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Are they really conflicting viewpoints?

Are they really conflicting viewpoints?

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.

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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.

View Comments (3)
  • I am like you- I enjoy the process of shopping and picking out an item, but I don’t necessarily like to actually spend money to buy things. I think it is because anticipation is almost always better than reality when it comes to most purchases. It is a lot more fun to imagine all the great ways new furniture or new electronics will change your world and make it bigger, but in reality most of that stuff just ends up being more stuff that sits on a shelf or collects dust. I can think of very few purchases, other than my first computer and my first functioning car, that actually affected my life or changed it for the better in any real way.
    The other thing I have noticed is that once I stopped spending money, the value of it changed. I used to buy things without a lot of thought, and $100 for a pair of jeans seemed reasonable to me. Now that I have gotten into the habit of saving my money to pay down debt, I look at a $100 price tag and I think ‘my gosh, people must be crazy to pay so much for clothing!” If you change your outlook and do something long enough, it becomes habit and doing anything so far outside the habit begins to seem crazy instead of routine.

  • The two points aren’t conflicting in my opinion; I have no problem spending money on things that really matter to me. I play hockey in the winter and spending $200 on a pair of skates is a perfectly reasonable expense even though I could get a pair far cheaper. For me the expense is justified and the money is well spent. Now if I were to spend $30 for a DVD I might watch once is a waste of money; I can get it used if I really want it or I can just rent it.

    Not wanting to spend money really isn’t the issue here – its a question of wasting money. Buying that $2.99 bottle of water is wasting money especially since you can get it virtually free.

  • It always depends on one’s definition of cheap and frugal. Based on my definitions, I’m cheap and proud.

    I wrote about it last week actually.

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