What Is Frugal To You?

What Is Frugal To You?

I am sure we all have different answers to this question. To some, frugal just has to do with the amount of dollars spent or unspent. To others, this extends to all resources, limiting consumption, and being savvy with choices. Not always spending the least amount but trying to get the most for what money they do spend.

To me, frugality is about being conscious of my choices in life. I feel most frugal when I am putting thought into what I buy, what I eat, what I spend, where I go, how much I consume. It’s not just about money. I think frugal is about much more than dollars and cents. Feeling mindful of the limited time, energy, resources, and money I have, I want to feel that I am maximizing what I expend and not wasting.

It’s also being content, happy with what I have and not trying to live up to more than what I need. It is especially not letting anyone else sway my choices. For me, frugality isn’t just about money. There are things in my life that I am willing to spend good money on and I do. My choices aren’t always the cheapest ones, but I try to make choices that will last and bring great value to mine and my family’s life for the long term. Sometimes that means seeing past dollar signs today to reap the rewards later.

I know that to some my life isn’t their version of frugal and there are many that live a life that they call frugal that isn’t my version. Just as with anything, I think it has far more to do with how we think about what we have and what we choose than what the numbers are.

What do you think? What does frugal mean to you?

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  1. @neimanmarxist – I haven’t read that book but I do like that definition. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Currently, to me frugality means managing my money wisely. Basically, it means figuring out what I value and placing my money there, whether it be longer term savings goals (which is on the front burner for now), or more frivolous-type things. As long as I am conscious of where my money goes (just like you mentioned) and being sure that it aligns with my values, I’m being frugal.

  3. Here is a copy of a letter I just emailed to some friends and family on FRUGALITY (Lauren is my 16year old daughter. Trixie is my vehicle I’m a single mom):

    I have become obsessed with rebuilding my emergency fund and figuring out how both Lauren and I can travel. After 5 years of saving a bit every week to contribute to her trips to Canada, Africa, Puerto Rico and various school outings, I went outside the continental United States MYSELF fo the first time at the age of 40!!!!!!

    Alot of times all Lauren needs is spending money, but it still adds up. I think the only “luxury” I really have is Trixie. But Trixie allows me to get back and forth to many free events and activities. And she’s great on gas.

    I lowered my car insurance about 2 years ago by asking my stepmother to put me on the policy with her and my dad, and then I lowered it again by finding a cheaper policy for all of us with the same coverage.

    At my last residence, we had the luxury of cable ….BASIC cable for $21 a month.

    I could find a nice apartment for us but instead Lauren and I share a room in a house with 3 other roommates. It seems logical since we are seldom home!!

    I use my truck mainly on weekends I have the maximum pre-tax deductions taken out of my check for transit so less of my money is taxed and I always have tokens on hand for Lauren.

    I buy gift cards from Lauren’s school every other week and the companies I buy from donate a small percentage to her tuition. It’s nice to walk into Pathmark or Shoprite with a $25 or $50 giftcard and know that that is my budget.

    Lauren is a vegetarian and I don’t cook meat at home much at all so that saves on groceries. And I just realized why our grocery bill is less than $175 a month… WE DON’T BUY JUICE OR SODA!!!!!!!!!!! Except for 100% pure orange juice (half a gallon lasts us for about 5 days) we hardly EVER buy juice unless it’s a serious sale and it’s real juice, not cocktail crap. I see other families shop and realize how much juice adds up!!!

    Anyway, I say all this to let you know that every now and again I will forward articles from my favorite “frugality” blogs. I subscribe to about 20 of them. (It’s FREE…. better than spending money on magazines!!) Oh yeah, and I collect old magazines from my mom and some friends and after I’m done I pass them on to other people. A good article is a good article. It doesn’t matter how old it is.

    Do I have designer suits? Yes. The last one I bought was Tahari for $38!!!!!! And y’all KNOW I need my books!!! I found a website (abebooks.com) where I can buy them for $3 to $6… including shipping. I only buy the ones I need for my book club. The others I borrow from booksfree.com which works just like netflix.

    The upside of all this frugality is that when emergencies come up for myself or someone else, my money is not all tied up in cable, fancy rims, or designer eyeglasses. Jorge just helped me find a pair of clip on shades for my new eyeglasses at Walmart for $12. I thought I would have to have them custom-made!!!

    Oh yeah. I do not use major credit cards. I paid for my trip to Maui with cash money baby!!!!!!!!! So nice to take a vacation and come home to NO vacation debt!!!

    We did have an emergency recently. We thought Elmo, Lauren’s cat, would need a $500 surgery. It just so happens that $500 is what I keep in my emergency fund and I had recently had to use it for something else. I was willing to sell my old wedding band to fund the vet bill but a) Sam came to the rescue and b) Elmo did not need the surgery, he just needed some medication.

    Anyway, in the quest to rebuild a bigger and better emergency fund, keep Lauren in private school and continue traveling, I am inspired by these daily blogs, especially, Remodeling This Life. They make you stop and think— what are the real necessities?


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