Thrifty? or tight?

I’ve had this post in mind for a while but I struggled to write it because I guess talking about money is always a bit tricky. It’s worth saying that I am not saying anyone else’s approach to money and spending is wrong, just different, and all I can do is talk about works for me personally, and us as a family.

Can you be thrifty without being tight? Or do you have to be a bit tight in order to be thrifty? Money is odd. I always feel that no matter how much you have, you will live within your means. I don’t like spending money, I never have. I’m not entirely sure where it comes from but I’ve always been quite careful with money. I hate spending more than about £15 on an item of clothing, and I keep clothes for years, literally YEARS. I buy the cheapest possible greetings cards and quite often get toys and things second hand on ebay.

When I was working and single I never had the highest salary, and for a long time managed to scrape by, covering my mortgage, bills and food with perhaps £30 left for clothes/entertainment every month. A carefulness with money that always came naturally was essential in those days and Birthdays and Christmas were the times I got new clothes or DVDs etc. Years of this basically led to an increased aversion to spending.

Then I met my husband, who has a similar attitude to me. He also had years of scraping by on a low salary and he too had learnt to be careful with his money. The difference between us was that his hard work over the years really paid off and he now earns a far better salary than I had ever dreamed of! In our early relationship, I was promoted too and with our combined salaries we were decidedly comfortable. It was a really weird experience for me not having to budget for every single penny spent.

After making the decision to be a SAHM and live off of my hubby’s salary, we are still better off than I ever was on my own but we are not exactly loaded or carefree, by a long way! We budget for everything and try to save every month in various forms to make sure we can afford unexpected car bills, holidays and other expensive times, like Christmas and Birthdays.

We manage pretty well but I think my natural aversion to spending still helps! I like to look for bargains, I buy Monkey’s clothes a season or more ahead in the sales, or I buy them from supermarkets or Primark because I don’t see the point in spending a lot of money on something he will wear for such a short time. We’ve even bought some things from charity shops, as let’s face it, baby/toddler clothes are very rarely ‘well-worn!’ We’ve actually been really lucky too in the fact that Monkey has had a lot of second hand clothes from a friend with son a year older than Monkey. This has saved us so much money over time!

The only exception is shoes, as he has wide feet so it’s important for his development to have his own shoes. They mold to the feet wearing them so wearing someone else’s shoes can be uncomfortable. Because of this Monkey only ever has one or two pairs of shoes at any one time. They are just so expensive and I just don’t see the point for lots of different pairs at his age. I wonder if I would be different if we had a girl? Maybe not!

He very occasionally gets a new toy, if we think it will help his stage of development, but for the most part, and especially as he gets older, we try and keep toys just as christmas/birthday presents. Some of the more expensive toy items, I prefer to get second hand. I got some great £5 bargains off ebay last summer. Occasionally if a big thing, like his trike, is in the sale, we will get one new, but it has to be quite a good discount!

We have just bought some outdoor toys for his birthday – we were looking for a swing/slide and a playhouse, but they are all so expensive and we just couldn’t justify spending the hundreds of pounds on new ones. We just can’t afford to! So it has been hello ebay again and we’ve got some great second hand bargains. So they are a little faded or worn, but then all outdoor toys end up like that and Monkey doesn’t care! It’s not just Monkey’s bits we scrimp on though either as hubby and I rarely buy ourselves clothes or other bits, and any recent purchases have been in the sale or from Primark.


Monkey’s “new” second-hand house from ebay

I prefer to think of myself as thrifty rather than tight though. Tight has such negative connotations of greediness or a lack of generosity. I like to give lovely things to people, it’s just that I like to get them for the lowest price possible, that way it means I can afford to get them more. And the fact that we save more in various ways means we are able to be a bit more relaxed about buying lunch out at the cafe at soft play, or have day out as a family.

One of my friends laughed at me the other week as I had patched a puncture on Monkey’s ball. She laughed as the balls are only a few quid, and thought it seemed pointless, but to me it made sense. I was fixing a puncture on his buggy wheel so why not fix the ball too? Why not save myself spending those few quid if I could? Besides, Monkey loves that ball!

Then on the flip side, we are spending a lot of money on the garden. We sold hubby’s nice pre-Monkey car for a banger which takes 6 or 7 tries to start somedays. We did this a) because hubby now works within walking distance and it was de-valueing on the drive and b) because we felt the money could be put to better use, for example, to give us a nice garden.

I guess it comes down to choices. What is important to you. I’m not saying the choices we make are right for everyone but they work for us. We could be a lot better in some ways – I know we could save money on our food shops by being a bit more savvy, but it comes down to laziness and effort. Especially now I am pregnant again, we just like the ease of ordering food online and having it delivered. I’m sure we won’t do this forever, but right now it works for us, and we still try to make the most of offers where we can. We also plan our meals, which really helps keep the food bills down.

We have a nice house and we do like nice things. I guess that the times we do spend a bit more money on something it is because it is something that is exactly what we are looking for, and that we know we will have for many years to come. The gorgeous dresser we have in our dining room was pretty pricey, but we couldn’t find what we wanted cheaper, even after many hours scouring for a second hand one to do up, and we adore it. This is our family forever home and that dresser will be with us for many many years.

Being a bit thrifty day to day allows us to save and then spend a bit more on things that mean more to us.

Whether we will always be like this, I don’t know. Maybe if we suddenly became millionaires (unlikely as we don’t play the lottery) I would relax my spending rules? But it is so ingrained that I’m not sure I could ever see myself spending lots of money on things like baby clothes when they won’t be needed for very long. As with so many things though, different strokes for different folks and we all make different choices for different reasons.

What do you think? Is Thrifty and Tight the same thing? Are you thrifty or are you a bit more relaxed when it comes to spending?

#AllAboutYou Link & Pin Party Mama and More
Super Busy Mum

28 thoughts on “Thrifty? or tight?

  1. I think being thrifty is a good thing. Kids don’t need expensive clothes and first hand toys, in fact I have a post in draft form about this very topic! As you said, saving the pennies day to day allows you to spend on the important things in life. Sounds like you have your priorities in the right place to me hon. Well done hubby on his success at work too xx #allaboutme

  2. Yes, you can definitely be thrift without being tight. As you say, it’s just about getting the balance right. When we were in the UK I’d love getting second hand things and recycling to other people. It’s not so easy here in Spain, but still do-able.

  3. I’m all for buying stuff in the sales. In fact I am slightly obsessed with sale shopping! The vast majority of Little E’s clothes are bought a year in advance in the sales like you do. Our weakness is toys and she has far too many but I do look for the best deals and often buy from eBay. I like to have money for a rainy day and feel anxious if we don’t have any money in the bank but that comes from managing my own budget at Uni and having to live within my means. We don’t have credit cards and the only debt we have is our mortgage. Saying all that we give to charity, buy generous gifts (usually in the sale but then they get a better present!) and we always split the bill! I’m definitely thrifty but not tight.

  4. I believe there is a big difference between thrifty and tight. I think thrifty means to be sensible about what you are purchasing and considering what is best value. Being tight means to be negative about what you need to buy and not willing to put money to something that may be necessary to have.

    I think being thrifty is an important life lesson that I already pass onto my children. Kids grow so fast and hardly get the moneys worth for stuff before they are needing the next stage or size.

    I love saving a bit of money on something the kids can enjoy just the same as if i just bought it from the shop. Especially since the older stuff that is getting passed on is a lot better quality than some stuff on sale now.


  5. I think there’s a definite difference. I do think tight has a selfish connotation, whereas thrifty seems smart and sensible. I enjoy being thrifty in almost everything. It’s like a game, I get pleasure from finding a bargain. I’ve relaxed some over the years though and recognize that sometimes it makes more sense to spend more for better quality or just because it’s exactly what you wanted and you’ll get a lot of use out of it. It sounds like you’re thrifty by nature and you kind of enjoy the process, too!

  6. I LOVE THIS POST!! Our money philosophies are VERY similar….like almost 100% the same.

    I LOVE clothes, and yet spend in a whole year (or two) what some people spend in a month. ANd I agree….thrift + sales for my sons clothes as well. I even do a whole series called Fashion Foresight where I think about what I’ll want/ need months or years in advance.

    I think the fact that you are investing in your garden proves that you aren’t tight! You are making choices on where to invest. You’re garden in the summer time can provide you with countless days and evenings of enjoyment. If you were “tight” you wouldn’t even spend money on the things you enjoy. We spend quite a bit on travel since I really love traveling, but even when we go away we usually stay in budget hotels or find something on airbnb!

    Thank you so much for sharing this it was a great read.

    Angie from reasons to dress, life as a North American mom in Italy.

  7. Big difference between thrifty and tight.

    I’d much rather wear extra layers than put my heating on all the time. It’s not tight, it’s thrifty because I’ll save money on the boring stuff to buy something nice instead.

    Sensible stuff.

  8. Great post. My relationship with money has changed massively. I’ve survived on £20 after all my bills were paid before as I lived on my own, and I have had big bonuses and spent lots of money in my younger years which now I totally regret. Today, I have left work and now money is tighter than it was and I to now look for alternatives or bargains. I use ebay a lot and me and the other half don’t go out like we use to we use any spare money for days out with the family or home improvements. Crazy. I don’t think its tight at all. I think your right to describe it as thrifty and lets be honest, sometimes you just have to make choices on where is best to spend the money we do have. Thanks for posting. #MMWBH

    • Thank you, it is interesting isn’t and I really think we do in general live to our means and yep, make choices about what is important to us at that time and spend the money on those things. xx

  9. I think you have a lot of very sensible ideas there. I went without a lot of what would be considered by most people to be essentials when my twins were born because there simply was no way to afford two of everything! They haven’t suffered at all plus they really love wearing hand-me-downs from their older siblings! #MMWBH

    • Thank you and Oh I can imagine with twins that it is so much harder and you can’t possibly have 2 of everything! There’s no way they suffer from it though as they don’t know any different nd let’s face it, babies survive with a lot less than is considered necessary these days! xx

  10. I think that you sound thrifty but not tight. Tight in my opinion is not wanting to spend money on anyone else so not even buying someone a cheap card would be tight. Buying a cheap card is thrifty. I often say to my hubby that if our circumstances ever changed so that we had a lot of money I think that I am so use to managing on a low income I think I would still be like I am now as like you say, it’s ingrained in me now lol! #MMWBH

    • Thank you, and I’m glad it’s not just me, I really don’t think I could change my ways so drastically now! xx

  11. I think you can be thrifty without being tight, it’s more about not throwing money away unnecessarily. Like you we save money by buying toys second hand, and a lot of the kids’ clothes come from eBay/charity/hand-me-downs, but then we will treat ourselves to a foreign holiday, or good food. It depends where your priorities are really I say.

  12. I think it’s two different things, my POV is why spend money unnecessarily, i.e shop around for the best price, if you don’t need to have it straight away, wait until the sale… but I won’t ever scrimp on shoes, that’s my weakness ;)) Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutYou

    • I think your POV makes sense and that’s part of it here too, no wasting of money! Lol, who can blame you for spending on shoes!? xx

  13. I agree with you – being tight is representative of a lack of generosity, and being thrifty can only be a good thing to teach your kiddo. Also, the “make do and mend” attitude helps the planet! great post, and also quite brave – it’s never comfortable talking about money, is it, and as you say, it has to come down to what is relevant to YOU. x #AllAboutYou

    • Absolutely, being careful with money has got to be a good thing to teach your kiddos! Thank you, it was tricky and I re-wrote it a couple of times, don’t want to come across as preachy as I am no expert, and can only say what is relevant to us! xx

  14. Being thrifty is grand, in face its something I should be a little more to save those pennies if I’m honest! But when it comes to second hand goods, hell, if it’s a good nick, why not! Might as well give it a new home! I love the wendy house! Fabulous! We so need one of those when our gardens finished!

    Great post hun, thanks so much for linking up with #MMWBH x

  15. Pingback: Second Trimester Style – Under Bump or Over Bump? | Becoming a Stay at Home Mum

  16. Pingback: Maternity Wear - Luxury or Necessity? | Becoming a Stay at Home Mum

Thanks for taking the time to write something. I love comments and read every one xx

Your email address will not be published.