penny pinching concept with penny held in vice grips

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.

penny pinching concept with penny held in vice gripsThe 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.

Awhile ago, during a very lively discussion, everyone around the table 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 will 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 theATM 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, 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 in the comments below.



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16 replies
  1. Farmer Tom says:

    You know you’re a cheapskate when in your mid-70’s you use the lessons you learned from your Mom to continue to run a farm on a strict debt-free policy, still providing in-season fresh vegetables to the community (and to your own freezer) after over 60 years.
    Mom’s overriding philosophies were:
    “If you can’t pay for it when you buy it, find a way to do without it.”
    “When you use a credit card, that money is GONE. You can’t spend it again just because the bill hasn’t come yet.”
    “Never count on income you don’t actually have yet.”
    And my own addition:
    “I’ve learned over the years that often, when I finally get the chance to get something I wanted years before but couldn’t afford then, I don’t want it anymore.”

  2. Renae says:

    I think I have the cheapskate gene from my Grandma. She had her brothers give her bent up nails at the end of the work day so she could straighten them and save for another time. Even her bro commented that she was “so cheap she can pinch a buffalo nickel until it poops”. The utility companies paid her a visit when so little registered on the meters. She used practically nothing in electricity and water, yet had the biggest garden in town. She died a wealthy woman who was widowed young, raised 3 children, worked by watching children when parents traveled and later cared for the elderly so they could stay in the home at the end of life.

  3. Lawana says:

    I know I’m a cheapskate! I buy my clothes at Goodwill, searching for new tags or very good brands, I make my own laundry detergent and dishwasher pods. I make dog food for my dogs , not just to save money, but it’s better for their health.
    I also make homemade cleaning fluids. I do all this working 2 jobs and taking care of my house and husband. I shop at Aldi, because it’s so much cheaper. With inflation being so high, now I have to do these things, not because I want to. Basically, I save as much money as I can on everything, so I’ll have money for things I want.

  4. Ray says:

    Meals / snacks planned via weekly flyers (six box stores) items on sale, BOGO, using coupons; items purchased not to be used or needed shared with family members

    Guys with mustaches: eat an open peanut butter sandwich upside down to avoid transferring pb to mustache

  5. Connie says:

    You know you’re a cheapskate when:
    – you wash your thicker Ziploc Freezer bags for reuse
    – you cut bottoms off tubes of toothpaste, makeup, lotion, etc to get every last drop.

  6. Jan says:

    Oh my goodness – I do exactly that – hear/read about a new book and immediately go online and put it on hold at the library!!! I even calendar new books in a series so I can go online and be the first to put it on hold!! I really believe that a library card is the best use of my tax dollars ever! Just think – you can get books, magazines, movies, crafts, and even puzzles at the library. There’s literally something for everyone at the library, and its all FREE! Some of those you can even swap your read materials for new ones. The library – that’s entertainment!! Full disclosure – I have a certificate in Library Information and Technology, have worked in public libraries, run our church library, and LOVE libraries!! (Could you tell???)

  7. Fru-gal Lisa says:

    You know you’re a cheapskate when:
    — You tear off the fronts of pretty greeting cards so you can use them as package decorations, taping them on the front of wrapped gifts or plain giftbags, during next year’s holiday.
    –You save all bows, ribbons, gift bags and gift boxes for re-use.
    –You make a list as to who gave you which gift bag so you don’t regift the gift bag to the same person/family.

  8. Fru-gal Lisa says:

    –You’re thrilled when you leave your car in the parking lot and it starts raining hard, because you figure Mother Nature has just given you a free carwash.

  9. Tatyana says:

    You know you’re a cheapskate when:
    – you avoid literally any shopping on weekend, because “I haven’t earned that money yet”;
    – all your clothes are nice quality and look great, but you don’t remember what it’s like to buy them anywhere other than thrift shops;
    – you went to work in the middle of nowhere (isolated community), but your housing and food are paid for by the company.


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