Difference between being frugal and just plain tight?

(44 Posts)
rookiemater Fri 14-Feb-14 11:51:12

We've been cutting down on outgoings in the rookie household recently and I have been musing on this one.

My thoughts are that anything that creates savings but doesn't impact negatively on anyone else is definitely frugal, so things such as doing the family shopping in a cheaper supermarket, buying DS's clothes from E-bay, not going out as much, would all be under that heading.

So I guess being tight would be making people chip in for dinner if they come round, not buying a round when you are out, stuff like that.

It's just that my definition of being frugal is changing. I used to think that people that brought in their own lunch or coffee were stingy, now I'm kicking myself that I wasted so much money over the years. I've also noticed that more people in our office are brown bagging - and one of the contractors didn't go out for a team lunch the other day as he said he had no money - which I can't imagine someone admitting to a few years ago ( btw I thought it was v mature of him to state this) .

I should add that this is meant to be fairly light hearted, we have overspent, but it's a question of raiding savings and cutting down on expenses rather than being on the breadline - so if you are in the position where every penny counts, then you absolutely should do what's right for you.

Has your definition of frugal and tight altered over the years - what crosses the line between the two?

30SecondsToVenus Fri 14-Feb-14 12:10:25

To me, being frugal is exactly how you mentioned it - changing supermarkets, buying from eBay, less meals out etc etc

Tight is refusing to buy anything other than the bare minimum needed to survive. Refusing to enjoy yourself even if you can afford to because it involves spending money. Basically, having a miserable life - maybe not yourself directly but my dad was tight with money and we never went anywhere. It didn't bother him but me and my siblings suffered and were always scared to ask for anything because of his reaction. Money doesn't grow on trees etc etc even though we knew he had it. I suppose that could be why I'm so reckless with cash now.

I am frugal.

We don't eat out, buy kids clothes and games on ebay and at CEX etc, sell our old stuff on ebay. We rung 2 older cars that are paid for by saving up and paying cash ie no interest payments.
Shop at aldi/lidl/local market, cook from scratch etc etc.
We keep the heating at 19 deg etc.

My ex was tight. Disappeared to the loo when it was his round in a pub. Had me paying all the bills on our house and food etc and would log mileage in our shared car so he never paid a penny more and would say I had to pay mot etc as I used the car more than him - I dropped him off at his work as a detour on the way to mine!
We had central heating but I wasn't allowed to have a radiator on unless we were actually in a room and staying in it for some time.

We also save on daily stuff so that we have money to treat others at birthdays etc and a nice holiday every other year.

So,

Whereas we (current dp is just mildly frugal) will cut out unnecessary expenses and only buy 2nd hand where possible, but are not uncomfortable; tight people will avoid paying for anything to the point of being uncomfortable, or where they can possibly con/get someone else to pay for it instead. They will also avoid buying birthday and xmas pressies for other people and buy the cheapest holidays so that you need another holiday when you get back, to recover from the midnight flight after checking out of the hotel at 10am the previous morning....

rookiemater Fri 14-Feb-14 12:22:49

Good points. It's interesting because DH grew up in a poor household, whereas mine was slightly more affluent. He tends to be less frugal than I am on a lot of things and I wonder if it's a reaction against having to account for every penny when he was younger.

Frugal impacts only self.

Tight is how you are with others.

I fucking hate tight people. Those who never buy a round, are sniffy about buying presents/cards.

Tight is just mean.

rookiemater Fri 14-Feb-14 12:29:22

I remember going on a girls holiday and there was one person that was really tight - she used to head off to the toilets when it was her turn to buy a round, would borrow money for lunch and never give it back. So once when she was at the loo we devised the idea of having a kitty - she declared that to be tight shock.
Oh and said I was mean when we were in a taxi - that I paid for, and I only rounded a fair of £18.20 up to £19, rather than giving the guy the whole £20 - or maybe I was tight there, I don't know.

chanie44 Fri 14-Feb-14 13:37:27

I think Laurie's definition is spot on.

I remember watching a programme called extreme cheapskates on sky and this woman was a millionaire and she managed to convince a pilot to take her on halfway across the country for a meeting in his private plane. He would have had to pay for fuel and everything else.

sugar4eva Fri 14-Feb-14 13:45:10

My step mum is tight ! Drives me mad ! Won't buy anyone a drink . Gave my dc colouring books half filled in from charity shop when visited when they were little. Gave me a pound to last the week once when I had no cash . Yet she hoards her dosh. Know it s a fixation but its mean one!

Mojang Fri 14-Feb-14 13:56:49

My parents are frugal. My mum washes out plastic food bags to reuse! Dad goes to the supermarket at the right time to get the on date bargains several times a week. etc

However, when it matters they are the most generous people I know. Despite offering every time I have never paid for lunch when out with them, they wouldn't dream of taking petrol money from people they give lifts to, Dad will always be first to offer to buy drinks and will buy top quality wine to share with guests. They will suggest dinner or tea and cake and pay when out with friends/family and it will be a sociable occasion but very rarely if it's just the two of them. If they think you're taking advantage though, you'll find things different grin

Also, they are very aware that being frugal and buying cheap is not the same thing. They will go without rather than buying cheap (shoes/furniture for example) until they can buy something that will last for ever.

specialsubject Fri 14-Feb-14 15:29:35

'tight' is a playground term.

if people don't return presents, learn a lesson and stop buying. Far too many silly presents are bought anyway - adults should not be buying for each other, just look how nuts it all goes at retailmas.

round-buying in pubs should have long gone in a big group, gets horrifically pricey.

that said, if you invite people to dinner, you don't charge. If you share a lift with people, you all contribute. if you can't afford to do these things, you don't do them.

rookiemater Fri 14-Feb-14 15:46:30

That's very like my parents mojang. They will always pay if we are out for a meal and DM ,they hardly ever buy clothing - only when things are genuinely worn out, but when they do it's reasonable quality so John Lewis or Slaters.

However they would never dream of staying in anything better than 3 star or B&B when they used to go on holiday and are genuinely horrified when I have occasionally suggested we/they get a taxi somewhere - they have their free bus passes and will always use them, regardless of their health or the convenience.

Sadly I'm not sure that their life of parsimony has been worth it. They have a comfortable life but are too old now to travel and due to healthy complaints, can't really enjoy meals out. They give us generous cheques sometimes, which is absolutely lovely, but I can't help wishing they had done a bit more, lived a bit better, when they were able to enjoy it.

Specialsubject, I agree with you that round-buying should be outlawed, the problem is what do you replace it with? I was friends with a Canadian years and years ago, and she would insist on getting the exact money if she bought you a drink, even if there were only two of you and you were having two rounds anyway so it evened out. In Austria it was excellent, they brought drinks and food to your table in most bars, and would give everyone a separate bill automatically -unless you requested differently.

Preciousbane Fri 14-Feb-14 18:04:23

I loathe tightness of any description but am very frugal. The only thing I do hate is round buying and that is purely since I became teetotal due to health reasons.

My ex was the tightest bastard ever with other people but would always treat himself, he had the absolute meanest attitude out of any money management I feel.

MissAnnersleyismyhero Fri 14-Feb-14 19:10:37

Frugal - meal planning, trying not to waste food, turning off lights etc at home, not eating out/buying takeaways but cooking for yourself, not going out drinking often, not buying magazines, using the library instead of buying the latest bestsellers

Tight - not contributing to presents/cards at work, not paying your share for group meals - this gives me the RAGE (repeat offender in my friendship group who always manages not to put any money down when we all go out)

VivienStanshall Fri 14-Feb-14 19:18:42

Frugal and Tight definitions as above, most recently by MissAnnersleyismyhero

You can be over frugal and I tend to this in some things, I wish I could throw away shoes whed they start leaking but I start off thinking "they don't leak that much" which extends to "well, I'll only wear them when it's dry". Until finally after a long walk with soaking wet and cold feet I eventually consign them to the bin for fear I'll get trench foot.

rookiemater Fri 14-Feb-14 19:53:37

Oh maybe I'm tight then missannersley, I'm starting to get the rage about collections at work. We have a lot of contractors at our office, deal is that they earn a lot more money than us permies and our other benefits such as pensions are being eroded over time - I would say gradually but actually it's not at all.

The whole point of a contractor is that they are there for a set period of time, so I get a bit annoyed when I see a collection going round when a contractor leaves, oh and one for people's significant birthdays - there's 80 of us in the office for goodness sake.

If it's someone I like and know I will put in a fiver, but lately I have been putting in £2 if it's someone I'm not so fond of, or nothing at all if I don't
work directly with the person.

I don't make a big thing of it though, so I'm not sure if that's tight or not, oh and I always, always, always pay my way on group meals, I'd refuse to go out again with someone who didn't, or only go to places with fixed price menus.

rookiemater Fri 14-Feb-14 19:54:19

Sorry I meant to highlight your name not score it out - damn that M&S romantic meal for £20 rose cava !

bbcessex Fri 14-Feb-14 19:57:24

Good question rookiemater... like you, I've noticed that 'own lunch' at work, and 'admitting' to being a bit skint are far more common place now... a few years ago, bring in a sandwich box would have raised many eyebrows..

I think being frugal mainly affects yourself (and family), but doesn't equate to being mean with time, help, support etc.. ... being tight, in my opinion, means lack of generosity to others, both materially and in spirit.

I've never come across someone who is tight at the bar / coffee shop /with the bill, but who is generous with time / help / consideration elsewhere.

In my experience, the two go hand in hand.

In fact - I'd be interested to know if anyone else has experience of someone who is tightfisted, cash-wise, but would bend over backwards to help with non-cash things..?

foxdongle Sat 15-Feb-14 09:24:41

tight is missing out on something that you can afford and want just to save a bit more. saving is good but you have to live for the moment too.

my dps parents spent years saving like mad and their kids got the cheapest stuff. now that they are old and have all this money they give it to their grown up children, who all have well paid jobs! they are lovely and v generous with our kids and their time etc too. just seems a shame that they didn't splash out a bit when their kids were little.

frugal is being careful with your money like getting the best deals on home/car insurance, gas and elec, food etc so that you can be generous and have plenty saved up for the birthdays, christmases, holidays, treats and days out.

FiveOwls Sat 15-Feb-14 09:43:54

To me, tight is when you can afford something and decide to save instead: but you've lost the balance between the value of the money and the value of what it would have been for.

Say I fancy a latte while I'm in town. I have enough money but decide to save a couple of quid, go home and stick the kettle on. That's frugal. But then I bump into my friend, haven't seen her in a while, she suggests we nip into a coffee shop and catch up. And I refuse, even though I have time, because of that couple of quid. That would be tight. Same goes for bigger things. When our money is OK I try to do packed lunches, etc., so that we can have days out in school holidays, sometimes a family takeaway, buy nice presents for people, go on the odd night out as a couple, because these things are also important.

VivienStanshall Sat 15-Feb-14 22:00:42

Like the coffee example.FiveOwls ; on that basis I'm reassured that I'm frugal rather than tight. I'm always happy to spend in company but can't seem to be able to manage it when it's just me.

Preciousbane Sun 16-Feb-14 11:04:16

I love the coffe analogy.

I will always help with non cash things and have actually been taken advantage of in the past. Babysitting, giving lifts etc.

I have helped relatives sometimes and have treated sisters to weekends away and bought one a fridge freezer and paid for a prescription certificate. However these are my sisters who are hard up not because they have been stupid with money it is due to unfortunate circumstances. One of my sisters DH has just been diagnosed with cancer and she is really worried about money. I am not rich enough to pay out loads but I will help somehow.

My SIL is bad with money, she has always apart from one six month period earned about 50k PA for the last 16 years, she has spent the lot but continually moans about money, I would not help her.

I'm not sure if that makes me a bad person but I suppose it means I have to admit to judging their circumstances when helping with money.

I think I fall between frugal and tight.

emma16 Sun 16-Feb-14 22:19:55

FiveOwls i too like your description, a good one there. VivienStanshall, im exactly the same unfortunately, will happily buy my DH lovely birthday presents, the DC's too & all family etc, but when it come's to me i rarely spend a thing!
My mum, who i have no contact with now, is the Champion of Tightness if ever there was such a competition! Unfortunately for her all her years of being miserable, tight, selfish, lying, stealing to fund her obsession of money, has ended up her being a lonely alcoholic & quite bizarrely now drinking her money away!
Frugal is being conscious & responsible of your money, tight is the description of my mother, and ultimately gives other's bad memories.
I never quite understand people like that because i think money only lasts until you spend it, which we all have to do at some point...and you can't take it with you so your achieving what???

Sad51 Mon 17-Feb-14 00:44:24

Vivien I am just like this! I rarely treat myself when alone. I talk myself out of it. Friends/family are unaware of my frugal ways as I am the one going without.

I have bought lunch to work for well over a decade, treating myself on pay day. I cannot justify spending £100+ on food. My allowance for the month is not even up to this.

VivienStanshall Mon 17-Feb-14 10:50:32

Hi Sad51, I also bring my lunch to work; I prefer it and when you start adding up the £3 - £4 per day you've saved it's a decent number. Plus I prefer food I've made myself.

Treats are to me about sharing. I wouldn't buy myself buy an ice cream, wouldn't think of it, but in company I'm happy to do that and buy for other people.

The most mean spirited people are those who will spend on themselves when alone but not when there is a possibillity of picking up anybody else's expense.

One that had me throwing my hands up was when house guests (not my house) were staying as part of a holiday with family who were really skint and having trouble paying the bills and putting food on the table but did all this for their guests, which they knew. The guests liked their their crisps and chocolate but bought them and kept them in their room so they wouldn't have to share them with the rest of the family! The owner found them tucked away in carrier bags when she was cleaning their room.

lljkk Mon 17-Feb-14 11:11:23

Frugal is saving money where it's easy for everyone involved.

Tight is trying to avoid paying your fair share or going to ridiculous lengths to save pennies or depriving other people of things you can easily afford.

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