Think You Might Be a Cheapskate?

Not many people enjoy being called a cheapskate. But I do. I don’t think of it as an insult but a commentary on how far I’ve come. I was born a spender and I took that tendency to a horrible extreme at one point in my life. The changes over the years that have brought me to where I am today offer an amazing contrast. If ‘spendthrift’ is at one extreme, I guess ‘cheapskate’ is at the other. And given the choice, I’ll embrace the latter any day.

To me a cheapskate is simply one who gives, saves and doesn’t spend money she doesn’t have. A while ago a very lively discussion took place at Everyone wanted to weigh in on signs you know you’re a cheapskate. Here are some of my favorites:

You know you’re a Cheapskate when ….

… your husband hides things in the house because he is afraid you’re going to sell them on eBay to raise money for your emergency fund.

… you plan meals like your 8th grade Home Economics teacher (if only she could see you now).

… the checker tells you that she has never in her 10 years of working in a grocery store sold a bar of Fels Naptha soap.

… you call your credit card company’s 800 number just to hear your balance going down.

… you use more envelopes to hold your money than you use to mail your bills.

… your ceramic piggy bank has a spotlight over it.

… you go online to check your savings account balance first thing in the morning on the first day of the month, even if it means you have to get up early … then you sit there and giggle with glee.

… you get $60 cash from the bank and it lasts longer than $100 cash used to last.

… you buy something with your credit card and immediately go online to transfer the exact amount from your checking account to pay it early and so it will never show a balance.

… every month you take your saved change to the bank, deposit it, then head straight to the nearest computer to transfer that amount to your credit card balance!

… friends ask you to go out to eat Mexican food  and you say you’re making tacos at the house if they’d like to come by and join you.

… you’re faced with losing your job and you don’t lose any sleep at night because you have six months of living expenses in your emergency fund and no credit-card debt!

… you hear about a good book and rush online to put it on hold … at the library!

… you discuss your finances with your spouse and you are both SMILING because you know the balance of three bank accounts—to the penny!

Whatever your definition, the point is to strive to be a cheapskate.


Question: “You know you’re a cheapskate when …” Tell us here.


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  • Stefanie

    You know you’re a cheapskate when the bread basket brought to the restaurant table looks like free breakfast for tomorrow morning.
    You know you’re a cheapskate when reading at night by candlelight is the norm to save electricity.

    • Carolyn K

      You know you’re a cheapskate when you check your bank account balances every morning, write them down, and carry them in your pocket so you’ll know exactly the state of your funds.

    • whybother

      That is beyond cheap. That is pathetic!

      • Katie F.

        whybother with such remarks? You go Stefanie.

  • Carolyn

    …you go through the grocery checkout and the clerk is exclaiming loudly (for everyone to hear!) that she has never seen anyone save over $90 before – and your bill is far less than that – due to coupons and in-store savings.

  • cherubim86

    …when you have peace of mind because you are thrifty, frugal, live within your means, lead a more simple life and are happy with it, don’t have to bow to the “interest monster,” and aren’t a slave to debt any longer!

  • madebyheart

    ….when you don’t worry about back to school shopping because you been going to garage sales and scouting out facebook pages that sell clothes and school supplies that their kids didn’t use this last year. Planning ahead and getting the next that they wll be growing into will help the budget as well as time and frustration…..even if you have 5 kids!!! LOL

  • Theresa M.

    when your husband tells everyone that “if it isn’t on sale and she doesn’t have a coupon we’re not getting it”.

  • Ann

    Your young son wants a kite on a windy day and you get a string, grocery bag and away he runs across the yard!!!

  • doglovr79

    You build a solar oven (with scrounged and reused materials) because you dont want to pay for the electricity to use the crockpot you bought at a yard sale.

  • Marge

    McDonalds had free coffee last week and that’s all I got TWICE! And I walked there besides so I had exercise and coffee. Enjoy the day. Marge

  • konnlynne

    You know you’re a cheapskate, when you just cannot, CANNOT give full price for your or your kid’s clothes because you know someday, somewhere you will find that exact garment, in great shape, in the right size, at a garage sale for 1/10 of what the tag says!!! (Of course you have to go to a lot of garage sales.)

  • Fran

    You bring home a pre made salad with dressing and after eating, wash out the dressing cup and save for daily pills when present one breaks.

  • satwood

    You know you’re a cheapskate when you wait for a sale at the Goodwill!

  • Chirping

    I’m a “closet cheapskate”. I purchase gifts throughout the year (on sale or at the thrift store/yard sale of course!) and then I have fablous gifts to give friends and family for birthdays, special occassions and Christmas. I am so proud when they say “Wow you must have paid alot for this!” And I ENJOY looking for those special treasures and one of a kind vintage items. One day I laughed when my son told me “but mom, it’s not on sale, let’s wait.”

  • doglovr79

    I love these suggestions! I know I am a cheapskate when I don’t know whether to first laugh, or take notes!

  • The Marriage Doc

    You know you’re a cheapskate when you pay off your car…drive it 3-5 more years while depositing your car payment into a savings account. At the end of your preferred time, you pay cash for another car, start the process all over again and never in your life have another car payment. Instead, you are paying yourself interest that grows instead of PAYING interest on a declining value of a car.

    • whybother

      Well done!

  • Bargin Baby!!

    You know you’re a cheapskate when you hide from your husband how much you are saving as opposed to what you are not spending.

  • PamS

    You get all your insulation board for your reroofing project from the waste from a reroofing of a commercial building.

  • Sandy

    when you meet your sister for lunch–eaten in the car with homemade sandwiches and coffee–and she notices that you’re dressed almost entirely in her hand-me-down clothes.

  • Maryann

    You stay below your weekly food budget of $75 AND come home with veal cutlets for supper that night!

  • Leah

    You know your a cheapskate when you use old craker boxes for blocks for your three year old.

  • Katie F.

    You thankfully stand back and revel at your stash of useful canned goods, which you have ethically amassed at 25% of retail through combining coupons with store sales. Then you joyfully give a bunch to the local food bank BECAUSE YOU CAN. (get it? “Can”? nevermind 😉

  • Tay

    You know your a cheapskate when you buy iron on patches for the knees in your sons pants but don’t use them (your husband finds them three years later) because you’ve been sewing them up yourself!

  • Andrea

    You know your a cheapskate when you save old cans from everything for your kids to play target practice on with their bb gun (you don’t want to buy a target and you don’t have time to make one either).

  • Rich

    … when your grocery bill goes from $10 per week to $50 per week, then $30 per week and you are eating better than before.

    • Rich

      That was suposed to be $100, not $10. sorry

  • Betty Thomas

    When getting up a bit earlier making lunch and coffee to send with my hubby to work seems less like extra effort and more like money in the bank. His kiss and hug of thanks is the cherry on top!

  • exyoopergal

    You refuse to go shopping with a friend because you know you can’t go shopping without buying and there is nothing you need!

  • Jammy

    … you hand over more coupons that you do cash.

  • sue

    you know you’re a cheapskate when you use an online site that gives points for searches, then turn the points into gift cards for Christmas shopping/ gifts

  • Mabel Ramsthel

    ….When you buy an item at Costco at a great price and when the new coupon book comes out w/a discount for that item, you return it to Costco and re-buy it at the lower price!

  • Maxilyn

    you never buy anything that has to be drycleaned or hand washed.

  • Joyce, Michigan

    You flip the TV channel to PBS when a commercial comes on so you won’t be influenced by advertising – then you leave it on PBS so the rest of the family won’t be influenced either.

  • carol

    a friend who was on a very tight budget asked her husband to try and “hold it” until he was at work so that he didn’t use the toilet tissue at home

  • Cheryl Designs

    My car was paid off seven years ago. Miss 1996 Miata still only has 97K miles on her. I am driving her until she literally DIES 🙂 When my ex-husband moved out in April 2006 I decided I don’t even LIKE television, much less spend much time WATCHING it. I haven’t had a tv signal since then and I am SURVIVING very nicely 🙂 That has saved an average of $50 a month for YEARS 🙂 To be HONEST, if I didn’t have a home sewing business, I probably wouldn’t have INTERNET either 🙂 My alteration customers DO find it convenient to connect via e-mail or Facebook rather than play PHONE-TAG for days on end 🙂 I would rather COOK at home than go to a restaurant. I just don’t NEED much…. The FRUGAL-SIMPLE life is a GREAT life 🙂 It is a HAPPY LIFE 🙂 I am living a very happy, productive, LOW STRESS life 🙂

  • MeanMom

    Your son tells you you are a mean mom – because he asked for something at the store and you told him the chores he had to do to earn the money to buy the item.

  • Linda F

    You know you’re a cheapskate when…you wait to renew DPL because you know Mary will give you a discount! Now that’s the ultimate cheapskate!!

  • You Know you are a cheapskate when you give your grandkids a handmade “gift card” for their birthday and they follow do what they have seen you do so often. . . they go to the thrift store to spend it to get more for their money!

  • Debbi Sykes

    When that zip lock bag has been used 10 times and still going strong. One box of bags last me months.

    • Flo


  • Flo

    your son asks you why everything in the house is makeshift.

  • marysews

    You don’t know what’s on TV, but the librarians all know you by name!