A lot of people would call us frugal. That would be true. Sometimes it was embarrassingly true. I won’t go into all the details here. Suffice to say that we try to save money wherever we can. That sometimes might make people feel a bit uncomfortable (I can’t think of any specific examples). We don’t follow the norm when it comes to spending at all. That does not mean we are cheap. We go out of our way to save money, but only so far as it is the best return on investment that we can get. If we feel that it is a waste of time, money or energy, then we will spend the money.
Okay, being cheap is different than being frugal. Frugalness is cutting out what you don’t need. It’s like a farmer who realises his job is to farm (or whatever farmers do) and focuses on that one thing. That means other distractions like MciPhones, reality tv and coffee addictions are things that hold no interest. The farmer prepares himself, his farm, his seed and his gumboots to make sure he will get his harvest. There’s no waste. Cheapness is withholding from others what you should be sharing. It’s like a farmer who doesn’t sow the seed because it’s cost him. But in doing so, he doesn’t get the harvest which is a multiplication of the seed.
Cheapality is a redneck hillbilly cousin to consumerism. Consumerism is where you have to satiate desires without regard to the future. The difference is that consumerists might be more generous than el cheapos. Either way, they are bad relations. Going with the farmer analogy, a frugal-farmer might buy a tractor to help with the farming analyzing that the benefits will outweigh the cost. Whereas the consumer-farmer would shop for the suped-up branded tractor and go for all the accessories like Sat NAV GPS, surround sound, heated massage leather seats and low profile mags. The cheap-farmer might not even buy a tractor or might try to borrow from someone not as cheap. So, frugality is a wise choice, whereas cheapality and consumerism are unwise.
It doesn’t mean that frugal people can’t be or aren’t generous. Not at all. Often they could be seen to deprive themselves yet splash out on others. They just need to justify the investment. If they have given then they believe that the person or cause is a good one and worth giving to. They are great stewards of their time, energy, resources and finance. They must make sure that they get a good return on investment for all of those areas. Why is it that a lot of people look down on people who are frugal? Maybe it’s because they feel guilty for their over-consumption? Or they don’t understand the end goal and think there is a shortcut to their own end goal.
So, would you consider yourself frugal, a consumer or el cheapo?