When it comes to saving money by living stingy and gaining financial independence, it’s important to look at how much money you have coming into your pockets as well as how much you are dishing out.
Whether that’s income from work or from selling unwanted items, or it’s purchases to live week-to-week like groceries and bills or to live luxuriously like going out to eat a few times per week, everything should be looked at with a magnifying glass.
When you are struggling to pay the bills, you should consider living with a stingy twist.
Wait, isn’t stinginess a bad thing? Some may say it is, but they’d be wrong. Stinginess in the financial world is important and needed when one is in tricky financial straits and wants to set financial goals.
This guide will explain what it means to be stingy and how to live a stingy life to the financially-fullest you can.
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What Does Living Stingy Mean?
The word doesn’t give you a good feeling, does it? People tend to associate stinginess with uptightness or having shiny object syndrome, but that doesn’t always ring true.
Living stingy really could mean the difference between you living comfortably through life, storing away retirement money with no fear of not having anything in your golden years, and living day-to-day struggling to pay for important things. And while a vacation may sound like a great thing to do on a whim to satisfy your internal hunger, it may not lead to the best situation in your bank account.
Basically, financial stinginess is being mindful of how you spend your money and how you set your priorities. It also covers making sure you consider the amount of time you work for a specific purchase.
It’s just being smart with your money. Doesn’t sound that bad, does it?
Living Stingy Vs Living Frugally?
People hear a lot of different terms when it comes to saving money and when you try to make money. That can range from living stingy to frugally to being cheap.
What do all three mean?
Being stingy is akin to not doing anything that is unnecessary and hurtful to your ability to save money. At the end of the day, you want to save the most money you can possibly save, so going out is a no-no. You have to sacrifice your life’s fun meter to keep money from slipping out of your wallet and make more money.
Living stingy vs living frugal: Frugalness is a warm version of being stingy. That means that being frugal allows you to do things like go out with friends sometimes, but you still have to think about what you are spending and how that will affect your ability to pay bills and any retirement funds you may have. Perhaps you’d rather be a frugal person?
Being cheap is basically spending as little money on everything as possible. The lowest-priced cereal, toilet paper, or whatever else you need. They never spend more money on what could potentially be a good thing for them, short-term or long-term.
Now that you know what living stingy often means compared to being cheap or frugal, we’ll go over all the pros and cons of stinginess.
The Pros of Living Stingy
- Saving Money: The first reason you probably are considering living stingy is to save cash. Of course, saving money is a great positive of this way of life, and it means you’ll be able to make more money over time. At the end of the day, being comfortable with money now will allow you to do more fun activities in the future. You’ll be able to set money aside each month.
- You’re Able To Invest More: When you have more money in the bank, why not put that money into making more money instead of spending money? Investing is a great way to make cash on top of the success of stocks you trust in, and you can even invest more in your 401(k). By living life stingy, you will have the financial freedom and financial goals to sink money into ETFs, bonds, or whatever else you trust in.
- You Will Be Prepared: Everyone should be storing some bucks away in an emergency fund or a rainy day fund. When something comes up, like a car repair or damage to your home, living stingy will give you the easiness of taking some of that stored money and putting it into your unexpected bill. What would you have done without that stored away cash?
- Easily Pay Your Bills: No having to worry about how the heck you will pay that upcoming water bill, or questioning what you will have to do to pay off the upcoming mortgage. When you acquire stingy living, all you have to worry about is your account usernames and passwords. More money in the bank puts more of an ease on your mind.
- You Won’t Worry as Much: Speaking about paying bills, not having to stress about them will mean your mind won’t wander to fears about how you’ll make it to the next day. Imagine just how much you could do if you didn’t put so much energy into thinking about how you will pay for the next set of groceries. It’s pretty astounding how you will feel about life when you know you won’t worry. Spending money can be painful!
- True Appreciation Of The Values Of Goods: Have you ever watched a famous celebrity on a talk show try to guess how much something is worth? They don’t have to worry about prices, obviously, but you do. Knowing what something is worth and how much bang for your buck you are getting is invaluable when trying to save money.
- Financial Freedom: While living stingy does require you to say no many times to going out with your friends or taking a much-needed vacation, it doesn’t mean no forever. When you really want that vacation and have the funds for it, you can do it. Just make sure you go back to living stingy right afterwards!
- Sound Budget: Knowing what you spend and what you need is great. After doing all the math, you’ll know what you’ll need for your budget to get through the week. Add in an additional side hustle and you’ll really be able to have money set aside and boost your financial future. Use that to your advantage and stick to that monthly spending budget, as it’s your lifeline!
The Cons of Living Stingy
- You Won’t Be Spending As Much: While this may seem like a pro (and it is in some respects), not spending as much means you will not be able to buy what you want to buy. It means having to cut back on any nice things you award yourself with each week. It means taking away the opportunity to do what you want to do.
- You Will Have To Cut Back: Cutting back means not going out every Friday and having fun at the bar with your friends. It means spending less on exquisite trips to the local amusement park with your family. It isn’t a fun aspect of living stingy, but it’s important to remember why you are doing it. It is possible to take living frugal a little too far.
- You Will Need To Set Boundaries: Sometimes, friends might think of you as “boring” if you decline invitations to go out with them. Your family might push you to go on a vacation with them. Stay strong and make sure everyone knows that the reason why you’re cutting back on doing fun things is not because you don’t want to, but it’s because you have to.
- You Might Have To Miss Out: Missing out is never fun, especially when you can see how much fun everyone is having via social media outlets. FOMO – the fear of missing out – is a true thing that can affect you mentally. As with everyone of these cons, remember your why. No, you can choose to make living stingy bad.
- You May Be Misunderstood: Even after telling everyone your reasoning for declining invites, some may still see it as something you are doing because you are “boring” or don’t want to hang with them anymore. It’s an unfortunate reality that we hope you won’t have to face, but be prepared to deal with that.
- You May Take It All Too Far: Living stingy is important, but don’t let it infect your life forever. If you hate purchasing off-brand food, purchase on-brand. If you want to go on vacation, plan for it financially. Stingy living doesn’t mean confining yourself to a jail.
20 Ways To Start Living Stingy Today Without Being Cheap
1. Limit Subscriptions
How much do you need your Hulu subscription alongside your Netflix subscription? Why does your family have their Spotify and Apple Music subscriptions separately? Does your husband really need ESPN+? Do you really need Amazon Prime Video or Disney+? There are ways to consolidate all your subscriptions and save that money, like with family plans for music subscription services and combined plans like one with Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+.
2. Cook at Home
It never hurts to make a nice home-cooked meal. In fact, there’s nothing better than a warm, scrumptious recipe made for your family to enjoy. Ingredients might cost more upfront, but in the long run, you will save so much more than you would have spent going out to buy food. You can even make it into a fun activity for the entire family! Plus you’ll easily save at least a hundred dollars month when you make living stingy part of your daily spending habits, you choose to eat out!
3. Meal Prep
This is one of our favorite frugal living saving tips that helped us get out of debt faster. After cooking some food at-home, you can store away leftovers and make that your meal throughout the rest of the week. It will save you money and time when you don’t feel like cooking! Why not make a huge grilled meal on Sunday and box everything up through the rest of the week? It makes great sense and will only help you.
4. Bring Your Lunch to Work
It can be difficult to keep yourself from going on a trip to get fast food with your coworkers during lunchtime. Smell that wonderful chicken sandwich? See, it’s hard but this can save you a lot of money over your career. You need to stick to your guns and bring your meal from home to work. It’s not like you can’t go out with your coworkers to eat once in a while, but not every day. It’ll just take more determination and resistance!
5. Buy Groceries in Bulk
Buying larger quantities of items will save you more money per weight unit. The more you buy, the more you save. That’s why Costco is so popular, and its members enjoy large bulk products that are way less expensive then just grabbing one singular box at your local supermarket. Perhaps you should invest in a membership! There are other grocery store alternatives to help you stretch every penny to make sure you spend little as possible. Money saved is money earned!
6. Save on Your Cable Bill
Do you need all of those extra channels? No, not really. Cable companies have seen the threat that streaming services like YouTube TV pose, so they try to lock people into contracts where they end up paying more over time for their internet and cable packages. Typically, they’ll convince you that it’s the better deal to purchase a package that includes both services by giving a cheaper upfront cost, but it’s almost always smarter to purchase an internet plan only (don’t get sucked into gigabit internet, either) and get a streaming plan.
7. Shop Thrifty for Clothes
Thrift shops have some awesome finds. From retro vests to fresh, lightly-used jeans, you can find it all at both local and chain shops. Goodwill and the Salvation Army are two of the biggest chain thrift stores across the country, and while they both have tons of options, make sure you also look at your local shops too. Better yet, check out some of the best ways to get free clothes.
8. Sell Unwanted Household Items
Decluttr is a perfect place to go if you want to get rid of your household items or electronics with the certainty of a sale. Decluttr will purchase it off your hands, usually at a cheaper price then you would get in the open market (but without any certainty). Cardpool is a great place to go to sell leftover gift cards you don’t want anymore or plan to use. There’s so many more sites like these, and you can even host garage sales.
9. Shop for Better Insurance Rates
Insurance is such a finicky thing, isn’t it? There are so many types you need, from healthcare (typically employer-sponsored) to car insurance and everything in between. There are sites that let you compare quotes from different insurance providers, like The Zebra. Companies will generally have different criteria for different types of insurance, so exploring options is always a must.
10. Join a Buy Nothing Group
Buy Nothing Groups are groups on Facebook or other sites that encourage free giveaways, lendings or sharings of items from people in your locality. That means someone can post that they are giving away a toaster, and maybe you want that toaster. So you get a free toaster. That’s lovely!
11. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Do you really need to purchase cleaning tools that are top of the line? No, but sometimes even smaller purchases can add up. If you use an old dust rag as a toilet cleaner, that saves you money with similar functionality.
12. Find Free Activities to Participate In
There are so many fun things to do without spending money. How about joining a pickup soccer game with your buddies? That will not cost anyone anything, nor will yoga in the park or other fun activities. There is so much you can do without spending a dime, and they are all out there on the internet for you to find.
13. Discounted Giftcards
You can buy discounted gift cards on Raise.com and other websites to save money on everyday purchases. This works great when you have a major purchase, like replacing an appliance that you’ll buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot or on gift cards to your favorite grocery store.
Even if you get a 5% discount when you buy gift cards, that’s 5% savings before applying any coupons or promo codes. So if you stick to buying gift cards you need for living expenses and not splurge, you can save money on the items you have to buy!
14. Build a Budget
A great way to achieve your goal of living stingy is to create a budget. A budget tells your money where it must go and keeps your spending on track to help you stick to your financial plan.
The best budget for a stingy life is the zero-based budget. This budget gives every dollar a job, so essentially at the end of the month, you have no money left. It’s not that you’re broke; instead, you gave every dollar a job, whether to pay a bill, pay for groceries, or go into your savings account.
It could take a few months to narrow down the perfect budget to live frugally or a stingy life, but with practice, you’ll narrow your budget and save money.
15. Mindful Spending
Rather than giving in to impulse buys, consider mindful spending. Before you spend money, take a minute to think about what you’re spending it on. Ask yourself if it fits within your stingy lifestyle and makes sense for your financial goals.
Believe it or not, this can stop those pesky impulse buys that occur when you get caught up in the moment or emotion of a product you see. To make mindful spending easier, never shop without a list, and if you see something you want that’s not on your shopping list, walk away and focus on your frugal living goals.
16. Set Financial Goals
You need goals to help you stick to your mantra of living stingy. Financial goals help you keep your eye on the prize and prevent you from giving in when something catches your eye.
When you set goals, focus on your ‘why.’ In other words, have reasons for your goals. For example, if you have a financial goal to retire early, determine why. Do you want to spend time with your grandkids, travel the world, or start a business you’ve always dreamt of?
When you have your ‘why,’ it’s a lot easier to stick to your minimalist lifestyle and overlook the cons of living stingy.
17. Be Stingy With Your Time
Every minute you give up for one task is an opportunity cost for another. That’s why being stingy with your time is important.
Just like your money, consider carefully where you spend your time. Think about what you want out of the time you’re giving and if your effort is worth what you receive. When you are mindful about where you spend your time and stop wasting time, you can maximize your mental health and possibly your earnings.
For example, if you give up bad habits that are time wasters, you might find you have more time for a side hustle to make extra income and reach your financial goals faster.
18. Save Any Bonuses and Tax Refunds
When you receive a bonus or tax refund, act as if you didn’t receive it. Don’t give into lifestyle creep and spend money before it even hits your bank account.
Instead, sock it away for a rainy day. Put the money in your emergency fund or investment account. Act like it didn’t exist, and let the money grow in your savings or investment account.
19. Utilize Cash-Back Apps (and Coupon Sites)
You have to shop; it’s the only way to get life’s basic necessities. But that doesn’t mean you should pay full price when you shop.
Take advantage of cash-back apps like Rakuten,
When you receive cash-back, you can opt for a check, direct deposit, or gift cards to stores you normally shop at to help you save even more money.
20. Round Up Spending and Saving
Look for banks that offer round-up accounts. These accounts round up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar. The bank will sweep the spare change into your linked savings account, so you save every time you spend money.
Living Stingy: How to Know When You’ve Taken It Too Far
Whatever your opinions are on tipping and the ethical nature behind restaurants leaning on customers to pay their own employees, not tipping is only hurting the person who waited on you. They’ve worked hard, and thinking it’s okay to withhold a tip is not the way. Not only will you be hurting the waiter, but people who notice you not tipping (like your coworkers, for example) will have a bad opinion of you.
Vacations are not to be taken when you don’t have the money for them, but they should not be banned. If you want to go on a summer getaway with your family, then do so! You’ll have to make sure you have the money for it, and planning in advance is smart. Everyone needs a release, and withholding from one is unhealthy.
How You Spend Your Time (Rather than Giving it to those Who Need It)
If somebody is depending on you or you’ve made a promise to help them with something, don’t let stinginess get in the way of fulfilling what you said. After all, your word is all you have sometimes. If you are someone who likes to volunteer, too, because it makes you feel good, keep doing that, too!
Not Attending Holidays or Social Events
Some things should not be avoided. If you miss your family Christmas party because you didn’t want to spend money for the pollyanna, you are hurting your relations with them. That’s called being cheap. Don’t be cheap.
Not Gifting at Certain Occasions
This will get you a one-way ticket to never being invited to things. If you’ve been invited to a wedding, for example, you need to give a solid gift for the bride and groom. They’ve spent thousands of dollars on this day and wanted you to be a part of it. Going for a free and fun time will look really bad on you.
Living Stingy: How Far Will You Go?
As you can tell, there are so many ways to live a stingy lifestyle while also making sure to enjoy the pleasures of life. It may be somewhat hard to keep yourself from going off-track of your spending habits, but you’ll always have to make sure you remember why you are doing this. You want to save money, live stress-free, and give your family a better life. Those are worthy reasons, so don’t worry about other people’s opinions.
Being frugal or stingy and a money saving person will teach you how to hold money, budgeting, penny pinching and more about your personal finance situation. Say goodbye to credit card debt and hello to financial goals. You would be surprised at your spending every month, probably a lot of money. Don’t be a cheapskate, but also don’t go off your impulse either.
Using living stingy lifestyle tactics discussed in this article you may be able to reduce the need for one or many side hustles. No longer will you be scraping every penny together to make sure your bills are on time and paid in full. Finding easy ways to save money, learning to spend less, adapting a frugal lifestyle and learning to be a little stingier can truly change your life.
How far will you go to being stingy?
Are you going to consider living stingy? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!
Samantha Hawrylack is a personal finance expert and full-time entrepreneur with a passion for writing and SEO. She holds a Bachelor’s in Finance and Master’s in Business Administration and previously worked for Vanguard, where she held Series 7 and 63 licenses. Her work has been featured in publications like Grow, MSN, CNBC, Ladders, Rocket Mortgage, Quicken Loans, Clever Girl Finance, Credit Donkey, Crediful, Investing Answers, Well Kept Wallet, AllCards, Mama and Money, and Concreit, among others. She writes in personal finance, real estate, credit, entrepreneurship, credit card, student loan, mortgage, personal loan, insurance, debt management, business, productivity, and career niches.