When frugality goes too far
A frugal person spends money in the smartest ways possible, while a cheapskate risks damage to health, possessions or reputation just to save a few dollars.
Cheapness is clinging to every cent. Frugality is spending money in the smartest possible ways.
Cheap behavior harms your qualify of life. Frugal behavior helps you build a better life.
A cheap person risks damage to health, possessions or reputation just to save a few dollars. A frugal person knows when it's time to loosen the purse strings -- and does it on his or her own terms.
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For example, a cheapskate might stick with a 30-year-old mattress because he's too miserly to buy a new one. A frugalist replaces a bad bed to avoid a bad back, but he'll use a price-comparison website to find the best deal and maybe order through a cash-back shopping site.
Cutting your food bill might be frugal, if you choose the right foods. Eating nothing but oatmeal and ramen would be cheap -- and counterproductive, since your health could suffer.
Getting free Internet access at the library? Frugal. Piggybacking on a neighbor's unprotected Wi-Fi signal versus paying for your own Internet? Cheap, because it may be illegal (though prosecution is unlikely) and may expose you to identity theft.
Don't be that guy
Thrift stores, yard sales and clearance tables are all frugal, but they can also breed cheap behavior, such as buying:
- Clothes that aren't flattering (especially if they're for your kids).
- Shoes that don't fit right or provide enough support (plantar fasciitis is not frugal).
- Inappropriate presents (a bib with spit-up stains is not a good shower gift).
Borrowing can be frugal or really chintzy. The truck-owning friend who helped you move might ask to use your power washer. The neighbor who borrowed your shop vac will bring over his chainsaw if a limb comes down in your yard.
Don't be that person who borrows but rarely reciprocates. And definitely don't be the person who borrows solely to avoid buying his own power tools.
Take care of yourself
Some people skip health insurance to save money. Really bad idea. Regular dental and medical exams can catch small problems before they turn into serious problems, or fatal ones. (If coverage truly isn't in your budget, see "Can't afford insurance? Your options.")
It's not that I want to spend $442 a month on an HMO. It's that no body runs for 54 years without some maintenance issues.
I was reminded of this last month when I suddenly needed surgery. My share was just over $2,000. If not for insurance, I'd be setting up a payment plan for more than $10,000 in total costs.
Skipping insurance would have been not just cheap but dumb. Luckily, I'm neither. I'm frugal.
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I had insurance and after a car accident that was the other driver's fault, my bill for 16 hrs in the hospital was over 24,000. I was unable to talk or answer questions when brought into the trauma center. I can guarantee you that because I had insurance, they ran me through every effen test imaginable (which they would not have done had they not gone through my wallet to find my insurance card). They should treat every human being that enters an emergency room as if they are not going to get paid for the treatment.
I paid $1,400 out of pocket for that incident. Insurance negotiate the bill down to $8,000! Imagine that! If I had no insurance, they would be coming after me for the whole $24K!
I now have catastrophic only @ under $50 per month and I save the $550 per month (my premuim was $600 per month). I now have $38K in that account. I am responsible for any cost up to $100K per year and I am willing to take that chance. If something bad happens that is out of my control, the most I am on the hook for today would be 100K-38K = 62K. If nothing happens to me in the next 10 years, I will have about $100K in the account so I will have no costs associated with any ailment up to $1million dollars. I will cover $100K or less and my $50 per month cat insurance will cover 100K to 1 million.
well I pay for insurance but still don't go to the dr because I can't afford my copay or deductibles.... not cheap, just have more important things to pay for like food for my child to eat and electricity and water. I will not pay regular price for shoes or clothes. if they aren't on sale at least 50% off, I'm not buying. It also depends on who we're talking about. When it's for me, I'm cheap. When it's for my daughter, I'm frugal.
And those blood tests are only $600 because there is not free market process to drive that cost down. If it people had to write the check on the spot, they would probably shop around to save money. Today, insurance covers all or most of it so why care about the cost? Meanwhile, I would still argue that you are paying more in premiums every year then you would pay for any and all preventative care programs - if we were shopping around for those programs.
That blood test you speak of would cost less then $100 if it were not "free" to the end user who has no skin in the game!
The system that the weak in this country desire is destined to fail! It is just a matter of time!
Money does not grow on trees! Once upon a time, we used to pay for shiet we wanted! In this day and age, everyone thinks it is their god given right to have their lives spoon fed to them by the government!
It's all good though! The morons in this country will keep electing those that promise them the most from the public treasury (i.e. my hard earned tax dollars). And one day, when the rest of the world wakes up and smells the coffee, our party will be over.
Although one could argue that the USA doesn't need to outrun the bear, we just need to outrun all the other countries also running from the bear!
If we did not have insurance, we could not pay, in a reasonable amount of time, the bills for maintenance blood tests and the doctor bills. Some blood tests are as high as $600+, and if you need one every 6 mths. or so, that is difficult for most folks to pay out of pocket. And medications can run as high $20 -25+ a pill. Even healthy people have genetic issues such as cholesterol and high blood pressure. Mental health issues are even costlier than most physical issues.
Once upon a time, insurance could be used strictly for catastrophic illness, but no longer. People are not stupid as you say, just smart and covering their own rear ends!! Without insurance, more people would have to declare bankruptcy because the medical industry is not very patient or forgiving when it comes to monies owed.
You cannot put a price on love, life, or happiness -
if you do you're cheap, and probably miserable (whether you know it or not)
and if you only want them at the best price you're frugal, and
never give of yourself whole heartedly.
No cheap and frugal are not the same thing, but neither one
has anything to do with esprit de joie
Yes, I could get a policy with a copay for office visits and a lower deductible, but it would cost 2 or 3 times as much, and medical insurance is my second largest monthly expense as it is, and constitutes about a sixth of my total spending -- for something I never use and hope never to use. And I haven't seen a doctor (other then my dentist) since 2006 -- because I make health care decisions as if I had no insurance.
Medical insurance is not the solution to anything, certainly not to health care access.
Frugal is taking your turn and doing your part. Finding the best quality and value at the right price. Who wants to over pay for something? I have a lot of frugal friends but they are anything but cheap and stingy. I agree be smart with your money, cut coupons, go online, find the best quality for your hard earned dollars. Frugal should not even be in the same sentence with cheap. I know many cheap people and many frugal and they're not even in the same class.
Frugal is in the eye of the beholder. I call myself cheap, my customers call me frugal. I've been an auto mechanic for 28 years and shop owner for 18. I will not pay for a professional made sign but I have no problems paying for items or equipment that will return the investment. I tell my customers if the repair is important, safety related and the possible consequences of not doing the work, and if the work can be put off for a period of time without serious consequences. I have not been caught up on work for over 12 years and have seen backlogs of 12 weeks or more. Jog your memory, frugal people are typically dependable, hard working and honest. Why not join this class of people?
I have health insurance and a thousand dollar plus bed but I never had cable television or satellite. I don't have a big screen television but do have internet. All 5 of my families vehicles have over 100k miles and four have over 200K. My home and 80 acre play-farm is paid for. I started out at zero or below. My kids college is covered. I have clothes I bought in the 1980's and currently wear. The average persons reasoning is highly illogical with no foresight or very little consideration for the future. When I don't make a house payment this month I have little sympathy for those in foreclosure who had their cable television, cell phones, and new cars
All I have heard concerns health insurance. One must consider all insurance. A couple of years back I considered becoming self insured for my home, since I did not have a mortgage. I decided to continue my insurance and 2 months later I had a house fire. Total payout from the insurance comapany was $247,000. Since then my comment about insurance is "Insurance is expensive until the day you need it".
If you're frugal don't pay $442 a month in health insurance premiums. Rip off! Stay away from hospitals Excerise and eat right and you're be good, after all all that radiation can't be good!
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WHAT IS FRUGAL NATION?
Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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