Are you ‘Frugal’ or just a cheapskate?

As a money blogger, I tend to get asked a lot of questions about money. Some financially focused queries land in my inbox, some are sent over social media, and others are fired at me while sitting in the hot seat of a live TV interview.

I love answering all sorts of questions on all kinds of channels, but sometimes (and I mean sometimes) the questions give me a serious case of the side-eyes. Basically, the questioner wants to know how low I’ll go to save a buck. Ugh.

Cheap shots I’ve saved throughout the years:

Questioner: “What’s it like being cheap?”
Me: I wouldn’t know. My friends would likely say I’m generous with both my time and money.

Questioner: “What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to save money?”
Me: I once set up a monthly automatic transfer from my chequing account to my savings. I haven’t touched it since.

Questioner: “Would you flip your underwear inside out to save money on laundry?”
Me: I’ve rescued a wedgie at least once, but I’ve never flipped my thong. No.

Your bottom line doesn’t have to involve freshly laundered panties to answer the cheapness question. In my lifestyle of living frugally and embracing thrift there’s a big Big BIG (three bigs) world of difference between being frugal and being cheap.

Take the frugality test by answering these cheapness questions to see for yourself.

frugal or cheap


What’s the difference between frugality and cheapness?

A lot.

Cheap people use cost as their bottom line. You’re cheap if you don’t look beyond nickels and dimes. Frugal or thrifty folk seek value when spending money and often choose to spend more when an item’s quality and longevity are important.

For example, remember when I declared my $783 unlocked iPhone a ringin’ deal? Before locking myself into an inflexible cell contract with a subsidized $213 phone I did the math.

I compared cell phone plans in a spreadsheet and found that paying $783 outright for my iPhone and going on a prepaid plan would save me at least $1,760 in the long term. Paying more upfront to save significantly over three years was my frugal choice. The math doesn’t lie.

How about that $700 Canada Goose puffy parka? Many commented that $700 was far too much to spend, and a comparable winter coat without the big brand name could keep a shivering mammal warm for significantly less money. That’s a fair argument, sure. But what about the people who stand by the costly coat because of the Canadian-made quality, the durable fabrication, and the fact that they’ve worn their Canada Goose parkas for years? These coats ain’t cheap, but are they frugal? This scenario is harder to quantify since it depends a little more on personal choice.

So I ask you: How do you define frugality and cheapness? What’s your bottom line? And would you flip your underwear inside out to save money? Ugh.

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