How to Tell if You’re Frugal or Cheap

Expenses play an enormous role in designing a lifestyle of freedom; even a rock-solid plan can’t survive overspending.

During good times, cost management is often an afterthought. It’s when the stable job disappears that people began taking note of their situation. By then, it’s more difficult to handle things on your terms.

“Control expenses. Don’t become a slave to them.”

Spend in ways that support your desired lifestyle — nothing more, nothing less. Let’s assume that you know yourself, what you want to become, and have begun designing your lifestyle.

Great! The hard part is finished.

Since our affairs are in order, we’ll discuss the mindset of people who want to control costs. They fall into two main camps: Cheapwad or Frugal.

Cheapwads only care about getting the cheapest price while a frugal person will spend on things he considers valuable.

Which mindset do you believe complements a lifestyle of freedom?

Continue reading to see if you’re being frugal or a cheapwad…

Price vs Value

Two runners have signed up for their first marathon, a 26.2-mile race that attracts thousands of runners who train for months to prepare. Just crossing the finish line is a grand achievement!

Most people squeeze in training sessions throughout the workweek, and as the race nears, the training commitment increases to multiple hours per day to prepare their bodies. This isn’t a weekend warrior activity.

The problem is that some marathon hopefuls don’t make it to race day because they suffered overuse injuries due to poor running form and improper footwear. To protect the runner, special running shoes are worn to support the feet which undergo constant pounding in distance running.

A cheapwad and a frugal person evaluates this information differently. So what does a cheapwad do?

After hearing the prices mentioned by members in the running club, he completely rules out proper running shoes because he’s appalled by the costs. His Solution: Dust off a pair of old tennis shoes, because all tennis shoes are the same.

Ok, that example was a tad extreme. Let’s assume that Mr. Cheapwad acknowledges that 5-year-old tennis shoes which serve as lawn-mowing slippers aren’t suitable for marathon running.

He pays a visit to a shoe store recommended by the veteran runners in his training club. The clerk matches his feet with a shoe that fits perfectly, and it feels like he’s jogging on clouds. But there’s a glaring problem… the shoes are ugly as hell and cost $130.

Mr. Cheapwad shudders inside and can’t envision himself doing anything other than running marathons in those shoes, so he reluctantly passes the shoes back to the clerk. He’s convinced that a better deal exists somewhere else.

On the way home, he strolls into the local sports equipment store and snaps up a pair of $60 Nike cross-trainers from the discount rack. They feel comfy enough. He proudly walks out with shoes in hand after saving $70.

The frugal man approaches the purchase differently. He’s prepared to invest months of his life into achieving his goal, so he wants to ensure the best experience possible.

While at the runner’s shoe store, the clerk hands over a $130.00 pair of shoes. They fit like a glove, and he barely notices they’re on his feet. These shoes will allow him to train comfortably, push his limits, and recover sooner.

Spending $70 more than the cheapwad is an obvious bargain because he increases his chance of finishing the marathon.

Willingness to Pay

I’ve observed an interesting trait common amongst cheapwads. They’re vocal about not receiving what’s rightfully owed, yet, in the same breath, utter every excuse known to mankind for not paying others what they deserve.

They expect discounts solely for the privilege of having them as a customer. Seems a bit hypocritical, doesn’t it?

I firmly believe in the idea of: “I am who I attract”.

When I began graciously compensating others, an amazing thing would happen–they’d over-deliver without me asking for it!

Could I consistently receive amazing service if I tried to milk every situation possible? Probably not.

Frugality is about letting resources flow to others that support our lifestyle of freedom. Kind words and a pat on the back are cool, but few acts show appreciation like handing over cold-hard cash with a smile.

How Do You Value Time?

Time management is a pillar of designing a lifestyle of freedom. We make a conscious effort to experience life, connect with friends and family, upgrade skills, and play more.

I advocate taking back control of your life for one purpose only, so you can release control of it on your terms.

Here’s a brief example of how I value my time by the hour. Your numbers might be higher than what I’m working with; in that case, let me know if you have an opening for an apprentice!

I categorize my activities into four levels: $10 tasks, $25 tasks, $100 tasks, $1000 tasks.

Imagine that your goal is to make $10,000 per month within a 20-hour workweek. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

Are the tasks I’m doing necessary?

If the answer is no, drop the busy work and delegate all $10 tasks. The next move is to delegate the $25 tasks and so on….

What are your high-value tasks?

Activities that you like or require your special touch should be done by you. Everything else can be delegated to capable people. As I mentioned earlier, be willing to let the money flow to maximize this strategy.

A cheapwad can’t fathom paying others to do something that he can do himself. His opportunities are limited as a result.

Overall, cost management is worth doing whether the money is flowing in or you’re struggling to pay the bills. Frugality can help make the most of your opportunities.

Freedom is a Choice,

Lee Miles


  1. Alex J Cusack August 27, 2019 at 13:17

    Nice article, I agree with the way you laid out task delegation as well. As someone who’s rented rooms and homes to people, cheapness is so annoying. These folks definitely do not have their ‘eyes on the prize’ and usually seem to be ‘pennywise and pound foolish’ and give me hassles out of nowhere.

    When I was a teen I worked a bunch of pretty dumb jobs (fast food dumb — which is the worst work on the planet with pretty weird co-workers). I dreaded the work, the uniform, the customers. Anyway, every month or so one of my coworkers would quit to work at a different fast food dump for 25c more an hour. But then get all the worst hours, or not enough hours, or the hardest, closing shift. But they made a tiny amount more, maybe a few dollars. How cheap.
    How dumb.

    1. Lee Miles August 28, 2019 at 11:30

      Yeah man, someone with that frame-of-mind is difficult to establish anything with. They’ll undermine any potential goodness by being short-sighted.


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