“Don’t be so cheap.”
“You’re such a cheapskate.”
“Why are you so cheap?”
“What a cheap-ass!”
How many times have you said, heard, or received the biting sting of one of these zingers?
I have been called a “cheapskate” or less appealing synonym in an insulting way a number of times. And most of those times it resulted in me wanting to do a flying elbow drop from the top of a kitchen table onto that person’s temple.
Sadly, Americans have been conditioned to throw one of these verbal jabs when someone they are spending time with doesn’t do what they want them to do, when that something involves spending money in a wasteful manner.
Visions of Scrooge McDuck diving into a pile of gold start popping up in people’s heads. “This cheapskate must be absolutely miserable! And how dare they make me second guess my wastefulness?!”
So the jabs start flying…
Don’t want to fly half way across the country to a golf resort when there are 20 courses in a 15 mile radius? “Cheapskate!”
Don’t want to pay $75 for floor seats to catch that 80’s hair band you loved 20 years ago? “Cheap-ass!”
No cable TV? “You’re so cheap!”
Don’t want to go out and pay $5 per watered down pint when you have an awesome homebrew in the fridge? “You cheap bastard!”
Is there Even Such a thing as a Cheapskate?
The irony is… there really is rarely a TRUE “cheapskate”, in the literal definition of the word. When might you actually be a cheapskate?
- If you don’t patch a hole in the roof that needs patching because you don’t want to spend the money you have to do so, you’re a cheapskate.
- If your electricity gets shut off because it’s too painful to send the electric company $30, you’re a cheap-ass.
- If you get all your condiments for home from fast food restaurants, you’re cheap.
- If you don’t eat anything but WonderBread and Jif in order to save money… probably a cheap bastard.
But how many so called “cheapskates” actually fit these examples versus the former? Very few.
People are only “cheap” (I prefer “frugal”, “resourceful”, or just “smart”) in our country if they have priorities, values, and goals that they place higher than the $1,000 round of golf, $75 nostalgia, or $5 beer.
And the sad thing about it is that 75%+ of those who use the derogatory phrases actually believe it. And many who are on the receiving end start to believe it and get down on themselves, and even start giving in to the wastefulness.
Occasionally, very occasionally, the term is used in an endearing way with no passive aggressiveness or insult intended. But that is rare.
Death to the Cheapskate Phrase
So, I’m declaring death to the cheapskate phrase. Here’s how you can help make it happen:
- If you ever get the urge to say it to another, bite your tongue and have understanding of their situation and values. Then complement them on how smart they are and how much more you’ll enjoy hanging out with them when you both retire early.
- If you ever get called a cheapskate in an insulting way, realize that the person calling you it is just kind of a dick, and don’t give in to the peer pressure to waste your money.
- If they call you it again, say, “I’m not cheap, I’m just smarter with my money than you are.” Then seriously consider whether you want that friendship and the awkward peer pressure it will continue to present to go on. Who wants to be friends with a wasteful jerk anyways?
- If they call you it again after that, say, “Prepare yourself for the flying atomic elbow drop.”
However, you can still reserve full right to pridefully call yourself a cheapskate. ;-)
I’d like to add the friend who does go out for drinks, but then tries to pay less then their share of not contribute to the tip onto the list of “you might be cheapskate if”. I’m all for frugality, but you bought it, you pay for it…. personal rant!
You know what… yes… that person is a cheapskate. Or the guy who borrows $20 and never returns it or makes you beg them… well, maybe that guys is just a dick…
I am a second generation Cheapskate.
You may be a cheapskate if you’re still re-heating food from two weeks ago that smells funny… I’m all about leftovers (in fact, I think they taste better), but not when it means a trip to the ER!
I’m with you on this one! I’m cheap as hell, but I too prefer the term frugal. The homebrewing is a big one for me. I love craft beers and brew pubs, but I can’t see paying $5+ a glass (sometimes they’re not even a 16oz, I’ve been tricked into a 12oz glass!) when I know I could make something that tastes just as good and it only costs me at most $1.50 per 16 ounces. Best hobby I’ve ever gotten into!
I laugh inside when people call me this, as I know that I am just smarter as you said. I do, however, love the idea of the flying atomic elbow drop… seems like a good way of getting rid of any other stress that is built up lol. Great post and I loved the way you presented it.
Here here G.E. Well said. People can say what they want to say about me. I don’t care. I am responsible for my own future. I am scared about not having enough for retirement. So what if I don’t have enough ‘fun’. I have ‘fun’ in my own ways while reducing spending. I do like the idea of mentioning a wrestling move on someone who keeps pressing on.
I think it goes both ways.
More than one “cheapskate” (or frugal, resourceful, or ‘smart’ person) has called someone who maybe isn’t as conscious of their spending some unpleasant names as well, such as wasteful, spendthrift, frivolous, wanton…
For example, if someone can afford to buy an extravagant $50K luxury car, and can pay for gas, insurance, etc, then that is their right, and they don’t deserve to be judged by anyone, either way.
To each his/her own.
Yes i get these lines and more. We have at least one generation who has lost the “use it up,wear it out, make it do, or do with out” mentality. Simply by not buying stupid trinkets,movies and cd’s, and buying all new always can save thousands. Yes my truck has 163,xxx miles but its been paid off since 2004. And i got it used. You can make a damn good meal in a crock pot at home. And for less than half the price of going out you will have a great time with friends even at 27 in the back yard around a campfire,radio,smors and a few brews. Keep life simple and you will win every time.
Great point you have there Matt. I made the mistake of buying a brand new car , which im still paying for. Glad I opened my eyes financially now. Im 21 so I have a head start sort to say.
To be honest i had more money at 21 than i do at 27. Lets just say pick your wife carefully… Maybe find one that’s a cheapskate, nothing like using a coupon on the first date,lol