10 Signs You’ve Gone From Frugal to Cheap

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Watching your spending is good, unless you find yourself stooping to these habits.

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site MoneyRates.com.

In his parody of the song “Whatever You Like,” “Weird Al” Yankovic runs through the many cringe-worthy ways people can be cheap, from taking a date to the Golden Arches to stealing cable from the neighbors.

But though Yankovic can turn miserly habits into laughs, the real downside of extreme cheapness is hardly amusing: Savings experts say that holding your purse strings too tightly can lead to a lower quality of life and may negatively affect your relationships with others.

“If you want to feel poorer than you actually are, be a cheapskate,” says Josh Elledge, the “chief executive angel” at coupon and savings site SavingsAngel.com.

Aries Jimenez, director of business development for San Diego Wealth Management, adds that being cheap isn’t necessarily a virtue.

“Cheap is, in some ways, a form of greed,” he says. “Being cheap could be an obsession, too.”

Elledge says there is a key difference between being frugal, which is generally a good thing, and being cheap.

“Being cheap puts the focus on scarcity,” he says. “I believe the focus of being frugal, on the other hand, is being mindful of what we have.”

The line between frugality and cheapness is often thin, however, and if you find yourself doing any of the following things, you may have crossed it.

1. You break the rules

The movie theater clearly states no outside food, yet you sneak in water bottles and boxes of candy. You invite yourself to the wedding reception buffet even though you don’t know the bride or groom. You say your 6-year old is actually 5 so you get the discounted rate.

Will you go to jail for breaking these spoken and unspoken rules? Probably not.

Does it mean you’re cheap? You bet.

2. You steal

Sometimes, in their zeal to save a buck, individuals go from breaking rules to breaking the law. They may “borrow” their neighbor’s Wi-Fi, watch pirated movies online or even cheat on their taxes.

These things not only mean you’re cheap, but they can also, particularly in the case of cheating on your taxes, do more to harm to your finances than help them.

3. You pressure people for freebies

Your friend may be an accountant, but it’s unfair to expect him to review your tax return for free. The same could be said for anyone who has a talent of some kind or specialized knowledge. And telling a band they should perform for free at your daughter’s Sweet 16 party because it will give them “concert experience” isn’t a good sign either.

“When you ask artists, performers, writers and musicians to work for free, or for some supposed exposure, you’re not acknowledging years of practice and skill-building, which has led to their talents,” Elledge says.

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