Personal Finance

Are you cheap or just frugal? Here's how to tell

Key Points
  • Nine out of 10 people view frugality as an admirable trait in a romantic partner.
  • 53 percent would think twice before getting involved with someone who carries a lot of debt.
  • Nevertheless, some methods used to minimize spending are viewed as cheap.

For everyone out there who pinches pennies, keep it up.

Besides frugality being a good way to make saving for emergencies and retirement easier, 90 percent of people view it as an appealing trait in a romantic partner, according to a new survey by SlickDeals.net, a crowdsourced shopping platform.

The survey canvassed 2,000 people about their views on frugality, including the role it plays in relationships.

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About 53 percent of respondents are hesitant to get into a relationship with someone who is debt-burdened. And 60 percent have had a previous partner who was reckless with money, which made them seek out a more financially responsible partner.

For many Americans, frugality is a necessity.

Credit card debt has topped $1 trillion and student loan debt now stands at $1.5 trillion, both record levels. On top of that, inflation has generally outpaced wage growth. These dynamics make finding ways to minimize spending and reduce expenses the key to financial health for many households.

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Money lessons

Nevertheless, it might be possible to take frugality too far and instead be viewed as cheap, based on the survey. Here's how respondents weighed in on various habits by people who aim to save money.

Is it frugal?

Habit % who say it's frugal
Seeking out deals or coupons for all purchases72%
Regularly tracking electricity use 70%
Buy clothes at department stores like Kmart, Walmart etc67%
Buying off-brand food products65%
Shopping at second-hand clothing stores63%
Regularly tracking the home thermostat62%
Watching movies at home instead of in the theatre61%
Only having alcohol at home51%
Buying no-name electronics51%

Is it cheap?

Habit % who say it's cheap
Not leaving a tip at all (regardless of service)75%
Reusing tea bags or coffee filters60%
Calculating your part of a group bill to the cent52%
Lengthening longevity of soap by diluting soap bottles with water49%
Re-gifting44%
Always tipping 15%, even if the service is outstanding41%
Eating food a few days past its expiration date35%
Declining to be a part of rounds at the bar35%