Skip Nav
Personal Finance
10 Things People With Good Credit Always Do
In Her Shoes
Keys to Happiness at Work, According to BET Exec Kim Lewis
Job Search
People Were Actually Asked These 10 VERY Weird Interview Questions

You Asked: My Boyfriend Is Cheap

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years. I recently started trying to come up with a gift idea for him for our anniversary this year. I asked if he needed any sports equipment, since he plays on multiple intramural teams. He said he could really use new soccer cleats, and so I happily agreed to get them for him. Then he tells me that the ones he wants cost $200. I told him that I had intended on spending a good amount, and he replied that he wasn't. He did the same thing on Christmas, and every year on my birthday, he complains that he "has to buy me a gift."

I know money is tight right now, but his delivery really hurts my feelings. I don't have extra money laying around, but it makes me happy to spend what I do have on the ones I love. I don't want to seem like the girlfriend who needs her boyfriend to buy her things, but it would be nice if when he did, he didn't complain about it. What should I do? Is this just the way he is?

— Gift Trouble Gwynn

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Gift Trouble Gwynn,

I hate to say it, but it's very possible that this is just the way your boyfriend is. He may not value gifts the same way you do or he may just be a very thrifty guy. Though I can understand that he doesn't want to spend a lot of money, I do think it's disappointing that he couldn't handle buying you a birthday gift without complaining about it. Rather than try to change your boyfriend's attitude towards spending money on presents, which may be a lost cause, focus on changing the act of gift giving in your relationship.

Obviously you haven't had much luck with your previous conversations, so I'd try a different route this time. Instead of telling him that you don't like how he complains, express to him that the act of gift giving is important to you and you need it to be important to him too. I also suggest picking a budget that you both feel comfortable with for each gift exchanging occasion. You might also want to offer him gift ideas that won't cost a dime. Maybe you'd love a one-hour massage or you'd like to take a long hike together. Seeing your boyfriend make the effort to do something nice might be even better than knowing he spent a lot of money!


Join The Conversation
Janey0902 Janey0902 7 years
He is a cheap, rude thoughtless ass.
alexarenee alexarenee 7 years
Wow... sounds just like my boyfriend. Just little things, (Example: I bought him Xbox 360 points, which cost me a large amount of my babysitting money for the week. I didn't think twice about it, there was no special occasion, I just wanted to get him something. There was a buy one get one free sale on scarves. He got me a scarf. His sister payed for the one and he got the extra one free. I normally have to pay for myself when we go to dinner or the movies. Its just kind of a let down, being that him and I have been together for a year. I'm not saying I want him to go broke buying me stuff, but a little gift every once in a while would be nice.
indiagirl indiagirl 7 years
Dear sugar, I've been with my boyfriend almost six months now and he is very cheap. He has more avaliable spending money then me but refuses to go out to dinner and let me pay for his movie ticket instead of mine. I'm more of an old fashioned girl who wants a gentleman but I dont know what to do, our anniverary is coming up and i want to do something special but in the past he hasnt even wrtten me a card, I'm not at all a spoiled or selfish girl but it still hurts that i give all of me, everything, and i feel like i get nothing back, I've baked, got him show tickets, records, made him dinner, but nothing and all he says when i confront him is "im not like that" but why is it so hard to make a card? or do something nice for a change for me to make me feel special? It doesnt have to involve money and thats what i dont understand, he sees that he does nothing and feels bad but doesn't change. any advice?
jazzedup jazzedup 9 years
I dated a tightwad and then I married him and he remains a tightwad. If I had it to do over again I would run for the hills and find someone who has money to spend but money to save as well. I am not talking about a filthy rich man either. I am talking about someone who makes a good living and knows how to save it but is also generous when necessary. Drop him and RUNNNNNN!
emalove emalove 9 years
Being frugal sometimes is okay, but cheapness...ugh. I dated a guy like this before and I was pretty much all set. What bothers me the most is that he complains about having to buy you a gift...not that he's not spending hundreds of dollars on it. I'm a very giving and generous person and I don't think I could ever be with someone who wasn't the same way.
geebers geebers 9 years
There is nothing wrong with being cheap. The problem here is he ASKED you for $200 cleats THEN bitches and moans when it comes to buying YOU a gift. Why dont you focus on that part instead of the money? Material value is not what matters, it IS the thought behind it (cliche as it sounds). Your boyfriends sounds rather thoughtless.
tomatoshirt tomatoshirt 9 years
Why do we have to put up with broke @sses?!!!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
I agree with Julie-there is nothing wrong with being cheap and just because you can afford to buy something doesn't mean you should. BUT...I think you are probably more offended by his delivery than the fact that he wasn't planning on spending $200 on you. It's one thing to be "cheap" and be kind of mean about it, and it's another thing for him to explain to you why he prefers to save money and still be really excited to give you the $50 gift he does get. A thoughtful $50 gift is worth more than a thoughtless $200 ipod or whatever just thrown at you anyway. And a thoughtless $50 gift probably sucks the most! My boyfriend and I decided not to get each other anything this Christmas, so that we'd have more money to spend on our families, and we still had a great Christmas!
jaxon jaxon 9 years
Cheapnss is not sexy!! I am a giver, I'll pay for movies/dinner no problem. Who cares? I am extremely frugal but when it comes to giving gifts I will go out of my way. This one gentleman I dated ever so briefly would always suggest going to a dollar movie. Even if I'd already said "Oh I want to go to dinner" (and by dinner I mean Applebee's, Max & Erma's no meal over 20$ and usually what I get is under $10 and I drink water) We were going to go bowling and he actually asked me "Are the bowling alleys near you cheap?" IT'S BOWLING!! 2.00 a game JERK! I cant stand a cheap guy. That being have to decide if this is something you can deal with. It goes beyond just his being cheap. If he stingy like this it prob extends to other areas. You can talk to him until you are blue inthe face....It WILL NOT change. You can either Love it or leave it!! Not saying throw those 3 years away but he's being rude and inconsiderate not good qualities...
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Why are you guys TALKING about your gifts? :? Thats really unromantic. You guys need to stop taking it so seriously and just surprise each other with a nice card, or some homemade cupcakes, or something else cheap. :OY: And do not discuss it beforehand dammit! :P I have dated cheap guys and extravagant guys and I gotta tell you, it really isnt about the presents...its about the Present. I hope you understand what I mean! ;)
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
The answer to your question is "yes, this is just how he is." I have had boyfriends who had no money but went out of their way to make me feel special on holidays. I think your issue isn't the funding aspect, it's that he complains and puts no effort into it. I think that is certainly a valid complaint! But it's not necessarily a deal breaker if he treats you amazingly otherwise. I just get the feeling that he doesn't, based on your post.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
Yeah, your boyfriend's cheap - and he's going to stay that way. BUT, as you said, money is tight, so that's a good reason to be thrifty; maybe it'd be different if he had more money (even though honestly, people who are generous are generous even when they're broke...) If being cheap isn't the best trait in a guy, it's not the end of the world either. Especially if you don't expect to be financially supported and don't think that love is proven with money. My boyfriend's a bit cheap (/broke!) too, but when my birthday comes around, he spends what he can, and showers me with other things that are just as nice, if not better. Maybe you wouldn't be okay with that - obviously, from the other comments, many girls wouldn't. Now the problem is - is he cheap, or is he selfish? Because maybe it's just about the money being tight, and not about not wanting to make the effort to please you. And in that case, you can make him understand the thousand other things he could do on special occasions that would make you just as happy as him forking over some dough.
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 9 years
om*g your bf is rude! you are acting doormat-ish which must attract these types of loser a-holes, sorry to be crude but this type of guy drives me nuts tho i am not doormat-ish enough to have ever dated one!
starinajar starinajar 9 years
I think it's really rude of him to complain about getting you birthday gifts or Christmas gifts, especially since you say that you're happy to spend money on him even when money is tight. It's one of the ways you show appreciation for him. He could be the least bit considerate by doing something thoughtful for you if he doesn't have a lot of money to spend.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
What do you mean what can you do, is this the way he is?! YES, this is obviously the way he is! He has the nerve to ask for $200.00 cleats from you but bitches when it's your B-day. I bet your gonna still buy him some $200.00 cleats after he told you he's not going to spend much on you for your anniversary. I'm also guessing this is how a lot of your gift exchanges go he gets something nice while you get crap. It really doesn't matter what anyone else feels about how much to spend on a gift, or if they like cheap men, the bottom line is if gift giving and not being cheap is an important criteria for you then this is just one of those red flags you should have paid attention to. Don't expect ish to change after 3 years, this is how it is. And trust me honey it's NEVER gonna change 50 years from now this is how it is, you'll be lucky if you get anything on important holidays. He may do it once to make you happy if you confront him, but who wants to force their man to buy them something nice?
autumnxrain autumnxrain 9 years
Wow... I just had a debate with one of my friends about this. I've never liked a guy who is tightfisted. I can still remember this one guy that wanted to get me to go out with him, and I knew right away he wasn't my type, but he kept calling, so we got to be fairly close. Then when he asked me what I'd been up to that day, most of the time, I'd reply with "I went shopping", and the next question he'd throw at me was: "How much did you spend?" When I told him, he'd go bonkers (no other word describes it and the amount I told him was probably like... $100 or something). He'd tell me that he could buy the entire world with that much money and criticize me for not getting a good deal or what not. Frankly, I was appalled by his (lack of) manners and his dictatorial attitude. He had absolutely no right to tell me how to spend my own money. ^and that's why I would never ever date a cheap guy. I don't really understand why he won't spend money on someone he truly loves. Unless he has certain circumstances to deal with, maybe you should ask him why he doesn't want to spend money on you. Also ask him why he's asking you to shell out $200 for him while he's not doing the same for you? Relationships are based on equality.
Vsugar Vsugar 9 years
Well, I think it's really the delivery that matters. Would you feel the same way if instead of complaining about having to buy you presents, he bought you something small but incredibly thoughtful, and said, "I know it's not much, but money's tight right now, but I tried to get you something thoughtful instead of just expensive" (or something)... Anyway, it's the complaining part that would upset me. My FH and I don't buy each other presents because we are absolutely BROKE - we agreed on it, we don't do, and there are no expectations and no hurt feelings - we do nice and thoughtful things for each other, and don't worry about $$. But yeah, he sounds cheap and miserly.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
Unlike the above comments, I really don't see anything wrong with being cheap. Just because he could potentially afford to buy you a $200 gift certainly does not mean that he SHOULD, and I have significantly more respect for people who are cheap than for people who expect to have everything they want purchased for them at the drop of a hat. That said, he has no right to complain about holidays and the gifts that go along with them. If he doesn't like to spend money (maybe he comes from a very frugal family, or a family that places no value on tangible gifts), maybe you can get him to do things with/for you. Tell him for your birthday that rather than get gifts, you want to spend an entire day doing things in your area -- and let him be the one to plan. There are always creative and free things to do and if he is willing to put the effort into planning an entire day and enjoying it with you, then that's just as good as spending money in my book (sadly my fiance would much rather buy me a new pair of shoes than put the thought and effort into PLANNING something). If he's just cheap by nature, though, you're not going to be able to change him, and if it bothers you enough, then you're going to have to call it quits. I've found that cheap people tend to marry other cheap-ish people in general, and there's obviously a reason there -- you can't train a frugal dog.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
He can buy his own damn boots. And you, set him straight about your expectation in your relationship. Things happen because we allow them to happen.
michelleannette michelleannette 9 years
after three years i think it's safe to assume this is how he is. if it were just a matter of money he would say something like, "i really wish i could get you something nice but...." for him to complain suggests that he wouldn't spend the money even if he had it.
drinkerofh2o drinkerofh2o 9 years
If you accept that this is just part of his personality, a way the two of you could compromise is to find ways of spending money on each other other than through gifts. My boyfriend and I have never bought anniversary gifts, but we always "do" stuff on our anniversary. My favorite was going to a tea house/spa with him. The gifts I remember are always experiences, not items.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 9 years
I'm willing to bet that if he's cheap giving gifts he's cheap giving other (more important) things. Why not talk to him and tell him that since he doesn't like buying gifts, he no longer has to, and that you won't be buying him anything else either. But you're nuts if you think he's going to change after three years of getting away with this.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Money is one of those things all couples end up fighting about. I'd say that you should try and come up with a compromise. Set a spending limit. You can always give him a gift certificate to the sports store where he'd buy his cleats. That way the money is going towards what you want to buy for him.
Brett Eldredge 2017 Interview
Male Birth Control | Video
Why You Need to Tell Friends How Much You Make
How a Separation Saved My Marriage
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds