Is Frugal the New Cool?

In today’s budget-conscious era, frugality is in.  But for singles, how does penny-pitching play on the dating scene?

As reported in The New York Times, ING Direct recently asked 1,000 people (presumably single people) what words would come to mind if they were fixed up for a date with someone described as frugal?  The most frequent response, chosen by 49 percent, was “smart.”  However, more than 25 percent of respondents chose “stingy,” 15 percent selected “boring,” and hardly anyone (less than 4 percent) picked “sexy.”  Clearly, some people see frugality as a virtue while others see it as a vice.

A deeper cut at the data revealed some noteworthy gender-based differences.  More men than women (56 percent vs. 42 percent) associated “frugal” with “smart,” while more women than men associated the term with “stingy” (33 percent vs. 20 percent).

Personally, I’ve never liked the term frugal.  I prefer “money-smart.”  A money-smart person is one who is proactive in managing each expense category, while realizing that the least expensive choice is not always the best deal.  And it’s never money-smart to be a stingy tipper.

By the way, if you’re engaged or newly married and live in the Chicago area (or if you know someone who fits that definition), here’s a great opportunity to make your marriage money-smart.

What about you?  What differences do you see between being frugal and being money-smart?

5 Responses to Is Frugal the New Cool?

  1. Deborah August 25, 2010 at 8:51 AM #

    I agree about the tipping. My husband is a pastor, so money has never been in abundance, but I never feel as wealthy as I do when I tip generously.

  2. Matt Bell August 25, 2010 at 8:23 AM #

    Great comments, everyone. Another form of being money-smart is learning which brands offer the best quality and timeless design. For example, I own some Timberland hiking boots that I’ve been wearing every winter for over 10 years.

  3. Kathy August 23, 2010 at 7:11 PM #

    AMEN to Tom. Frugal is not buying something when you can fully afford it and you really want/need it. Money Smart is NOT buying everything in site or something that you’ll never use.

  4. nancy dahl August 23, 2010 at 4:19 PM #

    I wont keep dating a stingy tipper. I imagine they’ve had the priviledged and sheltered life and have no empathy for what they have not experienced themselves. And, they have money now, but have they really had to work to get it? In my opinion, that deficit of attitude will be in all dealings with family and spouse and children.

  5. Tom August 23, 2010 at 3:25 PM #

    It is frugal to not give much money to church, but it is money-smart to be generous with giving money to church

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