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Michelle Fern Michelle Fern
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edge staff writer


What do you consider yourself, frugal or cheap?

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There are times when people consider me as someone who is cheap because I use coupons, sometimes spend months shopping around for the best prices, or because I return to stores for price adjustments when items come on sale. However, because I am a person who chooses to manage my money and spend it wisely I consider myself as frugal. There is always that battle between cheap vs. frugal.

But being frugal means getting the most for your money and making smart decisions and choices to get the best purchase value. You spend within reason, don't waste money on things you don't need, and ensure necessities come first. If you can get an item at a lower price, the frugal person will take advantage.

In contrast, being cheap means depriving yourself of what you want and need or being fearful of spending money. Those who fall under this category are reluctant to spend money, no matter what the cost is, and they hold on to every dollar if they can get around spending money, they will. But being cheap can actually cost you more in the end where you create a cycle of buying and replacing inferior products. You might save instantly when buying the item cheaper, but will end up spending more over the long term because you have to replace it more frequently.

I'll admit that sometimes I can be cheap. I have a habit of buying sneakers that cost $10 to $20, but they never seem to last very long. So, I seem to be buying a new pair every three to six months. I finally decided to splurge on a pair of higher-quality sneakers, on sale of course for $30 (regularly $60), and a year later they are in excellent condition.

For the most part, I'll do as much research as possible if I'm buying items that I want to keep for a long time like a computer, cell phone or a vehicle and I'll find the best deal possible. After I do my research, I'm okay with paying more for something that is better quality, and that I know I will be happier with.

A few years ago I planned a cruise for my and my sister's family. We had decided that a Disney Cruise would an excellent choice, especially for the kids. We'd avoid hot, long lines to see the Disney characters, and enjoy endless food 24 hours a day, Disney daycare, awesome nightlife, superior events on and off the ship, and so much more. As the frugal traveler that I am, I began planning and saving for the trip a year in advance. Every couple of days, I would log onto various travel sites and Disney Cruise blogs to check for discounts and seat sales. I decided we'd stay on an inside cabin not only was it more affordable, but I had never been on a cruise and interior cabins were recommended to be the safest as far as 'sea sickness' goes. I used AAA as our booking agent because I found they could get us the best deal and offered special discounts and coupons that we could use for our activities on the ship.

I knew I landed the best deal I could have gotten for the trip because people we met on the ship paid almost $1,000 more than we did. Meanwhile, a cheap person who had the money to spend probably wouldn't have gone on the trip at all, thereby missing out on an experience of a lifetime. 

When it comes to how people spend their money, I've seen everything from over-indulgence to extreme stinginess, and I try to balance my life somewhere in the middle. So yes, I primarily see myself as a very frugal and smart shopper.


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