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Difference Between Cheap and Frugal

Cheap and frugal are probably two of the most misused words, or you can say misunderstood words. You may think the two words can be used interchangeably, but the two are very different words with entirely different meanings. Both are qualities of a person that define one’s spending habits in regards with cost, value, preference, and so on. A frugal person would prioritize his/her spending to focus on the things that actually matter. When it means being a cheap person, meaning they would always look for ways to spend as less as possible. While both love to save money, but sometimes a cheap person would also mean that they rather benefit so at the expense of others.

What does it mean to be Frugal?

Frugal describes someone what wants to save money. Being frugal means, you care about both the cost and the quality of an item. A frugal person loves cost-effective things but does not or will not compromise on the quality of the item either. He/she loves good quality stuffs but at the same time, won’t spend his/her hard-earned money on the stuffs that are not worth the money. They would rather go for the best value products than spending money on the most expensive item or the least expensive item. A frugal person looks at the bigger picture and banks on simple cash-saving strategies to focus on the things with utmost priority. They understand they get what they pay, so they are willing to spend on things that they need or care about. They believe that they can do something better with their money.

What does it mean to be Cheap?

Cheap is yet another quality of a person similar to being frugal but is guided by personal interest. A cheap person only cares about money; he would rather go for the lowest priced item without worrying about the quality of the item. Cheap people only care about about rock bottom prices and they would always look for ways to pay less which affect the people around them. Being cheap means a sense of self-entitlement. Cheap people are so unreasonable that they simply cannot understand the fact that nothing comes free in this world; they’d be happy if everything comes free though. They don’t look at the bigger picture; instead, look at the immediate cost of the item and believe the lesser the cost the better. Cheap people would buy inexpensive clothes with no regards to quality whatsoever. Unlike frugal, cheap has a more negative heft to it and they are not always being honest about their spending.

Difference between Cheap and Frugal


 – While both cheap and frugal are qualities of a person that better their spending habits and behavior in regards to cost and quality. Both cheap and frugal people love to save money, but a cheap person would rather do so at the expense of others while a frugal person would never do that. Being frugal means living below your means and banking on cost-saving measures to focus on the things that matter. Being cheap means exploiting every possible opportunity to benefit yourself and banking on lowest-priced items with no regards to quality of the items.

Spending Habit

 – A frugal person chooses wisely before making any purchase. He cares about both cost and quality of the item, and he wouldn’t compromise on one at the expense of other. For example, if you found a good deal on a used Xbox game you’ve been eyeing for quite some time, but found it somewhere else, brand new, for a mere $4 extra, you’d take the new one. A person who is considered cheap, on the other hand, always cares about rock bottom prices and would not buy anything even if it’s necessary.


 – When it comes to priority, frugal people rely on various cost-saving measures to save as much as possible but tend to focus on the things with utmost priority first. They take their time to prioritize things first then make their decision. They always invest in the things that will last longer. Cheap meaning that some people would buy anything inexpensive. In fact, being cheap is all about spending less with no regards to priority whatsoever. A cheap person would rather go for a cheaper deal when it comes to buying something even if it isn’t his/her first choice.

Cheap vs. Frugal: Comparison Chart


Cheap people are considered irritating and bothersome for other because their behavior of being ignorant of what others want, their choice of purchases and spending not only affects them but may also affect the people around them. They tend to keep tabs on their spending as well as the money people owe them. It could be a good thing, but many people do not like that. They would keep reminding people that they owe them money, which can be irritating at times. Some say cheap individuals may brag about how talented they are when it comes to bargaining. Frugal people, on the other hand, are pretty straightforward; they are very disciplined and honest, and they equally care about the value of things rather than just the cost. Unlike cheap people, frugal people invest in things that will last. At least that is what they think. 

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References :

[0]Sethi, Ramit. I Will Teach You To Be Rich: No guilt, no excuses - Just a 6-Week Programme That Works. London, United Kingdom: Hachette UK, 2010. Print

[1]Crawford, William and Eniko Csomay. Doing Corpus Linguistics. Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2015. Print

[2]Image credit: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/48340865177_552a952bff_b.jpg

[3]Image credit: https://live.staticflickr.com/3035/3053916892_79ff5ef91c_b.jpg

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