Staying Frugal without Becoming Cheap

It is possible to pinch pennies without anyone being the wiser. We live in a world where people are continually judging everything they see us do or buy when we are out and about. That does not mean you have to allow your financial goals to get out of hand. You can be frugal in the way you spend money without being viewed as cheap.

Ways to Be Frugal

Being frugal is a great thing. It can help you cut costs, boost savings, and meet various long and short-term financial goals you set along the way. These are a few tactics you can use to lead a more frugal lifestyle.

  1. Rethink your bills. Contact your cable company to seek ways to cut your monthly cable bill. Alternatively, cut the cord completely and switch to less expensive streaming alternatives.
  2. Kick cellular contracts to the curb. Many people find they can cut monthly costs immensely by skipping the expensive cellular contract services and opting for prepaid cellular services instead.
  3. Shop in consignment shops. Whether buying clothing for kids who grow a mile a minute or shopping for yourself, consignment shops offer opportunities to buy high-end items for a fraction of the costs. Favorite items to buy second-hand include furniture (choose shops that vet their items well), clothing, handbags, and video games for kids.
  4. Buy used vehicles. Purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle can help you save a huge amount of money over purchasing new without giving up essentials like factory warranties and other perks that come with owning a newer vehicle.
  5. Shop wisely. Saving big money on major purchases is possible. For instance, make major electronics purchases after the Consumer Electronics Show which takes place each January. You will likely see significant price drops on existing technologies so retailers can make room for new items that are coming soon. The same holds with Christmas decorations. The best time to buy a tree is after Christmas when they all go on sale.
  6. Invest in quality. Believe it or not, you sometimes save more by paying more. Buying cheap items sometimes means you must repeat the purchase far too frequently rather than investing in a quality product that is built to last.

Now that you know a few tactics to follow for more frugal living, it’s time to explore the transition from frugal to cheap and things you can do to avoid making it.

Signs that You Are Being Cheap

It’s great to be frugal, but no one wants to hear accusations of being cheap. If any of the following apply to you, you may want to dial your frugality back a notch or two.

  1. You are willing to drive out of your way, or even across town, to save a few pennies on gasoline or a grocery item. If you do not have the proper balance between the value of your time and the value your money, you might be crossing the line.
  2. You are constantly asking for add-ons and "freebies" from both retailers, friends, and families. Your brother-in-law might know his way around electrical wiring, but if you are constantly asking him to hang a new ceiling fan, or install a new electrical outlet, without offering in-kind assistance on projects he might have around the house, you might be getting too cheap. Likewise, if your idea of a great dinner date is to cruise your local warehouse club for free food samples, well, you get the idea.
  3. You are the person that conveniently forgets their wallet when the restaurant bill comes due, or when dividing up a bill, you have to itemize every item that members of your party ordered so that you don't pay a nickel more than you ordered. Oh, and then you conveniently forget to include a tip for your waitstaff.

When your attempts to live frugally begin to take over your life and prevent you from doing most everything you love, it is time to rethink your strategy. Being frugal is supposed to help you live better, not force you to stop living. Using the tips above for frugal living will help you save without making saving an obsession where it becomes a detriment to leading a happy life.

Information presented in the Northwest Financial Wellness Center is provided for educational purposes only and is not related to actual Northwest products or services. Northwest makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness or specific suitability of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. Northwest recommends you consult a professional for any specific guidance you are seeking.