Have you ever noticed how frugality is often confused with being
cheap? Isnít it a shame that those who choose to live frugally
are sometimes accused of being selfish and stingy?
Although these accusations may be
justifiable in rare cases, Iíve found that with most frugal
people, quite the opposite is true. The thrifty people I know are
very generous; they just choose to give in ways that are different
than their spendthrift counterparts. Let's look at some of the
differences between being frugal and being cheap.
Being frugal means making smart spending choices. Letís say that for your friendís birthday, you give her a
book. You paid only 50 cents for the book at a yard sale, but it
was in like-new condition and it is by an author your friend
loves. Some would say that it is cheap to only spend 50 cents for
a gift, but if itís something you know the recipient will love,
why does it matter how much you spend? Why spend more on a gift if
you could get something the person would enjoy just as much for a
lot less? This kind of gift giving is not being cheap; itís just
good money management.
Frugality is getting the most for your money. Suppose you donít have Internet access or email. Rather than
making long distance phone calls to your friends and relatives to
stay in touch, you save money by writing letters instead. By doing
so, you get more for your money. For the cost of a 37Ę stamp, you
could practically write your life history, include pictures, and even send small goodies like a bookmark or comics youíve clipped
from the newspaper. But how many minutes could you talk for 37Ę
of long distance charges? Not too many. Besides, a letter is
something the recipient can read over and over and enjoy many
times. Thus, you get much more value and enjoyment by writing the
Frugality is making your dollars
go farther. Suppose that to save money on your utility bill, you keep your
thermostat at 68 degrees during the day in the winter. Your kids
complain that it is a little chilly in the house, but you tell
them to put on sweaters. Some might feel that this money-saving
technique is an example of being cheap. However, making your
dollars stretch this way is smart for the whole family. If you
spend less on utilities, youíll have more to spend on other things such as fun outings with your kids.
Frugality is showing you care without spending a lot of
money. Let's say it is Motherís Day. Instead of buying a
gift and greeting card, you use your time and creative talents to
make something special for your mom. The gift doesnít actually
cost you much except your time and a few supplies you already had
on hand. Some people might think this is being cheap because you
didnít buy your mother anything. However, the frugal person
knows that giving of her time and talent is much more valuable than spending a lot of money without giving it much thought.
Nancy Twigg is the editor of
the Cost, an ezine about simple and frugal Christian living.
She is also the author of two books on the same topic. For more
information about how to be frugal without being cheap, visit
Nancy online at www.countingthecost.com