It just doesn't have a good ring to it, does it?
While there may be circumstances beyond your control that require you to be stingy for a while, being stingy all of the time may cause other issues.
But what does it really mean to be stingy? And how does it compare to being frugal, cheap, or thrifty?
We'll explore all of that and how one goes about living stingy below.
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What Does It Mean to be Stingy?
According to Dictionary.com, stingy means:
reluctant to give or spend; not generous
Basically, if you are living stingy, you don't spend your money unless it is vital.
- You don't go on vacation.
- You don't buy nice things.
- You don't buy people gifts.
- You don't tip well (if at all).
- You don't give anything to charity.
A stingy person is that friend who reluctantly goes out to eat with you and then makes sure they don't contribute a penny more towards the bill than their share instead of just splitting it.
You spend on the bare minimum and nothing more. The main priority is saving money – nothing else.
Stingy vs. Frugal | Stingy vs. Thrifty | Stingy vs. Cheap
Several related terms are often interchanged or confused with being stingy. While there is some similarity between these terms, there are obvious differences.
Frugality is the most different from being stingy among these terms.
While a frugal person is careful with their spending and looks for good deals, they don't avoid spending money on nice things and experiences.
Frugal people typically manage their money with specific goals in mind.
They are mindful of their spending, but they are also aware of the quality they receive when they spend their money.
For example, they may have a dream vacation they are saving up for. While saving for this vacation, they still enjoy other things in their life like entertainment and eating out.
They are just smarter about it.
And they don't skimp on their vacation. They saved for that specific goal, and they enjoy it.
A stingy person would avoid the vacation, as well as other things like entertainment and eating out.
Being thrifty means finding ways to extend the life of their belongings and buying things second hand.
Thrifty people may wear clothes that are a bit worn or out of style. And they may make some of their own clothes and build some of their own furniture.
When their shoes have worn soles in them, they will try to fix them or buy used ones at a thrift store.
If their pants have a tear in them, they'll sew them or patch them. And when they're of no further use as pants, they may find another use for them.
Thrifty people know how to make things last, find new uses for old items, and find great deals on used items.
Cheap and stingy are the most similar of these terms, but a cheap person is more likely to buy something than a stingy person – just because they found a great deal.
A cheap person prioritizes how little they spend on things.
They prioritize price over quality.
And they'll put off buying things in hopes of finding a better deal.
Living cheaply can actually cost more in the long run by needing to replace the cheap products you buy more often than spending more on more quality ones.
The Pros and Cons of Living Stingy
While living stingy has many negative connotations, some positive aspects come along with living this way.
Advantages of Being Stingy
- Save more money
- Because of this, they can reach financial goals, like early retirement, quicker than others.
- Less money stress
- Stingy people aren't worried about spending money on nice things because they typically don't, and they don't have many debts or loans.
- And because they save so much money, they are well prepared for emergencies.
- Happy with what you have
- Frugal people typically don't need things to make them happy and are satisfied living life with what they already have.
- Can help get you through tough times
- Unfortunately, many people face financial emergencies throughout their lives. Whether they have an emergency fund or not, living stingy during these times can help you weather the storm.
Disadvantages of Being Stingy
- You appear selfish
- Stingy people aren't generous. They don't give to charity or tip very well, if at all, so they can seem selfish.
- Make others miserable
- Because of their poor tipping, people who provide services to them can be impacted. Additionally, children of stingy parents may not have many toys and won't have the same experiences (e.g., vacations, amusement parks, movies) that other kids have.
- Can cost you more in the long run
- Similar to someone who is cheap, putting off getting things fixed or properly maintaining things around the home can be more costly than taking care of it correctly early on.
- Money stress
- But wasn't that an advantage? Yes, it was, but it can be a disadvantage too when you overanalyze everything you buy.
- Miss out on experiences
- While it is an excellent strategy to save a lot of money, when taken to extremes, is it still worthwhile? You can't take it with you in the end…
- I recommend everyone have an emergency fund, save for retirement, and spend wisely, but being stingy will likely result in missing out on enjoying life.
Is Being Stingy a Bad Thing?
Short answer: For short periods with specific goals, no. As a lifelong practice, probably.
As you can see, there are several disadvantages to living stingy, but there are also some advantages.
I will say, in general, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages in this case.
While it may fit some people's lifestyle, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, for the most part, living stingy doesn't lead to a very fulfilling life.
While there are many ways to experience happiness without spending any money, there is so much to enjoy in this world that requires spending money.
But, as I discussed earlier, living stingy during difficult economic times is not only not a bad thing; it may be a necessary thing to do.
Additionally, there may be times in your life where you want to take a risk to do something that could have a significant payoff. It may be worthwhile living stingy for a short amount of time to meet specific goals.
How to Live Stingy?
So after looking at the pros and cons, you've determined that living stingy is for you. Whether for a short-term reason (recommended) or as a long-term lifestyle (not recommended), the methods you need to use are similar.
However, you may need to be extra focused on these strategies for being stingy for a short-term emergency.
1. Have a Plan
While there may be some unknowns, especially if it is due to losing your job or another financial emergency, you need to have a plan.
Several of the following steps will contribute to this plan, but you want to understand:
- How long you think you'll need to live like this?
- How much you need to save if you're trying to accomplish a specific financial goal?
- What other options you have to contribute to your income during this time?
I recommend you write all of this down and make adjustments along the way.
You also should start an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet to track all of your finances. You can use several other personal finance tools (and I recommend you do) to track your finances.
However, tracking everything in a spreadsheet, even if it is just a simple list of your income streams and all of your expenses, helps you better understand where your money is going.
2. Cut Unnecessary Expenses
When listing all of your expenses, you need to consider whether it is a necessity or just a want.
Subscription boxes, streaming services, and gym memberships should stand out as wants.
When times are difficult, things like this should be the first to go.
You can also use a tool like Trim to assist you here. Trim will analyze your spending, identify recurring expenses, and even help you cancel the subscriptions you no longer need.
But you may need to go further here.
- Do you have unlimited data on your phone? Then get rid of your home internet.
- If you really need to watch TV, get an over-the-air antenna and cancel all streaming services and cable.
- If you still have a landline phone and a cell phone, cancel the landline.
3. Save On Your Bills
In addition to cutting your unnecessary expenses, explore cost savings on those bills you can't cut.
- Call your current providers (cable (if you still have it), cell phone, insurance, etc.) and try and negotiate a lower bill.
- Shop around for lower-cost providers for those services.
- Check for any available discounts (e.g., military, senior, student) you aren't receiving.
Remember that tool called Trim I mentioned above? Well, it can help you here too. Trim can help negotiate lower cable, internet, phone, and medical bills for you.
But don't ever go without medical or car insurance if you drive.
While you may convince yourself that you don't get sick and you're a safe driver, that has no guarantee on your future health or other drivers.
Not having insurance could be financially devastating should something happen.
4. Create a Budget
Now that you've canceled those subscriptions and saved on your bills, you need to create a budget.
To help you live stingy, a zero-based budget is the most ideal.
With a zero-based budget, you will assign every dollar of income to cover specific expenses.
Unless you plan on living stingy as a future lifestyle, you should assign some of this money towards entertainment and other things you enjoy.
While you should limit these things during difficult times, you shouldn't eliminate them, or you'll be miserable.
This idea is somewhat analogous to cutting a particular food you love from your diet.
While you may be able to go without it for some time, you are likely to eventually eat it and eat more of it than you should because you deprived yourself of it.
And keep in mind those goals you set earlier. If you have specific financial goals to meet, ensure you are budgeting appropriately to meet them.
5. Use Cashback Apps
You still need to buy things when you live stingy. But, you can save money when doing so.
You can use Ibotta to find money-saving deals within the app and even get rewarded for scanning in your receipt. You can also link it to your grocery store rewards card to make it easier to save.
For other shopping, including using Instacart for getting your groceries, Dosh is a set and forget saving tool.
With Dosh, you link your credit or debit card and use it like normal. When you shop with your card at participating stores, you automatically receive cash back credit to your account.
You don't have to do anything else to get your cash back credited to your Dosh account. When you have more than $25 in your account, you can transfer it to your bank account, PayPal or Venmo, or donate it to charity.
6. Automate Your Savings
With your zero-based budget, you should have assigned money to go to savings. And you may have multiple savings goals.
To help you stay on track with your plan, the best thing to do is to open separate savings accounts for each goal. You can do this online with a bank like Ally or Capital One 360.
Once those accounts are open, set up automatic transfers of money to those accounts based on your budget.
Additionally, you should consider using a tool like Acorns to help you automatically save and invest money.
With Acorns, when you use a card to make purchases, the purchase will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, and your change will be automatically invested. You can also set up recurring investments.
7. Buy in Bulk
Typically, buying items in bulk will be cheaper than buying smaller quantities of the same product.
However, you need to be careful when buying in bulk.
It is easy to look at a huge bag of your favorite chips and think it is such a great deal that you can't pass it up.
But this can be detrimental in a few ways.
First of all, is this something you really need? And are you going to have a hard time limiting how much you eat at each serving with that larger bag? While this may save you a little money, it may have detrimental effects elsewhere…
Further, can you really finish that large of a bag of chips before they go stale?
Non-perishable foods and household items are the best things to buy in bulk. Buying too much food can result in wasted food.
So, shopping at a discount warehouse can be advantageous, but be careful.
8. Shop at Thrift Stores
When you need new clothes or household items, you should check out thrift shops.
If you've never been to one before, I think you'll be surprised at what you find.
Often, people clean out their closets and donate the things they've barely used for one reason or another. Or they are downsizing and give some of their home furnishings to thrift stores.
You can often find lightly used home items and clothing for a significant discount from what you'd buy it for new.
9. Stop (or Significantly Reduce) Eating Out
When you did step 1, where you listed all of your expenses, you may have noticed how much eating out can cost you.
If you do this a lot, you can find significant savings in this area.
Whether it is bringing your lunch to work or cooking more at home, it is almost always more economical than eating out.
However, if this is something you really enjoy, you should budget a bit for eating out here and there. Just don't do it often and eat at less-expensive restaurants than you're used to.
10. Have a Garage Sale Or Rent Out Your Stuff
If you're really in a pinch for some fast cash, consider holding a garage sale or selling your stuff on an app like Letgo, Mercari, or on Craigslist.
- Look around your home.
- Check the cupboards and storage closets.
- Clean out your garage or shed.
There are likely several items that you no longer need or use that you can sell.
Additionally, with an app like Idle, you can rent items that you aren't currently using.
11. Become a Gig Worker or Do Other Part-time Work
To increase your income and help achieve your financial goals quicker while living stingy, you can become part of the gig economy or find a part-time job.
Today, there are so many opportunities to make money on the side, including driving for Uber, delivering food, doing random tasks for people, and more.
The great part about the gig economy is that you can work those things in around your schedule. When you want to work and earn some money, open up the app, and get going.
You can also make some fast cash in one of these under the table jobs.
12. Create Passive Income Streams with a Side Hustle
While some side hustles can provide income pretty quickly helping you with living stingy in the short term, the ones I'm thinking of here are more of long-term opportunities.
If you are going to live stingy as a lifestyle, creating courses or starting a blog are excellent ways of increasing your income over time.
You could even create them to be about your stingy living lifestyle.
The great thing is there is little upfront investment needed to start a blog. For as little as $3.95 a month, you can launch a blog with Bluehost.
A blog is one of the best ways to create a passive income stream because you can scale it however you'd like. And there are so many ways to monetize a blog like selling services, advertisements, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and more.
So Should You Consider Living Stingy?
The decision to live stingily is a very personal one, especially if it is a lifestyle decision. It can also help you improve your liquid net worth.
Unfortunately, a lot of times, living stingy isn't a decision, but rather something that is forced upon you due to unforeseen circumstances and the need to make it through a difficult financial period.
Hopefully, that isn't the case. But I hope this post helps you understand more about what living stingy means and how to go about it if you have to.