Finance Magazine

What Does Frugality Mean?

By Kathleen O'Malley @frugalportland

“I’m moving next weekend,” a coworker told me several weeks ago, explaining how hectic things were around her house. “But,” she started, “we’re hiring movers. I guess that’s not very frugal, is it?”

I paused before responding. “No,” I replied, “I think that’s as frugal as you want it to be. To me,” I continued, “frugality is about options. You save enough money, you stay out of debt, then you can decide exactly where your money goes.”

What does frugality mean?
I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. What does frugality mean? Is it always deciding not to buy something? Does it mean choosing the absolute cheapest thing every time you do end up buying something?

I don’t think so.

Anna’s tagline says it best: “saving where we can so we can spend where we want.”

Perfect. You save where you can (and eliminate the things you don’t care about) and you spend consciously on the things you do care about. Or, if you fall in love with someone, you compromise and spend money on the things he cares about too. Like the top-of-the-line cable package.

I live a frugal life, and for me, I can define frugality as the mentality that puts savings first and spends consciously on the rest. Nothing is off limits, as long as it’s conscious.

My frugal life includes:

  • Vacations (though the more we can travel hack those to get free or discounted airfare, the better)
  • Dinners out (getting points on the credit card)
  • Occasional indulgences such as pedicures with girlfriends or lunches out for a special treat
  • A fun wedding
  • A Roomba AND a Vitamix
  • A pet, even though he is trying his hardest to be even more expensive than a puppy mill pet store dog
  • Organic vegetables and humanely-raised meat (this is Portland, after all)
  • A gym membership (with the stipulation that when I stop going, I stop my membership)
  • Hanging out with friends (which is very often dinner at our house or theirs)
  • Saving 50% of my income
  • Owning less

Paula says you can afford anything you want, but you can’t afford everything. What a great mentality. We have finite resources (unless Warren Buffet is reading this, then hello good sir!) and most of us are trading our time for money (except you, Mr. Buffet sir!).

Why not make the most out of it?

I added my tagline to this website earlier this month, in what I’ve promised myself would be the last design update this year.

Save more. Spend consciously. Take Control.

What does frugality mean to you?


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