So, Friend 1 , Friend 2 and I were having a (BrE) natter tonight, when the fact of Mutual Acquaintance's stinginess came into the conversation. I exclaimed, "MA is so cheap!" and F1 said "It's so funny whenever you say someone's cheap when you mean tight. If you say someone's cheap here, it means something different."
Well, in the US it can mean that too--it's ambiguous. But, given the context most Americans would naturally have interpreted my comment as meaning that MA is careful with her money (to put a positive spin on it), rather than that she has loose morals. I know that in England I'm 'supposed' to say that such people are tight, but to me, that word has unappealing connotations when applied to a woman. This is not helped by my knowledge of British saying about stingy people, which is often applied to MA: She's tight as a gnat's chuff.
From now on, I think I'll have to resort to saying "MA is careful with her money for reasons that I don't entirely approve of."