Cheap or frugal?

“I’m cheap,” our instructor freely admitted at the class on Thursday as she carefully pocketed the envelope in which I’d placed my kit fee, rather than hand it back to me. I was amused, but said nothing. We’d heard that phrase throughout the day in reference to many things in her creative process and life. Her mindset is certainly about paying the least amount possible for EVERYTHING.

As a recent retiree, I am certainly cost conscious, but I prefer the term frugal over cheap. I generally focus on value for money spent, rather than always getting the lowest price possible. This is reflected in how I run my business. I charge a fair price, while giving customers good value for their money. Cheap customers are why I stopped making t-shirt quilts. I merely referred them to an online service that could churn out the “blanket” they wanted at a super cheap price. More discerning customers who appreciate craftsmanship were referred to a local business that specializes in memory quilts. Now that I have more time to devote to quilting, I have resumed making memory quilts for those who are “quiltworthy.” Most folks are still referred to the local/online service providers.

Receiving my final paycheck on Friday forced a bit of a reality check as I reviewed our expenses over the past four months. Yes, I budgeted correctly for an average month. That said, I underestimated our pent up demand for travel and the cost associated with properly outfitting hubby for hiking trips. Inflation’s impact on everything else was also an unknown. Travel aside, our expenses in retirement (so far) are actually quite a bit lower than they were when we were both working full-time. This echoes what one of hubby’s former coworkers stated at his team’s retirement celebration. We no longer pay a premium for items and services to make life more manageable for us. There is no longer a need a daily pet sitter, more meals are eaten at home and we are able to take advantage of free/low-cost entertainment offered at non-peak times. No back-to-school wardrobe, new lunch box and classroom supplies for me this year either! Health insurance will actually become our largest monthly expense once COBRA coverage begins. That’s pretty sad, isn’t it?

Frugality over three decades it what made it possible for both of us to walk away from our jobs this year at age 57. We aimed for FAT FIRE, followed Dave Ramsey’s wisdom and finally figured out how much was enough with Wes Moss. Once we hit that number, we planned hubby’s exit strategy and later mine. No regrets.