How to Be Frugal Without Being a Cheapskate

19 November 2013


There’s a big difference between being frugal and being a cheapskate. Being frugal means being smart with your money, living within your means, and staying out of debt. Being a cheapskate means doing anything to save a buck, even if it means going against what’s socially acceptable. Inspired by the TV show Extreme Cheapskates, I’m going to go through a few things cheapskates do to save money, then show you how you can still save money without getting weird stares in public or being downright gross.

The Cheapskate collects loose change off the street

You’ve probably heard the saying “a penny saved is a penny earned” but is picking up pennies and other loose change off the street really worth it? Since Canada has phased out the penny, probably not. With the popular saying “time is money” in mind, checking telephone booths or parking lots for coins is just not a smart use of anyone’s time.

The Frugal Saver collects loose change around the house

Although society may look down upon picking up change in public, there’s nothing wrong with doing it in your own home. My husband constantly leaves change around the house, and eventually I got into the habit of collecting all of his loose change and putting it in a jar. After a year and a half of living together I collected over $80! Now that definitely was time well spent.

The Cheapskate dumpster dives for furniture

I am all for saving money on furniture, but diving into a dumpster is crossing the line. Not only is it incredibly unsanitary (and smelly), there are a number of better ways to save money that don’t require riffling through a ton of trash.

The Frugal Saver looks for deals in thrift stores, garage sales, and online for furniture

If you want to save money on furniture without smelling like last week’s dinner, consider checking out your local thrift store, neighbourhood garage sales, Craigslist, or Kijiji for some great deals. In my last apartment, my husband and I found almost all of our furniture by using Craigslist. Not only was the furniture we got in near perfect condition, but we bought all of it for a fraction of what it would cost us new at the store.

The Cheapskate refuses to buy toilet paper

Deciding to either not use toilet paper or making your own reusable toilet paper from old cloths is not only strange, but not as economical as you’d think. Toilet paper is already relatively inexpensive to buy, and it can be even cheaper if you just make sure to look out for deals.

The Frugal Saver saves money on toilet paper by buying in bulk or on sale

When I lived with a roommate for a year, we made one trip to Costco, bought a bulk pack of store brand toilet paper, and by the end of the year we still had a few rolls leftover. Having just done a price check on toilet paper at Costco, you can get 30 rolls for under $20, costing you about $0.60 per roll. I’d much rather pay that amount on toilet paper than have to clean a load of soiled handmade creations in the laundry.

The Cheapskate forages for food outside

It’s true there are plenty of edible plants in the forest and even in your backyard, but that doesn’t mean you should forage for your salad and hope for the best. Picking wild plants can be very dangerous and could cause you some serious health problems, which in the end would cost you way more than a trip to the grocery store.

The Frugal Saver gardens, uses coupons, and buys food on sale

If you want to save money on your grocery bill and avoid getting sick, then there are three things you can do. You can grow your own vegetables and herbs in your garden, you can use coupons to cut down on costs, or you can buy food when it goes on sale. It's that simple! Plus, wouldn’t you rather eat a salad with lettuce rather than weeds you found off the side of the highway? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Bargainmoosers, what's the craziest thing you've heard a cheapskate do to save a couple of bucks?

(Image: Bob n Renee)


  • Ali
    Costco toilet paper is actually a very bad deal. My dad's rule of thumb was to never pay more than 25 cents per single roll. Yesterday at Superstore I bought 40 double rolls for $12.47. By my dad's formula $20 would have been a good price for that pack, so this was an amazing deal! I often manage to beat his target price by watching for sales.
  • Maegan M.
    I would just like to say that I pick money off the street... I dont actively look for it but If I see it, Im not going to leave it there lol.
  • Maegan M.
    The craziest thing that I have ever heard of a cheepskate doing was having everyone in the house not just share the same bedroom but share the same bed so she didnt have to heat the rest of the house...

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