One problem we frugal folks often struggle with is being dismissed as "cheapskates" or "stingy." Cracks like these can really sting, because they imply that our efforts to save money are somehow hurting other people. To someone who's embraced ecofrugality as a way to avoid waste, protect the environment, and have more money for the things that matter—including charitable giving—this feels really unfair.
However, there's no denying that sometimes, in our zeal to save money, we overlook the fact that we could be causing problems for other people—or for ourselves. This leads us into silly situations like spending half an hour making homemade laundry detergent to save a penny per load of laundry, or awkward ones like showing up to a potluck party with a bowl of popcorn that cost 25 cents to make, and took less than five minutes of work, before helping yourself generously to everyone else's homemade delicacies.
My latest Money Crashers article is an attempt to draw some clear, bright lines between the frugal and the just plain cheap. I sort cheapskate behaviors into categories—unethical, stingy, unsafe, and wasteful or inefficient—and give examples for each one. Then, for every case, I give a counterexample of a genuinely frugal behavior that could save you at least as much money as the cheapskate behavior, if not more.
Explore this thorny question here: Cheapskate vs. Frugal – 12 Signs You May Be Crossing the Line