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December 15, 2010


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I completely agree with item # 9, that cheapskates place a higher focus on experiences than things. I think that is a great point! Experiences can hold a more lasting place in a person's mind much longer than any purchase! This is especially true for me with experiencing new cultures while traveling!

I consider myself pretty frugal but not sure I would fully qualify as a cheapskate. A number of the items on the list do not apply to me but many do.

I was interested that you found #13 odd. I find it to be almost the most important item on the list and definitely a huge thing for me. (I posted my nine rules on here a while back and #13 was one of them). Namely it reads:

Minimize change .... All bad change is bad and not all good change is good.

People think something new must be better. Different must be better. More features must be better. Trying to do more good must be better. None of these are necessarily true and often they are simply false. There is a reason that the look of a car changes every 3-4 years. If it stayed the same why would you need to get a new one. Clothes fashions change, electronic designs change, smart phones change. But other than a revolution like the iPhone how much of that change was significant. Almost none of it. And once the iPhone is out and they come out with generation 2 and 3 and 4, the junkies all have to flock to get the new one. But how much different/better is it. And what happened with iPhone4, new antennae problems that didn't exist in iPhone3.

The quickest way to spend money is to think you need to keep getting newer and upgraded versions of things. People do this for a number of reasons. They think it must be better and they want to have the best (it often is just different, not really better, most people rarely use 90% of the features of any device they have anyway). They think they will be viewed as out of fashion if they don't get the newer versions of things (electronics, cars, clothes, etc). They think they will enjoy it so much more (after the newness wears off in a very short time, they won't enjoy it anymore than the one they already had).

Unless what you have is broken or the new one provides specific new function that you know will be a big improvement in your life, why would you get the new one.

Change is not progress.
Progress is often painfully slow and minimal such that the next iteration of something is not worth changing to until the one you have can no longer serve its purpose.
Change can be dangerous. Things that are working have proven their stability and efficacy over time. The new one has not had time to prove itself and may have issues that make it worse than the one you have.

Don't change until you have to. Life will be better, easier, and it will save you a lot of money.

Change is expensive!!!

@Apex - I would agree with your comment: "The quickest way to spend money is to think you need to keep getting newer and upgraded versions of things". People laugh at my CRT TV that takes up half of my living room (not really, but it feels that big sometimes) - but it works. Why get rid of it?

I do think that this latest version of smart phones (iphone / android / etc.) is a good change - for me at least - because I travel a lot for work and the ability to go online and look up information at a moments notice is very useful.

I think there is a difference between assessing a change, and determining if it adds value, vs just getting the biggest / best thing out there. (For example - 3D TVs. Why?)

@Sarah, I too have the old CRT TV. Also agree that the iPhone Android smart phone was a giant leap and for those who find that useful it's the kind of change worth making.

3D TVs, yeah, that's just funny, don't even know what you would do with it.

To me a cheapskate doesn't quite fit the description above. I consider someone with the described attributes to be more of a frugally savvy type!

Of course, I have a lot of those attributes above, so maybe I'm trying to coin a better word to describe myself :)

That list fits my dad almost perfectly. Theres 1-3 items that aren't exact fit for him or that I'm no sure on.

Most of those apply to me. #4, 9, 10, & 14 don't apply too much.

I really don't think #10 is indicative of cheapskates. My perception is that cheapskates are much more practical and more likely to get a job based on its income rather than 'following your passion' motivations.

Money Reasons, I think they are using the word "cheapskate" here in a positive manner to mean basically "frugally savy" as you said. Normally cheapskate has a negative connotation but I think the book is looking at the positive side of it and probably just focused on people who don't go too far into the 'miserly' realm.

Oscar Wilde famously said that a "cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing." Not sure that is synonymous with a cheapskate, but the concept is similar to checklist here.
Rather than assign a "good vs not good" to change, I would amend it to say that not all change is worthwhile from a consumer's perspective. Slight variations in fashion and design are not worth spending money on. Real changes in performance can be, and as someone who has both a CRT TV and an LCD, the latter, purchased two Decembers ago, was definitely worth the upgrade in performance, and I'm not someone who spends a lot of time watching TV. But a much better looking screen makes that time (which is money, after all) much more enjoyable and worthwhile.

I agree with what Apex is saying about change. Recently at work, we were having a discussion about innovation and how we can foster innovation. The assumption was that innovation was "good". I pointed out that innovation is just something new or different. It doesn't necessarily better. The innovation should not be the goal of an organization. The better goal is to faster, cheaper, producing more revenue. Innovation can be a means to that end or it may not. The history of business is filled with examples of innovation that ended up causing the demise of companies.

#3 is hugely important, and often overlooked.

There are people who buy the cheapest product in a given market, and end up having to repair or replace it fairly often, or otherwise having to deal with extremely low quality.

A better approach is to look at both the price and the features/quality, and figure out how much "bang for your buck" you get, and try to maximize that. For example, instead of paying $400 for a mattress that'll wear out in 5 years, pay $1000 for a mattress that'll last 20 years and give you a better night's sleep the whole time. Instead of buying the cheapest car (say, a $200 Chevette), look for the car with the best combination of purchase price, maintenance costs and headaches, mileage, features, etc. (which may mean buying new, or buying used.)

I fit the "cheapskate" image right down the line and don't find the term demeaning in the slightest since I like my individuality and lack of conformity.

Item 16) is interesting to me since I am an atheist.
I believe strongly that "Mother Nature" is the only supreme being that ultimately controls the destiny of our planet.
Either we find the discipline and will to cooperate and tackle problems such as overpopulation, hunger, depletion of natural resources, rising sea levels, nuclear proliferation, deforestation, pollution, ecological damage, disease, pestilence, climate change etc. etc. or good old Mother Nature will ultimately solve our problems for us in a way that none of us will like. "Mother Nature" or "The Laws of Physics" whichever term you prefer, are in total control and when we upset the equilibrium on the planet she has no other option but to restore it, sometimes very violently. The solution is global cooperation between nations and unfortunately that is still sadly lacking in spite of all of our knowledge, progress and achievments.

I'd like to know more about what they mean by "don't like to spend money". Is this an inherent skill or something learned? Was it passed down from their parents or did they just get tired of trying to satisfy themselves with more stuff? I'm definitely a cheapskate.

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