Being frugal vs. being cheap
Everything today is just so expensive, especially if you are raising a family. Living a frugal life can really help those dollars stretch further. However, being frugal is sometimes confused with being cheap. They are very different.
The basic difference
If you were to break it down, frugality is essentially the adoption of a lifestyle that promotes spending practices that will help you balance your budget and achieve your financial goals. That’s not to say that you’re not willing to spend money when it makes good sense (common and financial).
Being cheap, essentially, is the unwillingness to spend money at all, even when it makes sense as part of you overall spending and lifestyle.
The other major differences: frugal is fun! It’s about hunting down deals and sharing them with your friends all while taking steps towards your financial goals. Being cheap, can just make things awkward.
Eating out is expensive, right? The frugal person will scour for coupons or deals, or consider some money saving dining options, like ordering enough to have for lunch the next day, or choosing an appetizer instead of an entree for their meal.
The cheap person? They’ll wine and dine, but skip the tip at the end. Not fair.
The grocery store
Again, the frugal person will engage in some serious planning before hitting the grocery store. They’ll clip coupons, look at flyers and do menu planning based on what’s on sale. Then they’ll hit the store and stick to their well-planned list and avoid impulse buys.
The cheap person will buy the most inexpensive items, based on price alone – not on their use, or perhaps nutritional content. There’s making smart choices in support of your budget, and then there is being stingy.
Buying used equipment and clothing can be a great money saving tool, especially if you have kids. Aren’t children really just “renting” the clothes or equipment, until they grow out of it?
However, there are some things that you should never, ever buy used, because of safety concerns: old car seats or old crib mattresses. Helmets for sports are ok to buy used (as long as they are only a few years old). Make sure that they are CSA approved and check the expiry date (yes, helmets have expiry dates)