When you hear the word “frugal” what do you think of? What does being frugal mean to you? Does it strike a particular image in your head? Do you conjure up a binder of coupons? Being frugal means different things to different people. So what does being frugal mean and does it really mean that you have to completely alter your lifestyle? Well, yes and no. Just because you’re making the decision to be frugal, doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice everything that you already have. Part of being frugal, to me, means coming to appreciate what you already have instead of constantly wanting things that you don’t have.
What does it mean to be frugal?
Being frugal, for many, is as much of a mindset as it is a lifestyle. For some, it may be an intentional step that they’re taking in life and for others, it may be a necessary step that they’re taking in life. You may start living a frugal life to save money or you may start living a frugal life because of an unexpected pay cut or loss in income.
Whatever the case may be, becoming frugal is not usually how one intends to start their life.
But why is that? Why wouldn’t someone want to become a frugal person from the beginning?
To some, being frugal means that you’re being cheap or that you’re being a miser. Or a tightwad… or a penny pincher. And while others may have this misconception, that’s not the case at all.
Some people equate “frugal” with “cheap.” This is by no means the case. With “cheap” you get what you pay for, which is nothing. That is still wasting money. It’s the same as if you had paid full price. Frugal means searching for another way to do something or get a service that is of comparable quality but costs less.
Being frugal means that you’re being resourceful with the money that you have and that you’re being mindful and intentional with what you do with your money.
Let’s look at how Miriam Webster defines being frugal:
: careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to : using money or supplies in a very careful way
Get the best deals that you can on all things in every area of your life. There is nothing shameful or wrong about that. Companies offer deals to earn your business. So, let them work for your favor and let yourself enjoy the ride. You may even find that frugal living is teaching you how to look at life in the long term instead of just the here and now.
Think of it this way. Someone that pays full price because they have the money is not considering the financial ramification of doing so. If you can get a new wheelchair for $500 outright but $250 by using Medicare or looking into your private insurance, why not do it? It’s a little more legwork, but the savings can be put towards something else.
Do you like to travel? Even in a recession or if you need to tighten the financial belt, you can still travel. What has changed or is trying to change here is your mindset. Have you seen the commercials for places like Travelocity? You can stay in four-star hotels and eat in fancy restaurants by taking advantage of travel deals.
Living frugally does take some research. Look at exactly what you are getting with some of the discounts and deals that are offered for travel, clothing purchases, rental cars, dining out and supplementing your income. It may take some time to organize your coupons and to find those coupons. But your efforts will certainly pay off in the long run.
Do the kids want money for weekends with friends? Hold a yard sale. They learn how to organize, decide what is good and what is not for sale, sell products to neighbors, friends and strangers and also how to value a dollar. You get a cleaner home and they get the cash for a job well done.
So what else does being frugal mean?
It also means that you’re making a long term commitment to this lifestyle.
What does being frugal mean to you?