What Does Living Stingy Mean?  6 Steps to Get There

Living stingy isn’t a bad thing.

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There is nothing wrong with being stingy with your money. Typically, people who are referred to as being stingy are seen as cheap, frugal, ungenerous, or a “Penny pincher.” But is there anything wrong with carefully watching your money?

Just buying things to buy them, the opposite of living stingy, is reckless.

In countless life scenarios we are advised not to live recklessly. Think about all the times you have heard things like:

  • Don’t drive recklessly, be defensive.
  • Don’t rush into anything, weigh your options.
  • Take it slow with the new girlfriend/boyfriend, you don’t want to rush it.
  • Pace yourself when you run
  • Don’t bite off more the you can chew

Yet when we are “Stingy” with our money, we are sometimes told by others who don’t watch their money, that we are cheap or “Tight.”

Is being tight and strategic with your money a bad thing though?  The answer is no. Living stingy is not a bad thing, in fact it is almost a skill.

How to make living stingy possible.

Living stingy with one click shopping, marketing emails flooding our inboxes and social media showing everyone’s 10 lifestyle has NEVER BEEN HARDER.

Consumer spending is at an all time high, while savings rates are at an all time low. The average 30 year old should have their salary saved, yet the average millennial is saving less than 4% of their annual income.

Impulse buying has never been easier. Hop on your phone, Google the product you want and in 1-2 days it is at your door. Scroll down Facebook and see all the trips your friends recently took and before you know it you are booking a trip on your credit card.

Needless to say it is really easy to spend money, making the whole stingy living thing a little challenging.

However, just because it is more challenging, doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Here is a list of 5 simple way to start living stingy.

Tip: Add everything you want (or think you might need) into a shopping cart and checkout 1x per month online. By the end of the month your wants/needs might change.

6 Ways to Live Stingy

6 steps to live stingy

1. Assess Wants and Needs.

There is a big difference between a want and a need. I want a new car, a cappuccino, and $1,000,000. However, I need my Kia, some black coffee and about $35,000 a year to pay the bills.

Ultimately, to live stingy the right way, EVERY purchase needs to be scrutinized. Should you get the $7 burrito or just wait to eat at home?

  • Wants = Things you would like to have. Examples include new clothes, furniture, fancy foods, new cars, and anything else that isn’t pertinent to survival.
  • Needs = Things you need to have to survive. Food, shelter, water, safety and throw in internet these days.

One tip to help you is to implement a standard spending rule.

As a general rule of thumb, any one item purchase over $50 should be able to check the box as a need. Then you should actually wait 24-48 hours before moving forward with the purchase just to really make sure it is true need (This does count for things like groceries and bills).

2. Ask the happiness question

We all know something we buy might make us happy in the moment. I talk A LOT about burritos because I am a millennial and I just love the heck out of them.

But from time to time when I buy them I usually have buyers remorse for breaking my budget and I am really not even that satisfied. Hence the feeling of happiness I thought a fat burrito would bring me is gone.

So always ask this question with every purchase:

Will this purchase make me happy in 30 days, 6 months or even 4 years?

Or will you have buyers remorse and regret it within the next 24 hours. Just make sure you are not buying based on short term emotions – think long term!

A caveat to spending and living stingy – will this purchase make someone else happy?

3. Cancel subscriptions, cable & emails.

Half that battle of living stingy is avoiding spending opportunities. As stated previously, spending money in the digital age is easier than it has ever been!

Just avoiding spending opportunities can make living stingy that much easier. As a recommendation, consider canceling or throwing away these types of bills/subscriptions, email or mail to prevent extra spending:

  1. Promotional mailers
  2. Coupons (Encourage spending money you weren’t planning on spending)
  3. Marketing emails from stores
  4. Radio subscriptions
  5. Movie subscriptions
  6. Cable or Directv
  7. Gym membership (If possible)
  8. Recurring payments to cell phone apps ($10×12=$120)
  9. Games where in app purchases are easy to make
  10. Throw away junk mail – don’t open it

4. Find free activities to do.

find free events to live stingy

Just because you live stingy and operate on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or do fun things. Watching what you spend simply means you place a higher value on what is most important to you.

That being said, if entertainment and activities are your favorite thing to do, while you might have to delay some gratification while you look to accomplish some financial goals – you can find a ton of free events around you at any time.


  1. Free local summer concerts
  2. Free outdoor movie nights
  3. Carnivals & festivals
  4. Hiking & national parks
  5. Outdoor sports
  6. Day trips to places

The list above is just a handful of things to do, mostly involving the local community events near you. If you have to spend money (Not many free concerts in December up north) then use Groupon’s that you search for (Don’t subscribe) to find good deals.

Companies and businesses are always looking to promote themselves especially during their slow season – take advantage of that.

5. Have financial goals.

financial goals to live stingy

Just by identifying a few specific, long term financial goals will help you live stingier.

Goals naturally help us stay focused. Want to lose a few pounds – you identify a target number then get to work.