Curing The Cheap Disease For A Better Life

Counting Pennies As A Cheapskate4pm – 5:15pm was our doubles court time. At 4:05pm, our 4th player group texted us to say he was waiting for parking at the club parking lot. He finally showed at 4:45pm.

Because he didn't want to pay $3.25/hour for metered street parking, our 4th made the three of us wait. Further, when a couple of us had to leave at 5:15pm, he had the audacity to question why we couldn't play longer, even though he already knew we had other commitments. It didn't matter because another group of players were waiting to kick us off already during primetime.

What's really messed up is that Mr. Late drives a $40,000 5-series BMW, a car worth 2X mine. Thankfully, I had already worked out for two hours that morning, otherwise, I would have been pissed for his total disrespect of our time. Being cheap is fine, but not at the expense of others. Don't be selfish.


I know I'm definitely frugal, but I don't think I'm cheap. Being cheap is a shame that takes the joy out of life. After all, Financial Samurai is a website that secretly tries to maximize happiness through the use of money. I am all for spending money on things we care about the most, and minimize our expenses on things we care about least.

Being cheap is a symptom of poor financial management rather than some genetic predisposition. So how does one who is seeking early financial independence not be cheap, yet at the same time also save and invest aggressively? Here are some things I've thought about that can help cure the cheap ass disease.

1) Know your finances inside out. Part of the reason why people are cheap is because they don't know exactly how much they are earning and spending. For a couple years, I felt that I had to save more money because I thought I was “only” saving 50% of my after-tax income. After sitting down and actually calculating my earnings and spending, I learned I was actually saving 75% – 85% of my after tax income. When I discovered this, I started to spend more freely without guilt. I know exactly what I can spend and invest each month to achieve my target 50% savings percentage because I track my finances like a hawk.

2) Take baby steps towards spending more. A great way to spend more is to gradually move up the quality/price curve. For example, you might first start shopping at Ross Dress For Less, then move over to Old Navy, then Gap, then Banana Republic, and finally Armani. Or, you might start with driving a beater, then a seven year old Honda Civic, then a sexy new Honda Fit like the one I have now. It took me 10 years of driving a 10 year old SUV with irreparable problems for me to finally bite the bullet and buy a new $20,000 car. But now, I love it, and am considering a mid-life crisis car in two years. During your baby steps, you may discover that you are perfectly happy with the quality of Banana Republic and a Honda Fit and be content to not take additional steps.

3) Take notes on how you feel spending XYZ amounts every month. While taking baby steps toward spending more, record how you feel about spending certain amounts. Assign happiness and guilt ratings from 1-10 for each amount. The fear of running out of money often irrationally prevents you from enjoying the happiness experienced by spending more. But if your happiness score trumps your guilt score, and you know your finances inside and out, you should be able to gradually overcome your irrational thinking.

For example, I used to feel very guilty spending money on the latest laptop or iPhone, even though they are necessary tools for running my business. I'd always just inherit hand-me-down laptops with not enough memory. Then one day, I said screw it, and bought the latest Macbook Pro 13″ for around $1,500. The joy of no longer seeing the dreaded pinwheel more than outweighed any guilt I had for buying a computer more powerful than I really needed. From then on, I'm happy to spend whatever it takes to get the fastest computer possible.

4) Recognize the value of more expensive items. I'm not talking about the value of Hermes handbags that cost $5,000, but only cost $100 to make. A no-name hand bag can carry your goods just as easily as a Hermes handbag. I'm talking about the incremental value of paying for nicer things. Nicer clothes will make you look better and feel better. A nicer car might be much safer due to more airbags, a stronger frame, and anti-skid technology. And a luxury master bathroom with dual rain showers, a large jacuzzi tub, a custom closet with his and her laundry containers, and a private toilet room could make a boring marriage fun again!

5) Figure out what you value most. Everybody values things a little differently. The older I get, the more I value time. As a result, I'm willing to pay for parking instead of waiting for a free spot. As an internet small business owner, I absolutely will pay for the fastest internet possible. When commuting, I'd happily pay a little more for UberX instead of UberPool to get to my destination faster. Time is one thing none of us can get back. Other areas I'm willing to pay up for are housing, food, shoes, sports equipment, education, and travel. How about you?

6) Estimate how much left you will have when you die. Estimating when you'll die is a great way to force yourself to spend more freely. The only easy way to get an idea how much you'll have when you die is by running your finances through a retirement planner. Going through an Excel spreadsheet is way too cumbersome to forecast manual cash flow in so many years. I absolutely plan to spend or give away 100% of any money beyond $5.45 million as an individual, since that is when the death tax limit kicks in for 2016. I'll encourage my spouse to spend or giveaway all money over $5.45 million as well. It's up to you to calculate how much you think you'll have, and how much you're comfortable leaving behind so you don't create spoiled, entitled brats!


It's fine to be cheap if you're focused on achieving financial freedom or early retirement. Just make sure your cheapness isn't due to the ignorance of not knowing how much you can really spend while still being able to achieve your goals. When around others, be generous.

Don't let personal finance blogs like mine or people who have a lot more money make you feel the need to go to the extremes of saving. Your financial life is your own. Just come up with a game plan to get there!

Related: How Much Should My Net Worth Or Savings Be By Income?

Readers, have you ever had a friend or acquaintance who is so cheap s/he negatively affected others around them? If so, please share with us an example. How are you making sure you don't suffer from the cheap virus?

57 thoughts on “Curing The Cheap Disease For A Better Life”

  1. Sam, please don’t tell me you have that fancy bathroom. Because if you do you just told the world (which includes your wife) that your marriage was boring before you got the bathroom. So hoping that was hypothetical and that she isn’t as scary as my wife.

  2. I am frugal and most people believe that’s the same as cheap. Working in finance, people frown on this because they assume you are well-paid or that there is no need for frugality. Up until about a month ago I drove a 35 year old vehicle which has saved me roughly $20,000 since I bought it. People I work with are puzzled why I don’t just go out and buy a new car and even my family sides with them. “Just finance it” they say, “that’s what most people do.” But WHY on earth would I finance a depreciating asset, and why would I pay ~$5,000 a year in ownership costs when my commute is only a few miles??? I am actually moving within walking distance so I will be able to virtually eliminate vehicle ownership altogether and just use UBER if I need to go further than my home radius. Is this being too cheap?

    Admittedly there have been times I have literally been cheap. I walked 4 miles home instead of paying for a cab which actually cost me money in time. I think that’s key between frugality and cheapness….cheapness makes you take such extremes that it inconveniences not only you in the long run but others around you. I have been cheap on tips before, tipping $1 less than the standard % for instance because the total wouldn’t have come out to composite number. I am trying to loosen up in this area but it’s tough when I see how much of my money everyone else gets

  3. FS, do you think it is possible your late partner was not really ‘waiting for parking’ for 40 minutes, and fibbed to blunt criticism from “you are not here at the club when the three of us are ready at our agreed-upon time” to “I’m here, just waiting for parking and a space didn’t open up.”? One of those excuses appears to put it ‘out of his control.’

    btw, people like this are a big part of why I don’t play tennis anymore. Never bring balls, don’t respect your time, bring their bad moods to the court, poor sports and ‘gamesmanship’ and try to pass it off as “competitive nature”, and expect you to put up with behavior they would never tolerate. The game is great, the people…meh. One of your commenters, ‘No Nonsense Real Estate Landlord’ had a great one recently I’ve adopted, in reference to the quality of his tenants and their honesty, when he said “they aren’t making them like they used to anymore.”

    1. Maybe! But I highly doubt it because we all reconfirmed just that afternoon and we all know how precious the time is because everybody gets off work at 5 o’clock to play.

      I hate it when a player, especially someone who lost to you last time does not being balls!

  4. Dave @ Financial Slacker

    I agree. Being cheap is not a good quality and not something you want to be remembered for.

    I have relatives who always expect me to pick up the check when we go out to dinner because we make more money than they do.

    Sometimes they make a half-hearted offer, “are you sure we can’t help with that?”

    But if you really want to pay, grab the bill as soon as it’s put on the table and don’t take no for an answer. Or better yet, catch the waiter and take care of the bill before it ever makes it to the table.

    I wouldn’t expect them to pick up the check every time, just now and then so I don’t feel taken advantage of.

  5. I liked this post a lot. There is a difference between buying quality and buying hype. It pays to know this difference. Growing up, my dad didn’t splurge for much–but when he did, he wasn’t afraid to pay for well-made items. This trait made an impression on me. I live frugally, but find exhilaration in using a great fly reel, or camera lens. Great does not always equal most expensive, however.

  6. This is a big challenge for me, but I’m taking more “baby steps” to spend more. I’m already debt-free, making six figures, and saving 25% of my income while living in the Bay Area in my 20s, but it’s difficult for me to enjoy spending on wants without feeling guilty. However, I do recognize the value of consumer goods, so I’ve “graduated” to a few luxury makeup items and accessories, because they look better and last longer. I also bit the bullet and bought a new Mazda3 after driving my 17-year-old, 170K mile Mustang into the ground. It actually broke down onto the way to the dealership.

    My focus is still on saving and investing, but it’s good to learn how to treat myself every now and then!

  7. PhysicianOnFIRE

    I set out to write a post about frugality the other day (published today). I expected it to be very much pro-frugality, but as the words hit the screen and the numbers were analyzed, I better understood that my day-to-day decisions to save a few dollars here and there didn’t really add up to much.

    When a day’s market swings can equal 6 months of my family’s expenses, it doesn’t make much sense to sweat the small stuff. If you are far from FI, every dollar counts. When approaching FI and beyond, time, convenience, and quality can trump cost.

    Cheers! -PoF

    1. Exactly. And when you’re losing $10,000+ in the stock market in a day, who the hell cares about spending $2,500 on a new computer that will last a good 3-5 years, or $100 for a nice meal? Losing money has a great way of encouraging us to spend our money on what we value before it goes POOF.

  8. I’m sometimes cheap, sometimes frugal, and sometimes excessive – but I absolutely (almost) never waste other people’s time. I’m the kind of person that’s always early and the once a year I’m late a few minutes I’m always extremely apologetic.

    1. 15 minutes early is on time. On time is late. And 15 minutes late is unacceptable without a damn good reason. 45 minutes late b/c you are unwilling to pay for parking is OUTRAGEOUS!

  9. The word I like to use is “Thrifty”. It has a lot more positive connotation than frugal or cheap for me. We definitely took baby steps up when it came to cars. I was the first Director at our company to park a used Toyota Corolla in my assigned space and first to bring a Honda Pilot into the executive garage when I made VP. Funny thing is I’m retiring this month at 49 and no one else I know is!

  10. I admit that I look for bargains and deals. I use coupons, shop at Costco, get my shoes re-soled (1 time!) and try to drive a hard bargain when I make a major purchase. I also use credit cards and reward programs as efficiently as I can figure out.

    I was very happy to see Sam basically state that you can enjoy life a bit as well. Few things bother me more than seeing an amateur financial blogger excoriate people who admit to having an expensive dinner out once in a while and seeing a headline on an Internet site that reads, “Family of 4 Survived on $10,000”. I guess it is technically possible but who here would want to do that? Also, how are they saving for their kid’s educations. I guess they aren’t. We will all pay for it.

    Anyway, my wife and I like nice vacations and a nice dinner once in a while. Of course, we offen use points or miles to significantly reduce the cost most of the time but won’t let that stop us if it isn’t available. The things I do to save money goes towards that.

    That doesn’t mean that it is OK to spend beyond your means or go into debt for a vacation. It is not. Life is about balance.

    1. Life is definitely about balance. I should do more points hacking and coupon using, but I don’t b/c I’m lazy or would rather spend my time doing something else. I try to give my points all away to my father and mother in laws instead through gift cards or items they need. They appreciate it, and it makes me feel happy to help.

  11. I’ve definitely fell prey to being too cheap. I’m certain that your opportunities in life expand in direct proportion to your willingness to take risk. I too think that being too cheap is a form of risk avoidance. There’s a huge difference between being cheap and spending the amount that truly makes you happy.

    Testing for incremental value is a great practical tip. Even if you’re not being cheap, there’s definitely a limit to the amount of happiness you’ll gain by each step up, no matter what it is.

    Personally, I generally try to spend on things that either hold their value (Apple, Canon), have extreme practical purpose (a car, food) or that I can make money on (a house/property). Travel, for me, is a big iffy – I enjoy traveling at times, but I despise the actual “travel” part and the fact that the money is completely gone afterwards. At least when I eat, I have something to show for it. Great experiences don’t have to be expensive though, and we don’t necessarily have to travel far. I believe in living in the place you want rather than constantly having to visit places you like. Maybe I’m being too cheap – I’d just rather pour money into housing which will pay for me to move one day and keep repeating rather than travel far and wide.

    1. I agree with you on Cheap being a “risk avoidance” act. This is why we need to all know our finances inside and out to pinpoint exactly how much we can afford to spend.

      We don’t want to risk spending too much and risk blowing up our finances. I know that many of us who are frugal just don’t know exactly how much we can spend and be OK.

  12. I think all men should read your site. They need to know the difference between being frugal and stupidly cheap. I am a 32 year old ” retired” physician and I wish I started reading your blog sooner. I first found your blog googling info about the marriage penalty and loved it! Thank you! I feel like I was the overly ambitious GF in one of my relationships. I saved 90 percent of my after tax $ from ages 22-29 and wish I was as successful as you determining where to invest. I got my 1st nest egg differently than U but it was the equivalent of working a crappyish job (dancing). So the belittling that I got really thickened my skin! I set my Financial goal instead of age of retirement goal like you too! Anyway, I don’t have a financial background but I wish I did instead of persuing a degree in health care. I would love to share my story and hear more of your advice!

    1. Hah! OK, please help me pass around this article and site to as many men you know.

      32 years old is very young to be a retired physician. Tell me more! There’s no other way around being focused in your 20s if you want to be a physician, no?

  13. I’m not cheap nor frugal – but I do like a great bargain:) Value for money – that is a priority:) Not into materialistic things, however I do splurge – on close family who made a lot of sacrifices coming to Canada to start a new life.

    As for myself – I do splurge on books, training, health – I see it as an investment.

  14. Your article is right on spot!

    I live in the East Bay. I’ve been reading your blog and other FI focused sites for a while.

    First of all, thank you for sharing your knowledge and showing the way to FI to so many people like us. Thanks to my reading, we just refinanced our home mortgage loan to a lower rate at no costs!

    While getting financially independent early is appealing, I think it’s crucial not to loose track of other intangible things in life that matter, such as respecting others and investing into your own happiness.

    With two kids, my wife and are seeking a fine balance between having meaningful experiences with family and friends that will be remembered (and cost a bit of $$$) and reach FI fast. And it requires sometimes concessions that go against the financial wisdom.

  15. I might have to take your advice on the new computer. This six year old laptop seems to be on its last legs, and it makes running a blog and working at my second job (a work at home position) impossible. I’m literally waiting for the thing to start working right now, as I’m trying to work.

    I’ve forgone a lot of things I normally enjoy in favor of extra hours worked and spending fasts. I have no regrets, but I also can’t keep this up forever.

    However, I always try to make sure I’m not being frugal at other people’s expense. To me, that’s the difference between being frugal and being cheap.

    Okay, seriously, I’ve literally been fighting with this damn laptop for 45 minutes. I’m about to throw it against the friggin’ wall.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. A Frugal Engineer

      If you have the know-how (or know someone who does), you might want to try swapping your hard drive for a solid state drive if you’re laptop allows for it. My wife has a 7 year old, $600 back then laptop from Best Buy that was stuttering during use, took 20 minutes to boot up, and she was tearing her hair out in frustration. I picked up a 512GB Crucial M550 solid state drive (SSD) for $170, copied her hard drive data to it and installed it (8 screws and one cable total). Now her laptop boots up in under a minute and there’s no lag at all. As long as you have 4 GB of RAM or more, an SSD should be all you need, provided you aren’t editing photos or something. It really makes a world of difference.

      P.S., Newegg and Amazon are your friend if you’re in the US, and any Crucial SSD should suffice as long as it has enough space. Plus, SSDs improve your battery life!

  16. #4 is right on.

    I needed a new razor and got one that was far more expensive than I had prior.


    Additionally, if you want products that provide a safe work environment and a decent quality of life for the workers, you’ll often have to pay more. We should do our best to support employers that focus on ethics and quality in ALL dimensions.

  17. This jives exactly with Ramit Sethi’s philosophy: Spend lavishly on what you value and love and cut back mercilessly on what you don’t. I like the point you make about maybe stopping at a Honda Fit because it makes you very happy and not feeling the need to go further.

    Society has trained us to think that rich and successful equals luxury cars, 3 car garage mansions, private schools for the kids and season tickets to the local NFL team. You can in fact mix and match and choose to spend more on what you value and then spend the minimum on what you care less about.

    1. quantakiran

      That’s exactly how I live. I often thought of myself as cheap (I’ve always told everyone if they’re looking for me at a store, I can be found at the bargain bin) but I see now that I’m just frugal. I would never ever waste someone else’s time, especially since I value mine so much. I take pride in living within my means. I’m laughed at because I drive 80km/h in the slow lane on the freeway behind the trucks to save petrol in my little 1.4. Though I do drive faster if traffic becomes a little too much to handle (I value my life!).

      Growing up, I wore home sewn clothes. And because of that, I buy clothes that look nice, are made from good quality material (which lasts longer) and well tailored, rather than brand names. Same with costume jewellery, shoes and bags, I’d rather buy beautiful than branded and preferably on sale!

      I also don’t use too many branded personal products especially since I try and not purchase items tested on animals. I’m the biggest girlie girl on the planet and like make-up. I buy the store brands which are way cheaper than the big names and are not tested on animals. The two brands I do buy are not tested on animals and I can only afford them in a sale.

      For my 30th birthday gift my mom was disappointed that I chose a cheap watch from the jewellery store but it looks amazing and it came with a beautiful bracelet, which everyone admires every time I wear the set.

      I am only on my second cell phone, a Nokia 2600C (purchased with cash in 2008 when my Nokia 5210’s battery packed up two years after I dropped it in a public loo. I had purchased the Nokia 5210 for cash in 2001 as well). I’ve been nagged to death about my phone and how I should upgrade but I’m not a phone person and only need it for the occasional phone call or sms. My phone spends more time in my handbag and drawers than in my hands. And guess what, my phone still does a lot of stuff, bluetooth, read and send email, photos/selfies (the 2015 Samsung Galaxy Trend Neo recently acquired by my mother can’t, lol), browse the net, etc. A button fell off a few months ago and I just glued it back on and it works perfectly.

      I saved money by not taking out a contract and to check my email costs me around 10c each time whereas the Samsung Galaxy Trend Neo takes about 10MB of data every time it has to reload Gmail.

      I’d rather save the money for fun experiences (whale watching FTW!), holidays and future than waste it on trivial things that end up in a landfill (or recycling centre).

    2. Interesting thought. I agree with the ‘spend lavishly on what you desire’ portion of Remit Sethi’s teachings, however I don’t recall hearing about the other part in any of his content. Remit Sethi also tells you to save no more than 10-15% of your income per year and spend the rest. He is an excellent marketer and psychologist because he caters to the majority desire of not doing what is difficult, and doing the bare minimum to retire with some money. A personal finance dynamo? I don’t see it. He speaks in abstract psychology instead of brass tacks. To his credit, I think his videos about interviewing and salary negotiation have value.

      I Will Teach You To Be Rich followers may have their lattes every day but I bet Financial Samurais retire sooner.

      I’ve watched a ton of Dave Ramsey, Get Rich Slowly, Remit Sethi, etc. and this site is by far the best, most relevant, most genuine PF content I’ve come across.

      1. Kendall – His platform (at least in the book, he can stop the salesmanship at that point to a degree) claims to be an introductory measure. Saving 10-15% as a minimum is already so much more than most people right? Also, depending on the cost of living xx a wage of a job you don not in your area that may be the right amount to start with. A lot of the advice is aimed to even help 20 somethings new to the workforce, or people making 40K a year save and value things.

        1. Hey Tristan.

          I don’t think Remit Sethi is a bad person or poisoning the wells. I just don’t think his advice is the best you can get because I think he is highly motivated by making himself rich through marketing abstract concepts. Nothing wrong with that, I just feel the authenticity in actually wanting to help people more from other sources.

          I think anyone that can get people to save more and get rid of bad financial habits is a net positive influence. Remit is just a smaller net positive comparatively.

  18. I thought I was cheap, but after reading the article it is nice to know I am just being frugal, but I have also relaxed on spending over the year. :) I hate unfairness and inequality, so it is against my principle to save money at the expenses of others or to spend other people’s money without any consideration since it is not my money. Money is money, whether it is in other people’s pocket or mine. And indeed, my time and my effort has a price tag as well, it is all about a balancing act.

  19. I had to smile a bit when I read that stuff about baby steps to spending more. I used to buy dress shirts at ROSS, but it was always a crap shoot because there is a huge variety of fits for a dress shirt with the same measurement. I finally settled on a specific style at JCPenny that I like. I found that I wear and enjoy things more when I like the fit. The funny thing is, it would be worth the extra money, but I don’t think I am spending any more than ROSS. I just buy one more shirt every time I get a $10 off coupon from JCP!
    Same thing with Eddie Bauer. Their medium-tall polo feels tailor-made for me. Well worth any additional cost.

  20. Great point about knowing your finances empowering you to spend.

    I know my finances, but more importantly, I know my values, and time and money are always trading the top spot when it comes to optimizing for cost. It’s easy to optimize for money since the monetary cost of a purchase is usually discrete. Unfortunately, it’s just as easy not to optimize for time, because it’s so easy to over look the time required in any financial decision since it’s often unclear.

    I make a point of optimizing for both time and money. Sometimes it’s worth paying more money to save more time. And sometimes it’s not. But it’s almost always work taking the time to make that decision consciously rather than as a reflex.

  21. The problem for many people is that they believe they’re frugal when they’re actually just a cheap miser. These same people won’t have any issues spending freely on other people’s dime such as when they’re dining out and entertaining on a corporate expense account.

    1. Now that is very annoying. Here in SF, we had some proposition where EVERYBODY would pitch in by paying 1-2% more in taxes to help fund children’s public education. Even though it would raise $10B, it FAILED to pass. Then when the proposition said it would tax only people who made over $200,000 a year, it PASSED, even though the bill would only raise $3-4B.

      What happened to everybody pitching in?!

  22. Making people wait without consideration is irritates me so much. I could call it a pet peeve of mine. If I ever keep some one waiting over 10 minutes I feel so bad and make sure to let them know I am sorry and plan better next time.

    It is okay not wanting to spend money on parking but plan better and come in early if you don’t want to pay. If you are late then just pay.

  23. Thias @It Pays Dividends

    I am doing better at considering the value and quality of the items I am buying. In the past, I used to just buy the cheapest option instead of buying the “best” option. Sometimes cheap isn’t always better if you don’t get the life out of it. You will just end up spending more in the long run.

  24. “A great way to spend more is to gradually move up the quality/price curve. For example, you might first start shopping at Ross Dress For Less, then move over to Old Navy, then Gap, then Banana Republic, and finally Armani.”

    I laughed at myself when I read that. I’ve actually followed that path up to Gap but then moved in reverse. I don’t buy clothes very often but when I do it’s Old Navy, Target, or Ross. I just can’t spend BR or Gap prices on clothes anymore even though I have a lot more money than in my 20s. It just doesn’t feel good to me. I’d rather put the savings in cost towards food or just saving it all together. If there’s a really good sale at Gap, then maaaybe I’d buy one piece, but it’s gotta be cheap.

    I see some women at work who dress beautifully, wearing lots of trendy and expensive clothes. I think they look great, but man I just can’t imagine spending multiple hundreds of dollars on clothes every single month that you never get back. What can I say, I am cheap when it comes to clothing!

    1. Amen. In my 20s I spent money so freely when it came to buying expensive jeans and jackets and just whatever I thought was cool – and a LOT of online shopping through sites like Gilt. But now I really don’t care about labels as much – most of what I buy is at Ross, Marshalls, an outlet store, or some kind of crazy deal I find during the holidays/seasonal sales etc.

      I still care about how I look and try to look nice – even though I work in a pretty casual office downtown I’m probably one of the better dressed people at work…could never imagine wearing sneakers or a t-shirt to work. But you really don’t need to spend $200+ for jeans or $100+ for a shirt to look good…especially keeping an eye on discount stores and deals there are crazy good bargains to be had. Sure it might not be the hippest label, but guess what…nobody else really cares. And you’re much better off putting those savings towards something more important to you.

    2. ps – recently also happened to stroll through Macy’s – it is RIDICULOUS how expensive clothing items there are at full price. I couldn’t bring myself to even think of buying anything there. I’d much rather pick through my limited options at a discount store or maaybe wait til things are heavily discounted. Most clothing purchases don’t really need to be immediate – if you keep an eye out for things you know you need/will be needing in the near future, you can easily work around prices and not have to run to Macy’s to buy something at full price in a rush.

    3. Ah, looking good is all about feeling good and being in great physical shape! No matter how nice your clothes, if you aren’t in good shape, there’s only so much nice clothes can do. Lucky for you, you have both!

      For guys, t-shirt and jeans. What more do we need? What more do women want? Cheap outfit, but if we are in shape, we look good.

  25. Cheap and frugal people both love to save money, but frugal people will not do so at the expense of others. Just like Mr. Late did not care about making you wait while he saved a few bucks.

    I must agree with that time is my most valuable asset, followed by my heath (i.e. eating health foods, exercising…) and learning (education, experiences…).

  26. I think I’m a lot less cheap these days. Occasionally, I’d have to pay $2 for parking when I go to the gym. I’m usually with my kid so it’s no fun waiting for a spot to open up. It’s just easier to keep moving. If I wait too long, I would be very tempted to skip working out that day. $2 isn’t going to make a huge difference. I only have to pay once or twice a month and the gym traffic should improve very soon.
    I still hesitate to spend on luxury. I think it will be easier when I get older because my retirement will be shorter so I won’t have to worry as much.

    1. Imagine if three people were waiting on you, and you were ALREADY late? Spending less for whatever reason on yourself is fine. I just can’t stand it when people are so selfish as to save money for themselves at other people’s expenses.

  27. Kevin @

    Appreciated this article. Cheap and frugal are not the same. Cheap ONLY cares about cost, while frugality looks for VALUE, seeking to strike a perfect balance between cost and quality.

    #2 is spot on, and where I’ve focused my efforts. Drive your beater into the ground, and learn how to diagnose and repair it yourself. You’ll learn something and be better equipped to spot when you’re being ripped off by shops/dealers. It’s fairly easy to find a decent set of wheels for under $5K. You just have to know what to look for. And I sure enjoy that search, especially finding diamonds in the rough.

    And I agree, I’d have a hard time “graduating” above a new Honda/Toyota. They cover more than all my needs; my frugal side would be screaming! But a 71 Datsun 240Z; I could get behind that;)

    1. One of my pain tennis partners has a Nissan 280z from 1986. He loves it forever. But, he readily spends money on $40 string jobs for his racket and pays to attend ever tennis event possible.

      Finding old cars to repair them is an awesome endeavor. I had a 1989 635CSi BMW I bought for $3,000. It was the true “Chairman’s Car” but it leaked fluid like CRAZY, and the brakes went out so I finally sold Sherman.

      1. Kevin @

        Sherman sounds like the perfect name for such a car.

        Indeed, I find it incredible that for a couple grand I can pick up a Mercedes that somebody spent $50,000 on in 1990! Sure, it’s old. But classic style and quality never get old. Thanks, depreciation!

  28. I always say that frugal is when you don’t want to spend money, and cheap is when you don’t want to spend YOUR money. Not exactly a perfect rule but gets pretty close.

  29. SavvyFinancialLatina

    I’m frugal. I try not to be cheap but it also depends on perspective. You might think driving an old car was cheap, but I don’t consider it cheap. There is nothing wrong and cheap about driving a 10 yr old car. Furthermore, I view having a Honda as a luxurious not cheap car. But I guess when you compare it to a Ferrari maybe it’s cheap. But I’ve never had interest in owning one of those fancy cars. I grew up with very little and have learned to appreciate the small things in life.

    1. You’re clearly not cheap.

      I have an 8 year old car that’s in top condition. Will run it till it falls apart. I don’t purchase clothing every season, I don’t buy jewelry (and I’m a woman), I don’t go to eat out. Some would say I forego a lot of enjoyment, but these are NOT important to me. Nor is having a new gadget every few months.

      But I do invest in traveling. Yes, I call it investing, since it allows us to get rich emotionally and intellectually, by opening our eyes on how people from all over the world work and live.

      I do know cheap people who are putting themselves in danger (and those around them) for few cents.

      1. I like that, “invest in traveling.” I agree about how travel enriches us in many ways. Americans are getting the travel bug, and is consistently one of the top things on our to do list. Europeans and maybe the Japanese are the greatest travelers around!

  30. Very nice to have a blog that promotes healthy financial choices without punishing readers with guilt for their spending choices.

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