Frugal vs. Cheap: Where Do You Draw the Line?

With all the talk about saving money that’s floating around online, I thought it would be worth talking about the distinction between frugal and cheap.

According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary…

1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful.
2. entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty.

In contrast…

1. costing very little; relatively low in price; inexpensive.
2. stingy; miserly.

To me, the most important distinction between the two is the concept of prudence that is inherent in frugality. So things like shopping smart, taking simple steps to save energy, etc., all fall into the realm of frugality. But it’s definitely possible to take things too far.

For example, buying your toothbrush on sale is frugal. But buying it used at a yard sale? Cheap. And more than a little disgusting.

What about saving water? Taking a page from a comment that I received earlier this month:

If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown… To the lawn?

Um, no. While I can live with the traditional version relating to “let(ting) it mellow” vs. “flush(ing) it down, ” especially given the drought that we’ve been suffering through in this part of the country, the above goes well beyond the limits of frugality (and, most likely, legality).

While the above examples are intended to be a bit (okay… entirely) over the top, there are many other facets of daily life in which we have to make this distinction…

For example, saving money by cutting back on basic maintenance tasks around the house? Cheap, not frugal. Buying store brands instead of national brands? Frugal, not cheap. Cutting your own hair instead of paying someone else to do it? That one really depends on your circumstances, your hair style, and your skills.

Where do you draw the line when it comes to frugality?

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  7. Anonymous

    I think if you are concerned you are cheap vs frugal, you need to examine it a bit closer. If you only have 3 changes of clothing, I would think that is cheap. You should buy enough so you have a laundry load.You can get very nice looking inexpensive second hand clothing.
    I know a guy how bought a pkg of weiners and a loaf of bread, and that was all he ate..unless it was a loaf of bread and a roll of bologna, which he sliced from. He would buy an outfit once a month, and throw the other away, so he didn’t have to do laundry. That is cheap.But then again, as along as he didn’t feel deprived…except for being a bit smelly, his life didn’t impact on anyone else.
    My brother and family always wore longjohns and multiple sweaters, so they could keep the heat really low.He did turn it up when my mother went to visit, otherwise she refused to go there and freeze.That is frugal…handing out sweatsuits would be cheap.
    I see a penny, I pick it up.If a cashier gives me back the wrong change (in our favor) I give it back.If the computer scans it wrong, I want it free.
    I don’t use sugar in my coffee, so if i bought one, I would have no issue taking home 2 packets of sugar.I take home all the toiletries from the motel..I paid for them, and I do use them.Same with the leftover teabags/coffee whiteners that i didn’t use. They are not going to reuse them.
    When eating away from home:Sometimes my husband wants a take out coffee, and I only want a couple of drinks, so we will buy the next size larger.Sometimes we will buy a 3 pc fish and chips, because he wants a 2 pc and I want a 1 pc.Sometimes we will share a dessert.
    When we go the movies (not often) we take our own refreshments.
    If my toiletries are almost gone, I turn them upside down.I try to get everything I can out of the containers.
    I have a game with clothespins. I will use them until there is nothing left. With the plastic ones, the tops break off, so I manually pry them open and clip them on. Eventually they will break, until they must be thrown away. I can certainly afford to buy more, and I will, but until then, it is fun.I have the same game with towels. Except for gifts, I hadn’t bought any for years and years.When they got holes, I cut them into washcloths, and then eventually into rags.
    I don’t like saving things for ‘good’. I like to enjoy my stuff.Saves on clutter too 🙂

  8. Anonymous

    I struggle with the cheapness. It is not a choice, it is something that I naturally lean toward. I think all is ok, but all is not ok when I’m needlessly enduring a NC weather with no heat in the house (like 20 deg. at night, I just huddled under a few blankets with a hat on). The apartment I was living in had baseboard heating units that were situated under drafty windows and the apartment had a drafty wood floor, so it was useless to use them. In retrospect, I should have looked for a new apartment? However, I did not even think about this at the time.

    Or how about having very little clothing, wearing the same Target brand clearance skirt 3x a week for a year and then getting frustrated when it desperately needed to be retired? (i wore it way past it’s prime).

    All this and I work full-time so I can definitely afford better. Part of my new year’s resolution this year was to stop being cheap aka stop enduring things when I have the ability to fix them. (the hard part is identifying where I am enduring something as opposed to what is normal.)

  9. Anonymous

    I’m 21 and in the military and from my perspective I view the people who eat at the chow hall as frugal. In the US military all our meals are paid for if we live on base. This being so some people still eat out and buy food just because they don’t like the food at the chow hall (which is really good quality btw). I’ll order out from time to time because I just don’t feel like walking to the chow hall sometimes (about half a mile), but they buy food all the time. It seems that military people are worse about spending their money than civilians. I don’t know why.

    My current room mate spends his entire paycheck usually in a week. He has how he’s going to spend it all planned out before he even receives it. Recently he bought a phone you can watch TV and surf the internet on. The monthly payment for the service is like $140. When he told me that I just thought to myself, “Man, this guy is fu***** stupid.” We make about $1300 a month after taxes, so that’s about 1/10 of our monthly pay. He tells me his parents were poor. Maybe that has something to do with why he spends like he does. This is probably the first time in his life that he’s been able to buy some of the things he wants. Some of his recent purchases in addition to the big phone bill are: X-box 360 ($250), X-box live ($15 a month), 2 MMO subscriptions ($15 a month each), 24 inch flat screen computer monitor ($500), flat screen TV ($600), video card for computer ($600). He also buys a lot of video games and DVDs. He went into debt for the computer he bought about a year ago and had interest accruing for a while, but he’s got that paid off. He doesn’t have any credit card debt which is the only smart financial thing he’s done. He’s pretty much forced not to have a lot of debt though. The government uses that as justification to revoke your security clearance if you pile up a lot of debt. He told me recently that he thought I would be a rich man one day because of the way I save and don’t buy much. I just wonder why he doesn’t do the same thing if he sees it that way. Anyway, my room mate is probably the opposite of frugal.

    I don’t believe I’m cheap or frugal. I spend money, but I make sure I’m saving about 40% of it each month. I can afford to buy some things that a lot of people can’t and still put a lot of money away for savings and investments because I don’t have any bills except for the internet and my phone. Also I’m not married and don’t have kids. Finding someone who shares your views about money is really tough. How many women do you know that are willing to put nearly half of what they make into savings? Not many. What encourages me to save so much of my money isn’t the environment. It’s the fact that I’m a lazy SOB. I hate working so much. When I first learned as a kid that you could make money on every dollar you saved I wanted to save as much as possible because I realized that the more money you had the less you had to work. My goal is to save enough money so that I can live off of the interest and not have to work by the time I’m in my late 30s to early 40s. Life shouldn’t be spent working.

  10. Anonymous

    I’m all for being frugal with resources and making do but I tend to think that when saving money has negative effects it’s “cheap”.

    There are things I won’t compromise on, such as health and safety.

    Sometimes paying out more for something saves money in the long run.

  11. Anonymous

    While I’m not as frugal as I’d like, I am pretty good. What helped me get to this point was making a paper budget, and tweak it when necessary, which I need to do and cut some things back. I agree with Chris about several things, and I too rarely use the heat during winter, and winter in the mountains of WV can get pretty cold. I usually don’t let it get below 50 at any point, even when I’m not there for pipes, plants, the new cat, etc. I usually turn the heat on a minimum, dress very warmly, use blankets and a good efficient space heater.
    Now I have electric baseboard so I really save over the gas furnace since I control the temp per room. However, when company comes, I do turn the heat up. And I’m sure I’ll use the AC some in the summer, but cold water, a fan, and closing blinds/drapes on sunny windows usually work fine. I too will be growing a real garden this year since I now have a yard. Bent and Dent stores, sales, and bulk buying are also great ways to save on ever increasing food costs. I don’t think Chris is going crazy with the heat/ac as he will use it when absolutely neccessary, but I don’t see a problem with dressing warmly rather than cranking up the heat. Thats the only other thing I’ve ever agreed with President Carter on. The only thing that really caught my attention was

    “But it’d be nice if others thought/acted not just on price alone, and instead grasped the logic of good ecological stewardship.”

    I try to balance my purchasing/behavior between price and good stewardship, and I think everyone should, but when organics and natural things, things that you NEED, are so insanely, beyond excuse, expensive, you can’t always purchase the way you would like to. It is better that I eat vegetables period than none because I can’t afford the organics, etc. I am planning on trying some home made natural cleaners and would like to buy the natural versions in stores when I have to buy them, but I just don’t have the money to pay three to four times more than the regular product. And the eco house sounds really intriguing. And I think the $12,000 dollar price is fantastic. Although, I am unsure how that is possible since solar especially is stupid expensive. Still, I could see this being a great set up for people in impoverished areas where homes, utilities, etc, are practically unheard of.

  12. Anonymous

    I’d agree with Dylan further up as a rule of thumb:

    Being frugal is about maximizing value.

    Being cheap is about the lowest price.

    But quite frankly letting it mellow means not being able to invite anyone over, having to worry about sanitary issues and smells, and if the landlord/property management or what have you notices that it’s a regular occurrence there would be issues, so I’d call that cheap.

  13. Anonymous

    3rd follow-up to my above post: “Frugal” is being reinvented as people are now tearing up their grass for Yard Farms. Page 1 of today’s Wall Street Journal:

    How many folks will do this? Well, big warehouse stores (announced on NBC Nightly News) tonight report stepped-up consumer purchases of rice and flour, which means people are starting to get scared by zooming energy costs, which foments zooming food costs, so they are now beginning to buy long (hoard, some would say) basic staples. Staples! But see, if one family can grow (see earlier post) 6000 pounds of food on less than 1/5th of an acre, then consider what 100 million can do. Perhaps (hopefully soon) there will come a time when we all look back in shame at the trillions wasted on fertilizing and growing decorative grass (what is now on my front lawn) rather than locally grown fresh food. A century of cheap energy has inculcated mass wastefulness into the American mind-set. Expensive energy will alter that right quick, and for the better. Notice (as I said earlier) that price, and not virtue (i.e., conscientious environmentalism), will cause a sea change here. $1 for a single apple or onion will fast get Joe Sixpack thinking about yard-farming, roof-rainwater and grey-water recovery to tend to it, more efficient transporting of the yield to local markets, etc. That will be the new “frugal.” Cheap is when you pour an extra cup of water in my soup when I’m not looking.

  14. Anonymous

    Until I started reading the blogs, I’d thought frugal was the same as cheap. So I thought if I travel or buy theater tickets or paid for voice lessons while not having enough talent to ever amount to anything, I wasn’t frugal. Even if I’ve always spent less than what I earned, including when I was a TA in grad school. Yet, when I was just starting working after grad school and had a roommate, she told me “you are so cheap”. I was really surprised, because to my mind I wasn’t: if we needed something for the apartment, I’d buy it; I bought it in K-Mart, but it wasn’t the cheapest item; it wasn’t the most expensive one, but it was the one I liked. We even went to the Metropolitan opera together with this roommate, and bought good tickets – not the most expensive ones or the next most expensive, but still orchestra seats. I thought I was reasonable – spending a little less that what I earned, yet buying things I needed or wanted badly enough (within reason). I did cook rather than go out, but I bought good quality food in the supermarket. Some months later I got my own place, but to this day, I don’t know what I did to cause my then-roommate to think I was cheap.

    If frugal is what I’ve always considered “reasonable” – buying what you need or want and can afford, spending more on what you really love and saving on things that are less important, than I guess I am frugal. Since I don’t buy everything I can afford nowadays, maybe I am cheap. I can afford a new Lexus, but buy a new Honda Civic. I prefer to wait for sales before buying clothes at Ann Taylor because they are just not worth the price to me without sales. Fancier designer clothes are totally not worth the price for me even if I could afford them. I also I waited until my old TV broke before I bought an LCD HDTV even thought it is the expense I can easily cash flow. But I just don’t like to throw working things away. Maybe this makes me cheap, but I didn’t feel like I am sacrificing anything when I make these choices. Besides, as I don’t have enough to retire tomorrow especially if I factor in medical costs, I don’t feel it is reasonable to buy everything I can afford.

    I think AKC definition above is pretty good, but I’d change “want” to “really want and can use”. Not buying something you kind of want but have no real use for (e.g. a jewelry item you have no place to wear to) doesn’t make you cheap. Not buying a fancy car when you are happy with a smaller one doesn’t make one cheap. I think one is cheap if one makes sacrifices for money without needing to; or if by saving money on a minor thing ends up spending more in the long run. It also depends on what you’ll regret more some years down the line. If when you are older and have more money than you can spend in a lifetime you’ll regret not having spent more money on certain things, than you are cheap; if, on the other hand, you’ll regret not having saved enough – than you spend too much. If you are somewhere in-between – you are frugal.

    Additionally, one can also be cheap in social situations. For example, if there is a potluck party, and someone who has money brings 5 apples while others either spend more or bring home-made meals, then this person is cheap.

  15. Anonymous

    Follow-up on my earlier posts: Here’s a guy who says it better than I (free registration to read it): link

    Money Quote (here he’s asking “Why Bother” when it feels like few others will change to save the environment): “If you do bother, you will set an example for other people. If enough other people bother, each one influencing yet another in a chain reaction of behavioral change, markets for all manner of green products and alternative technologies will prosper and expand. (Just look at the market for hybrid cars.) Consciousness will be raised, perhaps even changed: new moral imperatives and new taboos might take root in the culture. Driving an S.U.V. or eating a 24-ounce steak or illuminating your McMansion like an airport runway at night might come to be regarded as outrages to human conscience. Not having things might become cooler than having them. And those who did change the way they live would acquire the moral standing to demand changes in behavior from others — from other people, other corporations, even other countries.” The author then goes on to note as much as 40% of the produce Americans ate during WWII came from private, “Victory Gardens.” Think of that — especially the energy savings and lowered carbon mass footprint from 100 million gardens (there are now over 303 million Americans) — the next time you pay $1 for an apple.

  16. Anonymous

    Valid, welcome points, SkyBlue. As with nearly all things in life, it’s a degree and extent argument. You and I may agree that sending everyone back to thatch huts with dirt floors is too extreme, but I think we can also agree that it’s a no-brainer to cut out the institutionalized-fat consumption that’s riddled the average American’s daily lifestyle (I laugh at all the boobs who’ve convinced themselves that they “need” big SUV’s to commute to work; I think it’s absurd that Americans drive — thus creating more pollution — to a gym to exercise when it can easily be done at home using something very simple yet now lost: willpower). We’ll agree to disagree here: I don’t think asking anyone to put on a sweater or sweatshirt in the winter is extremist or “cheap.” Shan’t we make ANY sacrifices? As for my housing prototype, please re-read what I said: it costs dramatically LESS than the cost of a conventional home. For that matter, aside from the concrete foundation, it has primarily been constructed with double-recyclable materials (one can use recycled materials to build it and then, should the home ever have to be torn down, recycle the materials used to build it). Finally, for spoiled-ass modern Americans price, rather than ideology or virtue, drives the mainstream consumer (the basic operating code of a human being is pain and pleasure — avoid pain, seek pleasure), so mass behavior (especially of the resource-consumptive type) shall only be altered via “price-pain” (note that $4 gallon gas is finally lowering demand, and I’m guessing GM’s thinking about buying the Aptera outright for mass-production). Hence, all of my “Green” endeavors focus on sub-green, sub-CONVENTIONAL pricing (make it a no-brainer to buy my products). But it’d be nice if others thought/acted not just on price alone, and instead grasped the logic of good ecological stewardship. Again, I agree with you that it’s a tough debate how far to take resource-consuming lifestyle cutbacks (I think future historians will laugh at us for wasting energy and other resources on car racing, luxury boating, land and mahogany, etc. caskets for dead people….). We don’t have to get to that level of debate, however, because there’s so much FAT living that can and should be illuminated/eliminated in the meantime. Once “the masses” grasp the virtue of it, they will start thinking about other wasteful behaviors and find it easier and easier to pare back “Ugly American” living.

  17. Anonymous

    I covered this a while back on my blog, too. I named my blog “Cheap Like Me” because it’s about being “cheap” … while customizing what you choose to buy to your lifestyle, so you can still enjoy life, prioritize environmental concerns, or whatever — while being “cheap,” i.e., seeking out the best price, etc.

    I suppose I chose “cheap” because sometimes I go to what some consider extremes to save cash. But all in all, I think the whole frugal/cheap distinction is funny — the latest brand of political correctness?

    So, I’m taking back the word “cheap”!

  18. Anonymous

    I’ve had people make fun of or make cheap shots about comments I have posted and my comments were NOT meant to be “a cheap shot” at all, just my honest opinion about what was posted. If you make a comment on a forum you will find people DO disagree with what you might say.

    Personally I found all your other strategies and ideas quite useful and informative but I stand by what I said about deliberately keeping your home uncomfortable. When it comes to a point where you are having to keep appropiate warm clothing for your guests to wear or they will be uncomfortably cold in your home then to me that is stepping over the line from being frugal to being cheap. Where does it end once you start? Why not get rid of all the furniture in your home? Do you really need it? How much wood was used make that furniture? So what if your guests are uncomfortable, let them sit on the floor. Could the money you spent on it been spent in a better way? How many chemicals were used to manufacture the materials in it? The same with your clothing. Do you stricltly wear organic cotton clothing? How do you know it isn’t being harvested by underpaid migrant workers? What about even the packaging your food comes in. Do you just buy food with the appropiate packaging? Do you grow most of your own food? What about the medicines you may take? The carpet you walk on? Do you use all organic cleaning and personal care products and recycle every bit of the packaging? Legitimate questions.

    The idea of the affordable “prototype” home is wonderful, but is the price of it beyond what the “Average Joe” can afford? That is what is needed, homes like that that regular people can afford! Not average for California at $500,000 to $1,000,000 for your average one family home, but in the $50,000 to $75,000 range.

    There is no right or wrong, I think it is more a priority issue. Yours is what you choose it to be, mine would be knowing that guests in my home would be comfortable.

  19. Anonymous

    I believe that having “control” over one’s life and thus wasteful consumption should be a virtue, not fodder for cheap shots coming from others. I also find that a lot of my “liberal” friends talk a good game about ecological prudence (note that ALL of my “cheapness issues” just so happen to reduce my resource-consuming footprint) yet make not the slightest of sacrifice in its cause. 78 degrees in the summer and 58 degrees in the winter is not exactly painful by the way, is it? I honor the prior generations’ (including my Depression-era parents’) sacrifices by not wasting resources, which includes water, fertilizer, energy and, of course, money. I’m investing my savings, by the way, in a new prototype home that I’m developing, one that exceeds Platinum LEEDS certification yet costs demonstrably less than a conventional home (now there’s a thought: Green shouldn’t just be for the wealthy). And if all goes well, it shall be near- if not total Zero Energy (hence, off-the-grid) footprinted with a blended, geothermal/solarthermal/stirling-engined, micro-power plant (hence, a home that consumes no power and supplies some if not all of my transportation-energy needs — all without burning anything and thus creating any pollution). That model (we’re working on selling the whole package for no more than $12,000 per home), in turn, shall help power the plug-in multi-hybrid vehicles (check out that $6/gallon gas shall soon bring. Meanwhile, as our standard of living degrades (thanks to trillion-dollar, endless wars, held-hostage oil pricing and world-wide resource shortages and wars fought over them), people like you shall ultimate validate Desmond’s 17th Law (“Innovators are at first ridiculed and then revered”). How? By thanking people like me for reversing such degradation with Next-Level thinking/living/innovation. Leading-edge folks like me welcome new ideas, not tired insults from trailing-edgers like you. Stop and think, and share with me your creative ideas, not your dime-store psychoanalysis, OK? (Big hint: I bore easily).

  20. Anonymous

    I hate to say it “Chris Desmond” but I think keeping your home either too hot or so cold it makes your gues uncomfortable is not being frugal it is just being plain cheap. To me it sounds more like control issues than anything having to do with frugality.

  21. Anonymous

    I stopped using my dryer 2 years ago. I set my hi-efficiency washer to “high spin” and when I take my cleaned clothes out of it I drape them over the backs of my black-iron dining room chairs. Shake my perma-press dress shirts out and hangar them off my outer kitchen countertop. All dry by morning. Don’t care that my socks feel stiff when I first put them on — that sensation’s gone after 10 seconds. And my towels? Yes, a little rough but that’s not much of a sacrifice and I just pretend each towel is a Loofah and thus is good for exfoliating my skin. I went CFL on all my light bulbs, and got a hi-efficiency fridge ($500 off due to scratch-n-dent scars now camouflaged by fridge magnets). I have an all-electric, 2150 sq. ft. house in Savannah, Georgia and last month’s power bill was $41 — and that includes a full-sized freezer in the garage (I bulk-buy food to cut down on time/gas costs of food shopping). And speaking of food: I buy 22 cellophane bags of dry beans at a time, then mix the beans for maximum amino-acid yield. I crock-pot a batch at a time and thus enjoy an amino-acid-rich bean mix to accompany my brown rice (50 lb bag at Sam’s Club for $10). For variety, I spike the beans and rice with Louisiana Red hot sauce and other spices — using Walmart and Kroger house brands, of course. Hence, I consume very cheap/nutritious, “small earth” carbs, and my main course is a plate of veggy stir fry (from frozen vegetables — yes, buy frozen, as it enables less waste in food-production because of dramatically less spoilage losses). I use .49/lb chicken thigh meat as a condiment (I’m 52, so I don’t need that much protein any more), and for variety use cheap cuts of pork on sale. I marinate with bulk-purchase spices, and use them to make any cheap-cut of meat taste like the expensive stuff. I raise brim and catfish in my 1-acre pond so for ($14/month for a bag of fish food) to get plenty of (otherwise $4/lb and up at the store) fish. The local Krogers runs milk on sale every 4 weeks, so I buy 3-4 gallons of skim milk with long sell-by dates (the less fat, the longer it lasts), and that lasts me from sale to sale. I convert 1 gallon of OJ into 2 with water and cover the diluted taste with $1.44/qt. Wal-Mart house brand lemon juice, basically cutting both dollar cost and calories in half. I coax 35-38 mpg out of my power-nothing, stick-shift, 2003 Toyota Corolla CE (cheapest model sold that year). Having lived up by the Canadian border and thus steeled myself to cold, I’ve used my electric heat here in Savannah, GA for a total of 98 minutes this past winter (only when wimpy guests complain, frankly), averaging $35/month in power bills. I could go on for 10,000 more words here, but you get my drift. Nothing I do requires much in the way of sacrifice (I hand out sweat pants and sweatshirts to my guests when they visit in the winter, and all must wear T-shirts and lounging shorts in the summer because yes, I’m pretty cheap with the A-C, too). My friends may make fun of me, but they’re the ones who are living on credit card debt while I’ve never paid one penny in credit-card interest in my life and have plenty in the bank. Yes, I’m “cheap” because I can afford a BMW but drive a Corolla, eat well but less consumptively and more healthily, and have repeatedly intoned that 95% of what you see in a supermarket (just cruise down the cookie, candy, and snacks aisle) is wasteful crap no planet-respecting society should want.

  22. Anonymous

    Today while I was looking for clearance items in the children’s shoe aisle of a store I had a cheap vs frugal moment. I bought my daughter a pair of nice winter boots marked down to $5.00, one size bigger than she now wears, to put up in the closet for her to have for next winter.

    I passed on the $3.00 pair of dress shoes that were marked down from $9.00. They were cheap looking and you could see the glue lines that were on the inside and the outside.

    Boots, a frugal buy, having bought the dress shoes just would have been being cheap.

  23. Anonymous

    I agree that you are being CHEAP if you don’t buy something that you want/need (we can debate ‘needs’ v ‘wants’ all day … money isn’t just to spend on what you NEED!), even though you can afford it.

    But, you are being FRUGAL when you buy sensibly or delay for a better time to buy.

    Therefore, it’s all relative: for example, I’m successful so I bought a car. I could afford a new Ferrari. Instead I bought a very slightly used Maserati: less than half the price of the Ferrari and $35k cheaper than the new Maserati.

    Believe it or not, that’s my definition of being FRUGAL … to me, being CHEAP would have been not to buy a car at all.

    Before your readers get all blustery, keep in mind that we give a lot in time and money to charity; own our own homes; and already invest at least 75% of our Net Worth; and are committed to ‘giving back’ by blogging so that others can learn to do the same.

  24. Anonymous

    I’m pretty frugal and occasionally cheap – but a lot of my reasons are more and more for environmental impact than financial ones. The mellow comment, we do that for many reasons that include water conservation (we’re on a well), to not overload our septic, and thanks to being pregnant at the moment, I’d be flushing every 10 minutes otherwise. It’s a choice in our own home that we’re fine with – plus, how is it being “cheap” when we don’t pay for water?

    But some things I do see as being cheap versus frugal — heating our house for instance. I keep it at 55 night/58 daytime in the winter because I’m cheap. I know how much, per day, it costs for me to turn it up a few degrees and I don’t want to pay the extra price.

    So much of the distinction is perception, both your own personal perception and others – though I find others classify things as “being cheap” when I feel I’m just being frugal – so I place far more value on my on perceptions.

  25. Anonymous

    When I was a teenager, for far too long, we had a leak in a water pipe that was left unrepaired. The result was that we turned the water off and only turned it on ‘as needed’. Anyway, we “let it mellow” all too often and the bathroom reeked of pee. This is similar to my great-aunt who has a ‘potty chair’ that is not cleaned out nearly often enough.

    Anyway, I tend to flush immediately after going except when I go “just in case” before leaving for a trip or going to bed and I barely do anything or if someone is in the shower.

    I think my main limits come into play whenever I realize that whatever I am about to do is probably not sanitary, legal, or something that I would be proud to tell others that I do.

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