Five Differences Between Cheap and Frugal

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Five Differences Between Cheap and Frugal

I’ve often heard that there is a fine line between cheap and frugal. I disagree. While it is true that at first glance the differences are subtle, when we look at it closer they are quite large. Let’s take a look at five of the key differences between cheap and frugal:

1. Cheapness considers price as the deciding factor. Frugality considers value.


One of the key difference between cheapness and frugality is how purchase decisions are made. Cheap people look at the price as the most important factor. Frugal people consider the overall value, such as: quality, durability, uses, and more.

A perfect example of this is my recommendation for blenders. I highly recommend a high-power blender as an important tool for a healthy lifestyle. These blenders start at a price of around $200! How could I consider them a frugal purchase when you can buy a generic blender for $30, or even less? Well, I weigh in the quality, durability, and many uses that these blenders support. Altogether I believe they will save you time and money, as well as last a long time and make you healthier. That, my friends, is value!


2. Cheap people will go to great lengths to save a dollar. Frugal people love to save money, but also put a value to their time.


When I was a kid my family went on many road trips. My parents rarely booked the hotel ahead of time. After dinner we would end up driving all over whatever town we were in while my dad shopped for the best priced hotel room. After spending $20 in gas (exaggeration) and hours of precious vacation time (not an exaggeration) my dad would be happy to save $20 on the room that night. Sorry dad… that was cheap!

Time is just like money, you have a finite amount of it and it needs to be budgeted wisely.The Frugal Caveman

It is great and wise to save money, but make sure you also assign some value to your time and effort. I’ve seen people drive across town, expend extra gas, and waste an hour of their day just to save 50 cents on freaking toilet paper. Time is just like money, you have a finite amount of it and it needs to be budgeted wisely.

3. Cheap people don’t consider others. Frugal people do.


We all have that one friend. They are able to weasel their way out of paying for almost anything. And when they do pay, it usually isn’t their fair share. You’re probably thinking of their name right now! If not, maybe it is you! 😉 Please consider your fellow caveperson and don’t be that friend!

On the other hand, frugal people will pay their fair share, but try to minimize it. How’s this any different? Here’s an example to illustrate. Let’s say you are going out to dinner with friends. The frugal person may suggest going to a cheaper restaurant. At the restaurant they may get water instead of a pricy drink. They may choose a cheaper meal and skip that sugary dessert. Yet, at the end of the meal they will chip in for all of what they spent, including tip.

4. Cheap people are paying for the past, in the now. Frugal people enjoy the present and plan for the future.


This one is all about perspective. Cheap people are typically paying for the consequences of some past decision in the present. This is why the price is their final consideration. They don’t have a plan and are just playing catchup.

Frugal people, on the other hand, are enjoying the present, yet planning for a better future. It may seem odd, but creating and living on a budget is freeing. That’s right, a budget is freedom to spend! When you buy something that was budgeted for there is no guilt!

A budget is freedom to spend! When you buy something that was budgeted for there is no guilt!The Frugal Caveman

5. Cheap is about spending as little as possible. Frugal is about prioritizing you spending.


I love nice things. By nice things, I usually mean expensive. My mom used to joke that I better make a lot of money when I get older because I have expensive tastes. She was, and is, correct.

Everyone will have different priorities with money. For example, I keep fish and aquariums as a hobby. I would easily pay $200 for a fish that I deemed worth it. My husband thinks that $20 on a fish is a lot. Yet he spends more money on books than I ever would. Everyone is different and that is okay. I don’t care what you spend your money on, but have a plan (budget) and stick to it!

I don’t care what you spend your money on, but have a plan (budget) and stick to it! The Frugal Caveman


Every single month my husband and I do the budget together. Together we plan and prioritize our spending, saving, and giving. This is when we align our goals, dreams, and desires. Not only does this put us on the same page with money, but it means we understand our individual and collective goals.