. It wasn’t even that great a coupon.

  6. JackieBCentralTexas

    Luckily my husband and I are both frugal, me more so as he is like all men that I have known when it comes to those “toys” he just has to have. Also luckily those same toys are not wanted frequently and we can afford them without going into debt so he does get some of them, mostly electronics.

    I have never worried about being called cheap, feel no need to keep up with anyone else’s lifestyle. My biggest spending habit is books, and since most of those are used and a fraction of cost with shipping free from online purchases not so expensive as it would be otherwise.

  7. I call myself cheap so it never bothers me when someone else does the same. My guy and I are exactly matched when it comes to be conservative spenders, so that helps, too. We both grew up in large, poor families and saw what grinding debt did to our parents, so we both had the primary goal of avoiding the same. A lot of people who have known poverty as children tend to be frugal, I think.

    I took that personality test and my result was Advocate (INFJ-A). Much as I hate to admit it, most of it fits.

    • Lynn: There’s a lot of truth about upbringing. My mom grew up in an affluent family, but that’s not the way I grew up. Even though she struggled as much as her kids (and probably more because she wanted the best for us) we reacted to poverty differently.

      To me it was a challenge to make the most of what I had. To her it was a low blow to her self esteem.

      re: personality test
      I generally don’t take these tests seriously, but this one struck close to the bone.

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