5 Times You're Being Cheap, Not Frugal

Frugality is the new buzz word and with good reason. As a nation with an average $132,529 in household debt, we could all do with being a little smarter with our money and the things we choose to spend it on. But being frugal is not the same as being cheap.

Cheapness is often associated with inferior quality, where the lowest price is chosen regardless of the condition or durability of the product or service. This is a false economy: If you buy the very cheapest product it is likely to be of a lower quality and in the long run, you will spend more money on replacements or repairs than if you just went ahead and bought the more expensive option to start with.

Frugal people care more about quality and value, they shop for the best price but they are prepared to pay a little more if it is really worth it. Being cheap is being money obsessed, being frugal is being money smart.

So with that in mind, if you find you are guilty of any of the following crimes, don't blame it on your new frugal plan, you're just cheap, my friend!

When you don't tip

If you can afford to eat out, drink at a bar, get a haircut, or jump in a cab, you can afford to tip. Don't base your new frugal lifestyle off disenfranchising service workers who depend on your tips. Your friends will also hate you as they'll end up making up the difference.

When you skip the gift

Birthdays only come around once a year and are often the only time that adults get to feel special and important for a whole day. Please don't be that person who turns up to a party empty-handed. If you are really interested in producing less waste and not adding to the culture of consumerism, then take the time to make a beautiful homemade gift or bake something really special.

When you re-gift (sometimes)

There isn't anything inherently wrong with the concept of re-gifting. Problems arise when people re-gift horrible presents that nobody wants to receive, accidentally re-gift to the original giver, re-gift an inappropriate product -- like a tennis racket to your elderly housebound aunt. It's a good idea to keep a box of gifts you have been given but don't intend to use (with a small note attached saying who gave it to you and when) and then shop this box when a celebration arises. Just be sure that the recipient will actually like and use the gift before wrapping it.

When you look like a hot mess

You can mix and match items from your existing wardrobe, borrow clothes from a friend, or shop in thrift stores -- there isn't really any excuse to rock an outfit that makes you look sloppy. If it is damaged, has holes, is stained, or falls under the category of 'outdated' not 'vintage' then chuck it out and splurge a little on a new look -- you deserve it!

When you don't take vacations

Frugal folk scope out the best deals to make sure they are getting an amazing trip for the lowest possible price, but still include all the things that matter to them. That's what makes the vacation worth taking in the first place. Cheap people don't often travel and talk about money constantly -- boring!

Being cheap means you are constantly watching every dollar and this shortsightedness means you can't plan for the long term. Frugal people have their eye on the big picture and know that maximizing their buying power allows them to live the best possible life now and in the future.