Frugal vs. Cheap: Which One are YOU (And Yes – There is a Difference)

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Some people are frugal. Others are cheap. There IS a difference. Read up to find out which one YOU are.


One thing we can probably all agree upon is that we work hard to make money and to save as much as we can.  Most of us are smart with our money and have figured out the tricks to really stretch a dollar.  We have learned to do without when necessary and make wise decisions when it comes to our finances. While I would say that makes us frugal, there are some who are actually cheap.

Some people say that frugal and cheap are one in the same, when in reality, they are completely different.  Sadly, this has led to many frugal shoppers being called cheap, when they are actually smart.  It really can be hard to know the difference.  Simply put – a frugal shopper puts in the work and effort to save money whereas the cheap shopper expects it to be handed to them.

For example, A frugal person knows that the tip left for a waiter or waitress should be based upon the value of the meal as opposed to what was paid after using a coupon.  In sharp contrast, a cheap person, would either tip on the amount paid or even avoid the tip altogether (and stuff as many sugar packets and napkins into their bag as they could muster).

A cheap person will always try to bum a ride, forget his/her wallet or always tag along for free.  They never try to repay their friends …which leads to them have more ex-friends as time moves on.  A frugal person will chip in to cover a tip when taken to dinner.  If they forget their wallet, they will pay back their friend as soon as they can.

The way in which both are similar is that they love to get things for free or for next to nothing.  The difference is that a cheap person only looks out for themselves.  It all about what they can get for free – whether they need it or not.   They hoard and stockpile items with no consideration of others.  They expect deals to be handed to them without putting forth any effort.

The true frugal shopper loves finding that incredible deal.  And most frugal shoppers love to share their deals and findings with others. This shopper gives away or shares the items they get for free with various charity organizations, family members or friends.  They pay it forward.  They also scrimp and save and do research in order to get the best possible deal that they can.

I am sure many of us probably can attest to having been cheap once in a while.  Sometimes, you just can’t help it.  However a momentary lapse isn’t a lifestyle.  When you are frugal, you learn to live within your means and don’t outspend what you make.  So, ask yourselves now – am I cheap – or am I frugal?  Hopefully, you can say with pride, “I am frugal.”

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