Sunday, March 25, 2012

Frugal Is Not Cheap

There are very few things that I’m willing to go “cheap” on.  For example, I’ll go cheap on dishwasher detergent, dryer sheets and coffee filters (maybe even the coffee maker itself).  However, I consider myself to be frugal. defines the two words as follows:

Frugal - characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources 

Cheap – at minimum expense

I believe in buying quality.  I don’t believe in paying for fashion or over paying for quality but I do believe in buying quality.  I subscribe to Consumer Reports to find the best performing item that I’m considering buying.  Consumer Reports also has a best value feature.  Once I find the particular item I’ve decided to buy, I find the least expensive price.  I’m not buying cheap product, I’m buying a good product at the place I can find it for less.  Economy in the use of resources!

A good example is t-shirts.  On one shopping trip, Andrea decided she would try to save some money (I love her!). She thought she’d save some money by purchasing cheaper t-shirts ($9.99).  Unfortunately, these t-shirts started wearing thin within 6 months.  After those 6 months, she had to buy new t-shirts, another $9.99.  For a year’s worth of t-shirts she paid roughly $20.  A good t-shirt runs $25-$30 bucks and lasts her 2 years after which she uses that t-shirt forever as a workout shirt.  $10 ever 6 months for a t-shirt ($40 bucks over 2 years) or buying a $30 t-shirt that lasts forever!  While Andrea was trying to save money, it actually cost us more money to buy the cheap t-shirt!  We learned and incredibly valuable lesson and it has really paid dividends. 

You can apply this logic to almost, ALMOST, anything you buy. 

Cheap is not leaving a tip.  Cheap is buying an inferior product because it costs less.  Cheap is sneaking into a movie.

Frugal is hitting up a buffet.  Frugal is buying a used, reliable car for less than a new car of the same model.  Frugal is watching movie and making popcorn at home.

So Frugal isn’t buying the least expensive product, it’s buying a quality product at a lower price.  Frugal is being cost conscious.  

Are you cheap or frugal?  What are you frugal about?  What do you go “cheap” on?

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