My parents grew up in very frugal households, as was common for many then, and they continued to be financially frugal when they became adults. Thus, I too, grew up in a household where frugality was a factor in many decisions. As an adult myself now, I clearly have the tendency to be more frugal than many of my counterparts.
Never had I considered my parents or myself to be cheap. Why? Because there is a difference between being frugal aka money conscious and being cheap–cheap is wanting the lowest price, regardless of the quality, value or circumstance.
First, if you need to discover what side you and your money habits stand on, I suggest you learn more about the difference between frugal vs cheap.
Second, if you want to start being more frugal with your money without being cheap, try one (or all) of these five ways to be a more frugal person.
- Buy used items.
Probably the hardest tip for beginners because they view it as cheap. Who wants to wear used clothes or dishware? I do! Especially when I can find name brand clothes in great condition at consignment stores. Or I was able to find my glass pyrex dishware at a garage sale with tags still on them.
The key is to look for quality items in gently used condition that have a lot of life left in them. Great items to buy used:
- Baby clothes (they are barely in outfits before they grow out of them)
- Home decor
- Kitchen items
- Plan Your Purchases
If you know you need a new dishwasher soon, you don’t have to buy the cheapest model that isn’t going to last nearly as long as the more expensive quality piece. Instead, watch sales or buy after a major holiday where price tags are discounted. By looking ahead you can start saving early and know the best time to buy.
- Try Generic
I say TRY because even I know that not all brands are the same, but when you find those items that are no different than the name brand and yet a fraction of the price it will be worth the risk you took trying a generic brand. Walmart and Target all have their own generic brands that compete with the larger marketing brands and Aldi is a fan favorite of ours.
- Evaluate Dining Expenses
A cheap person will continue going out but to save an extra penny will cut the tips down or will lean towards fast food or unhealthier options. Instead, try reducing your monthly dining expenses by eating in an extra night. Or instead of ordering the large soda, opt for water. Sharing a meal has always been a favorite for my parents (they eat smaller portions and still get to enjoy the dining out experience). You don’t have to stop going out, you just have to make better choices.
- Stop Paying for Unused Memberships
Maybe all of your friends signed up for the same gym, but it doesn’t mean you have to commit to a membership that you’ll barely use (and telling them that doesn’t mean you’re cheap either). You also don’t need to pay for every single streaming platform–pick one or two you use the most and get rid of the others.
Making better financial choices doesn’t mean you are cheap. It means you have goals and plans you are trying to reach and being more frugal can help you achieve it. So embrace your frugality and see what can happen.