What It Really Means To Be Frugal

The word ‘frugal’ has different connotations to different people. Some see it as smart spending while others worry it can lead to the scarcity mindset. Like anything, being frugal needs to be balanced. It doesn’t mean depriving yourself of essential food or health services – its purpose is to actually ensure you have enough of what you need without going overboard. It is about being more mindful of your spending and being happier with the things you do have – rather than falling prey to impulse buying, eating out for convenience, and retail therapy.

I’m the first one to admit I’m not a natural budgeter. My Zodiac sign is a Leo – and I don’t subscribe to horoscopes at all, but I find it funny how ‘Leos’ are notorious for being big spenders and lovers of luxury. It took me a little longer to commit to being frugal. Particularly because I had some financially hard years in the past, when I did finally have some stability, it felt like it was my right to treat myself by eating out, have frequent hair salon visits, go on monthly clothes buying trips, etc. I don’t regret those days, because in many ways, I think I needed them – it was a true yuppy lifestyle and I can say I’ve lived it. Now I can appreciate the importance of living for the present while planning for the future. While I want to enjoy life as much as I can while I’m young with few obligations, I also want to make choices today that will benefit the future me, too.

I’ve also learned that enjoying life is less about having new things and more about enjoying the everyday things and views all around you. I believe in the mentality of building a life you don’t need a vacation from – and I’ve lived that for most of my 30’s. I treat myself to day trips and hikes often enough to feed my wanderlust. That’s not to say I don’t want to travel later on, but there’s so much to do in my immediate area (which is why I moved here) that I don’t need to spend a lot to have fun.

Cooking more at home is probably one of the BEST ways to save money. Eating out will drain your account so quickly – it’s not hard to spend $100 within just 3 or 4 days when you’re getting takeout. For that same amount, you could have meals at home for a week or so.

Living frugal isn’t about depriving yourself. If I feel like a latte when I’m out running errands, I’ll get it – I just don’t go out and get one everyday. If I’m craving tacos or a burger, I’ll get those once or twice that week. If I really want a new dress that’s affordable, I’ll grab it. You can treat yourself to things you really want as long as they go within your budget that month.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that frugality isn’t necessarily a “scarcity mindset”. If anything it allows you to enjoy more of everyday life while saving for the future. Rather than wasting money only on the here and now, you’re saving some to enjoy more of life later, too. Once debt it paid off, you can build savings and take an amazing trip, get the hair style you always wanted, have a luxury spa day, put it toward a house, etc. – the sky’s the limit when you reach your savings goals.

I used to think a budget would feel so limiting – it can be hard to look at your money as something you need to manage at first, but honestly, organization has a way of freeing up more of your life. It’s empowering to see how much money you could actually save if you put your mind to it.

Man, I’ve really become a budgeter now. ๐Ÿ™‚ Better late than never!

Have you been sticking to a budget this year? Do you plan to budget more?

20 comments

  1. I have an acquaintance who is an icon of frugality. He goes to Cuzco to have a meal on the samples. When we would go for lunch together at work, he would ask for a dollar burrito ( there use to be such thing) , then feast on the free spices.

  2. I can’t say I have a budget but I do things like limiting how much I eat out and buy coffee. I am frugal in some aspects of my life and others I splurge.

  3. Iโ€™m a Leo and I love being frugal. Iโ€™m not a big spender but can be if I need to be but choose not to be ๐Ÿ˜ My advice to anyone choosing this frugality lifestyle is to have emergency savings and avoid living paycheck to paycheck if possible.

    I still eat out but I try to keep things cheap if I do. My husband takes it to the extreme where he orders water at every place he goes to (heโ€™s a Leo and doesnโ€™t fit the big spender description either). And like the person who commented above, he loves free Costco samples too ๐Ÿ˜ I find that the samples arenโ€™t enough to make a meal out of it though ๐Ÿ˜‚

    • That’s so awesome you’re also a frugal Leo. ๐Ÿ˜› I think that’s very good advice to not live pay cheque to pau cheque. You feel so much more peace when you have some cushioning. I think when we’re budgeting well week to week, we can feel less guilty when do make a splurge, such as buying a new summer wardrobe! Hehe.

      • Thatโ€™s a good point! Iโ€™ve needed a new wardrobe for the past 2 years. My hoodies now have holes in them. Iโ€™m wearing one with a hole in it right now but Iโ€™m at home today, so Iโ€™m not trying to impress anyone ๐Ÿ˜‚ I need new clothes but holding off buying them until Iโ€™m the size I want to be. I canโ€™t use the baby weight as an excuse anymore.

        An emergency fund is different for different ppl. For me, itโ€™s having 18 months of savings in case we lose our jobs or something. Or a furnace breaks down. ๐Ÿ™„

      • My lowest point was when I owed my parents 2K and only had $200 in my bank account. I tried selling supplements in university but quickly learned it was more of a recruiting job than a selling job. ๐Ÿ™„ When I got a โ€œrealโ€ job I slaved away (overtime, weekends) until I had 24K within a span of 7 months. I banked everything and I was working at a factory LOL The job itself doesnโ€™t matter. Anyone can save $$$ It all starts with saving a % of every paycheck!

        $1000 is huge and that is a good goal! I know you can do it ๐Ÿ™‚ Idk where you live but I live in Canada. Cost of living is high here so I try to live below my means.

      • That’s so darn true. I love to hear of your experience and I’m glad you’ve been able to save. It goes to show that it isn’t that hard. โค Thank you, Hilary, I may take out a second job just to get ahead a little bit, but eventually I want to be able to super save with just one job. ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. A budget isn’t the end of life – it’s the end of always being short of money. I’ve not heard the term yuppy lifestyle for yeeeears! ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. I agree that just because one is trying to be wise with their spending, it doesn’t mean that they have a “lack” mindset. It’s smart to save and stay on a budget. Many people live outside of their means when they could be saving more and spending less. Today the Federal Reserve approved an interest hike, so it looks like those that overspend on their credit cards will have to think twice before charging it on their plastic vs. not buying it if they simply don’t have the actual cash for monetary items they could most likely live without.

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