Are you a cheap bastard?

Leaving your parentage aside, how frugal are you? I consider frugality a virtue, and since I live alone these days, I can indulge myself in all sorts of virtuous behavior that would drive most people mad.

I don’t go quite as far as Seinfeld’s Kramer character who declared that self-deprivation was fun, but it does give me a bit of a thrill to realize that I tolerate deprivations that others can’t tolerate. For example, my local supermarket sells a brand of espresso coffee that goes for 1/3 the price of other brands. I gleefully buy this brand, knowing that it probably tastes funny to others (I drink it for the caffeine, and I can’t distinguish the taste of excellent coffee from that of lousy coffee, though if I’m having guests I’ll make some name-brand coffee) and it adds to my pleasure that a pot of this coffee costs about 40 cents.

What do you cut back on buying for the pleasures of frugality?

I think that our democracy and climate are collapsing and that there is no point in planning for the future. I hope to stay as comfortable as I can for as long as I can and hope I can die of natural causes before the worst of it comes, but I’m a glass half full kind of guy.

I honestly don’t understand frugality for frugality’s sake. I understand sacrifice for the greater good (like reducing trash) and I understand sacrificing so I can use those resources later for a vacation, or big ticket purchase. But I’m going to die, all too soon regardless how much longer I live, why would I scrimp now?

Does buying store brands of almost everything count?

Honestly, there are sooo many things where I can taste the difference between Name Brand X and generic X, but it just doesn’t matter to me. Take yellow mustard. I know people who HAVE to have French’s, or some other particular favorite, while to me any old jar of yellow mustard is Good Enough, Cheerios are fine, OatieOhs are fine, too. Whatever.

I think my taste buds are as capable of noting subtle differences in flavor, it’s my ‘give a damn about the differences’ sense that is weak.

I don’t know. I have friends like you who get pleasure out of spending money, but I don’t see that as virtuous in itself. When I indulge, as by going out to an expensive restaurant, for example, it makes me feel better knowing that the average price of the coffee I have there for five dollars per cup is lowered by the price of the 40 cents a pot coffee I drink at home.

Or maybe it stems from years of living with someone who would go nuts when she spotted me wearing a t-shirt with a frayed neckline (that was extremely comfortable) and would tell me that she was ashamed to be seen in public with me dressed like a slob until I threw out the t-shirt. (My argument, that anywhere I could go that people wore t-shirts had lots of guys with much more embarrassing fashion faux pas than my tiny fray, didn’t go very far.) So it’s a celebration of my freedom?

Or maybe it’s satisfaction deriving from the years I lived in poverty and needed to find ways to survive by cutting any cost I could? Hard to say.

I’m cheap with heating and cooling the house. I don’t care if we are below the average monthly cost to heat or cool a similar sized home.

$300-400 is too much. Complaining about the temperature? Put on wool cap and fingerless gloves in winter. In summer sit in front of fan dripping wet.

[quote=“Roger_That, post:4, topic:970927”]
I don’t know. I have friends like you who get pleasure out of spending money, but I don’t see that as virtuous in itself.[/quote]
I’m confused by this statement, what does virtue have to do with any of this? I think that conspicuous consumption is pointless, but so too is aggressive frugality if there is no end goal for the frugality. Rather than save money, just to save money, I’d rather work less and earn less money. Earning money just to never use it strikes me as just another form of conspicuous consumption.

If you don’t enjoy a higher end meal, then there is no point in consuming it, but if you do enjoy, then I don’t see the point in denying it to yourself just so you can be frugal for frugality’s sake. Virtue doesn’t enter into it, the virtuous act would be to give all those savings to someone in need.

We’re getting close to some high-end philosophical discussion here. I agree it would be more virtuous to give all my savings to charity, but simply not spending money on frivolous things that make no difference to me is a lesser sort of virtue. I also agree that working less and earning less money is a kind of virtue, which was a helpful understanding in my decision to retire: I’ve got enough money to live on, I don’t especially enjoy my career at this point, and I want to do more of the things I love doing. I probably would have worked a few more years if I didn’t know that I’m capable of living comfortably a little bit closer to the bone than you might choose to live.

[quote=“Roger_That, post:7, topic:970927”]
I agree it would be more virtuous to give all my savings to charity, but simply not spending money on frivolous things that make no difference to me is a lesser sort of virtue.[/quote]

Again, I’m confused by your use of the term virtue. My father in law is the cheapest man I know and I would find the idea that he is virtuous baffling.

Mostly he eats slop and watches TV, his wife needs hearing aids, so he gets cheap junk that doesn’t really work for her. She would like to make changes to the house, so that she would enjoy life more, but he doesn’t want to spend the money. Mostly, he wants to talk about how little he paid for the food we’re eating (I can tell), or how little money he is willing to pay to enjoy life. He seems to think he’s setting some kind of example for us, but he’s the saddest person I know. He makes a big show about being cheap to the point we approached the mother in law to ask if they needed financial help, but she assures us they have lots of money, she thinks his cheapness is just controlling behavior.

Is it Cafe Bustelo, in the yellow can? I LOVE that. I drink a morning cup just for the caffeine, too, but I think it tastes great.

I think I was born stingy.

I’ve found pinching pennies to be a waste of time for the most part and found if I reroute those efforts into pinching my $100 bills it makes funding those luxury micro transactions a breeze.
Saving hundreds on thousand dollar purchases or thousands on ten-thousand dollar purchases offsets any splurges I want to make on a good cup of coffee everyday or heating/cooling my house so I can hang out in shorts and a tee year round.

I live a solidly lower-middle-class lifestyle, one that I could improve significantly if I put more effort into it (I’m self-employed and set my own hours; if I worked about 2.5 times as hard as I do now I’d be borderline wealthy for my part of the country). But my wife needs a lot of help and I just don’t have the wherewithal to work for money I don’t need, especially since I live in a very poor part of the country with a very low cost of living.

I don’t pinch pennies on food. I buy name-brand butter, coffee, soda, milk, etc. I run the A/C without concern for the bill when it’s hot, I run the heater without concern for the bill when it’s cold. I drive an old beater that I inherited that I intend to drive until the wheels fall off. I have Netflix, Hulu, etc., and plenty of video games. I have what I need and don’t need more.

The one area where I’m frugal is in the area of clothes. I simply DGAF and would wear a burlap sack everywhere every day if I could get away with it culturally.

Bustelo is what I serve guests. This stuff is about half the cost.

Some might say I am. I prefer to think of myself as “not a spendthrift”. What I mean by that is, I go to some lengths not to waste money. But when I choose to spend, I don’t worry about it.

I combine trips when I have to drive in order to save gas, and I have almost always driven used cars. When I eat at home I make pasta, rice and other simple meals that are very inexpensive. I get a lot of mileage from my clothes, replacing them only when they’re worn out. And I do without a lot of things - no cable, five-year old phone, my iPad is provided by my employer. I don’t own much “stuff”. Friends come to my house and say it looks like nobody lives here.


Because of how much money I save, I don’t mind spending it on what matters to me. I’ve had some truly amazing vacations, and had no hesitation shelling out for them. I enjoy reading during a long lunch, and that often involves sushi. I once lent a large amount of money to a friend with no expectation of getting it back - no regrets.

I see how much others spend on things that seem so unimportant. That would bother me, not getting bang for my buck. But I realize the way I live would feel like deprivation for some people.

My frugality is not minimizing expenses but optimizing expenses. My wife can taste the difference so we buy Starbucks coffee beans, but from Costco. Before all the prices went up we waited for sales and bought a lot at the supermarket.
We never eat fast food out, and seldom even go out since it is a pain and we can eat better at home for a fraction of the cost. We plan menus based on sales, and have very little waste. But we do buy more expensive food if it makes sense.
We’re both children of Depression-era parents. And it worked, since 45 years of frugality let me retire comfortably.

Old habits die hard. We had some really lean years - like $20 in the bank 2 days before payday, and no gas in the car. I watch prices and sales, I’ll buy generic of some things, I make magic with leftovers. On the other hand, we eat out fairly often, and we just bought a boat last December, which is not a cheap hobby. It’s a matter of priorities. Near as I can tell, the frozen green beans I buy at Aldi are good quality, and we like the flavor, so who cares that they don’t have a fancy name on the label? But I will buy real Diet Coke - generic diet colas just don’t do it.

I don’t think I’m cheap, but I try to be aware and spend wisely. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

on somethings yes on other things no , but I have a relative that’s almost miserly until she she starts on her daily booze intake or her beauty habits … … 100 bucks for a cable bill? mortal sin … 2oo bucks a pop at a bar … .well that’s a good ol time … 90 dollars to get her toes done is fine 90 dollars for groceries? well, that’s almost as bad as a cable bill …

I’d say so.

We have a high income but only ever have had one, modest car and a house that is equally modest to say the least and is now mortgage-free.

Clothes, shoes and high-end electronics are irrelevant to us, no interest in jewellery either.

We make the most of the food we buy, nothing is wasted. A chicken will be roasted and recycled into several other meals.

That general approach means that we can spend money on things that matter to us. Holidays in particular, we spend 6-7 weeks away each year but even then it is a matter of principle to get the best deal possible. e.g. 2 weeks skiing over xmas and new year but we drive to Austria, rent a modest self-catering apartment and do it on a relative budget. We spend less on that all-in for four of us than my sister-in-law spent on a week in Tenerife for two.

I come from a farming background famous for parsimony but that’s fine. I don’t deny myself anything I want but I absolutely have to be able to justify it and be happy that I’m getting absolutely the best deal.

My parents were not extravagant. They drove sensible cars and ate inexpensively. It wasn’t being virtuous; they were just lower middle class. After leaving home, I was in the military for over 20 years. I was frugal because the military didn’t pay shit and I had four kids to feed. Our saving grace was that we had zero debt. So I had a decent stereo, but drove the same car for 13 years.

Now I have money in the bank and am retired. I buy pretty much whatever the hell I want and hang the cost. Since 1998, I’ve owned seven cars and three RVs. They weren’t luxury vehicles, and I bought them because I could. We’ve always donated to charities, so no, “cheap bastard” wouldn’t apply.

I think I am your opposite. While I do not draw pleasure from spending money, and while I certainly don’t have a taste for the finer things in life, I 1) waste money and spend it on meaningless nonsense often, 2) fail to plan my purchases or stock up properly on products I consume regularly, 3) don’t save, 4) don’t invest and 5) don’t feel guilty about any of it.