I’ve been called “cheap” my whole life. I grew up in a small, lower-middle-class town of about 10,000 people. At first glance, I blended right in. Heck, amongst most places in the United States, I blend right in. However, given the small-town USA community I come from, I was the closest thing to Jewish many of the kids in my town had ever seen.
My Dad is Jewish, which makes me half Jewish—Jew-ish. Society tells us that you inherit your mother’s religion. While this is a subject for another time, I think that is an antiquated way of looking at things. I have just as much of my Dad’s genes as I do my Mom’s. Therefore, I will continue to be half Jewish.
Once word spread that I was part Jewish, the kids started to connect the dots. No wonder I brought my lunch every day, didn’t buy the yearbook every year, and didn’t buy the extra stuff the school was selling.
This opened Pandora’s box. Some of the bullies would occasionally throw quarters at me; even my friends would jest. Fortunately, I’m not offended easily, so I’d often just pick up the quarters and put them in my spare change collection. Over the course of a couple of years, it accumulated to over $200. Not bad for a 12-year-old kid.
To the newbie who has started the journey of frugality, you are likely going to be surrounded by hundreds (if not thousands) of people who do not know the concept of financial independence. They are going to call you cheap. They are not going to understand. So, it is important that you know the difference between being cheap and being frugal.
Thus, the subject of this post.
The Difference Between Cheap and Frugal
Being frugal is saving money. Being cheap is saving money at the expense of others.
Here’s an example. It’s been my mother’s dream for years to have Christmas on the beach with just our family. When the opportunity to go to Aruba presented itself in 2017, it was $1,000+ per ticket, plus 17 hours of travel time (while carrying gifts). I booked it without hesitation.
A cheap person saves in any possible scenario, at any cost. A frugal person happily spends money on things of value.
When going out to restaurants, I get water. At night, I rest my head on a futon behind a curtain in my living room while some stranger sleeps in my bed (I Airbnb it). I rent my…