Want to save more money to help you fight inflation?
First, you will have to discard those negative images you may have of a stingy person as being one who penny-pinches, is chintzy, refuses to spend money, and is ungenerous. Living stingy will be your friend, especially with high inflation making everyday things more costly. You don’t need a challenging economy to benefit from living cheap so that you can live with less and be happier.
While calling someone frugal and thrifty reflects more positively on that person’s character. On the other hand, calling someone stingy or miserly conjure up the bad and the ugly. Yes, being stingy gets a bad rap, but unnecessarily.
All four words appear as synonyms for each other. It is more about semantics when two words like frugal and stingy mean the same things with some subtle shades of meaning. Warren Buffett lives modestly, and some would say a stingy lifestyle, but he has generously given more than $4 billion.
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Blame Classic Literature For Lasting Images
The blame for negative images of stingy and miserly has to go to the famously gruesome fictional characters who carry their labels with dishonor until there is some kind of redemption. Have you read of these famous stingy characters?
The Miser and His Gold (Aesop’s Fables)
It is about a miser who buried his gold in his garden, digging it up daily to count it. One day, a thief stole the miser’s gold. The miser went into a state of grief without his gold. He never used the gold to buy things for himself to improve his life. The gold was no better than any plain rock that he could have thrown in the hole and pretended it was gold. In this Aesop’s Fable, the miser doesn’t find redemption.
Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
Scrooge has personal wealth but hates Christmas. A Christmas Carol links Scrooge’s stinginess with his dislike for humanity, making him more hideous to others. Over time through visits from spirits, he seeks change to become more generous and compassionate.
Silas Marner (George Eliot)
Like Scrooge, Silas Marner, a linen weaver, has a problematic existence and is unjustly accused of theft. He avoids human contact and has accumulated a hoard of gold that someone later steals. However, rather than regret the loss of his gold, he adopts a golden-haired orphaned child, Eppie, who teaches him the ways of humanity.
Characters fill classic literature with unfortunate characters that are stingy, overspend, pile up debt, and financial mismanagement. These stories can teach us many personal finance lessons.
What Living Stingy Means
Despite its dreadful reputation, living stingy simply means living on less and saving more for your future. It is being more mindful about your spending and less wasteful.
Choosing a stingy lifestyle may sound unattractive based on unflattering images. However, having a stingy mindset may help you better financially prepare to live comfortably without feeling deprived.
By living stingy, you will be able to spend below your means so that you:
- Can achieve your financial goals more quickly.
- Better handle money shocks through unwanted surprises.
- Establish a sound budget.
- Eliminate high-cost credit card debt.
- Have more savings to make investments for higher returns.
- Build wealth
Focus on the actions you will take by living stingy and improving your financial situation.
Prices Are Rising And Saving Will Be More Challenging
With inflation at near the highest levels in 40 years, consumers are paying higher prices at the gas pump and the grocery aisles and will have to work harder to save money.
The average household may be in good shape economically (through April) with low unemployment, strong retail sales, and growth in net worth, but we may not be at the peak of inflation. The Fed is raising interest rates to fight inflation, but it will take time.
In the meantime, consumers should be saving more in bank savings accounts that will soon sport higher interest rates, and invest in safe securities like the Series I savings bonds backed by the US government with returns that rise with inflation, currently yielding 9.62%.
The reality is many Americans are having financial challenges:
In a new study, 64% of Americans lived paycheck-to-paycheck in January 2022, up 3% from December 2021. Among those making more than $100,000, 48% live paycheck-to-paycheck, up from 42% a month earlier.
Only 44% of households could cover a $1,000 expense if an emergency arises, causing many to handle the costs with debt.
Who Can Benefit From Living Stingy
Living stingy doesn’t have to be a permanent state of mind if you gain good financial habits to help you save money. For many, living stingy is a harsh reality. However, living stingy or being frugal is for anyone who doesn’t want to be wasteful.
Those that can benefit the most from living stingy:
- Those who are debt heavy, especially with high credit card balances.
- Overspending on things you don’t need or want but fulfilled you momentarily.
- Living paycheck-to-paycheck despite earning a high income.
- Your impulsive buying is getting worse, and you are filling your closet, drawers, and dressers with things you don’t recognize.
- Surprised you have so little savings, and you are constantly stressed.
- You don’t have an emergency fund and use your credit cards for unexpected events.
What Does Living Stingy Mean
Adopting a living stingy lifestyle and mindset could correct financial wrongs that you may be ignoring, in denial, or simply unaware of your splurging. Regardless, you may need to become very stingy to rein in your spending to get rid of costly credit card debt, be able to pay your bills, send your kids to college, or retire comfortably.
Getting your finances in order can give you a better frame of mind to lead a less stressful life, reward yourself with things and experiences you most enjoy, and lead a satisfying life.
It may be uncomfortable to make sacrifices, but if you don’t make them now, you may have to do so when money issues are more challenging. It is not so hard to go out to dinner and pass on an appetizer or dessert if it allows you to go out for the evening.
What Living Stingy Should Not Mean
Saving money is for enjoying your life and being financially free. The downside of living stingy is going too extreme, saving every nickel, and imploding your life. If your bank and financial accounts are fat, but you are canceling plans with family and friends, you will likely hurt your relationships. Don’t let that happen.
There are extreme examples of people being too stingy. My Uncle Harry’s marriage deteriorated as he was overly frugal with money with his new wife. He would check the refrigerator for unwanted spending, eggs she was using to make surprise cakes, and her buying a dress once in a while to make her feel satisfied.
Despite earning a good income, he hoarded money, and eventually, his marriage failed despite therapy. To some extent, his experience as a Holocaust survivor in the worst death camps as a young boy marked him with deep psychological problems, and hoarding his money was on that list.
16 Ways To Start Living Stingy And Not Feel Deprived
1. Set Financial Goals
When we set financial goals to achieve the desired result, we may establish a new habit or replace an unwanted one like paying bills late. Achieving financial goals is part of successful financial planning, which involves setting short-term, intermediate, and long-term objectives.
Whether you seek financial stability or substantial wealth generation, the process is the same. Be specific when making your financial goals based on your needs. Easier to save money when you have particular goals like saving for your child’s college fund, creating a budget, or investing in index funds.
You should understand your budget and financial situation. Use a free tool like Personal Capital to monitor your spending, budget, and net worth over time. It’s free and is a great way to understand your cash flow.
2. Evaluate Your Budget As Prices Rise
If you don’t have a budget, create one so that you understand your household’s basic living costs. Endless shopping and dining out without regard to saving money for now and long term is a sour recipe and will lead to disaster. It may be time to consider modifying your household costs and shopping for more deals.
3. Zero-Based Budget
Creating a budget is essential, so you know your income and costs before successfully understanding your financial situation to improve it with more savings. It is important to pick a budget method that works for you.
The zero-based budget originates from the business world, where every expense needs justification by a project’s need. This budget method is number-crunching heaven, and it can work in your household for those who need more structure in their budget.
Essentially it is calculated as income minus costs to be zero. The remaining amount, if not spent, goes toward a financial goal.
4. Limit Spending Challenges
You can set aside no-spend days when you don’t spend on specified days. This strategy works for many people who designate a few days a month or a week to use cash or credit cards to buy discretionary items. The point is to exercise mindfulness by forbearing from spending money on those days and saving more money.
If this works for you to instill better money habits, then use this approach. Never lose an opportunity to save every day and every way. My concern about no-spend days is similar to some who diet by fasting and eat significantly more on non-fasting days. That may happen with no-spend days if you simply spend more on other days and defeat the purpose of saving money.
I mention it on this list because it may introduce mindfulness in a short timeframe as you build your way to being conscious of your spending all the time. Researchers say that it takes 21 days to make new habits. My preference is that you have 30-day savings challenges, with the more extended period helping you make savings a habit.
5. Learn To Make Trade-offs And Compromise More
The harsh reality is that most of us can’t have enough money to spend it all and accomplish our priorities. That means making financial compromises. If dining out is essential to your daily life, cut out something else you value less, like adding to your subscriptions or taking Uber when you can hop on public transportation.
6. Have Less And Value More
“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey
“Less is more” is attributed to minimalist architect and designer Mies van der Rohe. The style he created was simple in his buildings and his furniture. He had a point. Consumers and materialism are costly and not necessarily satisfying.
Sometimes we get a surge of happiness from making a purchase (e.g., a new car), but after a short while, we return to our normal state. This is sometimes referred to as the hedonic treadmill or adaption as the human tendency to return to a relatively stable level of happiness quickly.
Shed the need to want more things, and value what is most important in your life. Less stuff means more space, and spending less means more money to buy what you most value.
I read recently in The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, “Professor, that everything of value in this life must be earned. That it should be earned. Because those who are given something of value without having to earn it are bound to squander it…”
Sometimes we don’t know what is something of value unless we lose it.
7. Negotiate Your Bills
Whether you realize it or not, we negotiate every day. We do it at the workplace, at school, and even with our sometimes defiant kids. However, many of us don’t think to negotiate our bills and go on paying them on time as we should.
In challenging economic times, households and vendors may feel the pinch of higher costs. Vendors will likely be raising their rates. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t periodically evaluate how vendors calculate those bills. Evaluate those recurring bills for ways to reduce the service or its pricing. Consider whether you are ready to change vendors if you can’t negotiate bills.
Consider the competitive nature of the provider’s business. It is usually easier to reduce prices in better economic times because companies are experiencing less wire-cutting. For example, there is substantial competition in car insurance, gym memberships, cable, cellphone, entertainment companies like SiriusXM, and home services. If you are living stingy, you may want to try cheaper cellphone service from Mint Mobile for as low as $15 a month for just two lines.
You may need to make many phone calls, but let them know that you are considering the cancellation of your service and want to speak to a supervisor. The time you spend trying to lower bills and save money will be worth it.
8. Avoid Impulse Buying
Stop rewarding yourself by justifying your purchases with instant or immediate gratification. Try to delay your temptation for that new shiny object you must have, preceding a future benefit like saving money for a future goal for the satisfaction you want now.
Impulse buying means making unplanned purchases. It is a natural human urge to want that gorgeous pie in the bakery window or the beautiful dress you bring home. Marketers and retailers know how to leverage this behavior to boost sales. They know we often act on our need for pleasure and confirmation by telling how happy customers are with their purchases.
Surf the web under “impulse spending” and find articles like this “5 Smart Ways To Encourage Impulse Buys In Your Store.” It is not illegal to do this, but it is unethical that many people targeted with this type of message can’t afford their buys and ramp up debt significantly. As a marketing and consumer professor, it makes my blood boil with anger.
Fight those urges to shell out money you may regret spending later on with postpurchase conflicts. Shop more mindfully by taking a shopping list when you go to a supercenter, Walmart or Target, so you don’t walk out with big purchase items you didn’t need.
9. Grocery Shopping
Our food expenditures are among the three most significant household categories, including our home and transportation costs. You will want to choose the latter when living stingy so that you can save money, especially when grocery prices are rising. It is easy to overspend when grocery shopping. Yet, tips, tricks, and cashback apps are excellent ways to save money.
A well-documented grocery shopping list is essential and desirable. Look for deals in your neighborhood grocery store when signing up for free at MyGroceryDeals. It may help craft a nifty shopping list. Stick to it as best and avoid the temptation to buy unwanted items.
Bring cash if you know that you often overspend. On the other hand, if you maintain discipline, then a credit card with rewards for food shopping may be worthwhile.
10. Join Cashback, Coupon, and Receipt Scanning Apps
Arm yourself by getting access to deals, discounts, and coupons to get some savings into your pocket. These apps serve multiple purposes by providing pertinent information to market research firms or supporting brands and retailers to target their promotions better.
Among the cashback and coupon apps to get some savings into your pocket:
For extra savings, here are those apps that will pay you for scanning your receipts:
10. Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk does make sense for certain products that don’t have “Best by dates.” Many household products fit that bill, such as paper goods, cleaning, or convenience items you use frequently. If we buy too much of something like shampoo, my kids often overuse it.
Family and friends envied us for having so much toilet paper during the early days of shortages during the pandemic. We mailed some rolls to friends. I am not kidding! A lot of these items take up a lot of space. Warehouse clubs like Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club are the best places to buy in bulk.
11. Sell or Trade Unwanted Gift Cards
It is trendy to give and receive gift cards. Sometimes we get gift cards that don’t fit our needs or personalities, and they get thrown in a desk drawer. Instead, use them by either trading them in for a more desirable gift card or getting cash.
You won’t be able to get a dollar-to-dollar exchange. The amount you’ll get depends on supply-demand but can range from 50% in the stores or 92% cash back at the high end. Still, having cash in your pocket than unused gift cards in your drawer. Several companies will help you make an exchange, including CardCash or Raise.
12. Enjoy Free Or Cheap Activities
With the warm weather on its way, it is an excellent time to take advantage of the great outdoors. Enjoy walking, running, hiking, swimming, climbing, riding a bike, boating, picnicking, barbequing, playing volleyball, gardening, badminton, fairs, outdoor concerts, and theater.
There are so many things to do outdoors in good weather. Go to local, state, or national parks and gardens and admire the beauty. Forget social media that constantly remind us of how others are spending time and money. Use this time to satisfy you, and if it’s free, all the better. Living stingy has its benefits!
13. Reduce Subscriptions
It is too easy to sign up online for monthly subscriptions that can become too costly to maintain. The monthly amount of each subscription looks easy enough to handle as we add one after another until we can’t recall all that we joined.
There are many subscriptions for different purposes:
- Amazon Prime
- Audiobooks (Audible)
- Beauty and Cosmetics
- Beer Club
- Cable service
- Clothing (Stitch fix)
- Cloud storage services (Dropbox, iCloud)
- Dating apps (Tinder)
- Dog Toys (Chewy)
- Fitness apps (MyFitnessPal)
- Food delivery service (DoorDash, Uber Eats, GrubHub)
- Gaming apps (Xbox Game Pass)
- Grocery Delivery (Instacart Express, ThriveMarket)
- Home Essentials (Grove Collaborative)
- Identity protection services (LifeLock)
- Meal kits (HelloFresh, Blue Apron)
- Music (Spotify, SiriusXM)
- Razors (Dollar Shave Club)
- Subscription Boxes (all kinds)
- Video streaming (Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+)
- Wifi Services (Verizon, Comcast)
- Wine Clubs (Cooper’s Hawk)
This list is not exhaustive, but many of us try out many programs and forget what we have. We are fleecing ourselves if we don’t review what we have and eliminate some of our subscriptions.
According to a West Monroe report, people spent 15% more in 2021, for subscription services than in 2018. The average consumer surveyed paid $3,276 annually ($273 per month, up from $237 in 2018).
I’m not saying all of these subscriptions are wasteful. Some of these services may be less costly than other purchases (e.g., Stitch Fix), higher quality, or replace other things we do, especially during the pandemic when we couldn’t go shopping as quickly.
Managing your subscriptions can be challenging. Simply review your subscriptions periodically, and consider cutting those you no longer value or need. You can get Truebill for free with an option to help you identify and cancel unwanted subscriptions based on your spending.
14. Eat At Home More
Have you gone to your favorite restaurants lately?
Despite getting some stimulus money, many restaurants lost business. Many of them have raised prices since the impact of closing during the pandemic. Additionally, owners pay higher costs to their vendors even with supply issues. You can’t blame the owners for passing on these higher costs to their clientele, but some of the prices are pretty jarring.
Eating at home has many benefits: it is cheaper, healthier, and can be fun experimenting with recipes. Additionally, the higher gas prices add another limitation to wanting to travel. I have been making more food on certain nights and purposely freezing some of the leftovers for times I don’t feel like cooking.
My kids ordered food delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats until my husband, and I saw the outrageous bills that totaled up to a terrific vacation. Those services or meal kits are very convenient for those working 12-14 hours a day and cannot go shopping and cook. However, if saving money is a priority, living stingy by enjoying your kitchen and home-cooked meals seems like an excellent proposition.
15. Declutter Your Home And Sell Your Unwanted Items
It is incredible what a typical household can save over the years. One in four Americans has a clutter problem. The average home contains 300,000 items! All that stuff takes up room and can add significant stress. Think of this as a side hustle that can make you extra money.
Hire someone to move out the unusable junk to get out of the way. Then consider what you want to give away or donate to libraries, churches, and women’s shelters. You may earn tax deductions.
You likely have many unwanted household items, and consider reselling these items. Typically, you could have a garage or tag sale to get some extra dollars in your pocket. Consider the following places and resell apps to help you rid your home of these items:
- Amazon Trade-In
- Facebook Marketplace (furniture)
- Consignment Stores (The RealReal)
- ThredUp (women’s clothing)
- BookScouter (used books)
16. Living Stingy With Time
This post is mainly about living stingy to save money. However, time is finite and, therefore, even more precious. Make sure you don’t waste time doing things you hate. Be mindful of how you spend your time on what you value most. Use some time to organize your thoughts around goal-setting and make a financial plan so that you can be reasonably comfortable throughout life. Most of all, spend time doing things you enjoy like your family, friends, job, hobbies, traveling, and interests.
There is a lot of time, but time goes fast when you’re not looking.
Living stingy can be a valuable lifestyle to jumpstart your ability to save money to achieve financial goals, become financially stable and build wealth. Don’t worry about the terminology, and focus on actions you can take to save money, earn extra income, reduce stress, and enjoy your life.
Thank you for reading this article! Please visit us at The Cents of Money for more articles of interest.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.