Are You Frugal or Stingy?


July 24, 2007 @ 2.50p.m – Written by January

Categories: Frugality

There’s a big difference. One is a virtue and the other is a vice. A lot depends on how your frugality affects others.

A friend of mine grew up with a hostile father who never made provisions for her. She currently works with one of the major telecommunications company. When she goes shopping for clothes, shoes and bags, she patronizes what we commonly refer to as “the bend-down boutiques”. Is she being frugal or stingy?

A friend of mine dates a guy who never takes her out for the occasional dinner or movie. Is he frugal or stingy?

My dad’s younger brother worked within the banking industry and anytime he needed to buy new suits, shoes and underwear’s, he usually came knocking at our door to pilfer from his elder brother’s collections. Was he being prudent or simply stingy?

Your niece or nephew came first in a class of thirty-three and you’re down on cash. Does economizing on a suitable present make you frugal or stingy?

All of us have to make choices about how we spend our money. Wise choices allow us to build our wealth and, eventually, achieve financial independence. How do you decide if you are stingy or just plain frugal?

I posed this question to a couple of my friends and the response I got was quite overwhelming. For some, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

You might be stingy if …

  • If you decide to give out some your old clothes that are relatively in good condition to charity, you’re frugal. On the other hand, if you give out old and tattered clothes that your housemaid may not wear, you’re probably stingy.
  • If you use a tea bag for more than one cup of tea, you’re frugal. If you use the same tea bag for a guest, you’re stingy.
  • If you decide to buy cheap clothes that will soon wear out for your niece or nephew for achieving excellence in their results, you’re stingy.

Frugality implies you’re being careful with your resources while stinginess is a vice, and carries a whiff of meanness. For me, frugality is the activity required for me to live below my means while stinginess is the activity of requiring others to participate in my frugality.

A stingy person would not be caught dead being generous, lending a helping hand, never gives a dime to the church or mosque, does everything possible to keep as much money as possible at the expense of others.

It’s time to look at yourself…how do I feel with my about my choices regarding charity, sharing or being generous? If the spirit of generosity guides you, your choices would sit well with your conscience. However, if you’re angry and constantly defending your decisions, you might want to take look in the mirror. When in doubt, apply the Golden Rule. Are you treating others as you would want them to treat you?

What are my alternatives?

You don’t have to buy an expensive present if you put some care into selecting the gift item.

You don’t have to give to every Tom, Dick and Harry who asks you for change. But you may feel better saying if you regularly give to a charity of your choice or to the beggars on the street.

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