Should You Be Living Stingy?

Many people will hear the phrase “living stingy” and think it sounds like a bad idea. Nobody wants to be known as a stingy person. By its exact definition, being “stingy” isn’t a good thing, but “living stingy” isn’t always following the word’s meaning.

Living stingy means to most of us is more along the lines of living frugally. When you say living frugal, it sounds a lot better to most people. 

Whatever you call it, the bottom line is living stingy or living frugally basically means finding creative ways to get things you want, learning to live with less (and being happy with it) and overall simply living within your means. 

That all sounds pretty good, right?

What Does Living Stingy Mean? 

As I mentioned above, actually living stingy can be a bad thing. The word’s definition is “unwilling to give or spend; ungenerous.” That’s no way to live. Simply looking at everything from a final cost perspective or not being willing to spend any money whatsoever is certainly not a great way to go through life. 

However, living frugally can be great. When you live frugally, you learn good financial skills that will help you worry less about money. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice everything you like.

It means that you need to budget your money and identify specific things and experiences that bring you joy and you aren’t doing to keep up with the Joneses.

When you truly learn to be frugal, more than likely, you’ll be a much happier version of yourself. With frugal living comes the ability to be generous with others. Since you are not wildly spending money on yourself, that will leave you enough to spend on others.

Related: 10 Frugal Things To Do With 10 Dollars

So Why Are People Stingy?

If living stingy is such a bad thing, then why do some people live that way? Well, for some, it really might be a necessity.

The truth of the matter is that if you aren’t making enough money to support yourself or your family, then you can’t be generous with others or your money. So you’ll need to cut back on spending any way you can.

For others, unfortunately, it’s just the way they are. It could be for one of a million reasons. Maybe they think their money will run out, perhaps they’ve seen what happens when you overspend, or maybe they are simply greedy. Whatever the reason, most people that are living stingy are not getting the most out of their money or life.

Is Living Stingy Bad?

Living by the actual definition of living stingy can be considered a poor way of living. Should you spend your money uncontrollably? No. Should you always buy the cheapest item? Of course not!

Should you hoard all your money and never be generous with anyone else? I think you know the answer to that one too.

While living stingy is definitely not ideal, the frugal lifestyle can be an excellent way to live. While living frugally, you gain many financial and life skills that will help you be happy.

Having a budget, emergency fund, investing, living within your means, finding value in your purchases, and being resourceful with your money are just a few of the benefits of living frugally. 

Pros and Cons

As with any lifestyle, there are pros and cons to it. Living stingy\frugally is no different. Below are just a few of the pros and cons of living frugally.

Pros of Living Frugally

Getting Value From Purchases

Living stingy means you won’t spend your money, but living frugally means you’ll find value in your purchases, and that’s a big difference. Of course, getting more for the money you spend is always a plus.

Living Within Your Means

When living stingy, you certainly won’t be overspending, which means you’ll be bringing in more money than you are spending. When that happens, you’ll avoid debt and can live a much more flexible lifestyle.

Saving Money

When you are living frugally, you will spend less money than others, which means you are saving (or investing) more.

Learn To Be Happy With Less

One of the most significant advantages of living frugally is that you’ll break the “Keeping Up With The Joneses” mindset. With that, you’ll learn to be happy with what you do have and not compare yourself to others as much. 

You Could Gain Financial Independence Faster

It’s not going to happen overnight, and it won’t be easy. Still, by living stingy or frugally, you could eventually gain financial freedom much faster than others.

Most people will need to wait until retirement ages of 60-65, or even later in life. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to have a much longer retirement. Being frugal could help you retire early.

Form Other Good Financial Habits

There are tons of other good financial habits you might pick up by living stingy. I’m not going to go through them all, but the overall abilities to manage your money better and get more from it are worth their weight in gold.

Cons of Living Frugally

You Will Make Sacfirices

There will come a time in every frugal person’s life that they need to make sacrifices. Giving up something you genuinely do enjoy but simply can’t afford. Unfortunately, there is no way around it. Hopefully, it’s a temporary sacrifice, or maybe you can find something else that you enjoy to fit into your budget.

There Is a Stigma

As noted above, the word stingy certainly has a bad connotation, and for good reason. However, many people still hear the word “frugal” and still see it in a bad light. You shouldn’t worry about those people, but be aware that they might see your good money habits as a bad thing.

You Can Go Too Far and End up Stingy

As mentioned several times in this post, there is a big difference between being stingy and frugal. While living a frugal lifestyle can be great and make for a perfectly happy person and family, it can be detrimental if it goes too far and ventures into the stingy realm.

Depriving yourself or others of everything in fear or unwillingness to spend money is not a good lifestyle. 

Money Saving Tips for Living Stingy or Frugally

So how can one live frugally but not venture into living stingy? Well, I’m glad you asked. Below are a few easy you can start living the frugal lifestyle.

Have Your Purchases Bring You Joy

Instead of spending to look wealthy or to keep up with the Joneses, only spend on things that legitimately bring you joy. You’ll find that by simply asking yourself, “Will this make me happy” before any purchase, you’ll find yourself spending less overall.

Have Financial Goals and Write Them Down

Giving yourself specific financial goals and writing them down will make you far more likely to succeed with money. You can start small and work your way up.

Maybe your first goal is to save $100 a month, eventually $150, and perhaps $200. Whatever it is, make sure it’s achievable, so you don’t set yourself up for failure.

Create a Budget

At the foundation of any financial plan should be a budget. First, make sure you understand all your income and expenses. Then, allocate money as needed toward specific goals, spending categories, or investing. Those who “keep track in our heads” aren’t as good with money as we think.

Save First – Spend What’s Left

When creating your budget, you should start with how much money you want to save and work backward from there. When creating a budget this way, you’ll be more likely to cut out more spending to achieve your goals.

Get Rid of Unused Subscriptions

One easy way to cut back on spending is to go through any recurring subscriptions you might have. These days, everything is a monthly cost to make it seem less.

However, after signing up for a $7 subscription here, a $10 one there, we eventually wind up with all these services we aren’t getting our money’s worth from. 

Cancel Cable

One of the most significant services most of us can cut out is cable. Depending on where you live, cables bills can reach upwards of two or even three hundred dollars a month!

There are plenty of streaming services that are far cheaper than you can enjoy quality shows and movies on, but don’t sign up for too many!

Declutter Your Home

A big part of frugal living is learning to live with less. Well, if you’ve already accumulated a ton of stuff, a big step will be to get rid of what doesn’t bring you joy. Sell it, donate it, or give it to a friend. It doesn’t matter how it leaves your home, as long as what remains is what makes you happy.

Buy Off-season Items

An easy way to spend less on items we need is to buy them off-season. Any seasonal apparel will go on sale after their season has passed to make room for the next season’s clothing or other items.

This is where you can find big discounts. You might not be able to use it until next year, but it’s worth the wait.

Travel Off-season

Another “off-season” saving option is traveling. Many destinations have times where they are typically busier and therefore will charge much more to stay there.

By traveling off-season, not only will you save a ton of money, but you can also enjoy a less crowded destination. Fewer people could allow you to do more than you might have otherwise.

Buy Discounted Gc’s

Did you know that you can buy gift cards at a discounted price? Well, you can. Many sites online will sell you a $100 Gift Card to popular stores or other sites for less. It’s a great way to make back a few bucks at places you’d shop at anyway.


We would typically pay someone else to do many things, but we can simply apply a DIY attitude. With Youtube, you can learn how to fix anything around your house.

Many sites will help you make specialty items or cook food you might have otherwise purchased. It’s almost always significantly cheaper to do things yourself. 

Find Free Activities

Looking for something to do, but don’t want to spend money? No problem, there are plenty of free things to do. Any sort of exercise, going to a park, playing video games, playing sports with friends, puzzles, boards games, visiting your local library,  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Lower Your Utilities

Lowering your utility bill is a great way to save money each month. This can be done by changing your habits. For example, making sure all lights are off, turning off the water until you need it, or turning down the thermostat, keeping your home at a lower temperature.

You might also be able to save money with energy star appliances, installing solar panels, or unplugging small appliances when they aren’t being used.

Lower Your Insurance

Many of us will have insurance on our homes, cars, and lives and never look at the policies again. However, there are a ton of savings possibilities here.

There are many different options within each of these insurance policies that you can tweak to save a decent amount of money on each. Add up savings from all the policies, and you might have yourself a lot more each money.

Cook at Home

Ordering out or eating out at restaurants can be one of the biggest drains on our wallets. For a family of four to eat out, it can easily be upwards of $80-$100 a meal or more. That can be enough to buy groceries that will feed everyone for a week if you consistently eat at home.

Not only will you save a ton of money, but home cooking is easily much healthier than anything you get from a restaurant as well. If you do eat out, don’t eat the whole meal. Save half as leftovers to turn one meal into two, saving some money.

Cut the Expensive Gym Membership

Many times our gym memberships include services and products we simply aren’t using. Cut the expensive gym for one that is a bit more modest and you’re only get charged for the services you use.

Negotiate Prices

Not all prices are set in stone. Most of us only think to negotiate the price of a new car, but much more can be haggled; you just have to ask. Hotel prices, your cell phone bill, cable prices, even credit card rates are all on the table.

Use Deals to Your Advantage

When shopping, make sure to take full advantage of any deals you might come across. If something you already use is on sale, don’t buy one, but the limit. It might cost more now, but you’ll be saving much more in the long run. 

Avoid Lifestyle Creep

Many of us fall victim to lifestyle creep without even realizing it. As we start to make more money, we tend to make minor changes in our lifestyles.

Eventually, we have made many minor changes, which adds up to a lot in spending. Make sure to take any raise or bonus and save or invest at least 50% to avoid overspending. 

Review and Adjust Your Budget

Things change, and your budget is no different. So it’s always a good idea to periodically look at your budget to see what is working and what isn’t. Then, adjust your budget accordingly to make sure you’ll still get the most out of your money.

Related: Frugal Weekend Plans: Make the Most of Your Weekend

Final Thoughts

Living stingy and living frugally are very different lifestyles. With one, you’re not spending at all. With the other, you’re learning to spend on what matters and to get the most out of your money. Of course, there can be positive and negative to any lifestyle change, but with the tips above, living frugally can be a great way to get your finances on track.


Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he's not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, or just playing around with his kids