Cheap vs. Frugal (Which one are you?)

Cheap or Frugal?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of the word frugal means careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to. 

With the mindset of knowing how to allocate your resources properly and avoiding any unnecessary purchases at all, frugality is more of a lifestyle and less of a chore. However, a lot of people often interchange cheap with frugal living.

With that topic at hand, what are the striking differences between being cheap and being frugal?
Frugalists look beyond the monetary value of things
Cheap people and frugalists both care about the price of items they buy, but there is a thin line that would differentiate the two. When cheap people buy items, they merely look at lowest price tag and not considering the quality of it. On the other hand, frugalist look at the cost and value of the item. For instance, you are scouting for a good pair of running shoes when you come across two different brands: Brand A only costs PHP 1,000, but wears down more quickly as opposed to Brand B, which is thrice the amount of Brand A. 

In the long run, you will end up spending more if you simply look at the price tag instead of the quality of the product.

Frugalists save because they have a purpose
BudgetFor both types of savers, the main point is to save as much money as possible. However, there is a huge disparity with their reasons why they do it. For cheap people, their idea of saving money is by paying as little as possible for something, and it ends there. For frugalist there is an endgame when it comes to saving, and that separates them from cheap people. They save money because their aiming to be financially wiser among the rest. By seeing the big picture of saving, which is having the monetary power to use it for something greater than yourself, frugal people will have better reasons for saving money, other than just being stingy when it comes to paying.

Frugalists pay for something that will give them extra value other than low price
When paying for something, do you just look at the amount that you have to pay? Or do you also consider other factors like durability of the items or aspects such as time, effort and convenience - intangible things that cannot be replaced by money?

Cheap people only do it to save money, but for frugal people, there are far more important things than money, and they are willing to pay for something if it will allow them to save more precious things. For instance, ask yourself if a trip to the grocery is necessary if you're just going to buy a pack of coffee. You have to think of other factors before you spend, and most of the time, saving money doesn't equate to maximizing the value of something.

Frugalists know how to prioritize their purchases
When cheap people see something in the shelf and find it inexpensive, they will still get it even if it is not necessary for them to get it. 

For frugal people, this is something they avoid, as they only buy the things they needed. Proper allocation of money, which happens by prioritizing necessary expenses over others, is something frugal people know how to do well. However, this doesn't mean that they are devoid of the things that make other people happy. They just happen to know that if it overlaps with their basic needs and expenses, they will prioritize expenses that are far more important.

How Small Lifestyle Changes Can Save You Big-Time

Frugalists invest while cheap people spend
This is probably the biggest difference with these two savers. Frugalist way of spending is a form of investment to them; may it be buying a good pair of running shoes or a smartphone, repairing windows with the help of Ohio Roofing Solutions Ltd to make their homes more energy efficient, or simply tipping generously for a good restaurant service, they pay it forward instead of just simply spending their hard-earned money. For them, this gesture of generosity will come back to them someday, in one way or another, and it will benefit them more as opposed to simply paying for it. On the other hand, cheap people see money as something they can use to buy their way in, even if it comes at the expense of others.

While there is no hard-line to distinguish frugalists and cheap people, the most defining distinction between these two is how they see the value of things. Though there are things that you can get for a steal, it doesn't mean that you are getting your money's worth. 

This is a sponsored post contributed by eCompareMo!


Do you want to be labeled 'cheap' or do you want to start being frugal? Receive cool updates like this when you subscribe to PisoandBeyond!


  1. A good read. Thanks Jeff.

  2. now a days we need to be practical, I'd like to choose Cheap than frugal

  3. Frugal.. i don't buy things just because they're cheap.. i buy things because it'll give me the comfort that i want at my own price. Like for example.. subscribing to a plan from a cell phone provider with a free high end cell phone COMPARE to buying just the same unit, with the same monthly rate but w/o the the telecom services.

  4. Hi Annie, can you show us a comparison that getting a telco plan w/free high end phone is better than buying the unit separately?


Join the Discussion!

Contact Form


Email *

Message *