Is the Stereotype of Scottish People Being Frugal True?
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Is the Stereotype of Scottish People Being Frugal True?

A stereotype is just an over simplified idea of a typical characteristic, and is usually untrue, but there is also no smoke without fire. So is the stereotype of Scottish people being frugal true?

A stereotype is just an over simplified idea of a typical characteristic, and is usually untrue, but there is also no smoke without fire. So is the stereotype of Scottish people being frugal true? 

(Image Source)

It is true that many people believe that Scottish people are frugal by nature and they say it as if it is a bad thing. Surely being frugal is a good thing, or is that just the Scot in me coming out? So where does such a stereotype come from and is it really true? Alas, it would be nearly impossible to find the true origins of such a stereotype but suffice to say it has been doing the rounds for many years and has spawned the usual jokes.

  • Copper wire was invented by two Scotsman fighting over a penny.
  • When a Scotsman drops a pound coin he can catch it before it hits the ground.
  • A Scotsman will never buy an address book, he simply scores out the ones he doesn't know from the phone book.

And so the jokes go on and on. And the fact that so many Scottish proverbs are on the subject of money (and saving money) is it any wonder that the Scots are seen as being frugal.

  • A penny saved is a penny gained.
  • Never marry for money, ye'll borrow it cheaper.
  • Get what you can and keep what you have; that's the way to get rich.
  • Money is flat and was meant to be piled up.
  • When the cup is full, carry it even.

With such proverbs having their origin in the country of Scotland, is it any wonder that so many people think Scottish people are frugal. Again though it raises the question of why so many people think that being frugal is a bad thing. When people talk about saving for a rainy day no one bats an eyelid, call a Scotsman frugal and it is said as an insult.

(sorry to say that this village is NOT in Scotland - Image Source)

Call it frugality, call it prudence, call it thrift or even call it meanness, the fact is that it is a stereotype of an atypical Scotsman that just isn't true. The rather ironic thing is that Scottish people are actually very generous, and friendly to boot - it's just we don't want to advertise such traits. It is the contradictory nature of what being a Scotsman is all about.

"For Scotland has a double dose of the poison called heredity; the sense of blood in the aristocrat, and the sense of doom in the Calvinist," wrote G.K. Chesterton and it looks like he might have been on to something. To even better understand the contradictory nature, what better way to do so than to remember that the 'Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written by a Scotsman.

Saying that Scottish people are mean is to do them a great injustice, saying they are frugal may be seen as a bad thing but surely it is not. Being frugal is not the same as being mean, it may be close, but it is not the same. Rather ironically, Scottish people give more to charity per head than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, I suppose they can only afford to donate the money that they have been frugal with in the first place rather than wasting their money on worthless things!

There is nothing substantial about the stereotype of Scottish people being frugal (or mean) and even if there was, there's nothing wrong in that - there are certainly worse things to be than frugal. In closing, I leave you with the words of Robert Burns;

"Here’s Tae Us

Wha’s Like Us

Damn Few

And They’re A’ Deid"

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Comments (2)
Renee Campbell

Love this article!

I think I have a little streak of Scot blood in me and this article seems to bear that out. ;) Great article.