Are you Frugal or Cheap?


Is being frugal the same thing as being cheap? Its time to find out.

If you have ever wondered about the difference between been frugal or cheap; or whether there is any difference at all, then this is the post for you.

So settle down and enjoy this one because I’m going to tell you the deal.

Let’s start with a little definition…

Some definitions…

Being cheap is defined as being focused on cost at the detriment of everything else. While being frugal is defined as being focused on value, not at the expense of everything else.

The thing about focus…

A frugal person is focused on getting value for their money. While a cheap person focuses on getting as much as they can. It is a case of quantity VS quality. Cheap and frugal are two different words with different meanings.

If you are somebody who focuses on getting the cheapest things and quantity over the quality of the product you are buying, you are probably cheap.

Timing is everything…

A cheap person does not care how much time it will take or how their decision will impact their health or relationships.

On the other hand, if you are more concerned about getting the best value for your money, you will consider how the purchase impacts your time. You don’t want to spend too much, but whatever you are buying should get you value; then you are frugal.

Cheap people are short-sighted; they think only of the now.

The winter coat story…

For instance, if you want to buy a winter coat, and you’re thinking only of the trend and how little it will cost, you are likely to run off to a store like Primark to purchase a winter coat that is trendy but will not keep you warm, then you are cheap.

The trendy winter coat you have bought won’t keep you warm, and it won’t even last for long due to its low quality. You will probably have to go back in two years to purchase another winter coat.

Also, your decision to buy a low-quality trendy coat will likely impact your health because of the exposure to cold.

If you are somebody who wants a warm coat and you purchase a coat on sale that may not be trendy but has wool in it, and likely to last you many years, you are most likely frugal!

The thing about coupons…

A frugal person would look for the best quality at the lowest possible price they can get it. They value their time.

Somebody who does not mind how many hours they spend sitting down, cutting coupons so they can go to the store and buy what they may or may not need simply because it is cheap is not frugal.

A frugal person will instead cut out their Tesco or Sainsbury point, put it on their fridge, and make sure they take it along with them to the store in order to take advantage of that point while shopping.

Cheap is wasteful. When you do extreme couponing, for instance, and buy things you don’t need or things that don’t last long, you are wasteful because when the item you buy gets damaged, you would have to buy another one.

And bags…

A fugal person is a minimalist. They would rather have one leather bag that would last for years than a low-quality bag that they would have to change every year simply because they bought it cheap.

I consider myself a frugal person. I do not have a lot of bags, but whenever I buy bags, I buy quality. It does not mean every time I buy a bag, they have to be Louis Vuitton, Hermes, or Balenciaga. No!

I just make sure that when I buy a bag, it is a good quality leather bag that would last me a while so that I do not have to be in the store every year looking for bags. It also means I do not have to follow the trend and so I can buy good classic leather bags.

I would not go into a high street store and pick up a fancy trendy bag with faux leather for about 30 pounds. This is because I know it is not likely to last the test of time. It also means that if I buy that bag, I would be back in the store buying another bag in the next one or two years.

Some people think you need to buy brand names for them to be quality; this is not necessarily true. There are so many small boutique leather companies selling bags that are high quality that will last for a good time. I know quite a few black-owned stores like that.

You can buy quality items without necessarily going after expensive designers and brand names.


Being frugal means you value quality and time, and you are a minimalist other than someone who focuses on quantity, low quality, and just saving money on buying the cheapest.

If you are likely to cut corners by doing illegal things so that you can save money, you are cheap. For instance, if you want to get on a train but do not want to buy a train ticket, you are being cheap.

A frugal person thinks and plans ahead. They think of how they can get the best value for their money, so they would rather buy a weekly or monthly ticket to save money.

A frugal student will apply for a student discount card so that their transport cost can be cheap.

Now that you know the difference between being cheap and being frugal, the question now is: where do you think you belong? Are you cheap or frugal?

If you are cheap, it is time for you to change and think about how you can save money while considering value, quality, time, health, and the impact of your saving on yourself and others.

It is a great thing to be frugal but being cheap is a shade. Do not put yourself in a position to be called cheap simply because you are saving money at the expense of everything else.

Till next time.


Ronke O.

Published by ronkeodewumi

I am a Chartered Accountant (ACMA, CGMA) and seasoned Management Consultant with about 16 years of experience driving the delivery of strategic solutions to complex problems of global firms. Through my blog, youtube channel, social media, tailored courses and downloadable material, I share information, resources and tips to help you manage your money better, grow your business, progress in your career, thrive in difficult times and create a life that is safe from failure, while being the best version of yourself. You will also find here links to my youtube videos where I share more nuggets to help you achieve and live your dream life. I am based in London, United Kingdom and always happy to connect with you via email (, social media or my contact page here.

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