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When is Frugal Really Just Cheap?

January 5th, 2009 No comments

I’ve been trying to reflect on some of the things I do, or have done in the past, to save money and decide if they are frugal, or if I’ve gone over the edge into being a cheapskate.

One of the things that prompted this was my reading of The Millionaire Next Door.  Dr. Stanley’s found that a good percentage of millionaires bought a good, expensive (but reasonable) pair of shoes and then had them resoled several times.  I have always bought cheap shoes, and, being cheap, they fall apart and I have to replace them.  I used to think this was better than buying expensive shoes, but now I need to reconsider.  If I can buy one good pair and get them resoled, in the end I will probably save money.  The fact that I now budget money for shoes and could afford to buy more expensive shoes helps.  I’ve never had a pair of shoes resoled, and I wonder if there is even anybody locally that can do it.

Another thing that I have always done is cut my own hair.  I let it get longer in the winter to try and stay warm, and buzz it off (or even shave it completely) during the summer.  I think I have been to a barber twice since I was sixteen.  My mother-in-law was a hairdresser, and whenever I needed a haircut, she’d haul me to the shop and just do it.  When she passed away, my hair got pretty long for awhile, and I just took care of it myself.  This has worked out okay the past several years as I worked from home and didn’t have much in-person contact with customers or fellow employees, but now that I go to an office, I’m starting to wonder if I am being frugal or being cheap.  Perhaps I’m being frugal, but to the detriment of my career.  I’m not capable of cutting my hair any way except with a big pair of clippers.  If I had a professional looking hair style, would it help me to advance?

One area that I am very stubborn about frugality is clothing.  I am not paying $50 for a pair of blue jeans.  I don’t think I could pay that much for a pair of dress pants.  I can go to the Goodwill and get pants for $3-$5 and sometimes they still have the original tags on them!

What ways do you find yourself being cheap instead of frugal?