Frugalism is a good trait to have. Wealthy people tend to have frugal characteristics. In the classic The Millionaire Next Door book, the author found that while wealthy people may have lots of money, most of them don’t look rich.
That makes sense, since you don’t get rich by spending all your money away correct or not.
But this is not an article about frugalism. This is an article about cheapness, it’s lesser cousin.
I observed something. Many people, while trying to be frugal and be responsible with their money, would do things that are considered cheap before they learned to become more frugal.
- A cheap person would choose the longer route just to avoid the toll.
- A frugal person would realise that the extra RM2 toll is not worth the extra 20 minutes in jam and 5km extra in distance.
- A cheap person would bargain and threaten local sellers into lowering their prices at the market
- A frugal person would take into account the quality of their work and wares, and pay them a fair price
- A cheap person would ask their friends to pay for their meals or cover other expenses, while splurging on themselves
- A frugal person would treat someone they respect for coffee at a nice but affordable place to build long-term relationships (and maybe use discounts/vouchers/rebates)
The point I’m trying to make is: Cheap people look at price. Frugal people look at value.
In a mini-forum organised at Ringgit Oh Ringgit FB page, I asked readers about the cheap things they have done. *I’ve* certainly done them.
Now, the Ringgit Oh Ringgit audience tend to be frugal, not cheap, because I’ve never advocated being cheap for cheap’s sake in any of my content. But I thought it was fun to see the remnants of cheapness that remain in them.
Here are some of the cheap things Malaysians do, as shared by readers. Some made me lol. Thank you to everyone!
Sara Razz – I would tapau foods from events if I get any chance. I also order one Bottomless drink for both me and hubs.
Shafiq Ibrahim – I go to bookstores to see latest book offerings. Then go back and download the ebook versions.
Alya Shaiful – My primary school teacher used to get mad at me because I write conservatively on every line so I don’t have to buy a new notebook.
I distinctly remember her saying something on the lines of “your parents are rich, you can afford a new notebook”. That is probably the one thing I remembered about this teacher
My sister wakes up at noon so she doesn’t have to spend on breakfast.
Anon – (I’m cheap about) saving on face care products. After I wash my hair, I’d let the foam and water rinse over my face.
Archibald Frankie Undam – There used to be a stall last time when I was in Uni. If you eat there, they would charge you extra 10 cents. What I did was everyday was to tapau the food but sit to eat there and get the sup kosong and air kosong for free.
Hakim – Sometimes I don’t order foods when I eat out with families because I know they won’t be able to finish their foods and I can be the DBKL. Also meal for one can be sufficient for two people, according to a hadith (Sahih Muslim 2059).
Pelham Blue – If you go to a FocusPoint outlet, you can ask nicely for a spectacles case, new cleaning cloth, and contact lens case free of charge. Not to mention the FOC cleaning service.
(Suraya’s notes: And then their frugalism came out) But do purchase something and be a repeat customer as courtesy. We ought to support outstanding businesses/service. We personally support the company by buying the stock.
Kia – I would go around to find a baby room to fill up my water bottle in malls, because bottled water for RM4 is daylight robbery! If not, there’s Plan B of buying bottled water from grocery stores for RM1 for a bottle.
But if I’m REALLY being cheap, I’ll just wait it out, especially when I’m out with friends/siblings who never finish their drinks!
Ara Mira – Not me but my father. He would order tapau drinks but drink it at the restaurant WITH his meal. Simply because tapau drinks have more volume and he can continue to drink if he can’t finish it at the restaurant.
Nezyrin – Upon staying at a hotel, I will request more instant coffee/tea bags so I can bring it back home. I would also ask the cleaning lady if they could give me more (usually they would).
Afiqah Mazli – Oh you mean like clearing (stashing it into the luggage) the toiletries of the hotel sink and request for more every day/ every chances kind of cheap?
Cheah Zinnirah – I love to visit my sisters’ and aunts’ houses when they doing house clearing. I’d help them throw unused items while look for something that I can use. Usually I’d get preloved/never worn clothes, accessories, perfumes, bed sheets, free gifts that they don’t want anymore, things like that.
Zarinah Mohd Yusoff – I seldom order drinks for myself when I am dining out with my family. And I share my husband’s drink, hoping to save the cost for six.
The rule of cheap
Be as cheap as you want, as long as your cheapness is justified, for example:
- You really REALLY cannot afford to spend the extra money
- It doesn’t negatively affect individuals and businesses who depend on the income
- You return the favour with friends and family, not just take take take only
I don’t really care if you reuse things to oblivion, or waste your time searching for the best possible prices for an item, or anything like that. As long as you use the rule of no harm to others, you’re good in my book.
In what way are YOU cheap? Share them in the comments!