My mom used to use the phrase on a regular basis, penny wise but dollar foolish. This was her way of explaining the difference between being cheap and being frugal.
Basically it breaks down this way.
A cheap man understands the dollar is worth 100 pennies.
A frugal man understands what 100 pennies is worth.
A cheap man sees all underwear as the same.
A frugal man sees the quality of stitching and durability in each pair.
A cheap man has $5 to spend on underwear and gets the 10 for $1 at the local discount store buying 50 pairs of underwear that will each only last 1/2 a day.
A frugal man has $5 to spend, finds an quality pair at a discount store for $1.50 each, wears each pair daily for 3 years, and puts the extra $0.50 cents towards his next underwear purchase in 3 years.
You get the idea. And enough with the underwear analogy already.
Let’s get back to penny wise but dollar foolish and lets add in Valentine’s day.
For the optimistic lovers among us Valentine’s Day is an event happening annually on February 14 in which people celebrate the love they have for one another. (Or as I like to describe it the day in which all of the slacker lovers in the world try to make up for not being totally awesome the rest of the year to their loved ones. What? Too cynical?) During this time of year a tremendous amount of money is spent on gifts demonstrating that, “No…my underwear on the floor doesn’t mean that I don’t love and respect you.”(I know…I’m back to the underwear.)
But showing your love doesn’t have to bring out the dollar foolish in all of us. Instead here are some creative frugal alternatives to send your very best.
Cheap: Send flowers.
Frugal: You may not consider buying flowers a cheap gift. However, cut flowers die, and your money doesn’t really have that long term impact. Instead, why not buy a cute pot and decorate it, include gloves, a spade, some seeds for future flowers, and a note setting a date to plant those seeds in the spring with your loved one?
Cheap: Buy Candy.
Frugal: Make a rich dark chocolate fondue with your loved one and feed him or her chocolate using more healthy items such as strawberries or other fruits. After all as a proper frugal person you are thinking about your and your loved one’s health so that you can avoid the long term and expensive health consequences.
Cheap: Buy a sentimental card.
Frugal: Make a card using paper that you’ve recycled. Then write your own sweet words telling them how much they mean to you. Then year after year they can read their poems, enjoying the time you spent working so hard on them.
Cheap: Go out to dinner.
Frugal: You thought I was going to tell you to make dinner. No way! Why should you have to cook on Valentine’s Day? No instead use that Groupon and look for dining specials around town.The competition is fierce on Valentine’s Day among restaurateurs.
Cheap: Buy Perfume or Cologne.
Frugal: Ross Dress for Less, Marshalls, and other discount stores always have great prices on quality perfumes or colognes. Make use of those discount stores and get the jumbo bottle that will last all year long.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day that causes your cheap side to flare up. Instead think about the all of the reasons you do love the people that you do and take the time to create a thoughtful, frugal memory that will help you build a relationship that will last a life time.
So which person are you? A cheap Valentine or a frugal Valentine?