My mother and I were discussing the differences between being frugal, being a cheapskate, or just tight. I asked her how she viewed me and why. She said that she looks at me as being a frugal person based on what I say about money and how I behave with it. I consider myself to be frugal...with most things. But I have had people think that I am poor and have no money. Comments have been made over the years that I am too poor to do or buy things when in actuality I just choose not to. It is interesting how I am viewed by different people. I have also offended people by not spending and I think it is because they feel out of control with their own money issues. The people who get offended are always the ones who cry about their debt and troubles.
My mom told a story about how at work everyone was to donate a dollar to purchase coffee every week. If you donated then you could have as much as you wanted all week long. Her friend, whom she described as tight, would not contribute saying that if he was going to be the one making the coffee each day for everyone then doing this job should be the same as if he contributed the dollar. My mom says that made her so mad because its just a dollar. But I see where he is coming from also. People at my work contribute money every month for a water cooler to be filled. If you donate you get as much water as you like. (The water from the tap at work is undrinkable) I choose not to because I can bring my own water from home from the tap. I think that is just more practical and yes, frugal. She also said that the same person would only give change if an envelope came around work to donate to help someone or to donate for a group baby gift or something like that. I am guilty of the same thing. I don't like giving money like that. One reason is that I have seen it abused. My mom says that she would give 10-20 dollars for things like that and it made her mad that he didn't. One thing though is that my mom had a handle on here money-no debt, lots of savings. She could afford to give without it hurting her finances.
I think people have viewed me as frugal, cheap, and tight at one time or another. But I have watched others at work spend a few dollars here and a few dollars there. That all adds up! If I gave money or spent money on a wim like they do then I would lose control. I mean, if someone can afford that kind of disposable income then ok, but if you are in money trouble then they have no business giving money here and there all the time.
I think some people use the terms interchangably and they look at them as meaning the same thing. Others will use the term frugal positively, while cheap and tight are used in a negative way. Thoughts?