My son told me I was cheap the other day. I don’t think that I am (see Frugal vs. Cheap if you want a few reasons why) but I asked him why he thought that and he gave two reasons:

1. I don’t like to spend money.
2. I always buy the cheaper thing.

The second reason definitely isn’t true — I spend plenty of money on things that I could get cheaper versions of, such as Vans shoes instead of tennis shoes from Costco, clothes at Nordstrom’s and Macy’s instead of clothes from Target, an iPhone instead of continuing to use my 6 year old cell, etc. I just spend the money on the things that matter to me instead of the things that don’t.

Like I’m not going to pay $2.99 for a bottle of water when I can get the same thing (without the wasteful bottle) for free. I’m not going to fill up at the gas station where the gas costs $2.39 when I can fill up at the one where it’s $1.79. I’m not going to buy a book that I’ll only read once (even if it’s only $1.40) when I can get it from the library for free and not have to get rid of it later.

But the first reason? Boy is that ever true. I really dislike spending money. I don’t like it at all! Which I figure is a good thing, because it causes me to weigh the value of what I intend to spend it on against what the money can do for me if I don’t spend it. It has to be worth it to me before I’ll spend. Even then, I still won’t like spending it.

The really strange thing though is that I really like buying things. Not the actual spending of the money mind you, but the looking for and choosing something new and interesting that I like and will enjoy. I like the act of shopping (even when I don’t buy anything). I like poking around and seeing what there is to see, getting ideas, etc.

I don’t think those are conflicting viewpoints. They are two sides of the same coin: disliking spending money keeps the things I do buy to just the items I will really enjoy and actively use. I don’t feel wasteful and my house doesn’t fill up with junk.