There is quite a big difference between being cheap and being frugal.
Cheapskates, in my experience, covet money in unhealthy ways. Sometimes so much so that the cheapskate is dishonest and disrespectful toward others in matters of budgeting and personal finance. Frugal folks, on the other hand, respect money – their own and that of others. They have no hang ups about it.
A frugal fellow will show up at the bar with twenty dollars in his wallet, and that will be his spending limit for the evening. A cheapskate will show up at the bar and announce, usually when the bill arrives, that he has forgotten his wallet. And even at that, he’s likely to borrow a twenty for a “nightcap.” An old story.
At home, the cheapskate will turn the furnace down so low during the winter months that parka-clad family members will see their own breath over breakfast. But that very afternoon, the cheapskate will go out to the mall and buy herself a $200 dress just because she happened upon a sign showing the item had been marked down from $400.
The frugal person, meanwhile, snuggles in warmth at home with her family. Unlike the cheapskate, she knows that there are some things in life that you should never scrimp on because they are necessities. And not only that, they are necessities that require good planning in the form of a monthly budget, which is studiously followed – a practice that can bewilder the cheapskate.
I think cheapness is a form of selfishness that results from the neurotic fear of never having enough in life. Cheapness follows the path of spending as little as possible on needs and wants, without thoughtful consideration of either. Frugality is about balance. The frugal soul knows that money is a handy tool that needs sharing, proper use, and proper respect.
So, are you a cheapskate, or a wise and frugal soul? Perhaps the following brief quiz can shine a little light on the matter. The quiz was developed by a fellow named Pinyo, owner of Moolanomy.com, a site offering advice about personal finance and how to budget.
Go ahead, test yourself. Just remember, if you don’t come through with flying colours, there is still hope. To join the smart, frugal crowd, you can always call us here at Credit Canada Debt Solutions. You might ask about our Financial Coaching Program, which for a reasonable fee can rid anyone of a lifetime of anxiety about money, with the result that the individual becomes a frugal financial wizard.
Here’s the quiz. Use a pen and paper to record your choices for the final tally. Choose the answers that best suit you, or that you think come closest to suiting you.
A. Do you eat out (not counting lunches at work)?
- All the time
- Two to three times a week
- Two to three times a month
B. When you eat out, do you …
- Order whatever you crave?
- Order an entree for each person and take leftovers to go?
- Share meals to save some money?
- I don’t eat out
C. What do you drive?
- The latest and greatest vehicle a lease can buy
- I buy a new car every few years
- I always buy a used car
- I don’t own a car
D. What kind of TV do you have?
- 1080 HDTV
- A flat screen TV, but not the latest and greatest
- I still have the TV I bought 10 years ago
- I don’t have a TV
E. What cable/satellite package do you have?
- Premium channel with everything under the sun
- Just the basic channels so I can watch the news
- Whatever I get with the rabbit ears
- I don’t have a TV
F. What do you do with old clothes?
- I don’t have old clothes
- I donate them when they get a little older
- I turn them into rags
- I wear them forever
G. How would you describe your spending habits?
- I buy what I want, whenever I want
- I occasionally splurge on what I want
- I only buy what I need, clip coupons, use discount cards, etc.
- I avoid buying things
H. When you receive gifts, do you …
- Take them back to the store to trade up?
- Keep all the gifts?
- Return or re-gift some?
- Sell them online for cash?
I. When you buy clothes, do you …
- Always shop for brand names?
- Buy when they are on sale?
- Shop at goodwill and thrift stores?
- Beg and borrow stuff from family and friends?
J. Regarding your lunches, do you …
- Always go out to the local restaurants?
- Eat mostly low-cost take out lunches?
- Pack your own lunch?
- Get others to buy lunch whenever possible.
For each question, give yourself:
- 1 point for any #1 answer
- 2 points for #2 answer
- 3 points for #3 answer
- 4 points for #4 answer
Add up the points and rate yourself as follows:
- 35+ = You’re cheap
- 25-34 = You’re frugal
- 16-24 = You’re not frugal, but you appear to be reasonable with your spending habits
- 10-15 = You should look at opportunities to save more money
Keep in mind, this is hardly a scientific test. Fact is, if you’re a cheapskate you doubtless know it since you’ve probably been told so many times over by others.