What IS Frugality?

I talk a LOT about frugal living over at this site.  I mean, it makes sense, seeing as the name of this blog is Simple Life of a FRUGAL wife.  But what IS frugality?

what is frugality

Frugal living, tightwad, cheapskate, miserly, poor – I think sometimes we mix up the meanings of these various terms when it comes to finances and what we do with them.

Why is it important to know exactly what is frugality anyways?  Well, because I believe frugal living can help you achieve your financial goals, but if you consider frugal living to be a life of constant deprivation, more than likely you aren’t going to sign up to live that way.

I don’t blame you.  Most people wouldn’t.

I tip my hat off to some of those extreme cheapskates (as long as they aren’t cheating anyone), but most of us aren’t cut out for a lifetime of living that way.

Listen, I grew up poor.  As in stuff-toilet-paper-in-your-pockets-at-school-to-have-some-at-home-cause-you-ran-out-and-can’t-afford-to-buy-more kind of poor.

But I didn’t grow up in a frugal household.

Yes, you can be poor AND frugal, but just because you are one doesn’t mean you are the other.  You can be poor and not frugal, and you can be frugal and not poor. Heck, you can be a millionaire and be frugal.  And I don’t think anyone of us would argue that you can definitely be a millionaire and NOT frugal. That last one is a given.


Frugality is not a dollar amount.

Frugality really has to do with how you manage your money, how resourceful you are, and how you try to be less wasteful and make do with what you have.

It means that when something breaks, before running out to buy a new one, you see if you can fix the current one, or find a second hand one for a cheaper price, or you learn to make do without it until you can pay cash for it.

It DEFINITELY means living within your means, NOT pulling out your credit card because you want something.

It means learning to be happy with living with less.

Yes, a frugal person spends less than the average person, but it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy life at all.  it also doesn’t mean they don’t spend on anything but necessities.


We all have things that are important to us and that is going to look different for everyone.  Most people who live a frugal life will tell you that they are frugal in one area of their life so they have enough money in another.  So, for example, our family loves to take trips when we can.  As a little girl my family couldn’t really afford to go anywhere and I always dreamed of being able to take my family on trips to make memories.

So we make a way.  We set up a tent or use budget sites to book hotels, or go visit others who have so graciously opened their cottage up to us for free.  We make our own food.  We go during off-season.  We find deals and coupons.

And we scrimp on other things all year long so that we CAN do that.  We buy almost EVERYTHING secondhand, from clothes to dishes, to furniture.  We don’t overdo it at Christmas. We shop the budget stores for groceries and make almost everything from scratch.  And this year, we canned as much food as humanly possible so we could save even more on groceries.

what is frugality
Part of our personal frugal lifestyle means making most our meals from scratch and preserving food to save on groceries.

For you and your family, maybe trips aren’t a priority.  Maybe it is creating an environment at home to build those lasting memories, like buying a pool, or a recreational vehicle like an ATV, or some horses.  Or maybe you are the type that prefers to invest your money into extra-curriculars for your children.  Or maybe you are the house on the street that likes to throw big neighborhood parties because you love the sense of community.

When you live frugally you don’t have to say goodbye to those things.  What you do need to do is to save wisely for those items you wish to obtain so you do not go into debt for them.

Save for that vacation.

Don’t put that pool on the credit card.

Don’t take a line of credit out to fund those extra-curriculars.

And hunt around for deals.  Be willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort to keep what you want within your budget.  That means maybe getting the pool one size down from what you originally wanted.  Or camping instead of staying at a hotel.  Or putting your child in a recreational league instead of a competitive league.

Frugal living doesn’t mean giving up all you love.  It is a lifestyle that actually gives you freedom to do more of what you love by sacrificing some of the things that aren’t as important.

Now when we want to take a trip, we save beforehand.  Sometimes it can take us longer than a year to save for a vacation that is less than a week long.  But there is no feeling like the feeling of coming home from your trip knowing that you have it all paid for.

Frugal living is a lifestyle that can add so much value to your life.  Just because you are frugal doesn’t mean you are miserly, or a tightwad.  Yes, you can cross the line, which I talk about in my post HERE about extreme frugality.  But most people who embrace the frugal life don’t live that way.  They make memories with their families, they eat well on a budget, they give to causes that are near and dear to their heart, and they enjoy the occasional splurge.

So, you may be wondering how to get started with thrifty living.  If you have wanted to know how to live frugally, but aren’t sure how to begin, be sure to check out my post with 80 frugal living tips and ideas.

Related: No-Spend Month Challenge

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