Is living stingy worth it?
It’s a tough question and everyone and their mother seems to have their own opinion. But today we’re going to take a deep dive into the issue and come up with an answer once and for all.
In this article we’re going to teach you the subtle differences between living stingy vs. living frugally. We’ll explain why it’s important to live frugally, give you tips for saving money, and also share some warning signs that maybe you’ve taken the idea of living stingy too far.
Living Frugally vs Living Stingy
Simply put, being frugal means that you intentionally make choices that maximize the value of your money. You spend your money wisely on things that are most important to you.
A frugal person will ruthlessly cut expenses on most things. But at the same time, they’ll gladly spend extra on the things that are most important to them.
Frugal people do their best to avoid debt and they care very little about keeping up with the Joneses. They make smart money choices but they aren’t afraid to spend money on the things that really matter to them.
On the other hand, a stingy person hates spending money on anything. They’d run over their own grandmother to save a few pennies. Saving money is more important to them than enjoying life and they regularly deprive themselves of things they would actually enjoy just to save money.
If you are living stingy, it means you may have taken frugality too far and your miserly ways are likely causing problems between you and those close to you.
So to recap, being frugal means you’re a financially responsible adult. Being stingy means you’re more like Ebenezer Scrooge. Or for a more modern example, Eugene Krabs.
Image credit Nick.com
Benefits Of Living Frugally
Living a frugal lifestyle has many benefits. For starters, it helps you save money.
Of course, saving money is just a means to an end. The real advantage to saving more money is that it helps you reach your goals faster.
For some people, that goal could be a family vacation to Disney World. For others, it might mean maxing out their 401(k) so they can retire early.
Whatever your specific goals are, it helps to keep them in mind whenever you’re making a spending decision. Just take a moment whenever you reach for your wallet and think to yourself, “Am I willing to spend $100 on this pair of shoes even if it means delaying my ultimate goal?”
Another benefit of being frugal is that you will be well prepared for a financial emergency. By avoiding frivolous purchases and saving money you’ll be able to build up a healthy emergency fund.
Hopefully you’ll never need to tap into it, but experience shows that financial emergencies happen to all of us sooner or later. And when that happens you’ll be relieved to know you have money put aside to cover your bills.
Finally, living a frugal lifestyle gives you freedom and peace of mind. You’ll be focused on your own goals and less worried about what everyone else is doing with their money.
You’ll spend on what is most important to you but avoid the temptation to keep up with the Joneses. You’ll also avoid the stress and worry that comes with being in debt, and that freedom will have a positive impact on your health.
Tips For Living Stingy
Saving money is always a smart idea and there are times when you need to live as cheaply as possible.
For example, if you’re gotten laid off from your job or if you’re buried deep in debt you’ll need to tighten your belt and spend as little as possible.
You might even have to do without some of the things that are important to you, at least temporarily. Once you get your finances back in shape you can start adding those things back into your budget.
Here are some quick and actionable steps you can take to drastically cut your expenses right away.
1. Limit Subscription Plans
Most people have subscriptions to services they don’t even use anymore. Maybe you signed up for a trial period and never canceled, or you just forgot all about it. Or maybe it’s something you used to need but now you can live without.
Take a close look at your bank statement and credit card bills and you’ll probably find several subscriptions you can cancel and immediately save money.
Some of the most common culprits include streaming services (do you really need Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, AND Amazon Prime?), music services like Spotify, old school magazines, and gym memberships.
2. Cook At Home Instead Of Going Out
I love going out to eat, but you really should make it a treat and not the norm. For my family of five, even if we just go to the local diner for dinner it will cost me at least $75 after tip. We certainly can’t afford to do that all time.
For $75, I can cook several meals at home. And odds are they’ll also be healthier than whatever we order from the restaurant too.
3. Meal Plan
When we plan our family’s meals out for the week and shop for everything at the same time, we eat healthy meals without breaking our budget. But when we don’t plan ahead we end up scrambling around and making multiple trips to the store in search of something to cook for dinner. Or we end up ordering pizza or Chinese food.
You don’t need to cook everything in batches days ahead of time and you can be flexible, but it really helps to map out your meals for the week.
4. Brown Bag It Baby!
If I have to buy lunch at work, it costs me an average of about $10 per day. That’s $50 a week, or $200 a month! That’s just crazy.
With a little planning you can brown bag your lunch and save yourself a small fortune. Plus there’s the added bonus that a homemade lunch will be a lot healthier than fast food.
5. Buy Your Groceries In Bulk
Buying in bulk from warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale can save you a significant amount of money. The price-per-unit on bulk items are almost always cheaper than smaller sizes. Just be sure you don’t buy bulk for items that could spoil before you use them. You won’t save money if you end up tossing half of your purchases in the trash.
6. Earn Cash Back At The Supermarket
I’m notorious for leaving coupons at home or in my pocket instead of giving them to the cashier when I’m checking out at the supermarket. That’s why I love using the Ibotta app. I don’t have to bother with cutting coupons out because they’re all on my smartphone. When I get home from the store I just take a picture of the receipt and watch the cash back rewards get deposited into my account.
7. Extra Work For Cash
When times are tight, every extra dollar helps. And putting in just a few extra hours per week can have a dramatic impact on your family’s finances.
This could mean working a few hours of overtime at your current job or getting a part-time job to earn extra cash during nights or weekends.
Another option is to start a side hustle. There are many side hustles you can use to earn a few hundred dollars a month without investing too much of your time. You can deliver food for DoorDash or walk dogs with Rover. Heck, you can even get paid to watch videos or take short surveys while you watch TV.
Signs You’ve Taken Living Stingy Too Far
Obviously, if you’ve been laid off from your job or hit with some major debt due to medical expenses or something like that, you need to cut every penny you can and make living stingy a priority.
But it’s possible for you to take frugality too far and get to the point where you sacrifice your quality of life.
Remember, being frugal means making smart decisions that optimize both your money and your life. Being stingy just means saving money at the expense of everything else, even if your quality of life suffers.
Here are some examples of situations where the difference between frugal and stingy is obvious:
A stingy person would decline to go out to dinner or drinks with their friends because they can’t stand the thought of spending money when they can eat more cheaply at home. A frugal person understands that going out to dinner is a nice treat that will help build relationships with friends and family. They don’t go out every night but they allow themselves dine out once in awhile.
Stingy people are horrible tippers and they will often stiff a waiter or waitress because they’re too cheap to leave even a few bucks behind. A frugal person understands that wait staff work hard and depend on tips to earn a living and is okay with leaving a respectable tip.
A stingy person hates to spend any money at all so they will either choose to go without or they’ll buy the cheapest option possible, even if it is terrible quality. A frugal person understands that it’s better to spend a little more on something that will last for years.
Stingy people wouldn’t dream of spending their hard-earned money on a vacation. They’d rather just do a stay-cation (which can be fun by the way!) or just do nothing. But as far as I’m concerned vacations are non-negotiable unless your finances are really in dire straits.
I’m not saying you should fly to Hawaii every year, but a couple of days away can have a cathartic and healing effect on your mindset. Just as important are the memories you’ll be making with your family. Those are priceless.
This is the big one. Since money is the most important thing to them, a stingy person will do whatever is necessary to save a few bucks. They’ll spend countless hours clipping coupons and searching for the best deals to save themselves $10. But they never learn that time is the most valuable commodity of all. I will gladly trade a dollar or two if it means I can free up hours of my time for more fun and rewarding activities.
Making smart money decisions is key to reaching your goals and achieving financial freedom, and living a frugal lifestyle is one of the smartest decisions you can make.
People who are able to build wealth just don’t throw their money away on frivolous purchases and things they don’t need. But that doesn’t mean they don’t spend money at all!
If you’re living stingy it means you have taken frugality too far and saving money has become an unhealthy obsession. Like a Scrooge, you’re hording cash at the expense of all the good things in life. You’re missing out on the three Fs…family, friends, and fun.
And while there are certainly times when you’ll have to tighten your money belt and drastically cut your spending, that shouldn’t be your normal way of life. If it is, you may find yourself unhappy with your relationships with those around you and with life in general.