I don’t consider myself “cheap”. There are a lot of things I do to save money, but there are also a lot of things I wouldn’t do to save a couple bucks. I think it’s important to realize that you don’t have to eat rice and beans alone in a dark room to live within your means.
When I go to a bar, I always order a drink. They’re a business, and while many money-saving articles will encourage you to just order water and enjoy the company of your friends without spending anything, I think it’s unfair and frankly ridiculous to enjoy their space and not purchase anything.
On the same note, I always tip, usually 20%. Sure, the whole fact that tipping exists is bizarre, but refusing to tip isn’t taking a moral stand or an easy way to save a few bucks. It’s just denying someone a significant portion of their livelihood.
If a friend invites me to go out somewhere, I always say yes. Saving $10 isn’t worth missing out on time with someone I care about. I might order something more inexpensive, but I’m going to go. When they just ask to hang out, though, I might invite them to my place to enjoy some Trader Joe’s wine and popcorn.
I buy things that are decent quality. I like my clothes to fit well and my apartment to feel cozy, so I try to focus on quality instead of trendiness.
It costs about $80 in gas round-trip to visit my family. I know that, but I don’t worry about it. It’s not a consideration when I’m deciding whether or not to go home for the weekend, because spending time with them is way more important than the money.
I pay $10/month for Spotify Premium. It’s nice, it’s how I listen to most of my music, and it’s particularly convenient on road trips, but I mostly keep it around because my little brother uses it constantly. Plus it keeps him indebted to me, which I figure never hurts.
Travel. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on travel over the last five years or so. I try to do it somewhat cheaply (staying with friends, cooking some meals), but I like to take advantage of any opportunity to explore that I have.
I don’t do anything ridiculous as far as minimizing my bills – my apartment is heated to a comfortable level, I use hot water and electricity and have wifi at home.
How do I manage to not worry about spending on all those luxuries? Simple: I pack my lunches, use the library, don’t get manicures/facials/massages, don’t pay for a gym membership, don’t go shopping out of boredom, am slowly learning to depend less on convenience food at home, only buy coffee about once a week, and generally make sure all of my purchases line up with my priorities.
How do you make sure you’re being frugal, not cheap?