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When you think about the word “frugal”, what comes to mind?
Thrifty, maybe? Perhaps cheap?
When I think about frugality, and when I tell people I’m frugal, what I’m saying is that I spend my money intentionally. I know where my priorities lie, and my finances and spending habits align with my future goals.
Frugality isn’t all about clipping coupons, finding discounts, etc. It’s about being conscious of how you spend your money. It doesn’t mean attending every doorbuster sale or getting 10 copies of the Sunday newspaper to get $10 off 20 cans of $3 beans. Honestly, I don’t know the first thing about couponing or where to get the best deal on groceries (Is it Sam’s Club? Costco? Who knows??).
How can I even call myself frugal then? Simple; if I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. That goes for groceries and clothes as much as fancy rims for my [not-so-fancy] ride.
Today, I’m passing the mic to other bloggers. These posts encompass what frugality means to me, along with some tips to help you live more with less. I hope you’ll get as much value from them as I did.
Liz (aka Mrs. Frugalwoods) is SUCH a gifted storyteller. I have to be very deliberate about when I visit her blog because I will get caught up and find myself skipping from post to post reading her family’s entire frugal story.
I could probably choose any one of the blog posts at Frugalwoods to include on this list because they’re all that good, but I chose this one for two reasons in particular: 1) It’s a great example of the importance of having similar life goals and using money to achieve them, and 2) I love that Liz talks about how frugality is NOT just about clipping coupons or finding the best discounts. Spending less on a bunch of crap is no better than spending a lot on a few things!
This post, in particular, details how Liz and Nate have enjoyed nine years of a successful, happy marriage with frugality as a common denominator. Of course, that’s not all they share. Another key factor Liz discusses is having the same long-term goals. In their case, that means living a life “freed from the constraints and stressors of urban life and 9 to 5 office work,” which translated to owning their own rural homestead.
I simply can’t do it justice. Check out the post (and maybe browse around the blog) for the entire heartwarming, inspirational story!
Jim’s not talking about your daily Starbucks latte in this list of very NONfrugal habits. This post is about the mindset and willpower of resisting daily temptations and being aware enough of your thoughts and external stimuli to say no when it’s needed.
Also, if you think frugal people always buy cheap, let Jim tell you why you’re wrong.
The Diderot Effect (also mentioned in Jim’s article above on Wallet Hacks, so you know it’s important) is a social phenomenon where people purchase things that are complementary (e.g. purchasing a new pair of jeans and then later purchasing a shirt to match). I don’t know if Kristin actually intended this one to be a “frugal living” post (there’s also a video, in case you were curious), but it covers something suuuuuper important that everyone should be aware of, frugal or not, and that is marketing.
Around 3:40 in the video, Kristin mentions being aware of how you’re marketed to and how stores and brands try to sell you on lifestyle, not just an item. It’s easy to fall victim to this and end up purchasing items you don’t need because you’re told they’ll have a certain effect or produce a certain outcome (e.g. a dining table for 10 people) even though they don’t match your current lifestyle.
The first step in changing your behaviors is recognizing what causes them and in many cases, it’s because you’ve fallen victim to really crafty marketing tactics.
If you’re single, dating can be daunting not just in terms of meeting new people, but in the sense that dating is expensive. Even if you’re not single, [I believe] it’s important to set aside time at least once a week for quality company with your partner. But if you’re on a budget, you might not feel like that’s an option.
That’s why Anna put together this awesome list of fun and spunky frugal date ideas. They may not all be of interest or accessible to you (for example, trapeze classes may not be offered in your city), but with a list of 98 ideas, there’s bound to be something for you!
There are a lot of posts out there on the subject of frugality vs. minimalism, but I think J.D. Roth sums it up nicely. Many think the two are the same, but as you’ll read, even though they may coincide, they can also be vastly different.
I consider myself a frugal minimalist. I don’t own many things and that’s the way I like it. When I purchase something (which isn’t often, save for groceries and absolute necessities), I always try to find the best deal. However, I’m also willing to spend more money if it means keeping things simple.
If you’re not following the difference, read this gem and you’ll see what I mean.
Yes, yes, yessss!!! I love this post by Andrea of Frugally Sustainable. It just goes to show again that frugality isn’t all about clipping coupons and bargain hunting.
You can live a perfectly happy and frugal life simply by focusing on the things you have rather than those you don’t, like improving the health of your body, mind, and spirit.
As Shannyn puts it, not all frugality is created equally. Amen! Like Shannyn, I don’t blog about couponing or other conventional topics you may expect from a frugal living blog. That’s because frugal living is different for everyone. There’s no wrong or right way to live a frugal lifestyle; it depends on what fits your style and your current situation.
This post highlights a few of the times when trying to be “frugal” may actually cost you more in the long run. Watch out – it may change your whole perspective on frugality!
Many people think the terms “frugal” and “cheap” are synonymous. I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly fond of this connection. To me, being frugal means being intentional with your money, whereas being cheap makes me think tacky or poor quality. This guest post by Ashley over at The Frugal Model clears up some common misconceptions here and highlights some important distinctions between these two terms.
(That’s me. #Shameless)
Sometimes we take frugality too far, and it ends up costing us more money, having a negative effect on our health, or taking enough time to render our efforts completely worthless.
This post is about 4 things I’ve learned from experience that are totally worth the extra upfront cost, at least for me.
This is incredibly impressive to me. I consider myself pretty dang frugal, but groceries are admittedly my weak point. I rarely eat out, but I don’t do a great job of putting together cheap meals at home. Lydia at Thrifty Frugal Mom has an entire series where she shows her readers exactly how she feeds her family of SIX on a little over $200 a month. That’s almost less than I spend on just myself per month!
She includes a meal plan and links to some of her awesome frugal recipes. If you don’t believe me, check out her recipe for her Best Ever Chocolate Cake (I have a chocolate problem that I’d like to share with you).
Now that you have a good idea of what frugal living is (and what it isn’t), let’s top it off with a hefty list of frugal habits you can adopt today! This article talks about the benefits of being frugal and outlines 50 actionable tips for cutting expenses and living a happy frugal life.
You’re on a roll with this new frugal living/less is more thing – don’t stop now! For more inspiration, check out some of my personal favorites on minimizing and living more with less:
This book is more about minimalism than frugality (which we’ve already established are not the same thing). However, it’s a truly great, dare I say life changing read. It’s about Joshua Becker and his family’s journey to minimalism. His story is super relatable, and there are many great insights about the constraints of consumerism and learning to embrace a simpler life.
Author Francine Jay shares her STREAMLINE method for decluttering any space – a system anyone can follow. Similarly to other popular reads like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Jay discusses the philosophies behind living with less and delivers a well-tailored, systematic approach to simplifying your space.
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence
The message of this book is extremely powerful. Vicki Robin encourages readers to think about purchases in terms of time or life spent rather than just a dollar amount. When you learn to think this way, you really start to question the things you buy. She covers getting out of debt, decluttering and living on less, and so much more!
As you hopefully now see, being frugal is NOT the same as being cheap, nor is it the same as being a minimalist (although you can be both). Living frugally is different for everyone, but it’s safe to say that most of us frugal folk value a free and happy life over cheap thrills.
What does frugality mean to you? How do you lead a happy frugal life?
I’m a financial coach and author + owner of Goodbye to Broke. I love all things personal finance, money management, and healthy living. And I talk to my dog way too much, if we’re being honest.