“Tightwads feel guilty spending money,” says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo. “Frugal folk have fun saving.” So which description fits you? We asked our reader panel to rate the following examples of miserliness as tightwad or frugal. Compare how you react (“Cool!” or “What the …?”) with their ratings.
“We used to frequent a diner where the owners were very hard workers but very, very cheap. They would wash the foam cups and reuse coffee filters. Fine, if they stopped there. But they would also wash and reuse their sandwich toothpicks! Come on-how much money could they be saving? To this day, when I eat a club sandwich in a restaurant, I snap the toothpicks so they can’t be reused.” – Greg Livadas, Rochester, New York
92% of you say tightwad
Plus: Think you know how to stretch a dollar? Meet the cheapest people in America.
“My grandparents gave me a gift. I tore off the wrapping paper and was thrilled to find a blue Tiffany’s box! When I opened it, I found a hair scrunchie inside. That’s it. A scrunchie.” – Michelle (who, for obvious reasons, wants the rest of her info withheld)
80% of you say tightwad
“I thought I was cheap, always using the last drop of anything, recycling clothing into blankets, buying most clothes at the consignment shop. But last night, I was at my knitting group, and one of the members was crocheting pot-washing ‘scrubbies’ from strips of plastic bags. Who would do that?” - Constance Mettler, Coldwater, Michigan
68% of you say frugal
“I sign up for e-mail newsletters from our local movie theaters using different e-mail addresses. That way, I regularly get coupons for a free large popcorn, with unlimited refills!” – Jay Koebele, Winfield, Kansas
52% of you say frugal
“My kids love oatmeal, so when I saw a sale, I got a year’s worth for $5. It was the high-fiber kind, though, and a wiser mother probably could have warned me—they got terrible diarrhea. I thought, What am I going to do now? And I was so cheap, I kept giving it to them for about a month, because I thought maybe their bodies would adjust. They didn’t.” - Joanie Demer, Eureka, California
73% of you say tightwad
“We reuse our garbage bags. So when the trash trucks come, I empty the contents directly into the truck, then bring the bags back in the house to use for another week.” - Paul Carric Brunson,Washington, D.C.
75% of you say tightwad
“My sister would save the candy canes from her Christmas tree and reuse them, for years. Who knew you could do that?” - Sarah Wiles, Skaneateles, New York
66% of you say frugal
“My husband videotaped the contractor who cleaned our furnace so he could do it himself the following year by consulting his very own DIY video.” - Joanne Rock, Peru, New York
78% of you say frugal
“For years, we would exchange gifts with a couple for the holidays. I would send the wife something nice; she’d send me something cheap. A few years ago, she out-cheaped herself. When I opened her present, I discovered a tin quart of Vermont maple syrup—half used and two years expired.” - Beverly Solomon, Lampasas, Texas
97% of you say tightwad
“If you go to your local post office, don’t forget to ask for an address-change card. They’ll also give you a Home Depot coupon for 10 percent off. So now we don’t ever go to Home Depot without making a pit stop at the post office first!” - Beverly Flaxington, Walpole, Massachusetts
54% of you say frugal
Are you or is someone you know cheap? We want to hear examples. Join our discussion.