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Be Frugal, But Don’t Be A Cheap Bastard.

I always talk on here about watching your spending, staying out of debt, to stop spending on useless “stuff” that doesn’t bring real benefit to your life, etc.. But that doesn’t mean you should be a cheap bastard with your money, either. Being frugal is one thing, but not spending a dime, including not on great life experiences or time with friends, means you are missing out on your sole purpose of being on this earth – living. I am all for saving and watching what I spend, but as an example, I spent quite a bit of money this weekend visiting friends, going to a Colorado Rockies game, going out to nice dinners, and doing a few things I don’t get a chance to do living in a small town…and I enjoyed every single minute of it, even if it cost me a pretty penny. Sometimes, it’s totally worth the money spent.

  • If I were truly a cheap bastard, I would figure a way out of paying my share (or the entire bill) when eating out with friends.
  • If I were truly a cheap bastard, I wouldn’t have spent the money to buy my psuedo niece and nephew some ice cream when I was taking care of them.
  • If I were truly a cheap bastard, I wouldn’t have spent the money on tickets, parking, $6 beer, and all the crappy food we could eat at the baseball game.
  • If I were truly a cheap bastard, I wouldn’t have taken my buddy out for a few beers to discuss some important stuff. That’s what friends are for.
  • And if I were truly a cheap bastard, I would have snuck my own bird feed into a “Birds of Prey” exhibit instead of giving the kids some money to buy the appropriate feed, which benefits habitat restoration for the birds.

Might I have to tighten my belt for the next couple of weeks to make it up? Maybe. But the lesson here, of this post, is that money can be replaced – life cannot. Don’t be a cheap bastard when it comes to the important stuff in life.

Featured photo by Shutterstock

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Comments (46)

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  1. Josh Smith says:

    Thanks for the reminder, it’s easy to get caught up being frugal and turn into a cheap bastard.

    If you’re already one then breaking out will be fun and your friends will enjoy the change; just don’t go overboard!

  2. David says:

    Absolutely Josh – amaze your friends once in a while!

  3. Good for you! I’m baffled sometimes at the lengths people will go to save a dime. No matter what anyone says, you cannot beat the experience of catching a ballgame live; sure you could watch it on tv but that’s boring and slow. I can even hear some people now, saying that you could have gone and watched a little league game for free if you wanted to see a live one! People need to remember that saving is good, but what’s the point of working hard for the money if you are never going to do anything to enjoy it? Tomorrow may never come for you to spend all that you have saved so live a little each day within reason.

  4. Annie Jones says:

    On a similar note, when we took our granddaughter to the zoo a couple of weekends ago, we bought a few handfuls of food for the fish and ducks (at 50¢ a handful), some wafers for the giraffes (at $2.00 for 4) and a $2.00 soda (which was all that was available – even water was $2.00). All of this for our granddaughter’s enjoyment and experience. My brother-in-law made several comments about us buying these “overpriced” things.

    I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he didn’t realize the money went back into more feed for the animals. But I can’t, because this is the same man who refuses to tip in restaurants because he feels it’s the owner’s responsibility, not his. He’s a cheap bastard sometimes.

  5. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Tough line between the two some days. I’m cheap B for ‘not’ buying the shampoo I thought too expensive (for my 11 yr old) but the iPod touch I got her sent a message. You can save enough day to day that you can afford something nice now and then.

  6. AA says:

    Apologies for being “that poster” but you need to change your first bullet point to *wouldn’t* find a way to pay your fair share.

    This is a biggie for me because I enjoy paying my fair share when out with friends even though I will skimp when doing things alone or with one of my frugal friends. I’m learning to let it go, but have several friends with whom I try not to have dinner because they try to avoid paying for anything (fair share or no).

    On the other hand, my frugal friends and I discuss our preference to spend less before going out and still find ways to go to ballgames and the like without breaking the bank. It’s a win win .. frugal without becoming a hermit.

  7. David says:

    Actually, no – I said “I would figure a way out of paying my share”, as in, ” I would figure my way out” of doing it. Thanks!

  8. Joel says:

    I agree that you should treat yourself, but you should also try to maintain control over that inclination. It’s too easy to think things like, “I’ll go out for lunch — I work hard, I deserve it,” “I’ll buy some new clothes, it’s been a while,” and “I’m going to go to a Cubs game — this is why I work, right?”

    The key is moderation — and having a budget doesn’t hurt, either. I’ve started an investment fund with the money I used to spend on eating out for lunch. I’d like to think these peanut butter & jelly sandwiches will pay off, when it comes time for retirement.

  9. Enrique S says:

    Even when I’ve been short on cash, I’ve never resorted to being cheap. On the other hand, I’ve observed people with lots of money who pinch pennies all the time. I remember one well-to-do engineer that used to steal the one-ply toilet paper from the men’s room, and show up first for the leftover food from meetings. I think you need to strike a balance, and let yourself enjoy life. Otherwise, someone will call you a cheap bastard! ;-)

  10. Mike says:

    I always insist that whoever I’m with, whether that’s my wife, friends or colleagues that they always pay half. I don’t care what they think because they ain’t taking me for a ride!
    Cheap bastard? Possibly
    Cheap bastard with money? Definately!

  11. Stephanie says:

    dude, i was getting ready to argue this one, but after reading it you are totally right. The little things are important, especially when it comes to family and friends

  12. Taking a buddy out for a drink can sometimes get expensive but it’s definitely worth it, as I recently realized. If you’re in a pinch, a good friend is priceless.

  13. Kate says:

    Like those before me have said, these days, not only is it hard to be frugal because of the economic troubles, but we also still have all of the same temptations that were around pre-recession. I try, with each paycheck, to set aside a small amount of money to spend as I choose. This way, when its gone, its gone, but at the same time, I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself…although sometimes, that’s easier said than done!

  14. Daniel says:

    It sounds like you have control over your life. For me, being cheap can sometimes be extremely stressful. Why not save the extra 30 cents? It’s so easy…but I also know that the more I limit that type of behavior, the more I’ll program myself to spend my time on the people in my life I care about most.

  15. Pattie, RN says:

    A recent Dear Abby addressed this, with a letter from a woman who who was frequently treated to expensives lunches by wealthy friends. She was unhappy that they left only 10-12% for excellent service, and wanted toknow if it was OK for her to leave cash to make up the difference.

  16. kenyantykoon says:

    i dont think that i am a cheap bastard. But i am trying very hard to impress frugality in my young mind so that it will not be hard to live this lifestyle in the future. I want to be subconsciously frugal while spending the money that i make. I like this post BTW

  17. I also agree! Being able to spend time with friends and do nice things is a benefit of being frugal. Diligently saving money, allows you to partake in these activities.

    -Dan Malone-

  18. donya505 says:

    Thou does protest too much.

  19. Jon says:

    Never thought I’d read that in a PF blog. You have my respect! We have the same view- on the whole I apply a good bit of effort saving money, but don’t scrimp on the good times (and the $ that they cost)

  20. Erik says:

    I think there’s definitely a fine line between balancing frugality and being cheap. If you can find a way that you’re being unreasonable and not paying for something that it is a necessity or never picking up a tab or getting in arguments with people about money all the time, you’re probably a cheap bastard.

    If you quietly practice frugality and spend money when necessary or indulge at the right times with cash, then you’re probably just frugal.

  21. Griff says:

    That’s right! Frugal not Cheap.

    Being cheap is just not worth it. I’m a “recovering cheapster” that has recently (several years ago) discovered that being cheap just means that you value money more than the things money can buy. But then again, valuing the things money can buy over the things that really matter in life (Time with friends and family, God, giving to others) is not a good thing either. Thanks for the post.

  22. Being cheap is a poverty mentality and most people have one.

  23. Ted says:

    I love this post! Too many times, in an effort to save money, people lose out on enjoying a moment. The dollar sign ruins the moment. We may be in debt, but I am definitely taking my daughter out for ice cream a couple of times this summer- just so she has a some stellar memories. Thanks for the reminder that frugal and wise can easily slip into cheap memory ruiner.

  24. I hate it when frugal/thrifty people get a bad rap for being cheap. They are all lumped together, but really it’s all about priorities.

    Cheap people value money over their honour. Frugal/thrifty people will always value their honour over money, they just keep money higher up on the priority list than the average joe.

    I wrote about it on my blog yesterday: http://thethriftylifestyle.com/2010/01/thrift-vs-frugality/

  25. Being cheap is not really bad. Having a budget doesn’t hurt, either. I’ve started an investment fund with the money I used to spend on eating out.

  26. Frugal Babe says:

    One of the great rewards that we get from being frugal is that we have more freedom to spend money when it needs to be spent. Since we buy most stuff secondhand and drive old cars, we’re able to be generous with our money.

  27. Riht says:

    America has to realize that best things in life are free.

  28. Ghagupasaduki says:

    I are no cheap allot. I save monay on thing call car, hause, food. I eat on hause and no rastarent.

  29. Wil says:

    Money can be replaced. That really says it all. Thank you for the great post.

  30. nothing wrong with being cheap. it’s better than being broke all the time.

  31. Good point! It really is a delicate balance between saying no to yourself in the moment and living a life that you are not bitter about.

  32. Albie D says:

    Good note. I was a cheap bastard years ago. It was out of necessity, as I was unemployed, but I still felt like a cheap bastard. I now agree that it’s worth it to spend some money on your life experiences/friends. It’s a shame to miss out on things because you’re too cheap. It doesn’t mean you should spend money like crazy just to go with the crowd. I still look for ways to cut costs, but not so much that I regret it later. You just have to weigh the vaue of the time/experience vs. the cost.

  33. There is nothing worse than people being cheap. The more you give the more you will receive – its the pricipal of abundance

  34. russell says:

    There is a fine line between being frugal and being a cheap bastard. I have tried over and over again to stop spending so much money on junk, but yet i still overspend.Then again, money has to be spent at some point, why have it and not enjoy some of it? Great article,like it.

  35. The cheap bastards, are also the ones that don’t tip… If its appropriate, and you get good service, a tip is part of the cost of dining out, in my opinion.

  36. krantcents says:

    I agree, you need to live your life! You can do the right thing without being a cheap bastard.

  37. Determined says:

    Love this post! It is perfect. My Inlaws are so very cheap- it drives me nuts.

  38. Jason says:

    Yea. I’m starting to realize that I can’t be such a cheap bastard all the time.

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  40. hmmmmmmmmmm would I be a cheap bastard for only spending $230 to $300 a month for food for a family of 5? too bad I am too late for the grocery poll.

    Great post, there is a huge difference between a frugal lifestyle and a cheap bastard. To me being frugal is not doing without but making choices to save in certain areas while putting your cash towards the things that bring real value and meaning into your life.

  41. Mike says:

    I agree. I rather be more cheap with myself.

  42. trshmnstr says:

    I think it’s all about how you approach it. If you have a part of your budget set aside for fun stuff, then it’s not too hard to say “I have $X left in my fun account, so I can go out to eat with you at Mr. Horn’s Peanuts-on-the-floor Steakhouse, but not at The Crested Monocle.”

    If you’re just winging it, then you’ll be sitting there feeling remorse for your $2X meal at The Crested Monocle and shaft the waiter because you’re being a cheapskate.

    The moral of the story is, don’t be cheap… budget for some fun stuff!

  43. Good reminder. I know a lot of frugal people that are borderline cheap, and I can understand them because I can be like that, too. But those folks who are just plain stingy, those folks are harder to be around.

  44. Jason says:

    Great call! I never regret paying for experiences and it’s good to hear others like me (frugal but to a point) don’t, either. Well said.

  45. I have been called a cheap bastard many times in the past by my wife because I never want to go out an do anything. She has taken the piecemeal approach in an attempt at reforming my cheap bastard ways. She will say things like “Lets just go downtown and walk around but not spend any money” I usually agree to this but then we end up spending money. I actually don’t like being as cheap as I am and would like to enjoy life a little more.

  46. Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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