Despite the fact that I write for a blog all about frugal living, I have a confession: Being frugal doesn’t always come easily for me.
My husband re-uses plastic bags, turns down thermostats, drinks water, calculates gas mileage, delays purchases, takes quick showers, and wears his shoes until they are literally falling apart. Pinching pennies is second nature to him.
Me? Not so much. Sure, I like to dig in the dirt and bake my own bread and paint my own walls. But I also like good Americanos and REI catalogs and hot showers.
Because I love my husband and hate debt, I made the decision to embrace the frugal lifestyle over 10 years ago. I’m like a home economics major who had to take an accounting class. Unlike some of you though (Katy over at The Non-Consumer Advocate comes to mind), it doesn’t come naturally. I have to really focus on being thrifty.
Is it hard? At times. Is it worth it? Without a doubt.
To help me stay on track, these are three things I remember on a regular basis:
1. By being frugal in one area, I can afford to splurge in another. If you look up the word “frugal” in the dictionary, it will list synonyms such as sparing, skimpy, meager, and miserly. Ugh, no thanks. I prefer this list: careful, thrifty, wise, and economical.
I work hard to creatively save money on groceries, home decor, or clothing. The bonus is that my savings roll into other things like our travel fund. Or something really exciting, like new tires for the van.
2. Saving money is worth more than replacing that income. As you well know, one of the biggest arguments people use against couponing is some version of “25¢ off isn’t worth my time.” However, a penny saved is actually worth more than a penny earned. Those dimes and dollars do add up and make a difference.
As a stay-at-home-mom, this is huge for me. I miss depositing a paycheck into our bank account. However, I am realizing more every year that finding good deals, saving money, and being a good homemaker are huge contributions to my family’s finances, not to mention quality of life. Talk about empowering!
Check out these short, clear articles for more information on this topic:
- Save More vs. Earn More by My Money Blog – The “spend $1 less or earn $2 more” is a simple phrase to keep in mind the next time Starbucks is calling your name.
- A Penny Saved is Worth More Than a Penny Earned by cashmoneylife – I love comment #19 on this post; it’s a great perspective shift.
3. Spending less is a choice. It is so easy to drop $2.99 here and $14.99 there on unnecessary purchases or great deals. It could be in the Target clearance sections or New Seasons deli or online offer (free shipping!). I catch myself tossing these things into the cart all the time, only to put them back on the shelf or return them to the store later.
Remember? I’m totally into instant gratification and often have to talk myself down from making purchases that are not in the best interest of my family’s budget. It’s 60% off! It’s cute! It would be perfect for _______!
In the grand scheme of life though, today’s impulse buy or great deal is not worth sacrificing tomorrow’s financial peace.
Leave a comment! Is frugality second nature or a learned lifestyle for you?
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I see being frugal as saving in one area so I’m able to do something in another area that I love (like travel). Also have really been thinking about how savings from coupons or thrift store items are more than they seem because we’re not paying taxes on that savings. So….if I’m saving $10 by buying an item at a garage sale, I’m really saving $10 PLUS the amount I would have had to earn for taxes to pay to the government. That really adds up over a year.
I’m into my 60s now, and have called myself “frugal” for longer than I can remember–and long before that word became so chic. I lived comfortably but spent most of my income taking care of a wife and 5 kids. I saved some on the side, invested wisely, and now that I am widowed and retired, I think I have more than enough to live on the rest of my life. I work part-time only because I choose to, and still am true to myself by buying things on sale and only if I really want or need it. I have zero debt and rarely buy clothes or frivolous things, although I did splurge in 2011 and buy a new car.
I was raised to be very frugal as my dad went many years with out working and we had to be. My mom taught me how to comparison shop before I was even a teenager. I always look for the best deal, use generic brands for most things and NEVER impulse buy, thanks to some advice from a friend who once told me if you really want something, think about if for a few days. If you are still thinking about it after a week, go buy it. Most times I forget about it with in a few hours. However, I did miss out on a great pair of shoes because I thought about it for months, tried them on several times, and then when I decided I wanted them, they were gone. (I kicked myself because they were on clearance that whole time!). The other big thing I do when trying to decide if I really want/need something is to think about how many hours I had to work to earn enough money to purchase it. I work really hard for that money, so it frequently stops me right in my tracks!
Yes. This exactly
I like that being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean denying yourself the things you love (half-caff mocha-soy chai latte anyone? Yeah, I’ve never liked coffee.)…it’s the ability to have those things while going neener-neener to everyone else who is paying more for the exact same thing! It’s like I’m in a really cool, exclusive club or something. I could also say that my husband had to close his business due to the recession and he’s now a stay at home dad and being frugal has literally kept a roof over our heads, but that doesn’t sound as fun.
I think it IS Way more fun than say being homeless, or anxious all the time because you are living beyond your means & have no idea how you are going to make the payments:-) Those things to me don’t sound at all fun.
The other huge benefit is modeling for your children contentment with what you have (I know fairly foreign concept to Americans).
Here is a great piece of advice I heard recently to help in the area of contentment & to teach our children:
compare Down (ie to the majority of the world), not Up.
I am constantly trying to find ways of being frugal. It’s not that we don’t have the money to buy this or that ( which that doesn’t mean we always do have it either! ) but why pay full price for something that you can get for 1/2 the price? Or in this case less…. We dropped our cable service completely now. I bought Roku boxes which work on your wireless internet to bring you nextflix, hulu and many, many, many more channels. I pay $7.99 a month each for Netflix and Hulu and nothing for any other channels that I have chosen. We can watch just about any show we already watched and some of the newer ones too. You can even watch the news through the Roku. 🙂
Alicia Adams says
Who do you have internet through? I am thinking about dropping Comcast completely because we are paying well over $118 a mo for cable/internet/phone.
Frontier. Faster speed and cheaper. My husband works from home and is happy with the service.
We used to have the whole package with Comcast. Now I have Internet only. They gave us a basic box that allows on demand of a few channels and we get 2 thru 15 I think, for free. They also gave me HBO free for a year. Then I purchased a OOMA box for phone. It was less then 100 I think 2 years ago. I pay 4.25 a month for home phone. You just pay the taxes for your local area! We have Netflix and Hulu and Amazon prime video. So.. 75 a month and miss nothing. … In fact, I uses to have to pay more for DVR but most things stream so why pay more! The roku boxes are great too, but we stream thru Xbox as you no longer need live account to access TV. I am thinking of dropping Netflix but the kids like the anime selection better there and winter is coming
I have internet from Comcast. It’s okay, I guess. Instead of cable, I use rabbit ears, the old fashioned way! I get the basic stations, a couple of PBS and home shopping. I only watch the basic stations, and sometimes the stations that show the shows from the 50’s. I love finding ways to be frugal.
I think frugality is a learned lifestyle in any case…because spending too much money is way too easy in our environment 🙂 I found a solution to satisfy both my desire for new things and my intention to be frugal: bartering. I swap clothes, books, even services at barterquest.com. Last time I “paid” the babysitter with an old pair of designer shoes I no longer wear. It’s perfect.
Mary Jane says
I am a skinflint, but somethings I just say no to used underwear, used bras, etc. Also I tip well at restaurants and if the food or the restroom is dirty I call the manager over pay the bill and I don’t leave a tip…I won’t pay for food that is cold, dirty, dirty implements, dirty bathrooms yukkkkkkkk…but I ususally tip well over 20 percent cause we only go to places they pay the people to constantly clean and they are all college students and working to get thru school and work many hours for practically nothing in wages, washington state is a right to work state and they take it in my opinion very cheap for people to serve in restaurants and work in retail too..so I tip well I mean after they graduate and have some money they are going to keep our economy going by dining out a win win situation, I was young once, worked in dining places and we got tips because it was worked into the prices of the fine dining and it helped pay most of my books, etc..the owner I learned more from him than many jobs post college than anyother jobs I had and a happy server is a happy employee, but this was the country of california up in the pacific northwest esp. Oegon they don’t think that way and have double digit unemployment and it looks like it will be that for a good long while, nice place to visit but with no jobs who would really really want to live there, not I said the spy as that saying goes…..Washington state also has 180 school days and they pay for their public education differently than Oregon, they pay more for prisons in Oregon than Washington state, that is a big clue of what the legislature thinks of pubic education over public prisons, pretty locations, beaches, but no work…no no no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just a thought….. although you tip well on the norm., when the food is cold, the bathroom is dirty or some such, aren’t you holding the server accountable for things that are outside his/her area of service? Yes, he/she carries the food out to you, but they are not cooking it. And personally, if my server had to also keep the restrooms clean during the same shift, I wouldn’t eat there. I have been in the food service industry for over 20 years. I just wanted to point out that the message is better sent to the manager and left there, or allowing the manager to take part or all of the bill, not to penalize the server who is doing thier job correctly. 🙂