Former Spendthrift? Naturally Frugal? Who Are You?

We’ve noticed that there are two types of people who really like us. Reformed credit card junkies and frugal tightwads.

They aren’t the only people who read Consumerist, but we were sort of wondering what the ratio was. Hence, this poll. So tell us: Are there more reformed spendthrifts out there? Or are more of you naturally frugal people who really do use credit cards to save money? If neither of these sound like you, feel free to let us know.

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  1. Anitra says:

    Always been frugal. Once I married my husband, we both moved toward the middle – I’m less of a tightwad than I used to be, and he spends less money on non-necessities than he did in college.

  2. GilloD says:

    I don’t think “tightwad” quite covers it. I just don’t have a lot of money to my name and I don’t plan of accruing lots of debt to cover that difference. I make my money count and reduce my comfort level. Heck, my wife and I just furnished an empty 2 bedroom apartment by heading out on trash day and hauling furniture home. I think “Thrifty” is a better word. Although, if and when I actually have some extra money I think this will be a good lesson.

  3. homerjay says:

    Why is there no selection for what I assume will be the majority– Spendthrift!

  4. UpsetPanda says:

    I’m not incredibly frugal…I mean, I spend money sometimes on things that I don’t really need, but at the same time I try to save as much as I can. I’m getting better about it. I’m not in debt, and I can pay off my credit cards every month. *shrug* I’m neither tightwad or a spendthrift.

  5. TheJackOfHearts says:

    I can’t say that I am a tightwad, just conscious about my monetary well being

  6. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Spending money makes me feel ill. That’s probably a symptom of my severe anxiety disorder, but hey, at least I’m not in debt.

  7. jmschn says:

    If you get buyer’s guilt for items below $100, then you are frugal. I know I am!

  8. Steel_Pelican says:

    The time-space paradox of response 3 is giving me a headache.

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m careful with plastic, but give me a wad of cash and place me in front of a bar with blaring music in the background, no one can accuse me of being a tightwad.

  10. mk says:

    i’m reforming, and trying to reform my husband..but still, no poll can quite describe me.

  11. choinski says:

    I don’t consider myself ‘frugal’ – I’ll waste money on stuff I want or like instead of finding the cheapest/making it myself/going without. But I also don’t buy in excess of good financial health, and never carry credit debt. Put me in that group that will spend $1000 on a coffee table because its a really cool one I will really enjoy for a long time, but not enough to put myself in fiscal jeopardy.

  12. MadMolecule says:

    @jmschn: Same here. Heck, I’ve been deferring a $10 purchase for about a month now because I don’t feel right spending the money. (Then again, I’m currently unemployed and we’re living on my wife’s limited salary for now, so I’m a bit less willing to treat myself than usual.)

  13. frijoles99 says:

    I am a tightwad, not really for financial reasons, but because it’s fun. I love it when I can tell people I got an Xbox 360 for free, or I am paying 300 a month for my apartment in westwood Los Angeles, it’s amusing to see peoples’ jaws drop.

  14. frijoles99 says:

    Sorry to Repost, but now that I think about it if it wasn’t for that excitement I’d buy a crapload of stuff at really high prices, thus making me a traditional spendthrift spending lots of money wastefully. I like having the latest and greatest at 50% off.

  15. Schmee says:


    Hear hear (minus the wife, I just have nagging roomies ;-) )

  16. ParkerTheDog says:

    I’m a spendthrift, too. I think that makes us both “tightwads.” I was extremely frugal until I got married. My wife couldn’t deal with my cheapskate tendencies.

    My wife and I are part of the minority – we pay off credit cards completely every month and pay additional money towards mortgage payments. I bet many Consumerist readers do that.

  17. jaredutah says:

    I racked up some credit card debt in college, not a lot, but enough that I didn’t want to live my life like that. Ten years later and now married, we pay off our balance each month, claim the cashback rewards, and live within our means. We don’t live in a fancy house and drive fancy cars, but I’d say we’re fairly happy living within what I like to call our ‘artificial scarcity’ environment. The artificial (or real) scarcity is due to our saving for retirement, emergencies, and large purchases down the road.

  18. Meg Marco says:
  19. yagisencho says:

    I’m a consumer who has a deep-seated mistrust of corporations, marketing, and ineffectual government regulatory bodies. I guess that places me in the ‘special and unique’ bucket by default, but I imagine I’m far from alone here…

  20. stubblyhead says:

    <—– snowflake. :P

  21. maddypilar says:

    Digging digging digging my way out of debt

  22. howie_in_az says:

    The only debt I have is my house and car. I make decent contributions to my 401k and am always trying to save more. I used to make $40k more than I do now but I was miserable at that job/state so I left for sunny Arizona. Ironically, now I’m saving more than I ever did making more money.

    Basically I’ve got 30 more working years left in me, and I sure as hell don’t want to be doing this when I’m 60.

  23. magic8ball says:

    I think I’m more middle-of-the-road in terms of spending – I don’t spend money that I don’t have, but I do buy a lot of stuff I don’t actually need. I really read Consumerist for the warnings/advice: scam warnings, bad customer service stories, product recalls. It’s great to be able to hear about the experiences other people have had with particular companies or products.

  24. kimsama says:

    Oh yeah. I’m a tightwad who married a tightwad. Never been in debt, never want to (with the exception of a mortgage someday, but hey — maybe we can just pay cash if we keep up our tightwadiness ^_^).

    Although we do blow lots of money once a year on a big trip to Asia, everything else is “artificial scarcity.” Like JaredUtah says, it’s fun to not even notice how much you’re saving that way, until you check your IRA/savings/401K and can go “yay!”

  25. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    I’m pretty frugal, but that’s not why I read the Consumerist. For years I’ve been fascinated by consumer psychology, marketing, and business ethics. I find it interesting the things that people ignore when confronted with pretty advertising, and I like to see their reactions when they fully understand the term caveat emptor.

  26. yetiwisdom says:

    I grew up in a single-parent home where mom worked very, very heard to make ends meet, but she also embraced the challenge of the deal and imbued all three of her kids with a thirst for the triumph of winning the best deal you could get. It was with great pride that she left the store with $50 worth of free groceries on two occasions becuase of effective planning and coupon clipping.

    I don’t consider myself a tightwad because I recognize, as mom did, that sometimes it is a better deal to pay for the higher quality (and higher price) product. But, will I do everything in my power to get that product for the lowest possible price? You bet.

    There’s a competitiveness to it – you against the manufacturers, retailers and other shoppers, leveraging coupons, rewards, rebates, price match, clearance, sales and every other tool to beat get the best deal. It’s very rewarding.

    And I’ve been lucky to find a mate with similar views – “full price is a fool’s price” is one our catchphrases.

    Regarding debt, we have a small, low-interest mortgage and only one of our two modest cars still has a payment. We carry no credit card debt. We’re well off and if all goes well will be more than prepared to retire and send our kids to good schools.

  27. spinachdip says:

    I used to be terrible with money and I still carry a good amount of debt, but I long stopped adding to that debt. I’m now paying it down and cut out the fat from my expenses. Best of all, I don’t feel like I’m being a tightwad – I’m not sacrificing my health and I have everything I need.

    It’s going to be great once I’m out of the tunnel, but it’s a great feeling just to see the light. This site’s been a big help.

  28. liquisoft says:

    When I was younger and lived at home with the folks, I would mostly spend what money I had. I didn’t rely heavily on credit cards, though, and instead used them infrequently just to maintain a steady credit/payoff ratio.

    When I got older and started earning a more sizeable salary, I would still try to avoid credit as much as possible and opted toward cash/debit card.

    Now that I own a home, I’m as frugal as freaking possible. I find myself complaining about the prices of things (like a damned salad bar last night that was $11. It wasn’t THAT good).

  29. Charles Duffy says:

    Very much the tightwad (except for occasional gifts to friends) until I got married… now, household finances are a little more challenging.

    Still, no unsecured debts (just the house and car, and I’m paying down the former as quickly as I can)… so I’m putting myself down as a tightwad, even if not as much so as I used to be.

  30. UpsetPanda says:

    I have a question for everyone who don’t use credit cards. How were you able to qualify for a home or a loan, if you have either? I’m wondering if it is really possible to do either (or more) without having any kind of credit history.

  31. UpsetPanda says:

    Correction: I meant to say “I have a questin for everyone who don’t use credit cards OR department store cards” which are essentially credit cards, but not with a banking institution.

  32. Charles Duffy says:

    Just to add to that — I owe a considerable bit of my financial outlook to my father, who taught me (at least implicitly) that debt was an inherently shameful thing and set a gold-standard example for bootstrapping oneself: he grew up in a family of ten with a single very low income, paid his own way through school, worked his arse off for years and bought everything (house, car, etc) with cash.

    I’m not quite as successful as he was at my age — but if the startup I’m working for ends up being worth something, I just might be able to catch up.

  33. CaliforniaConsumer says:

    I guess I’m a tightwad, although usually don’t notice it. Thank you, Consumerist, you have now replaced my mother’s role in nagging me for my spendthrift habits.

  34. realserendipity says:

    Im the credit card junkie who is paying off the balance of her debt and keeps the card frozen in the freezer. I used to be frugal, went completely nuts for a few years, and am back to watching every dime.

  35. I voted as a tightwad, but i’m not really. I spend a lot, but I have very high expectations about what I get for my money. Generally, I read reviews and shop around for the best blender, stapler, teapot or whatever, and then scour the internet to find the best price.

  36. darkclawsofchaos says:

    College student and soon to be a graduate one in a year. ’nuff said.

  37. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    I believe in the accumulation good debt, see opportunities when a market takes a downturn, have 10+ credit cards I use to buy investments/assets, think that ‘paying off your mortgage’ is stupid, and that less than a 10% return in sheer insanity.

  38. rickhamilton620 says:

    I’m just thrifty, I save my money when I really want to buy things. I’ll probably try to use credit cards as little as possible (only 18, don’t have one) My goal is to stay financially sound the rest of my life.

  39. Sudonum says:

    @Charles Duffy:
    My wife and her family were like that. When we met she once told me that I spent money like a drunken sailor on leave. What could I say, I complemented her on her observation and ordered another round. Things changed quick when it went from being “my” money to being “our” money. Gotta thank her for it though.

  40. Her Grace says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Hey, me too!

    The only debt I have is student loans. Getting my MA is worth it.

  41. mrosedal says:

    I am very frugal. I have only

  42. mrosedal says:

    I am certainly a frugal person. I have only carried over credit card debt twice maybe three times. The thought of paying interest kills me. I do use my credit cards a lot though. I love cash back rewards especially Discover card. And I do have a car loan so I can build up credit to get a house…I also have used 0% interest quite a bit. But otherwise all things should be bought with cash. It is the best way to live life…money in the bank!

  43. MissMissy says:

    I’m a frugal spendthrift. It’s a contradiction, yes, but still true. I make sure to pay all bills, never carry any debt (aside from my mortgage)–I even paid my way through college without a loan (no, I wasn’t a rich kid, I started saving for college when I was, literally, 5 years old…unprompted).

    I put probably 50% of my income into a combination of IRAs, 401K’s, mutual funds, fund-for-income accounts and life insurance.

    After that–any money left over is fair game. I buy stuff I don’t need and just “want”–but I buy it at thrift stores. I’ve never had a “new” car–nor would I ever want one. I do irresponsible spending, but I do responsible saving first :)

  44. AcidReign says:

        I credit my parents for pushing the tightwad agenda on me. My dad had already explained how a “Bankamericard” (Visa ancestor) worked, by the time I was six years old. Teach your kids to treat that card like it’s sucking cash out of your wallet/bank account. Don’t spend it if you don’t have it!

        My parents never got me a card. “That’s your job, buddy-boy!” I got Visa offers, unsolicited, when I was 25, probably because I didn’t bounce checks, was finally making a decent wage, and had a $1000+ balance.

        We had a bit of a family tug-of-war over my teenage daughter getting a Visa. I finally relented, and silenced my objections, in the name of family peace. (Weren’t me who cosigned on the thing, though!) So far, she’s been responsible…

  45. Mary says:

    I’m a spender that married a pennypincher. To save our marriage I stopped spending so much, and he stopped harping about it ; )

    I’d still be in credit card debt if he hadn’t stepped in right around the time of the wedding to say that he didn’t want to spend his life in debt, esp. at those interest rates, and paid them off for me. I haven’t touched them since because I realized I was incapable of using them responsibly.

    So I consider myself “reformed” ; ) But it was more learning about organizing and decluttering that fixed the problems, not the money itself. If I don’t buy it, it doesn’t take up space in my house.