Frugal or Just Cheap

Frugal or Cheap

It is no secret, I am a frugal mama and I love it.

But, is living a frugal lifestyle really that great and are we really being frugal or are we just being cheap? I am sure if you are a frugal-minded person you have been called cheap before, I know my kiddos and husband sometimes thinks that of me!

According to Websters dictionary, here are the definitions of frugal and cheap:

Frugal: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

Cheap: not costing a lot of money : of low quality : not worth a lot of money

That seems like a really big difference to me!

Frugal does not mean less value!  It means making more of what you have.

I grew up in a frugal home, my mom is a daughter of parents who grew up during the Great Depression and passed down their frugal living ways to their four children. I had a wonderful example in my mother growing up.  The home made meals, the fun searches through the dress up bins to make our own Halloween costumes, and the fun at getting new things for birthdays, and the fun of finding something we really wanted at a yard sale for a great bargain!


Frugal living is a mindset and it is not for everyone. Frugal living means that you look at what you have and make the most of it, instead of just purchasing something to make it easier.

Do frugal and cheap go hand in hand? Sometimes, because shopping for deals and using coupons are simply a part of frugal living but they are not the be all end all of a frugal way of life. That is difference between being cheap and being a frugal. Purchasing items you do not need simply because they are on sale even though you do not need it is anti frugal.

Before making a purchase, I always ask myself if I have anything at home that I could use in place of purchasing it. Usually, the answer is yes. Do we need paper towels?  No, we use old repurposed towels, cut to size.  Do we need paper plates, no we use reusable plates.  Do I need more clothes?  Not unless I’m replacing something…  40 Hanger Closet.  That is the frugal mindset. Instead of purchasing something on sale, or even at the thrift store, you first look to what you already have and make use of it first.

Being frugal doesn’t mean skimping on fun either.  Rarely a day goes by where the children and I don’t play a game, do a craft, go to the library, read together.   We’ve had a blast making elaborate Halloween costumes or simple princess costumes.

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Last year we planned our little Clara’s birthday party at the zoo and it turned out that a family membership only cost a few dollars more than our admission for that day would have been and the membership was inclusive for all of us and lasted a year.  We have had several trips back to the zoo and will conintue to enjoy that until next August!  And an afternoon zoo party including the membership all wound up costing about the same as decorations and food would have if we had hosted the party at home!  We didn’t go “cheap”, we found a valuable alternative to spending a lot of money!


Meal planning for me is another huge difference between being cheap and being frugal.  We eat very well for less than it would cost to eat out or eat convenience food.  I can also pack a more nutritious and inexpensive lunch for my kindergarten age child than she can get at her school.  Bonus to that is that she loves it!  She gets more time to eat because she doesn’t have to wait in line to get her food, and she always knows that it will be something that she loves because she helped me plan it and pack it.  It is more work, but I consider that part of my job.  My “income” is the money that I save.

My reasoning behind being frugal minded is another of the great differences in being frugal and being cheap.  I am frugal so that I can afford to stay home with my children as I believe that is the best option for us!  I also do it because I know that if I spend less on the things we use day to day that we will have more to spend on other things such as vacations, birthday and Christmas gifts, and extracurricular activities.

All in all, the reason for every frugal decision I make can be summed up with one picture :)

Are you a frugal-minded person? Do you agree that there is a difference between being frugal or just cheap?


  1. Kimberly says:

    There is a HUGE difference between frugal and cheap! I think you have to be wise to be frugal…and oftentimes, being cheap is just being lazy. Looks like you’re doing a beautiful job as a frugal Mom…and teaching your kids to be wise, too….just like your Mom did you. What a wonderful legacy to continue! *high five*
    Kimberly recently posted…5 Letters We Should All WriteMy Profile

  2. Stephanie says:

    I’m quite frugal. I refuse to use credit to buy anything, although I don’t count a mortgage, and I financed only $10K on my truck even though we could have paid for all of it in cash so that I could repair my the damage my ex did to my credit which will help us down the road when we purchase a house, but our other two vehicles were paid for in cash, and we ended up giving our old SUV to my grandparents so that worked out well.

    I make my own laundry detergent and cleaning products, with the exception of dryer sheets, furniture polish, dish soap (no dishwasher here) and I buy the Clorox wipes to save my sanity for quick wipe-downs (in bulk, of course).

    We haven’t had TV service other than Netflix in three years. I rarely buy things I see other people buy, like DVDs or video games (hubby is horrible about it though). I don’t get the newest things that come out unless the old thing is broke. My furniture is all gifts, hand-me-downs, or thrift store/garage sale/clearance finds. Does it match? No. So what? It’s functional. I buy clothes on sale/clearance/at thrift or consignment stores. I always check Swagbucks or Ebates or Ibotta to see if I can get a deal before I buy something. I use coupons only if I need the item AND it’s cheaper with the coupon than buying the store brand.

    I get a thrill out of knowing I’ve saved money, and that’s more money that we’ll have for vacations or retirement.
    Stephanie recently posted…How do you happy?My Profile

    • Anne says:

      Yay! High five! I love seeing other women loving to be frugal! Thanks for stopping in today. My greatest love is thrifting, garage sales, and estate sales! We have a home built in 1944 so those are the perfect places to find the perfect pieces at the perfect prices. It’s going to take a while to get this place like we want it. But we are an eclectic bunch anyway so it’s fitting that our home is the same! Nice to “meet” you.

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