Character Trait Thesaurus Entry: Stingy

Definition: not generous; sparing or scant in using, giving, or spending

Causes: a frugal upbringing, lacking the basic necessities growing up, paranoia, distrust of others and their motives, a sense of entitlement, a lack of confidence in future events (the fear that some day, one will need every last penny), caring more for oneself than for anyone else, a desire to be financially responsible, a heart that is two sizes too small

Characters in Literature and Culture: Ebenezer Scrooge, the Grinch, Mr. Burns (the Simpsons)

Positives: Typically, Stingies have money. They may not give it to others, but they tend to not waste it on frugal spending, either. They are disciplined in the use of their money and determined to reach their budgetary goals. 

Negatives: Stingies are, well, stingy. They don't give to charitable causes, to those less fortunate than them, or even to friends and loved ones who might really need a break. They can be smug and self-righteous, looking down on those in financial difficulties, assuming that their misfortune is their own fault. They lack compassion and empathy. Stingies may have trouble truly connecting with others due to the deep-seated reasons behind their tightfistedness. Their selfishness tends to make them unlikable, and they often end up alone.

Common Portrayals: business owners, factory foremen, the elderly, bankers, feudal landowners, eccentrics

Cliches to Avoid: the crackpot miser with money stuffed in his mattress and buried in the backyard, the skinflint boss who fleeces his employees, the gajillionaire who lives in squalor because he won't spend even a nickel on basic necessities

Twists on the Traditional Stingy:  
  • People are usually stingy due to basic greed. Instead, give your Stingy an empathetic reason to be the way he is.
  • Stinginess is a negative, no doubt about it. What circumstances could you create in your world that would make stinginess a positive trait?
  • Because it's such a bad trait, a stingy hero will usually be cured of it by the end of a novel. But what if being stingy is necessary to achieving the hero's goal? What if he has to hold onto it in order to succeed, or better yet, to save others?

Conflicting Characteristics to make your Stingy unique or more interesting: compassionate, kind, wasteful (in other areas), popular, friendly, helpful


Traci Kenworth said...

My all-time favorite Christmas story!! The tale of how the Grinch goes from stingy to loving and giving. I think it still teaches us today not to be such a way when it comes to the season, or life. Great blog!!

JeffO said...

Love that picture of the Grinch.

"give your Stingy an empathetic reason to be the way he is."

I can tell you that, growing up, I did not have a lot of money at my disposal, so I was often stingy, and it left me feeling sort of guilty and uncomfortable, or, if I was out with friends, I'd be the one buying the cheapest meal at the diner.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

On Big Bang Theory, Sheldon gave a brief monologue as to the virtues of the Grinch. It was really funny.

Cozy in Texas said...

I found your lovely blog today.

Angela Ackerman said...

Great pick, Becca. Love the Grinch--he's a perfect example of how this trait can be twisted to give us something unique!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love, love, LOVE the Grinch! Great choice for this trait! :)

Becca Puglisi said...

It's not often you can squeeze the Grinch into a blog post, but this was the perfect opportunity ;).

Welcome, Ann! Glad you found us!

Matthew MacNish said...

I should probably be a little stingier myself.

Heather said...

I love the idea of giving stingy and empathetic reason! That is awesome! And what a perfect one to choose to feature this month. :)

Southpaw said...

Perfect entry for this time of year! :)


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