questionshow frugal / cheap are you?


i'm so cheap that this year, my wife's birthday present is from a BOC. in my defense though, this is what she'll be getting:


I just bought my girlfriend a wooden ring to propose with! I didn't even know that they made wooden rings.


I think there's a difference between being frugal and being cheap.

To me, frugal is being careful with your money, making sure you get the best deal for the items you need/want, repairing rather than replacing items when you're able to. Cheap is more extreme and sacrificing quality (either of life or in what you buy) in order to save money. Frugal is combining a coupon with a sale to get free ketchup. Cheap is watering down the store brand ketchup to make it last longer. Frugal is stocking up on toilet paper when it goes on sale. Cheap is separating toilet paper into the individual plies. Frugal is buying good tools when they are on sale. Cheap is buying cheap tools that will break in the middle of a job, possibly in ways that cause unsafe situations.

I'm fairly frugal. I border on cheap at times but have been working hard to curtail that.


I have a pay-by-the-minute phone and spend only about $8 a month on minutes. I reuse plastic tableware and Styrofoam plates. Yesterday after eating a sandwich on a glossy paper dessert plate I rinsed it and dried it so I could re-use it for my little dinner steak. My facial lotion is "empty", but I plan on cutting the bottle in half tomorrow so I can get three or four more uses out of the part that won't come out the top. I have a dozen 1oz cups of salsa in my freezer from various restaurants as I save what I don't use with my takeout and make eggs with it. I usually buy used clothes, I don't think I've ever bought a new pair of jeans. I buy my socks new at the flea market. Undies and shoes I buy new, but only if I have a great coupon or there is at least a BOGO sale. I buy a lot of my produce at the flea market (commercial produce at about 75% the supermarket price) and I always buy my bread there (day old bread vendor, $1 a loaf for premium breads that are $5 at the store).


I'm frugal, but not cheap. I don't mind paying a lot of money if the deal is great. For example, we redid our bathroom last year. Put in some high-end finishes, vanity, etc. Did all the work ourselves, for a total price of maybe $5K, and got a finished product that would have cost $15-20K if we had hired it out and paid full price for everything.

If I were cheap, I either wouldn't have redid the bathroom to begin with, or spent a few hundred dollars at Menards and put in bottom-of-the-line stuff.


I'm frugal to the point I do all minor repairs to my car on my own. There is no way in hell I'd pay $200 to change my brakes. You know why everyone offers lifetime warranty on the brakes? Because all brake pads do! They don't cover the labor.

I'm not cheap. Cheap would be that I'd go to a pick and pull and find brake pads that are slightly better than mine... which would save maybe $10. Pads for my car cost $30 for high-end and $20 for good quality... Or could be even worse and not replace them at all.


I ride the line between thrifty and frugal. I'm definitly not cheap though. I usually form my meals around what is on sale at the grocery store, but I'll buy fresh food before frozen (usually more expensive, but still can be on sale). If I'm buying something that isn't a necessity, I usually buy high quality, but never at retail price. I'll wait for a sale.

Remember, the cheap man buys twice.

Edited to add: Frugal - buying what you want/need on sale. Thrifty - buying what want/need when its on sale, but sometimes buying something you may not need because it's such a good deal. IE, the 120GB PS3 I bought for $150....


I was raised in a house that would turn off the oven early in the expectation that the remaining heat would finish cooking the food...

Or we'd scrape the inside of a $0.50 can of soup for a solid minute to get every last drop...

We'd have a birthday and there'd be two cakes to buy. The cake we really want for $9 and a cake that's probably okay for $8. We'd get the $8 one.

This has been cursed into my blood, but I try to combat it. I'm frugal. I try to find the best bang for the buck whether or not it involves compromise. Though on occasion I just don't care and buy something full price.


I don't mess with toilet paper, but I reuse some of my sandwich bags. I take crackers or chips to work so I'll reuse the same bag a few times without washing it since it's carrying the same clean dry stuff each time.

I buy a lot of my food in bulk if it'll keep. A few weeks ago I bought 10lbs of oatmeal, 8lbs of raisins, and 10 lbs of almonds so I can mix up my own instant oatmeal.


I must confess that as careful as I am with money, I do make an exception for artisan goods. I visit a lot of community arts events and my pantry is well-supplied with home canned jellies, pickles, and vinegars. I can't resist home baked goods either. My bathroom is stocked with handmade (and unbelievably aromatic) soaps and lotions. I don't quibble with the sometimes high prices of these goods, as the value of the quality ingredients and of supporting local artists makes the price acceptable to me. I just finished a bag of ginger shortbread cookies yesterday. The ingredients were flour, sugar, butter, ginger. They were $7 for 15 cookies and worth every penny.


@samstag: Wow, I'd never get through all that. I am rationing out my last container of oatmeal to the "guest" birds passing through on their way north. They like the oatmeal, but they really like the copious amount of weevils thriving in it.


We're pretty darn frugal. We've had friends (who make a lot more money than we do) actually ask us how we can afford such a nice house and cars and everything we have (amazing what people will ask after a few drinks). We bought an older house that needed work (HUGE house, HUGE yard, doing the work ourselves), an antique "yacht" that we've been working on for years (our third one, and we sold each of the others for a profit), and we NEVER buy new cars. I don't coupon regularly(tried it, but spent too much time figuring whether the better deal was what the coupon offered or another size/brand), but I do watch for sales and deals.

I guess my frugality comes from a period in my childhood when my dad was out of work for a while. This came at just about the time I was starting to notice finances. It impressed upon me the need to watch my money. To top it off, there were several occasions when DH was out of work. I learned to save leftover veggies and meat to make soup. Still do!


@moondrake: The stuff I bought came in smaller individual bags, which were separated out into lock & lock containers.

But this is the first time I've done this so I'll find out in a few months if this "savings" experiment will come back to haunt me.


frugal is a nice way to describe me. I am the king of coupons, use them for everything. I don't always get the brands I want but have not paid for toothpaste, body wash, shampoo or deodorant for probably 5 years. The deals are out there if you just look.


Being a child of the depression with my mother being widowed during WW2, there was not a lot of money for sure. I never felt "poor" or deprived because everyone else that I knew was in relatively the same position (perhaps a dad overseas). Even after the war, the only deprivation I felt was the loss of my father. We lived as well or as poor as the rest of the population in our town (pretty much). However, the sense of not wasting money and working and saving just became a way of life that I did not question. I continue to watch what I spend - will not overspend on anything even tho I might want it very much because I know that I will, with my shopper's instinct find it somewhere, someday at a lesser price. You might say that I do not have an instant gratification urge. Having said that, when I finally pull the trigger on something after a long watch/wait period, don't you know, the next week it will be on sale even lower!


@samstag: try oatmeal raisin cookies. you'll go thru it a lot quicker.


i'm both cheap and frugal, depending on the situation and how picky i am/we are about the quality of something.

I am passionate about Viva paper towels and will pay full price if we need them and they're not on sale. They're so much better at dealing with messes that it's worth every penny to pass the crappy store brand.

If I need to buy a can of corn, or paper plates, or socks, you'll likely find me buying the Great Value ones at W-M.

My cats LOVE lasers. Rather than spend $$ on a good one and purchase expensive batteries, we kill the earth by buying one every time Meritline has them on special and toss them when we're done. SOOO much cheaper, I can't even tell you.

I've finally gotten Hubby on board with waiting to buy video games since I can find screaming deals a few days/weeks/maybe a couple months later here in D.W!

I coupon like crazy (not like the tv show, but I'm pretty good), which allows us to spend the extra money on brands and items we care about.


@moosezilla: Awesome idea. I'm going to try these this weekend. Or maybe these.


I shop at Woot, how much cheaper is that?


@samstag: If you can, put it in a clear container where the sunlight can strike it. That inhibits the hatching of weevils. That's why you store your pasta, rice and flour in clear containers on your counter-top. I am rarely able to follow my own advice as my kitchen is just too tiny.


@moondrake: As luck would have it my oats and pasta are in clear containers and I have a nice big windowsill behind my sink that would work perfectly.

I feel like I should be sending you a basket of oatmeal raisin cookies for all the good advice.


I'm cheap in that I'm not really generous... i.e. if I go out to dinner with someone (even my bf) we'll be paying for our own specific items. Most of my friends and my roommates are the same way, though... I hang out with too many people who are still in the "starving student" mindset.

I'm frugal in some ways- I try to buy most necessities at the dollar store, I regularly visit the "manager's special" rack in the back of the grocery store, I don't have cable TV, I hang dry most of my laundry in my apartment... I waited months to get Skyrim for Xbox until it went down to $40, long after everyone else lost interest, hah.

However, everyone has their areas of weakness and I definitely spend extra money where I shouldn't. I buy premium cat food and litter, drink craft beers, and I go out to eat far too much.


@samstag: Yummy. I will enjoy them in my imagination. I love oatmeal raisin cookies. Or oatmeal cranberry pecan cookies for a little more zing.


@journeyloaded: My friends and I often run tabs with one another, but we always keep track and we always pay back. It's too easy to damage a friendship with someone feeling taken advantage of, so we just cover our own expenses and always pay back promptly when we borrow from one another.


@moondrake: I applaud your averting of waste even if it is for the sake of money.


@publicart: It's nice when concern for the environment and my personal budget have convergent paths. It's annoying when they diverge and I have to choose which type of green I will conserve. Then I have to do all kinds of complicated cost-benefit comparisons and maybe find compromises.