I have been thinking recently about the difference between cheap and frugal. There is a stigma associated with the word cheap. I once read that someone who is frugal will reuse the same teabag for themselves, whereas someone who is cheap will force a guest to reuse their teabag instead of offering them a fresh one.
I call myself cheap sometimes, but I really think I am frugal. I joke and tell people that the real reason I was able to nurse our daughters as long as I did (8 months and 12 months) was because I saw the cost of formula and realized that what nature provided me with was free.
When I think of cheap I think of the toys from the dollar stores or the dollar aisle. They are not quality. They usually last a day or two then break. Because they only cost a dollar I don’t feel bad about tossing them when they break.
I think that couponing has a stigma of being cheap. I disagree with that and say that couponing is being frugal. I see couponing as a way of saving money on everyday things so that I can splurge on other things. It is a matter of how you want to stretch your buck. I can wait until I find a really good sale, match it with a coupon and buy several boxes of my favorite granola bars for $1 each or less, or I can buy a box or two every week for $2.50 each. I prefer to buy 10 boxes at one time for $1.
I admit I may sometimes come across as cheap, but I still feel that it is frugal. When we travel I take a case of bottled water with us so that we don’t have to buy expensive bottled water on the road. I also try to pack snacks like dried fruit, crackers, nuts, and cookies. I hate having to pay double to triple the everyday price at a convenience store or a hotel gift shop.
I have stopped, for the most part, buying bread. Some people may think that is cheap. “A loaf of bread isn’t that expensive, why not just buy it?” I started making my own bread because it does save some money, it tastes better, and the house smells really good while it is in the oven. I also have a KitchenAid stand mixer that makes it a rather easy task.
I really think that frugal is the new trend and that it allows you to decide your spending priorities. I would rather spend $10 on 10 boxes of granola bars versus only 4. How about you, what do you think? Do you think there is a difference between frugal and cheap? Do you have an example of how you are frugal and others think you are cheap?