Thrifty, Not Tightfisted: How to Be Frugal Without Being a Penny-Pincher

Frugality is not the same as being cheap. Learn more about what frugality really is and how to practice the art of being frugal without being cheap. Frugal people always remain committed to their goals by keeping a frugal mindset.

Hard to Balance

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Are you trying to be frugal without being cheap? It can be hard to balance the two. 

Many people use frugality as an excuse to be cheap. But an admirable frugality does not equate with miserly cheapness. Learn how to be frugal without being cheap here.

If you are like me, you focus on living frugally and saving every penny that you can. Being careful with your money is important to you.

Know Your Goals

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Saving and living debt-free are your goals, and you’re trying your best to do that. It’s hard.

Living a Frugal Life Without Being Cheap

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But how do you live a frugal life without appearing cheap? Do you feel that you can often come across as cheap by living an extremely frugal life?

Really being frugal and being cheap are two entirely different things. Unfortunately, people often interpret “frugal” and “cheap” differently.

Many people use frugality as an excuse to be cheap. But an admirable frugality does not equate with miserly cheapness. Learn how to be frugal without being cheap here.

Frugal vs. Cheap

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What do I mean when I use the word frugal vs. cheap?

Being frugal means living simply and economically. But a cheapskate is described as people who are unwilling to spend money or do not want to spend as much on anything as they ought.


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When you adopt frugality for the first time, it may seem complicated. After all, the thoughts of achieving financial goals may add to some stress.

When it comes to managing money, discipline is essential. A lot of people get overwhelmed and stressed out when managing money.

How To Be Frugal Without Being Cheap

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If you want to save a decent amount by living a frugal life but don’t want to be seen as “cheap,” you need to follow some golden rules of living frugally.

Don’t Buy Overly Cheap Gifts

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While you may love buying things from thrift stores or regifting items; don’t do so in an overly visible way for your friends and family; even if you score an awesome find as a gift, don’t let them know how little you paid for it or whether you got it for free.

Choose Thrifting for Yourself Not Others

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You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but people often find this overly cheap way of gifting insulting and may feel you don’t care about them.

So you may choose thrifting when you purchase something for yourself, but not for others, as they may consider you a cheap person and may feel slighted. But, of course, if you know that they would appreciate this- then, by all means, do so!

Buy Quality Products

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You can live with a cheap brand for your clothes or footwear, but you need to look at the quality over the cost for items like home appliances.

For example, an appliance needing frequent repair will rip off your savings.

High-Quality Appliances

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Better to go for appliances of high quality that do not need a lot of constant maintenance. Additionally, new appliances often have energy-saving features to help you save money on your electric bill. 

When dealing with large items such as appliances, it is better to look at the bigger picture; even if you initially have to shell out some big bucks, you will probably save money in the overall scheme of things.

Don’t Skimp on the Bill

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Going out to eat with friends? Doing an activity with a lot of people?

It’s great to save money, so feel free to suggest a free or cheap activity to your friends, but don’t haggle on the bill once the decision has been made. Instead, pay your share and enjoy! This is not the time to be frugal and nitpicky.

Tip Well at Restaurants

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You may want to save money on eating outside but don’t want to appear cheap. Order fewer dishes, but definitely tip well. Waiters work hard and often rely on tips to make ends meet.

You also will probably get better service and won’t sabotage your retirement by leaving a few extra dollars to those who work hard for you to have a good time. Change your other spending habits before skimping on the tip.

Avoid Being Frugal at Others’ Expense

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Having a frugal attitude is commendable. However, trying to be cheap is not. You are mistaken if you enjoy your dinner at others’ expense and think you have achieved your frugal living goals.

Looking for Free Food?

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Someone may sponsor your food once or twice, and soon you will lose all the respect you have as you will start to appear to be a cheapskate who is always looking for free food.

Cheapness demonstrates that you do not want to spend money at all. Therefore, always pay a fair share of expenses and never try to achieve your frugal goals at others’ expense.

Savings Can’t Be Maximized by Being Cheap

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You can be frugal without being cheap. You need to spend on good health. If you lose your health, then all the money in the world won’t help you.

Frugality Is Good, but Cheapness Probably Won’t Pay

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Pay for your health and pay for peace of mind. This way, you will not hurt your short-term and long-term saving goals and will achieve financial freedom soon.

Balance Your Spending and Saving

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It’s important to find a balance between being frugal and saving money in the long run. Keep an eye on your finances and stick to a reasonable budget, but don’t restrict yourself from spending on leisure and comfort.

As life progresses and your financial situation changes, balancing saving and spending will establish a solid financial base with a flexible budget.

Frugal People

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Frugal people always remain committed to their goals by keeping a frugal mindset. They know how to be frugal without being cheap.

Having a cheap attitude means you may try to save money at other people’s expense. Understand the difference between being frugal and being cheap.

Did you learn how to be frugal without being cheap?

This post originally appeared on A Dime Saved.

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Are there any extreme cheapskates tips that are reasonable? Reddit thinks so. After someone asked for examples of these hacks, they delivered this excellent list of resourceful tips.

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

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