It’s easy for people to call themselves stingy, or frugal or minimalist, but these words are subjective to each individual. Stinginess is in the eye of the beholder. What may feel stingy to one person, may seem like living in abundance to another. How do you know if you’re a stingy person?
We’re going to look at the negatives of financial stinginess and some healthy alternatives to being a money miser.
How To Tell If You’re Stingy
Stingy is defined as “unwilling to give or spend; ungenerous.” It’s actually the antonym (opposite) word for generous. Raise your hand if you still think you’re stingy?
The truth is most people aren’t stingy but would like to become more stingy in order to gain control over their money. If you’re reaching for long term financial goals like to be financially independent, then becoming more stingy might be helpful to you.
The stingy questionnaire:
Are you always complaining about money?
Do you enjoy buying gifts for others?
Do you check your bank account often?
Are you known as a “poor tipper?”
Do you donate to charity? or causes you believe in?
Do you ever offer to buy a friend’s meal?
Are you controlling over money in a relationship?
Do you get mad if the budget isn’t adhered to?
Would you give a family member money if they needed it?
Think Scrooge McDuck. He’s a money miser and definitely not the charitable type. Being stingy usually equates to being reluctant to spend money no matter the circumstances.
I don’t believe any of us want to be this person. The majority of people I speak to who want to become financially independent are doing so to be in a position to give more earlier in life. Whether that’s giving their time, energy, money, talents, etc…
Is It Good To Be Stingy?
The majority of the questions provided make it seem like a bad thing to be stingy. In most cases, being overly stingy is perceived as a negative character trait.
Calling someone stingy paints an image of grumpy, irritable, cheap, critical, etc… I don’t want to become stingy.
If I became stingy with my family’s money, then I would be going against the grain of why I am pursuing financial independence. To be in control of my money and financial future.
Being stingy is not controlling your money. The money has a firm grip on the financially stingy person and will control their emotions, actions, and perceptions of reality.
Stingy is a Scarcity Mindset
There are two conflicting ways to think about money. There’s an abundant mindset and the scarcity mindset.
People who have a scarcity mindset often feel like they’re one sick day away from their financial dreams collapsing. They feel there is never enough money and no matter what they do they’ll never get ahead.
If you were stranded on a desert island with one bag of chips are you going to eat the whole bag on the first day? Probably not! That’s because you don’t believe you’re going to be getting any more food anytime soon.
The reason people go from being frugal to stingy is often that they have a negative outlook on their future income. They believe the more they store up, the better protected they will be from a future crisis.
Live Frugal, Not Stingy
Frugal is defined as “being economical with money or food.” This is the perfect alternative to being stingy. Being economical.
An economical item gives good value or service in relation to the amount of money, time or effort spent. For example, a $40 hammer with a fancy grip vs a $20 hammer. Both hammers can drive nails, and that’s the purpose.
An economical person is able to achieve the same or more with less. They know where they can spend less and receive the same value.
A great way to begin being more frugal is to buy off label items like cleaning supplies, food, etc… Typically, the items come from the same manufacturer and the quality difference is negligible.
From there, it’s really a function of understanding how much your time and effort is worth, then comparing that to what you are buying. Can you get the same value out of a lesser priced item?
Think a Peloton bike vs a Nordic Track bike. One is premium, luxury priced and the other is a classic, proven machine. Both are going to give you a similar cardio workout.
How To Stop Being Stingy
If you would like to stop living stingy and move up towards frugality you will need to loosen up on your spending a bit. Obviously, a budget should be in place, emergency fund funded and bills paid.
Tips to stop being stingy:
Admit that you’ve become stingy
Ensure all bills are paid, identify your cash flow
Loosen up the budget in key areas
Start donating a little time or money
Take a friend or family member to lunch
Spend a little extra on yourself
Notice there’s a lot of gratitude, generosity, and relaxation in the list above. We’re trying to counter the anxiety effects that typically follow stingy-ness.
It’s been well documented that anxiety cannot coexist with gratitude and generosity. They’re very much inversely related feelings.
After you ensure the budget is in place, your bills are paid and you know how much free-flowing cash you have each month, set a little aside.
Go grab a new pair of shoes, get a nice haircut, massage, maybe join a fitness center. Is there any hobby you’ve wanted to try, but haven’t due to the cost?
I’m not saying to go out and blow up your bank account, but stinginess is a function of spending. The stingy person has a tight grip on their money. We need to loosen that up just a little.
It’s important to understand that money isn’t scarce. It’s out there and you will always have the opportunity to earn more of it. We need to ensure that we have a budget, that we’re spending less than we’re earning, and that we’re investing in the future.
If all your priorities are met, why can’t you treat your family to a nice dinner, trip, or experience? I doubt you’ll regret spending a little extra to build life-long memories.
When Stingy is OK
I’m a firm believer that it’s OK to be stingy in some respects. I’m a stingy person and it’s provided me a lot of benefits.
Here’s what I’m stingy about:
My health and fitness
My family’s safety
I am very stingy with how I spend my time. I'd much rather pay an expert to fix my car than spend the time and energy learning to do it myself. While my car is in the shop, I can work, or write an article that will generate income over time.
I’ve never kept relationships just for the sake of it. If I’m spending time away from my family with someone else, it has to be valuable in some aspect. Whether that be fun, enlightening, fitness, etc…
I will never not be stingy about the safety of my wife and kids. Hard stop.
Are you stingy? How can you tell?
Living stingy in some respects isn’t the worst character trait to possess, but it’s far from ideal. Being stingy with money can lead to many negative consequences.
Once you’re able to understand your level of stinginess you can begin to loosen your grip a little. Stingy people generally have money saved up and have a functioning budget in place. It’s ok to give and spend a little more than usual to help yourself become less stingy if all your priorities are met.
Ideally, the stingy person would ditch the scarcity mindset and replace it with an abundance mindset. One that’s less worried about their next paycheck being lost in the mail and replaced with one that’s looking for ways to enhance their life experience.