December 1, 2014

Cheapskate Monday

"It's cheaper and not as dangerous."

An anonymous reader left a comment on my last post and called all the readers that "chime in" here "CHEAP SKATES". There was also a humorous reference to NBA readers giving fruitcakes and free Christmas cards.

I like fruitcake. And free cards. So I wasn't sure if I should be offended or complimented. But it did get me to thinking.

Are NBA readers:

"CHEAP SKATES"? No. Those would be inexpensive footwear for gliding across ice.

"CHEAPSKATES"?  No. It is rude to yell in person or online, and shouting it just makes the word sound so negative.

"Cheapskates", however is lower key and is a distinct possibility.

The word was coined in 1892 and described someone who was "a mean, grasping person usually stingy with money". Used this way it has an old fashioned Dickensian ring to it, as in someone who is "being a Scrooge" with their cash. It refers to someone who has taken cash-related common sense too far.

In modern times, though, the word has been upgraded to the point that it is no longer an insult in most circles. Many people today, including those living frugal, simple, non-consumer lives consider themselves cheapskates.

There are cheapskate books and cheapskate blogs. There are cheapskate websites full of cheapskate tips. There is even a website where you can get cheap skates if you are trying to save a few bucks before hitting the ice.

It seems that everyone is getting into the world of cheapskates. And/or cheap skates.

Take Leo Babauta, the author of the popular "Zen Habits" blog. He publicly confessed that he was a cheapskate in his post "The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living". The way he describes it, I am a cheapskate too.

I may even be a cheaperskate. Perhaps some who visit here are too.

However, I doubt there are any NBA readers that pee in jars so they don't have to pay for water to flush the toilet. But even if there were, why would anyone take offence to something someone else was doing that doesn't affect them at all?

It is interesting to note that not spending money could make you open to potential insult, while earning, borrowing and spending to the point of getting into a financial crisis is lauded and seen as normal.

It is not hard to see what is going on here. They want us to spend, even if we don't have any money. They want us to borrow and spend. They want us to spend until it hurts. Spend even if you don't need anything.

Spend, spend, spend. Don't stop. Ever.

No thanks. Better to be a cheapskate. We're frugal, and we are changing the definition of what it means to have money common sense.


  1. I do make cakes for Christmas gifts and rather take exception to Anonymous's suggestion that this makes me a cheapskate...they are NOT cheap to make and take lots of time to make...friends appreciate them, too!

    1. Anonymous12/01/2014

      Charlotte, I know what you mean about baking not being cheap. Having been on both the giving and receiving end of tasty holiday treats, I know that creating them takes time, skill, money, and patience. That being said, I am ALWAYS glad to receive the gift of delicious holiday goodies, calories be damned! And I am truly thankful for my wonderful friends who take the time to make anything homemade. They are not cheapskates; they are saints!

  2. Hurray! Great riposte. Wasn't sure whether this person was joking or not. If not, it seemed rather rude I felt. And why shouldn't one send cards one receives via charities? I do if I just want to say thanks for something or pass on a simple message. Better than putting them in the recycling bin.

  3. Anonymous12/01/2014

    Call me a cheapskate any day. Most of the ones I know, myself included, have no debt, live without stress, are unencumbered by too much stuff, don't feel any need to keep up with the Joneses, have the freedom to pretty much do what we want when we want to and tend to live according to our own rules. I'd say if you're not a cheapskate you might be a little bit jealous of those of us who are. I might add that judging people by the price of their gifts and cards was so yesterday.

  4. I am a cheapskate and proud. Btw calling oneself anonymous speaks volumes. Keep up the great work Greg, your blog is the best thing since homemade fruit cake...and I love me some fruitcake!

    1. Anonymous12/02/2014

      Hi Tasmanian Minimalist - just wanted to say your blog is missed.


    2. Yes, your blog IS missed.

    3. Really missing you!

  5. I of course refer to the original anonymous, not others of the same name,

  6. Anonymous12/01/2014

    Actually I had a good giggle over the fruitcake and charity cards remark. Guess we're all in different places in our journey.

    But why would I want useless stuff, made by slave labor, sold in stores that don't pay a living wage to their employees? So call me a cheapskate, I'll buy my things second hand, or homemade.

  7. Anonymous12/02/2014


    Excellent responses. I think the anonymous poster needs a hug, most people who are critical and judge-y could use one.

    Happy, fruitcake eating cheapskate here. Although I don't really get the connection between fruitcake and cheapskates. I think "cheapskates" find joy and gratification within, rather than hoping for some external gratification through (empty) consumerism and consumption. How is needless spending a measure of merit, success or achievement? I heard on the radio recently the biomass of animals has declined 50% (!!!!) in the last 40 years - due to human causes.

    BTW, baking a couple fruitcakes (old family recipe) is a project I look forward to this time of year. I'm going to make them on the weekend. It's fun to gather all the nice high quality dried fruit and nuts (free harvested walnuts included). A bit of a splurge on butter, eggs, and a bottle of brandy. An excellent weekend morning project with good music & hot coffee (a splash of brandy). Lots of people who enjoy sharing it as well. A little well made rich fruitcake goes a long way, so actually it's quite frugal. The end result is a great cold weather treat with a cup of tea and a good book.


  8. Anonymous12/02/2014

    Hi Gregg,

    I loved your sense of humour in this post! I think of myself more as frugal than a cheapskate. As Rhonda says over at down---to---earth - 'thrift is the glue that holds simple living together'.

    As for peeing in a jar - yes, I do!! I use the urine on my lemon tree as I'm told you can produce bigger, juicier lemons this way. I call that a frugal use of resources :) A friend of mine also saves her urine and puts it around the perimeter of her veggie garden as she lives out of town and possums etc... eat everything otherwise.


  9. Anonymous12/02/2014

    Instead of buying restaurant gift cards this year to my sister and sister-in-law we decided to not exchange this year. We thought of just going out together would be better when everyone has more time in January. I think the gift of time, love and friendship is the most treasured gift, no black friday sale can give you that!

  10. I'm very proud to be called a cheapskate! It indicates that I'm doing well for myself and not wasting resources unwisely. Love those thrift shops.


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