Defining the Line Between Frugal and Cheap

The term frugal is often mistaken for the word cheap. The two have some similarities, but they work differently and it’s important to spot the differences in order to save some serious money yet still have enough left over for your own enjoyment and well-being. In this article, we’re going to discuss a couple of the major differences between frugality and being cheap.

Being frugal and being cheap want the same goal, but the methods are different

Both being frugal and being cheap is for the sake of saving money. People that are frugal want to have extra cash and people that are cheap also want to save more money. It’s crucial that you understand that both ways of life want the same thing, but the way they approach it is entirely different.

Having understood this, it’s essential that you learn how to be both cheap and frugal because many of the methods are interchangeable. Sometimes you’ll need to be a little cheaper, and at other times, you’ll want to be a little more frugal and focus on value instead. There is a fine line between both, but if your goal is to save money then you need to use both sides of the same coin.

Being frugal is about getting value, being cheap disregards value

Here’s a very good example of how to differentiate between being cheap and frugal.

Let’s imagine you’re going to buy a laptop computer. Being cheap in this situation is easy because you just buy whatever is the lowest price. You’ll bring up a list on Amazon or another online retailer and then you’ll sort by price, pick the cheapest laptop and then you’re done. It’ll come in the mail and you’ll make do with whatever you’ve ordered, disregarding any information about it.

A frugal person, on the other hand, will look at laptop reviews, they’ll watch videos, dig deep into the specifications of the laptop and even consider buying refurbished or second-hand models. This is a stark contrast between two people that want to save money. On the one hand, someone being cheap just wants to focus on paying the least for their product, while frugal people want to get the best value even if it means paying far more money.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with buying the cheapest thing you can, but it does occasionally come with risks. For one, the quality isn’t going to be as good and problems could pop up that eventually break it, thus requiring a replacement. By spending a little more money on something such as a laptop, you get better performance, a longer-lasting product and overall better value.

Prioritized spending is one of the traits of a successful frugal attitude

Another big difference between being frugal and cheap is that frugal people will often prioritize their spending.

For example, let’s say that you need to renew your insurance premiums because there are better deals on offer. You’ll look through an insurance agency and you’ll realize that there are some plans that offer better protection, yet they are a little more expensive. A frugal person would understand the importance of protecting their home with insurance, hence why they’ll be more than willing to pay extra.

On the other hand, a cheap person will still go with the lowest-cost insurance plan, disregarding the protection they receive. This is a good example of how frugal people will always prioritize their spending especially when it’s something important such as your well-being, health or protection.

Frugal people show more patience than cheap people

A common trait of frugal people is they know how to be patient. Cheap people, on the other hand, are far less likely to be patient because they want something now and they want it regardless of the bigger picture.

A good example of this could be online shopping. Frugal people understand the value of buying things second-hand, refurbished or through online retailers that usually offer things for less than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. As a result, you can make some huge savings but there is one caveat; the wait time. Waiting for an online order is never fun, but if you can save money in the process, then why not?

Compare this to someone that would willingly go to a shop to purchase something that is slightly more expensive and worse quality. Even if it’s cheaper, it’s clear that spending a little extra to get a better product and having the patience to wait for it to arrive is, in most cases, the better choice.

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