Save. Spend. Splurge.

Are minimalists just cheap?

Yeah, maybe.

However if you have been following my budget roundups, you will find that I am not that kind of minimalist.



Frugal: You know the value of a dollar and you choose between priorities of where to spend said dollar(s)

You spend your money but in a smart manner. If you have to wait for a deal, you will. You may also not spend (a lot) money on areas that seem frivolous like decoration for the home.

Example of Frugal Behaviour:

You love eating great food, so you buy the high-end stuff but you buy it when it goes on sale (and then stock up!!) rather than buying it whenever you feel like eating it.

You actually plan out when to buy these things, and when you do spend your money, you spend it on the best you can afford based on your priorities.


Cheap: You know the value of a dollar and refuse to let any of it go for any reason no matter what

You just don’t want to spend money on anything and if someone else can foot the bill, so much the better.

Example of Cheap Behaviour:

You love to drink beer and go out, but instead of choosing to do it once a month with friends, you find ways to invite yourself out and mooch off your friends’ good kind-hearted, generous natures by promising up and down that you’ll get the next round.


Minimalist: You know the value of a dollar but you don’t care because your main focus is to live with less stuff and really cherish said stuff.

You are unlikely to clutter up your home with “good deals” (frugal), and will try and find a way to not buy it at all (cheap).

You also probably put a premium on it not taking a lot of physical space over what it actually costs as a dollar value (e.g. owning a Kobo Glo with thousands of digital books instead of a huge sprawling library to achieve the same result).

I’d also daresay that you can pack up & move in a very short amount of time. For us, it’s 2 days maximum, and we’re able to be out the door.

Example of Minimalist Behaviour:

You have a huge open space.

In most non-minimalist layouts, you would probably fit a dining room table for 6, a couch, a lounge chair, 2 end tables, a coffee table, 3 lamps, and a rug.

You opt instead for just a dining room table for 6, and a lounge chair and 1 lamp.

Oh, and you may or may not buy the best quality or spend a lot of money.

The key is that you don’t have unnecessary-to-you end or coffee tables for instance, or 3 lamps when one will done.

Basically, the less STUFF you have, the better and if the desktop looks clean and minimal like the Apple setup above, it is a better deal than a PC with wires everywhere and tons of computer parts.



I am, at any given time, all 3 behaviours.

Less on the Cheap side, but nevertheless, I am loathe to spend money on certain things (e.g. parking fees, bank fees) even though it will be more convenient for me to do so.

I am also Frugal by waiting for sales on certain things (tea, food, toilet paper) before buying and stocking up.

…and I am Minimalist because aside from clothing, I tend not to spend much money on buying things like furniture, home decor, or a roomful of toys for Baby Bun.


It depends.

Do you compensate in other areas, and in general live with less?

I’ll use myself as an example again — someone asked me the other day on Skype if we just moved in because my living room is completely void of stuff and furniture.

We have very little furniture (almost none!), but in sharp contrast, my wardrobe is full, wide and varied. I have 2 closets holding all my clothing, jackets, shoes and boots.



(Case in point — my closet)

But I have only 2 , 2 tables, 2 chairs, 1 baby chair, and 2 kitchen racks for furniture in an apartment where most people would have at least a couch, an armchair, end tables, rugs, lamps, etc.

P.S. You can buy an , free shipping worldwide with a few country restrictions, or here if you want an all-cotton one made in the U.S. instead.

What about you?


  • Annie

    Love this post! I am frugal because I stock up on things that I know we will use when it comes on sale (Back to school sales are delightful to a writer!). I am minimalist because I don’t own what I know we won’t use. For instance, we live in a one-bedroom house and I sleep in the living room because there isn’t much point in renting more house than that and having a living room that goes unused since we rarely if ever entertain.

    We don’t own a television. We stopped using it years ago so we got rid of it. The same goes for stereos (we have portable media players) and many other things. Rather than buy a full size stove and refrigerator, we use a hotplate and a dorm-sized fridge combined with a chest freezer because that is what we needed – a place to store bulk foods and a simple way to cook them. We don’t use much space in a fridge so there wasn’t any point in buying a full-size one and having it take up space.

    I am cheap in many ways too. Most of my personal clothes are thrift-store purchased or hand-me downs, and they are used until they fall apart. When my washer died I started washing clothes by hand until I could locate another washer at a price I wanted to pay. I still haven’t, so I still wash laundry by hand.

    People look at my home and call it neat because we don’t have a lot of stuff like knick-knacks or a lot of furniture. My argument is “why buy it if we don’t need it?” so I guess I am a bit of all three, but I consider myself a minimalist more than anything because I don’t buy (or keep) what we won’t use.

  • Heather @ Simply Save

    Love this! Sharing it with my Minsgame group. It’s also an excellent definition of the difference between frugal and cheap! Great post.

  • Kathy

    Definitely not minimalist although I’m more willing to do without some things than my hubby is. He wants back up tool sets for the garage AND the basement. I’m more than willing to have an empty room in our new house but he wants new furniture right now. Now my mom, she was cheap. She says frugal but when we were kids, my brother and I said she was so tight she’d squeeze a nickel until the buffalo bled.

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