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Are You a Tightwad or Just Conservative?

By Joanna Crain

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “tightwad” means “a close or miserly person.” Let’s take that a step further: “miserly” means “of, relating to or characteristic of a miser; marked by grasping meanness and penuriousness.” On the other hand, the term “conservative” as applicable here means “marked by moderation or caution.” Wow, that is a big difference in meanings, but often conservative spenders and tightwads are considered one and the same. That seems like a bum rap to me now, but if you asked me a few years ago, I would have been guilty of using these terms interchangeably, and often choosing to go with tightwad.

While I would now never call my husband a tightwad outright, I have been guilty of thinking it. Here’s why: even with my frugal mentality, at times, I just want certain things. Irrational? Perhaps, I don’t need these things to survive, but it does my soul good to feed these wants every once in awhile. My husband has more often than not disagreed with this. For years, I would feel hurt when we disagreed. My reasoning was I loved this man so much I would give him the world if I could, or at the very least his latest material desire. He, on the other hand, felt this was an impractical approach and didn’t feel the need to give me the world, because he would reason that all of my needs were “taken care of.”

Ouch. For the longest time this created a huge rift between us because I didn’t understand his reasoning, until I begin to see the fruits of his mindset. When I didn’t get what I wanted, I soon lost interest in the very thing I thought I couldn’t live without. That should have been my “ah-ha” moment, but it took me seeing our growing bank account to understand the wisdom behind my husband’s practicality. Would I still love to get surprised with the very thing I have been pining for? Sure! But seeing the growing account balance is a much bigger rush. With my current understanding, I never think of my husband as a tightwad, but more appropriately a conservative spender.

Even with my understanding, this can be tough. Just today, I asked my husband what he would think about getting the new “Insanity” workout. I knew as soon as this came out of my mouth what I had done. His response was “How much is it?” I quoted the price. He replied, “Don’t you think we already have enough workout programs already?” This is laughable, because truthfully I have a drawer full of workout DVDs sitting not ten feet away and the last time I popped one into the DVD was three years ago. Once again, Mr. Conservative saves the day. Sure he could have said “yes.” I would have ordered it and it would have joined the others in the drawer and we would have been out $100 or more.

I am very thankful for my husband’s conservative approach as he balances out my own financial downfalls at times. But boy, it sure would be nice to have…

Are you a tightwad or just conservative? Do you have positive or negative feelings towards these terms?

(photo credit: Parksy1964)

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  • Olivia

    I’m a tightwad, no bones about it. It’s what keeps us afloat.

  • Proud to be cheap

    When you consistantly live below your means and invest the difference, it is amazing how wealth follows. This is true whether your household income is $50,000 or $5 million. Reading “millionaire next door” once a year is a must to counter everything our culture screams that we must have right now. Good Habits will beat good intentions every time. Be a part of the counter cultural revolution.

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