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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The difference between being frugal and being cheap.

I made this blog to share tips, things that since moving into my own place, I have been taught, or discovered, things which have saved me money. Recently I saw something on a group which really annoyed me. A lady putting down frugal folk, calling us cheap skates and generally just being horrible, I put it down to being curious more than anything, I understand not everyone shares my passion for saving money and not everyone understands why I do what I do.

I must add, this is intended to be quite a long post. A cup of tea or coffee is advised :) Please do pass
the cake if you have some :)

To give a little bit of a background to my post. I was 17 when I moved into a council flat, I was doing my a levels and had a baby to support so I worked 2 part time jobs. 12 years ago the jobcentere did not just hand money over willy nilly, you had to need help and they were very strict on looking for works and offering all the support you needed, I had to leave my job when working nights become too much for me. My day job was suffering, my a level studying was suffering and more importantly... I never saw my daughter. So I quit working and went onto income support while I completed my a levels. Income support was much less than it is now, I received just 60 a week for me and my daughter. Her dad was supposed to pay maintaince but never did, so I struggled to keep up with bills and food as well as her daily basics like nappies and milk. I eventually received milk tokens and help with my rent which eased the situation. Having had no previous knowledge of cooking, or cleaning. I could barely boil and egg let alone work a washing machine or cooker. The internet was

not readily available to look for handy hints or advice and mobiles were a giant brick with a pull out
antenna! I relied heavily on the advice of other people and by learning through my own mistakes, to get by. The advice I received was helpful, relevant and easy. Most mums would advise the same things... Cut the feet off baby grows that are too small, reuse really stained clothes as cleaning rags, make your own baby food in ice cube trays to pop out and microwave for a perfect sized portion. I saved so much money that I think I became hooked and have since spent time making sure it is impossible for me to do cheaper before paying full price for anything!

Fast forward 12 years, I now have 2 children, a stable partner and no longer in that council flat. Some time ago we had the unfortunate experience of being forced to go on job seekers, except this time was different. Lack of support sent my partner into depression and then they sanctioned our benefits. Claiming only hardship payments of only 40 a week for 4 people, things quickly got out of hand and I we ran up a very large amount of debt. This debt now cripples us financially and is the main cause
of problems between me and my partner. We had no choice but to drastically change our lifestyle. We were never well off any way but every imaginable thing that wasn't needed or we could go without
was sold, or got rid of. To the point where we sold our tv, bed and sofa to put food on the table and our kids were given only a teddy and a half coloured colouring book each for Xmas and a small frozen pizza, 2 tbsp of beans and 8 chips each for Xmas dinner while me and my partner shared a tin of soup and a buttered roll. Things of course perked up, I found work and with a lot of effort we began to get back on track, but every single lifestyle choice we made still stands and we still enforce them today.

I won't bore you with the rest of the situation but things are still tough. The only difference now is we built up our shopping money so we now have a reliable maximum £50 a week. I still have to budget electricity, the gas still only goes on if we are turning blue and we still have no social life/family outings/ treats. But we are getting there. This of course is my background, we all have our own stories about why we are the way we are. After seeing that lady's rather arrogant attitude towards frugal people I had to write something, clearly some folk do not know the difference between someone trying to save money and someone refusing to spend it, 

What does frugal mean? 

The word frugal means to be sparing or economical with regards to food or money. 

A frugal person will spend as needed, will not impulse buy and generally makes money stretch much further. A frugal person will often see the use in the things others think are unusable, recycling and up cycling being a favourite way to reduce the amount they do have to spend. In my opinion, I think just based on the above statement, a frugal person leads a much more relaxed financial lifestyle than those who just buy without thinking and deal with it later. 

What does cheap person mean?

A cheap person (sometimes called a cheapskate) is a person who chooses not to spend money when he/she can and should spend it, they are usually very careful with money and often go to extremes to not spend it. A cheap person may glue the soles on "talking shoes", sew up a zip instead of replacing, reuse tea bags multiple times so as to not overspend, 

What is the difference?

Technically... Nothing. Both a frugal and a cheap person have the same motive. They wish to save money. The only major difference is how they do it. Neither is good or bad in my opinion, we all have to do what is best for our own personal situations. Both sides are generally very happy with their lifestyle choice and helpful to others. Some class a cheap person as being just that... Cheap. Technically they would be right but we do not know the situation behind them being so sparing with money. A frugal person generally chooses their lifestyle to make their money stretch further often using online deals and discounts to buy items. Both sides often adopt a "why spend if not needed" attitude. 

Am I frugal or cheap?

Me personally... I am both. Sometimes I am a self confessed cheapskate. I do so out of necessity not because I want to. My budget is fixed and unlikely to change in the near future, this means impulse buys are off the cards and every single penny we spend is for a necessary reason. I have been known to reuse a tea bag (I like weaker tea whereas he likes it like mud!) and glue the soles of shoes back together so they will last abit longer till I can save up the money for new ones,  but this tends to be only after I have exhausted all other possible options such as charity shops, eBay and online discounts/vouchers. Like other fixed budget households, we live day by day, penny by penny. 20p over budget is 20p we have to find. Every penny I spend is only spent on necessary items, treats of unnecessary things must be saved for, often for a long period of time. You may well be a person with a good household income but wish to save some money. You may feel that you are overspending on food or clothes or generally just wish to make your own items to make it better for your family pork yourself. Whatever the reason behind watching your pennies, they are YOUR pennies and you have every right to spend them how you see fit. 

Why are frugal/cheap people looked down on? 

This I have no idea. I would normally say, maybe they are jealous, however I think it is much more than that. For some reason there are people that look down on those looking to change their spending, an example would be either a frugal or cheap person up cycling a beaten up table. It is covered in scratches, covered in paint and pen. To a non frugal person this deserves nothing more than the dump! Get rid of it and buy another! To a frugal/cheap person, that table is now a project, that old fashioned, beaten up table is now a gorgeous fashionable piece of shabby chic furniture. A piece of furniture that has cost them a few quid to change, maybe a good few hours of hard work, but saved them nearly 90% of the retail cost. Perhaps this is what lifts the noses of people who are not frugal. Dispute having a much lower income we have a lot more to show for it. Whatever the reason, it is a common cause of debates between a large group of people. 

In short, it is your personal choice. My aim was always just to share tips, never to force my opinion on others. If you are happy to replace an item the second it is no longer useable then do so. If you have the budget to buy without getting into debt, that's great. We are all however different and that should be respected. Over the next 6 months - between 1st July and 31st December, I plan to post a frugal tip every Friday. It will be a range of different tips for mums, babies, cooking, decorating, in the hope it appeals to everyone. 

I would love to know what sort of person you consider yourself. 


  1. faye huntington28 June 2014 at 23:51

    I'm glad I got out the cake for this post! Very interesting post with a topic I've never seen discussed before on a blog - we sound quite similar! I would consider myself careful with money.. when it suits me!! I haven't yet decided which one I am, if either!! have a lovely weekend :) faye x

    1. Cake was defiantly needed :D I ummed and ahh'd about this post for a while. I hate hearing people defined as cheap and looked down on purely because they like to save money (or need to) It was abit of a ranty post i suppose, but felt better after getting off my chest :D Hope you are enjoying your weekend too x




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