Sunday, October 23, 2016

On Being Cheap

I was in Harvest Barn yesterday - it is a local produce and bakery store in St. Catharines (like the old days of grocery stores in yesterday's daily post).  The cashier asked the lady ahead of me if she wanted to buy a carry bag ($.05) or use one of the small meat/freezer bags as they were free.  The lady had only 2 pounds of butter, and she wanted a bag because the butter was cold.  She accepted the little bag over the bag that cost the five cents.  Then the cashier told me how she uses these little freezer bag for all kinds of things.  And concluded with:  "I'm cheap".

So I wondered what "cheap" is and how do we recognize it.  Here are 5 major differences between cheap and frugal from

1. Cheap and frugal people both love to save money, but frugal people will not do so at the expense of others.

2. Frugality is about assessing the bigger picture and having the patience to cash in on the simple savings strategies.

3. Cheapness uses price as a bottom line; frugality uses value as a bottom line.

4. Cheap people are driven by saving money regardless of the cost; frugal people are driven by maximizing total value, including the value of their time.

5. Being cheap is about spending less; being frugal is about prioritizing your spending so that you can have more of the things you really care about.

When I read the full article, I was a bit discouraged.  It points to a lot of rationalization by the 'frugal' author for choosing where and how to spend money:  a lot of one's internal conversations are taken up with mundane decisions.  It is a start, though, and helps to understand this significant topic.

And a search for the country with the reputation for being cheap?  Two countries show up: Holland and Scotland!

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