Inflation Breeds Frugality. But Is Frugality a Turn-Off?
Top image: Marisse Caine / RICE file photo

Fellas, is frugality a chad move or a soy boy ploy? With the global economy in shambles and prices skyrocketing faster than Bitcoin stock in 2011, penny-pinching is back in trend. Or for some of y’all, it has always been this way. 

Low-cost lifestyles aren’t new, nor is it necessarily a bad thing—especially if one of the richest men in the world still clips McDonald’s coupons. But even now, in a time when prisoncore apartments are preferable to the private rental market hellscape, frugality is still a turnoff.

A Singaporean Redditor recently had his love life rocked after his girlfriend ripped him a new one for his economic habits. We’re talking stuff like comparing prices at stores, ordering less when eating out, making a small detour to scan a Lazada QR discount code and hoarding napkins from cafes. The man’s probably one step away from dumpster diving and his partner is not having it. 

It’s understandable that frugality can be a bit of a buzzkill—nothing screams ‘romance’ like a constant concern for financial responsibility. On the other hand, who’d want to date someone who can’t put food on the table? 

Ultimately, the difference between being frugal and miserly lies in the dosage. 

Image: Stephanie Lee / RICE file photo

Right on the Money

Fellow Redditors in that thread agree that there’s no issue being sensible with spending, but there is a line where things get into cheapskate city. 

Scanning for online shopping discounts and comparing prices seem pretty normal, but looting free plastic bags and napkins for later use teeters into unattractive Singaporean kiasu-ism. When all of the constant frugal habits add up, it’s no surprise that the girlfriend attaches the ugly side of austerity to his identity. 

”Some of the behaviour you described is totally fine, such as scanning a QR code if it just happens to be available and you are nearby,” offers one Redditor

“That’s not a big issue, but if this is compounded by searching for the best deals EVERY time you are out and not wanting to order more than one dish EVERY time, chances are your gf has started to associate being cheap as your personality instead of your behaviour.”

There’s living within your means, and there’s being cheap. Frugality is buying supermarket house brand cereal; cheap is bringing your own plastic bag to hoard free cereal samples. 

When you start disguising plain old selfishness as financial savvy, it’s no wonder that your friends stop inviting you out to eat—you’re the type to insist on paying a lot less because you only ordered tap water and ate smaller portions. 

Image: Stephanie Lee / RICE file photo

The Degree of Frugality

So back to the question at hand: Is there anything wrong with being cheap? Of course not. Culturally, being sensible with money is ingrained. We’ve all been told from young that we need to be thrifty and save for a rainy day—and a storm is brewing right now

Romantically, being cheap isn’t sexy. Careful consideration of budgeting and spending is smart for sure, but there’s always a time and place for it. If economical lifestyles and financial priorities differ between partners, does that mean they’re not compatible? We’d say that’s not always the case. 

For all we know, there’s more that’s left unsaid by the Redditor about his big tiff with his girlfriend. The man could be thrifty to the point that he’s fine with holes in his ratty t-shirts. He could be someone who refuses to splurge on special occasions. The dude could be the type who’s upset when his partner buys an item when it’s not on sale. 

It all depends on the degree of frugality—serious arguments aren’t typically formed from things like “awareness of online promos”. Sensible financial management is a green flag, fellas. But that flag turns red when you’re proud of pilfering toilet rolls from public toilets. 

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