What should we call a person who doesn't spend money (on necessary things) and instead saves it?

He or she enjoys when other people spend their money but when it comes to them they avoid spending money.


I know the words like the miser, stingy, frugal, thrifty, cheap. But I don't know which would be more suitable in a more casual setting.


I read that frugal is not necessarily a person who is a miser but he spends his money wisely.
I usually use stingy.
He's a stingy fellow. We could not bring him to spend one extra dime on dessert after a bill of 70$ on dinner.

  • 2
    Related question that might be helpful: Word to describe a person who spends extremely little money – ColleenV Sep 21 at 10:35
  • @ColleenV Thanks for the link. Frugal and thrifty have a positive connotation I think as per the answers in the link. So I will stick to words like stingy, miser and cheap if I have to express something in a negative way. – lea Sep 21 at 10:47
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    Miser is a noun, unlike the others which are adjectives. Someone can be "a miser" but all the others need a noun, for example "a frugal person". – Eric Nolan Sep 21 at 13:04
  • What do you mean you do not know which to use in a casual setting? Those four words need to be grouped by meaning before you ask your question. – Lambie Sep 21 at 13:40
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    @Lambie I'm not a native speaker so sometimes I use words which may carry a negative connotation. I know their literal meaning but because of the connotations associated with the words I sometimes end up using the wrong word. For Example - the words (Hate/dislike/disapprove). Disapprove is not the word which we will use with friends in a casual way. So that is what I had asked here. – lea Sep 21 at 14:30
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Frugal and thrifty have positive meanings. They are usually used for someone who is careful about how he/she spends money and lives simply and economically.

Miser and stingy have negative connotations and they refer to someone who is reluctant to spend money, no matter what the circumstances.

Cheap has a negative connotation too and refers to someone who doesn't like to spend a lot of money. This person is always looking to buy the lowest cost item (The price of the item is more important than its quality for them)

You may also want to use tight-fisted which has the negative connotation you are looking for and it means:

unwilling to spend money

Here is an example from Cambridge dictionary:

Don't wait for Gillian to buy you a drink - she's too tight-fisted.

  • 7
    There seems to be a slight difference between stingy and miser, to me at least. A miser tends to not spend money at all, simply hoarding it away. Stingy implies a selfishness and being unwilling to give or spend on others. – Kevin Sep 21 at 12:31
  • You didn't cover "cheap". This definitely has a negative connotation. I think it may be more common in American English that British. – Eric Nolan Sep 21 at 13:06
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    @EricNolan You're right. I forgot about it. I edited the post. – helen Sep 21 at 13:52
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    Merriam-Webster says a miser is: one who is extremely stingy with money. Wikipedia goes so far as to say: sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts and some necessities, in order to hoard money or other possessions. So even though this is basically a good answer, a miser is much worse than a stingy person when it comes to money. A stingy person might be fairly reluctant to spend money, but a miser pretty much refuses to spend money. A stingy person would have ordered much less than $70 for the meal, while a miser probably would have not eaten and had McDonald's later. – computercarguy Sep 21 at 16:53
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    In my experience (take that for what it's worth) "Cheap" also carries the connotation of expecting someone else to pay. – Michael J. Sep 21 at 17:55
  • Miser: Clutching at every single coin and distraught over parting with any amount of money. "That old miser will freeze to death one day because he refuses to turn on the heat" (an insult)
  • Stingy: Unwilling to part with money even to the point of flexing concepts of fairness. "She's a bit stingy, never willing to pay her share." (negative connotations around unwillingness to pay what's owed)
  • Cheap: Willing to use scratchy toilet paper to save a buck. "My uncle won't want to go to the movie, he's cheap" (negative social connotations, but in a friendly sort of way) -Frugal: Not prone to spending money unnecessarily, willing to make sacrifices for long-term financial well-being. "He certainly doesn't have any credit card bills. He lives quite frugally" (mostly positive connotations, but possibly annoying to less frugal people)
  • Thrifty: Happy to re-use the mason jars Spaghetti sauce comes in. "My mom always buys my sweaters at garage sales, she's thrifty" (neutral connotations with a hint of silly)
  • 2
    I feel that "miser" is more of an unwillingness to spend on oneself, while "stingy" is more of an unwillingness to spend on others. – Acccumulation Sep 21 at 21:57

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