“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. ;-)