Frugality is all about being conscious about your spending and understanding where your money is going. However the line between being frugal and being cheap is pretty thin and it’s easy to cross from one into the other. However, there is a definite difference between being frugal and being cheap.
Here are a few warning signs that your frugality is going too far and veering into the realm of being cheap instead.
1. You only buy cheap things
Being frugal is being smart with your money, and while sometimes that does mean buying the less expensive alternatives, at the same time it just as often means spending a little more now for something that will last.
If you find that you exclusively buy things that are cheap or that you fall for sale signs (for example, “Buy two get one free!” when you really only needed one) you might be veering a bit too sharply into the realm of being ‘cheap’ or simply not being frugal at all.
Remember frugality isn’t only about spending less—it’s about spending and saving with intention.
2. You have no fun money
Everyone needs to unwind sometimes and while you don’t have to spend money all of the time, everyone needs some ‘fun’ money to spend on entertainment on occasion.
At the point that you find yourself turning down going out for a $4 coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while (despite the fact you’ve done nothing fun like that this week), there’s a chance you’re being cheap instead of frugal.
After all, being frugal is a lifestyle change, but it should be flexible enough that you can have money to spend on frivolous things, like a coffee hangout, every once in a while.
3. You are absolutely miserable
If you feel like you are constantly feeling like you are deprived of things and miserable, then there’s a chance that you’ve swung a little too steeply into the penny-pinching mode. It is normal to feel a little like you’re missing out when you first start on your frugal lifestyle, but if six months later you’re still feeling like you never get to do anything and hate it, then something needs to change.
You shouldn’t be completely miserable when you are in the frugal lifestyle. Sure, you’ll end up having to miss a few things, but you should still be able to spend time with people and occasionally get things that you want.
4. Your health is suffering
Eating cheap food is not good for your health, and while a trip to the doctor is expensive, it’s also necessary. After all, a trip to the doctor now will help make you spend less money later, and that’s the very essence of frugality! If you find yourself cutting out necessities like a doctor’s visit for a problem, then you may need to relook at your definition of frugality.
The trick to maintaining a frugal lifestyle is to remember that frugality is all about being wise, conscious, and intentional with your money. It means being careful about frivolous spending. It does not mean missing out on everything good in life!
If you find yourself being cheap instead of being frugal, don’t worry! It happens to the best of us. Take a deep breath and sit down to redefine what being frugal means to you, and make sure that you are still meeting your own basic needs.