The Difference Between Frugal and Cheap

I know what that eye roll means!

You think I’m a cheap asshole.

False! I might be an asshole, but I’m not cheap. No! No! I’m frugal! There’s a difference:

Being Frugal Does Not Mean You Buy the Cheapest Option

Cheap shit breaks. I’ll pay extra for value and durability all day long. It’s actually written into my frugal credo. What good is it if I pay $450 for a washing machine that breaks in a year?

Frugality Recognizes That Steeper Upfront Investments can be Financially Savvy

You’re buying curtains. Kick in a little bit extra for black-outs. You’ll end up saving money on electrical costs and help the environment.

(Side note: take your car in for regular maintenance. Go in for your annual physical. Take care of your teeth. Pay a bit extra for nutritious food. All these things will save you money in the long run.)

Frugality Embraces Selective and Targeted Spending

Frugal folks spend money selectively. Cheap folks avoid spending at all costs.

I’ve been asked if I’m trying to starve local businesses. No, I am not. I simply avoid shopping at Macy’s for shit I don’t need and redirect a portion of those savings to locally-owed businesses. My Macy’s-averse savings more than compensate for the mark-ups at mom-and-pop establishments.

This is also how I bankroll my charitable giving. Trust me, I give substantially more than the typical American. PBS hearts me.

(Another side note: my wife has been waiting months for me to note that frugality and charitable giving are compatible. Nailed it.)

I Stock Up on Stuff when it Makes Sense

I’ll pay more money for the larger jar of peanut butter if the price per ounce is less!

I’ll double my monthly grocery bill if it means lowering my yearly grocery expenditures. I think long-term.

Frugal Doesn’t Mean Forgoing All Earthly Pleasures

I still go on vacation to Hawaii. I order pizza. I buy the new Springsteen album.

I just make sure I’ve budgeted for these things appropriately so that I can still have $6 million in retirement.

Thus concludes my sermon.

Frugal Tip: if you eat cheap fast food, you’re just going to spend more on Imodium.

He’s cheap and an asshole. I’ll tolerate one but not both.

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