When we think of the term stingy, it often gives off a negative connotation. Cheap, frugal, somebody who refuses to spend money on anything might be a few things that pop into your head. But, these are all incomplete definitions of what living stingy truly means. We shouldn’t think of it in a negative light, but instead, we should think of it in a positive way to start saving for our future, have money to pay for and buy the things we need, and focus on developing a better future for ourselves and our family. Living stingy or frugally is a good thing when you boil it down to what it really allows you to do in the future. So, let’s dig a little deeper into what it means to be stingy, and why it’s a positive thing rather than a negative.
What is Living Stingy?
When you look up stingy in Websters Dictionary, several negative terms pop up including:
The actual definition is:
not generous or liberal: sparing or scant in using, giving, or spending
The definition comes across a little harsh. But, when we step back for a minute and redefine living stingy, it can be a far more positive way of living than how Webster’s defines the term.
Living stingy will have a different definition for everyone. For some, it might be buying generic brands at the grocery store rather than buying a name-brand. Or buying unbranded clothing, rather than paying an arm and a leg for the most known brands. For others, it might be about cutting back on dining out or driving an old beaten up car with a low monthly payment or no monthly payment. It can mean something different for everyone. There is no one right way to live stingy.
This is a much friendlier way to think about it, and exactly the way you should be thinking about it! You’re not trying to save every penny you earn. Instead, you’re cutting back or tightening the purse strings when it comes to spending money on things you don’t need. It’s a way to begin saving for the future. You need to make sure your family’s taken care of first and foremost, ensure you have the things you absolutely need and cut out the unnecessary spending so that later down the road you can reward yourself.
Now we’ll dive deeper into what it really means to live a stingy life, and cover a few living stingy tips to help you start putting money away for those unforeseen or unplanned situations which may lie ahead.
Living Stingy vs. Living Frugal: Similarities and Differences
Many people use the terms stingy and frugal as synonyms. Although they are similar, they aren’t exactly the same. What exactly are the differences between living frugally and living stingy? And, how are these two lifestyles similar?
As we highlighted above, stingy is often defined as being sparing or not willing to spend unless it’s absolutely necessary. On the other hand, frugal is defined as reflecting economy in using resources (i.e., looking for the best deal). People who are frugal just want the best price, it’s not that they aren’t willing to spend.
Similarities Between Living Frugally and Living Stingy
There are several similarities between people who live frugally and those living stingily. Some primary similarities are:
- Both individuals will budget accordingly
- Both groups of people will look for affordability
- Both of these groups are mindful of their money
These are the primary similarities. If you are frugal or stingy, you’re going to want to keep as much of your money as you possibly can. You’re not necessarily willing to dish out cash all the time, but that doesn’t mean you simply won’t spend anything ever either. Quite the contrary actually. You’re just simply on a tighter budget, and you’re seeking the best price or deal out there when you do decide to spend. You want to make your dollars stretch as far as possible.
Differences Between Living Frugally and Living Stingy
Even though the two terms are very similar, there are also some key differences between those who are stingy and those who live frugally. Some differences are:
- Those who are stingy prioritize saving above ALL ELSE
- People who are frugal will still go out to dine with friends or have drinks, those who are stingy won’t do so nearly as often if at all
- Sometimes being stingy means you are reducing the quality of life in terms of socializing or treating yourself to things you want (the delayed gratification will be well worth it)
- A frugal person will use sales or discounts, while a stingy person is more likely to not buy anything at all
Stingy individuals tend to focus on saving money over anything else. They want to have as much money set aside as they possibly can. They want to know that if something happens, or they run into an emergency, they’re going to have the funds available to take care of the problems they come across. Individuals who are frugal, on the other hand, don’t mind spending money, and they want to go out, socialize, dine out, etc. They are just looking for the best deal possible. It might be because they don’t make a ton money or don’t a lot of spare savings set aside, but they are always seeking out the best deals possible to stretch their dollars.
The Pros & Cons of Living a Stingy Life
There are both obvious benefits and obvious downfalls of living a stingy life. But, for those who do follow this lifestyle, the good definitely outweighs the bad, and these individuals know that they have the things they need, because they are only spending money on things they absolutely have to buy. So, what are the pros and cons aspects of living stingy?
Some top reasons to consider living a stingy life include:
- You save a lot more money (you literally force yourself to save, since you only buy the necessities)
- You prioritize saving, so you know you aren’t wasting or buying items you will never use/need
- It allows you to invest in your future (savings, retirement investment, investment accounts, CDs, etc.)
- You are prepared if something happens; in the event of an emergency, you most likely have a savings fund set up to take care of your family and finances for some time
- You won’t have to worry about paying your bills (you have the money set aside, because this is something you need to pay each month)
Additionally, in the future, you aren’t going to have to worry as much. You will have money set aside for the kids, you have resources for retirement, and you know that there’s a fund set aside, in the event something happens and you need cash immediately. Your family is taken care of, and the necessities in life are always financially taken care of.
There are, of course, some drawbacks to living stingy. Some primary reasons people avoid it, and the main downfalls include:
- You might miss out on socializing with friends (you don’t dine out, go to the movies, theater, or fun events with friends and family because you are more worried about saving money)
- You’re always cutting back (living stingy is 100% based on compromise and cutting back), so you’re always leaving something behind
- Boundaries are a must; especially if you’re trying to get your family to buy into the stingy lifestyle
Furthermore, you might not always buy the best. Remember earlier we discussed car payments. So, rather than driving the BMW you dreamed of owning as a child, you’re probably driving a 2-door sedan, with an MSRP sticker price of $10,000. This isn’t to say it isn’t a great, or safe car, but you’re always foregoing more expensive things for cheaper. The same goes for clothing, brand-name fashions, jewelry, and other items. If you do buy these items, you’re always buying the lowest quality/grade, so you aren’t going to have the flashy things others might own.
11 Best Tips for Living Stingy
Obviously, you’re going to have to start making some compromises to start living a stingy life. Consider a few of these living stingy tips to help you on your journey to saving, and only buying the necessities along the way.
1. Get a Plan in Place
Yes, you need to have a plan in place. It is difficult, you’re going to struggle, and you’re forced to cut back on owning or buying things you want, and doing things you want to do. Set a few goals along the way. This might be to have money for retirement, pay for your kids’ college, travel the world later on in life, etc. Make sure goals are measurable and achievable.When you set a goal, you’re more likely to follow through with a plan. Therefore, you’re constantly going to want to set new goals to help you continue living a stingy life. Set short-term goals and more importantly long-term goals… think delayed gratification.
2. Get a Budget Set-Up
Set a $0 budget. What does this mean? Basically, set your budget so that $0 of your income goes unassigned. You should have every dollar of your income allocated to necessities like groceries or bills and the rest should be set aside for savings. You should not look at the money left over for savings as money you can spend. Think of your savings like you’re paying a bill. That money is gone. Do not touch it.
3. Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe!
If you have your bank account set to auto-pay the cable bill, internet, your streaming subscription, gym, and other subscription or membership services, cut off the auto. You’re definitely going to have to cut back on some of these unnecessary subscriptions. Especially things like TV or having Netflix or Hulu or other streaming services. You’ll want to go through your subscriptions, see which ones are absolutely necessary, which ones are frivolous, and get rid of the ones you don’t need.
4. Exchange Low-Cost Habits for High-Cost Habits
Daily spending habits are another area you’ll want to focus on. Are you used to that $5 Starbucks coffee each morning? How about your $10 lunch with co-workers? Get ready to cut those things out entirely. Make sure you’re bringing your own lunch, packing the silverware, and making your coffee at home. And, when it comes to coffee, you’re not buying those pricey K-cups, instead, you’re going to buy the cheapest, whole bean coffee that you can grind. You need to have low-cost habits and follow through with them each and every day.
5. Cut Back on the Unnecessary
This applies to your cable bill, internet, and other “necessities” at home. For example, if you need cable, choose free local cable or, go with the cheapest monthly plan that only has 60 channels, rather than upgrade for $20 and get an additional 60 channels. The same goes for your internet. You don’t need the fastest speed. Go with the cheapest plan instead, and save the money.
6. Utilize Saving Options
There are several free tools you can use to save money. For example, if you do decide to keep the cable subscription, a service like Trim can help you cut back on the cost of these services.
Another great idea is to set up an Acorns account to deposit the change into an investment account. So, if your grocery bill is $50.12, you’d round that up, and it would be $51, with the spare change going into an investment account. This not only allows you avoid spending money where you don’t have to, but you also put some money back in your pocket and invest in your future in the process.
7. Get Couponing
You’ll find countless coupons online, in the newspaper, or even circular ads in the grocery store. If you’re living stingy, you’re going to use these savings or deals whenever you get the chance. Get used to always looking for coupons, always searching for the best price, and only buying when items are on sale.
8. Grocery Deals
You know those shopping clubs that you earn rewards for each $1 you spend. Make sure you sign up for all of them at your local grocery stores. And, it’s not just groceries, you can sign up for gas/fuel deals as well. Since its money you need to spend anyway, you might as well earn free rewards so you can use them for future savings or deals the next time you shop.
9. Buy in Bulk
If you buy in bulk, you can save a lot of money. Toilet paper, paper towels, cereal, oatmeal, and other items, are great to stock up on. Sure, you’ll have huge piles of these items at home, but it’s worth it if you can save several dollars per roll when you buy in bulk.
Try to stay away from perishable items when buying in bulk unless you know you will use it all before it spoils. Saving money on something that will go rotten before you get to use it doesn’t actually save you money.
10. Cashback Sites are in
Join cashback sites. If you have to buy something online, you might as well get cashback for it, right? Sites like EBates or iBotta are perfect for this. You simply download the app, link the stores you shop at to the app, then make purchases. For each purchase you make, you’ll receive money back (in some cases it’s 5% back, some retailers offer 20% or higher). This is a great way to earn money, on items you absolutely have to buy for your family.
11. Pull Out The Old Lunch Box
We discussed your morning coffee earlier in the list, now it’s time for lunch. You’re not dining out, remember? So, make your lunches for the week. Buy everything you need, make lunch for the entire week, and put it in plastic containers in the fridge. The same goes for dinner. Making the same meal can easily save you $15-$20 per week on food. Plus, if you’re making the same dish for lunch and dinner, you can really cut back on buying those crazy ingredients that you will only use once in that random recipe you wanted to try.
Is Living Stingy a Bad Thing?
In short, no! It’s not a bad thing, in fact, it’s a great way to live your life if you do it properly. Some reasons why living stingy can be a great lifestyle choice include:
- You’re always prepared for the worst – you don’t want to think this way, but emergencies happen, so you know your family is taken care of
- You aren’t wasting money on items you don’t need
- Your home isn’t cluttered with mess or items which don’t add value to your life
- You’re simply buying the things you need to live life comfortably
- You will have money to enjoy yourself down the road
Think of living a stingy life as living for necessity. We really don’t need to own a $100,000 car, or a $20,000 watch. A $20 watch will do the same thing and probably won’t look terribly different! Living a stingy life will help you prepare for your future, take care of your family, and make sure you always have the essentials.
Why You Should Consider Living Stingy
So, why should you begin living a stingy life if you aren’t doing so already? There are many reasons. Think of living stingy as delaying your gratification for a short time. You might not buy certain items you’d like to own today, but 20 years down the road you can take that trip around the world, and know you don’t have to stress about it financially.
Live a little stingy, sacrifice a little today, pay off your debt, start planning and saving for the future, and you will see how beneficial it is for when you’re older. You won’t have to worry or struggle with making ends meet or taking care of your family when you aren’t working full-time any longer. Saving today is extremely beneficial for your future. So, start finding simple ways to cut back, create great low-cost habits, and sacrifice a little while you’re young so that you can fully enjoy your future when you’re ready too.