Frugal Living Doesn’t Mean Depriving Yourself

by Mike

If You Think Frugal Living Is All About Depriving Yourself Of Things You Enjoy, You’re Doing It Wrong!

Frugal is the new black.  You hear that phrase everywhere you go these days, don’t you?

And with good reason.  The recession that popped the housing bubble and put millions of people out of work and into foreclosure gave Americans a new appreciation for the benefits of frugal living. After years of spending more than they can afford, they finally realized that they had to change their ways.   People are paying down debt, cutting up credit cards, and saving money at levels that haven’t been seen in years.

But are some people taking this new found frugality too far?   As a personal finance blogger I spend a good deal of time reading other blogs and poking around forums and sometimes I’m surprised at some of the money saving tips I read.  People suggest things like reusing coffee filters, cutting Post-It notes in half, and splitting two-ply toilet paper.

Really?  This is how you choose to spend your time?

Saving Money Is Like Dieting

Imagine two people who are both trying to lose weight.  One decides to put herself on a starvation diet and eat nothing but rice cakes and water.  The other plans out her meals carefully and eats a healthy amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains while keeping unhealthy snacks to a minimum.

Who do you think is more likely to be successful?

Well, in the short term the one on the rice cake and water diet will probably see quicker results.  She may lose the first few pounds almost immediately and get off to a quick head start over the sensible dieter.

But how long can she maintain that kind of diet?  How long before she splurges and devours two pizzas, a gallon of Pepsi, and a chocolate cheesecake all by herself?

Meanwhile the sensible dieter can plug along happily because she understands that by making smart diet choices, and eating healthy as a rule, she can occasionally treat herself to something naughty without the world coming to an end.

In financial terms, some people go too far in trying to cut their expenses and before long they feel like they are depriving themselves.  It isn’t easy to live like that.  I doubt most people can last very long if they constantly feel deprived.

To me, frugal living is about finding a happy middle ground where you can make smart decisions and save money without feeling as if you are depriving yourself of everything you enjoy

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


That’s true man. Some people take frugality too far. You gotta enjoy life a little too, no?


Miss T

I totally agree. Balance is the key. We cut back on things like personal care and cleaning products and make our own. We also grow a huge garden in the summer to cut back on groceries. We do however like to spend money on traveling. Really, frugality is about cutting back on the things that don’t matter to you and enjoying the things that do.
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I totally agree! Although I have no debt except for a small mortgage, I live rather frugally. We go out for dinner every week, but spend relatively little. Today, I took advantage of a restaurant .com promotion and bought a $25 certificate for $3.50. I don’t think we can cook for two for so little! Normally, we frequent restaurants that I earn miles, or participate in a frequent diner program.
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There is a line between frugality and cheap. As long as you know where the line is you’ll be fine.

Instead of cutting post-it notes, I’d get a small erasable board!
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Finanzas Personales

Mike, I think the point of frugality is enjoying life and understanding what are those things on which you want to spend your hard earned money. Being frugal, for me at least, is the same as being an efficient spender. You determine what really adds value to your life and devote your budget to it. As you say, it’s not about radical cuts and not spending a dollar… it’s about doing it wisely.
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Brad @ backlinking

How true. I save as much as I can and after a while you don’t notice any differnce. What I mean is I make my own bread now and granted I am not saving millions, but I am saving. But with that I make my own pizza crust and from time to time noodles. I also make jerky and do alot of cooking. Eating out is now a super treat and enjoy it. I feel I don’t live poorly at all.
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Barb Friedberg

ABsolutely, Be moderate and your life will be awesome. You put it very well. Also, spend on the activities and things that give YOU the most pleasure. (that’s why I drive a 1998 model car)!
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Elisabeth Donati

In this day and age where everyone seems to want everything, the idea of frugal living is even more important. I totally agree it’s about finding balance. Living and enjoying today while recognizing that you may be around for another 50 years is critical if you want to make sure you have money to live on then.



It is true that like dieting you can go too far on your saving money ideas. I believe that if you plan and understand what your limits are you will be fine. The key is to minimize your expenses and maximize your revenue.


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