Who doesn’t like to save money? We all do. Whether it’s buy-one-get-one-free on our favorite shampoo or happy hour on appetizers, most people are not against the idea of saving some money and getting more bang for their buck.
But everybody knows that one person who takes bargain hunting to a whole new level, crossing the line into cheapness.
The fine distinction between being thrifty and just being cheap is often over-looked, but trust me — there is a difference between saving money where it counts and holding on to a dollar until it hollers.
A person who is cheap will go Target grocery shopping with you and bring along their pile of coupons with their calculator app open, counting up every single penny and dollar that is being spent on mostly generic-brand food.
This can be seen as disciplined budgeting, but a cheap person will go through all of that and still go up to the cashier and try to bargain for a better deal because the item is about to expire or has a dent in the can.
Cheap people are unreasonable and cannot understand why they can’t get something for free or discounted; cheapness is valued on the cost of something.
The thrifty person, who also tagging along on this Target shopping trip, will peruse the aisles taking advantage of the sales in the store, comparing the generic store brands with the name-brand items for some real savings, searching for the most affordable prices on toilet paper and hand soap.
Then Target’s enchanting fumes take over and suddenly they’re standing in line and their cart is full of the essentials and disconnected workout clothes, a fun pair of socks and their favorite body wash.
Being cheap and/or frugal is a valuable topic for personal finances, but there is also the effect of saving money on relationships.
A cheap person will go out with friends for something to eat, get something for $9.95, fight to only pay for exactly what they paid for, only put in $10.00, well knowing that with tax and tip it is closer to $14.00 — oh, and then ask their friend for that $2.00 they “owed” them from the time they covered that last food tab.
The mindset in relationships is less considerate and based on the running tally of IOUs from friends, family and co-workers.
Being a thrifty person is about prioritizing spending, so that they can have more of the things they care about, including the value of their time and the value of their relationships.
There is a fine line between the two, and a thrifty person can easily struggle with the feeling they are just being cheap, while a cheap person can defend their lifestyle as an art form.
Long term, they both save more money, although cheap people’s cheapness affects those around them, while thrifty people’s frugality simply benefits themselves.
Salilo Ma’o is a master’s in public relations student. She likes to work out and drink hot tea with honey, though not at the same time.