You've likely heard the words frugal and frugality. Maybe you've also associated them with the word "cheap." While there's an aspect of minimizing expenses that goes along with being frugal, we need to stop with the negative connotations. But then what exactly does it mean to be frugal? And should you adopt a frugal lifestyle?
What does it mean to be frugal?
A lot of people think “frugal” just means “cheap.” They think of those extreme coupon savings shows where people bought 10 cans of tuna for $1 (shows that had to have been heavily staged by producers due to the store rules that were bent or just flat out broken). They think of the other tv shows with people saving ketchup packets instead of buying a bottle, and then those same people sharing one toothbrush (eewww). But that's not it, either.
Being frugal is all about not being wasteful in use or spending. Being frugal means you're efficient with your dollars and with saving. It's being mindful of how much you spend, and on what.
What does frugal living look like?
Frugal living means that you don't waste food, and you recognize that sometimes a cheaper brand might be just as good as the name brand. It's checking to see if you can fix something, rather than just throwing it in the trash and buying a new one. It's sticking to a budget, and it's being purposeful with how you spend your money in general.
Does THAT sound familiar? Honestly, if you ask me, frugal just sounds... smart.
Living a frugal lifestyle means you think about using your resources efficiently and minimizing unnecessary expenses.
It's likely that you already use your resources wisely, at least to some degree. This is an important part of frugal living.
What frugal living is not
Frugal living is not about being cheap or living a life where you always feel deprived. In fact, it's the quite the opposite - it's about finding joy in the simple things and being content with what you have.
Frugal living is also not about depriving yourself of things that bring you joy. It's about finding ways to enjoy life without spending a lot of money. For example, instead of going out to eat at a fancy restaurant, you might cook a nice meal at home. Instead of buying expensive clothes, you might take a look at discount stores like Target, or the outlet mall, or even check out thrift stores. Instead of spending $1,000 on a new couch, you might check out a used one in great condition on one of those person-to-person marketplace websites, like OfferUp.
One of the biggest misconceptions about frugal living is that it is only for people who are struggling financially. While it can be a necessity if you have a lower income or are going through a hardship, it's something that people of any income can do! Just think of how much you could save toward your child's college fund, or a replacement vehicle, or a family vacation if you were more purposeful when it comes to your daily money choices.
Frugal living is a lifestyle choice that can benefit anyone, regardless of their financial situation and the size of their income. It can help you save money, reduce your environmental footprint, and lead a more fulfilling life.
At this point, you're probably asking, "is frugal living right for me?"
The answer really depends on your own values, your lifestyle, and your financial situation. If you're looking for a more sustainable and mindful way of living, frugal living might just be right for you.
How do I start making frugal choices?
To start living frugally, start by taking a look at your spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back. You can also start thinking about how much resources you use, and come up with some ways to reduce your environmental footprint. For instance, are you eating out twice a week? Start to cut that back to once a week, or even every other week. Are you using a lot of disposable items, and purchasing them often? Could you swap out your plastic zip-top sandwich bags for a set of reusable ones that could last as long as, or even longer than three or four boxes of the disposables? How long would it take for you to come out ahead on reusables?
Additionally, you can start finding ways to enjoy life without spending a lot of money. Are there coupons or discounts for certain days or times for activities the kids love, like the roller skating rink? Could you take a soccer ball with you to a nearby park, have a home-packed picnic and kick the ball around? How about renting a movie online or at one of those kiosks instead of going to a full-price theater?
In summary, frugal living is a lifestyle choice that emphasizes efficient use of resources and minimizing unnecessary expenses. It's not about being cheap or feeling deprived, but about being mindful of your resources and making the most of what you have. It can be for anyone, regardless of how much money you make, and it can help you save money, reduce your environmental footprint, and lead a very happy life.