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Responding to When Someone Calls you Cheap

by My Journey to Millions

The other day I was talking to a buddy and he called me cheap.  It wasn’t anywhere near the first time that this happened, nor will it be the last.  I don’t usually take much offense because I am comfortable with myself and my spending habits, but for whatever reason this simple conversation got me to thinking about “what makes someone cheap?”  I think it becomes a deeper conversation than what is someone’s monthly nut.

Why am I considered Cheap to Some?

I have struggled with the idea of value for years, but I think it is applicable in this conversation once again.  Maybe I am biased but I think most people’s definition of cheap would be,

A person that doesn’t want to spend a lot of money and is vocal about it

If that is the definition people want to accept I may fall into this category as I often have problems spending money on stuff, but I think that is because I don’t value a lot of what other people do.  Notwithstanding, for anyone that reads my very candid spending reports, I do spend money lol too much for that matter.

So I think I have come up with the “I Have Been Called Cheap Response.”

How to Respond When People Call You Cheap

My problem is that when I am being called cheap it is either because I am in the middle of someone trying to get me to spend my money on something I don’t value or when I am trying to make every dollar that has to go out be that much more efficient.  As such I have came up with a creed sort of response

  1. I won’t spend money on things I don’t place value on
  2. I want my fixed costs to be efficient
  3. If your value is misplaced that doesn’t mean I have to spend more

and I am willing to complain or voice my opinion if expected to break those three rules.  Unlike one’s biblical creed these rules are flexible only because the words that they are built up on are malleable.

For example, if we take the same exact restaurant I am willing to spend more there at certain times or flat out reject going to there if the setting isn’t what I am looking for at that exact time.  Another example is going out for drinks – on a Tuesday night I am less willing to spend less per drink then I am on a Friday night even if I am with the same people.



Have you been called cheap? Does it bother you? Do you think the creed covers it all?

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Daisy 04/09/2012 - 9:39 am

I don’t know that I’ve been called cheap. Maybe I have, jokingly, but I’m okay with it. I think it’s all relative, some of us like spending on some things while others have an aversion to it.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 3:44 pm

I would guess more people like spending lol

Jeff 04/09/2012 - 1:43 pm

people dont really call me cheap, but that’s mainly because I try not to talk finances with people too often. Some of my friends know about my site and know what I write about, and they’ll ask me questions from time to time, but usually I shy from talking about it, because I dont want to sound preachy, and they probably dont want the advice that i’ll eventually tell anyway

Evan 04/19/2012 - 3:44 pm

I am curious, though, are you surrounded by friends who are also into sustainability?

Aggie 04/09/2012 - 1:55 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone call me cheap except myself. I am cheap when it comes to certain things but overall no one would notice by my spending habits where I cheap out.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:01 pm

Wow 3 in a row maybe I am the outcast?!

What are the areas where you do cheap out?

Don 04/09/2012 - 2:26 pm

I am an odd duck that way in that I instantly translate cheap to mean frugal (as it applies to me) and actually say “Thanks”.

Of course, I’m joking when I say “thanks”, but really I like being considered frugal 🙂

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:08 pm

Interesting way to look at it, MR. Makes a lot of sense. I automatically get defense since I don’t think I am cheap I just don’t feel the need to spend to impress others…and maybe I am too self conscious of it

retirebyforty 04/09/2012 - 2:47 pm

Hmmm. I haven’t been called cheap in a long time. I guess I don’t hang out with those people much anymore.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:10 pm

Do you hang out with people that have the same early retirement views as you?

Jenna 04/09/2012 - 4:37 pm

I just tell people I want to spend money on things I value more than whatever they want to do. Like eating out for lunch and ask for a compromise, like eating at the food carts so no one can tell I brought my own lunch.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:13 pm

Food carts? What are those? Like food trucks? We don’t really have them on Long Island

Jenna 04/20/2012 - 12:51 pm

Similar to the hot dog stands. Only better: https://www.foodcartsportland.com/

krantcents 04/09/2012 - 5:04 pm

Being called cheap doesn’t bother me. I view it as a badge of courage. The person calling you cheap doesn’t really understand its meaning anyway.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:14 pm

You might be right, I think generally it is a subjective term

Glen Craig 04/09/2012 - 8:29 pm

Yeah, I’ve had similar experiences in being called cheap. It’s usually when someone wants me to do something they are spending money on or want me to get the same thing as them.

But the thing is, I spend money on things I want that I know will last and bring me enjoyment – or value. But when I’m called cheap people don’t see that.

It’s very interesting. Have you noticed that those calling you cheap also tend to spend freely and don’t have much of an idea of where there money is going? That’s my experience.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:15 pm

Glen, my experience is the EXACT SAME! scarily close lol

AverageJoe 04/10/2012 - 5:14 am

I haven’t been called cheap. I’ve found many people who are called “cheap” are given the moniker not because of spending on themself, but because of their spending on other people. My uncle is cheap because he’ll spend tons of money on himself but his kids never get anything. If he didn’t spend much on himself either I think he’d be considered frugal.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:20 pm

Interesting distinction. I actually think your Uncle should be thought about in terms of selfish and giving

Marie 04/10/2012 - 1:51 pm

I’m sure I’ve been called cheap as I’m very vocal about my goals. I will tell people that I don’t want to buy something because I really want to get out of student loan debt. I am prickly about it, though! The other side of the coin is people trying to justify their purchases because they know I’m frugal. Like they’re asking me to be okay with something. That’s when I feel bad, because am I proselytizing and making people feel guilty?

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:22 pm

How much student loan debt to you have left?

I rarely talk about money with most of my friends…everyone has different goals and priorities it rarely will work out well.

Marie 04/20/2012 - 1:10 pm

$6,300, and it’ll be paid off by March. I’m throwing as much money as I can on it, since I can’t get almost 5% return anywhere else.

eemusings 04/10/2012 - 7:26 pm

Only by my partner. He’s joking (well, at least partly). Nobody else has ever been rude enough to call me cheap for real.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:24 pm

When you guys reach your joint goals you can remind him how you guys got there!

The Wife 04/12/2012 - 7:59 am

I know we have talked about this ALOT but I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s all about what you value as important. I might be cheap because I drive a certain car over another…but someone else might think we are ridiculous cause we lease vs. buy an older less expensive car. People may call me cheap because I like to eat at Friday’s over a nicer restaurant…but for me, I am just as happy at that restaurant than another. It’s what the individual puts value on.
I like what someone said above..I like the word FRUGAL better…sounds better 😉

Niki 04/13/2012 - 9:47 am

When I think someone is “cheap,” I think it because they are taking advantage of something – a service, a good – and after the fact, are unwilling to pay their fair share. Like when you all go out for dinner and that guy orders a drink and a $15 plate, and puts only $15 in, allowing others to cover his tip, tax and drink charge. If he wanted to pay only $15, he should have ordered a cheaper plate.

That’s cheap.

PRE-empting overspending – that’s wise.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:27 pm

Hmmmm I think I may steal that “Preempting overspeading” I love it!

IIW 04/13/2012 - 9:22 pm

I like the way that Niki put it, and I see it the same way. “Cheap” to me doesn’t mean spending less on what you don’t value, it means taking out more than you put back in, and on a consistent basis.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:29 pm

Yeah I like how Niki put it also. I also like how you said taking out more than what you put in rather than the normal way people look at it – just not putting more and more “in”

Jerry 04/15/2012 - 5:19 pm

I think there is a difference between cheap and frugal. I don’t like the connotation with cheap because it leads to people thinking things about me that aren’t true. I feel like cheap assumes you don’t care about others. That’s not the case. But frugality is insurance for your future. Just my thoughts.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:32 pm

The connotation is the worst part of it for me.

Roger 04/16/2012 - 8:52 pm

I haven’t been called ‘cheap’ myself, although I also haven’t been the most frugal that I could be, so perhaps I simply haven’t been ‘cheap’ enough to deserve the title. I think your creed is pretty solid, although your last point is pretty much asking for trouble from whomever you are talking to.

Evan 04/19/2012 - 9:34 pm

#3 or my last paragraph?

The Money Mail 04/22/2012 - 2:03 am

it certainly is annoying when people would want you to shop according to what values they place on an object. Values are highly subjective and it should be completely acceptable to others if the value I place is different from the value others place on the same object.


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