When does being frugal becomes cheap?

Many of us struggle with being frugal. We want to save, yet we do not want to be called “cheap”. As derogatory as the term is, I believe that there is nothing wrong with being called “cheap”. However, there is a fine line between being reasonably “cheap” and being calculative and “cheap”. This is my personal take.

It’s ok to be cheap on yourself

Cheap out on yourself. It’s okay. Nobody will judge you. Nobody will care that you went for the $1.15 budget loaf of bread instead of the $2.00 Gardenia bread. They both taste similar. What’s the difference?

In places where you can save, save it. There are only a few areas that I refuse to skimp on. One of them is food. However, if you can get the same food with less money, of course I will do that. This is because you are what you eat. You need to be careful and take care of what you put inside your body. If you eat good foods, you will feel good.

However, there are other parts you can skimp on. Firstly, you can skimp on your mobile phone plan. You probably do not need 50GB of data. In fact, 10GB should be enough for most people. Unless, you are hard binging Netflix everyday. Other than that, wait for telco promotions. Sometimes they offer good promotions for the plan. has a $18 plan (for a year) for 20GB. Personally, I use a pop-up plan by giga (promotion has ended), and it is $18 for 20GB.

My mobile phone bill

One other area you can cheap out on would be clothing. Being in NS gives me a privilege of fulfilling my shopping cravings from the eMart. Jokes aside, I mostly buy basics which are very compatible and last me at least a few years. After they have worn out, they usually become my pyjamas.

It’s not ok to be cheap on others

Don’t be cheap on your friends. Don’t be cheap on your family. They are people who will be there for you. Show them concern, show them care. Losing a few dollars when you split the meal isn’t something you should cry about.

If you truly value the relationship, there is nothing to worry about. In fact, you might feel better if you treat your friends to a meal. (Of course, after seeing them lose a bet haha)

If you are happier being cheap, be cheap

That’s kind of crazy right? I mean, if your goal is to FIRE, you have to be cheap. Being cheap will help you achieve your goal faster and you can relax at an earlier age. Doesn’t that sound good?

Being cheap is not always about the present. It affects your future self. Your future self will thank you for it.

If you feel restricted by money, then let loose for a bit

However, money is a means to an end – not the end. So many people do not understand this. Money will help you achieve freedom in life. You have the freedom to choose.

If you have this power, then let loose a bit. No need to get all tied up over a couple of dollars that you donated to charity. Do what makes you happy. Your life should not be dictated by others. Then again, your life will be influenced by the people around you.

Surround yourself with people who you aspire to be. Your life will get inevitably influenced by them.

Being cheap and frugal is not mutually exclusive

You can be both cheap and frugal at the same time. Sometimes if you felt like you overspent, maybe being cheap for the next few days is a good idea. Sometimes, if you just aced an exam or got a pay raise, it’s okay to treat yourself. Of course, bring your closed ones too so that you can cherish the moment together.

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