Save. Spend. Splurge.

Minimalism, Nomadism, Frugality and Being Cheap

I just want to have a post that is clear on what being a minimalist is and isn’t and what the other categories are.

I feel like people hear “minimalist” and they immediately associate that with someone who lives on an island with only a backpack, with absolutely nothing else in the world and no permanent address.

This is not the case.


You live with as few as possible items as long as you cover everything you need and want.

If you aren’t into furniture (like us) you don’t have much of it.

However, I am really into clothes and jewellery, so I have a lot in this area.


You want to be able to move and travel with just a backpack. You aren’t tied down anywhere.

You tend to not have a permanent place of any kind. More than likely, you’re also a minimalist because you’re moving all the time.

You love to travel and can stay for long periods of time in certain cities without ever needing to go back “home”. The concept of “home” fluctuates for you.



You aren’t cheap, you’re just spending your money where you want to spend it, and you prioritize other things like your retirement fund or food bill over stuff that doesn’t matter to you, like having a fancy new car for instance.

A lot of frugal people tend to also be minimalists in some regard.


You are straight up cheap as in you refuse to pay the price for anything you buy. You always buy the cheapest version of whatever is possible, you try and avoid spending your money as much as you can, but if it was someone else paying, you’d be totally on board with going all out.

People who are cheap are either very minimalist and don’t have anything because they don’t buy anything, or they are very maximalist because they buy everything in bulk, on sale.

You won’t however, buy anything of a high quality that you think should be cheaper, like a laptop because the cheapest one of the market is only $500 and you can’t understand why a Mac would be $2000.



None of the groups are mutually exclusive where they don’t share tendencies with each other, but it doesn’t mean that if you are a minimalist you also have to be a nomad.

Or if you’re cheap, you’re also a nomad.

For me, I’m a little of all the 4 categories.

Some more than most.

I am cheap for certain things, For example, I really hate paying fees and I refuse to pay extra on a menu for changes for an ingredient I don’t like.

I am frugal for things like a car because when I needed to buy a car, I didn’t want to buy a super cheap beater car at $500 that stank like wet dog or cigarettes, but I also didn’t want to buy a brand new one either. I wanted to maximize my money as much as possible.

I am a nomad in the sense that with what we have currently, and the fact that we’re renting, we could up and move pretty easily, in about a day or two even with a baby.

If we buy a condo this will disappear because we will not be nomads as easily any more but that doesn’t change the fact that we’d still be minimalists.

I am a minimalist because I spend most of my money on where I get the most pleasure: food and clothes (aside from family). I am also currently NOT buying toys and little baby-specific things for Baby Bun if I can avoid it because he’s going to outgrow all of that and it’d be a waste of money (frugal / cheap).

That said, when we bought him a baby chair, we bought a $400 Stokke baby chair because it’s a chair for life — he will sit on it as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager and even as an adult (it’s convertible).




  • Tania

    Love the Stokke chair, I’ve written about it. I like the way it can still be used as the child gets older.

    I’m an aspiring minimalist, definitely frugal, not cheap and will likely never be a nomad.

    Love the desk and coffee pic 🙂

  • Karen

    I consider myself to be a mix of a minimalist, frugalist (is that even a word??!? Haha) and being cheap. I do enjoy travelling, but not the nomadic way. We have a house, so that definitely ties us down. I don’t mind it though. I like our house, the neighbourhood and the fact that it’s relatively close to the major highways.

    Our house doesn’t have much furniture, stuff (which I prefer, because I find stuff just clutters up the place and collects dust) or anything hanging on the wall. I’m actually okay with the walls being bare. 🙂

    It’s funny how people always joke about being cheap (including myself from time to time). I try to say I’m frugal more, but I rarely hear other people say it. I guess they just assume that frugal and cheap are the same thing. When it comes to buying gifts for other people, I tend to splurge on them, but not myself.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    I think I’m a little of all four categories. But, I don’t mind being called cheap! Sometimes you don’t need something to last forever, so for me there are definitely times when I buy the cheapest possible.

    Just a note on the whole Apple laptop thing:
    In our house we have the “normal” laptops I bought (5 years) and the Apple one my husband bought (closer to 7 or 8 now?). They both still work fine, especially now that they run on Linux. I definitely think his won’t get 4 x the use of mine. Also, he used to be an Apple technician, and he’ll be the first to tell you that yes, Apple computers do break too!

  • Gia T.

    Love this! I tend to confuse being cheap and being frugal, so I like how you define and differentiate them.

    I think I’m frugal in most regards, but I’m definitely cheap about shipping fees, especially for online orders; if there’s a delivery charge I’m probably not going to buy it. :p

  • marilyn

    You explain it just right .I aspire to be minimalist and also frugal
    Haven’t achieved it so far but working on it.i am not normadic and now I face moving house i realise how much possessions I have just to have things not necessarily because I need them.wish I had this insight years ago when my kids were younger.i love your articles and way of thinking.

  • Morgaine

    My family (Mom’s side) are definitely cheap maximalists (love that word!), they have lots of “stuff” but never pay full price for anything (or get good quality items). They’ll also stock up on food when its on sale (think the reduced racks) and freeze everything, yes this could be considered frugal but not really when they already have tons of food in the freezer! They are also frugal/cheap in that they will wear something out completely before buying something new. I bought my Mom a pair of shoes for Christmas the other year because her’s had holes in them (and she was still wearing them!). I think I’m a bit more balanced but it took awhile to not be cheap as well, not buying things just because its on sale, buying the cheapest clothing/electronics just to have to replace them. Its taken a while, but I think I’m getting better 😉

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