What is Frugality and Are We Frugal?
In a comment made to my recent article A Guideline Budget – How Do You Compare? a reader stated that I am not frugal. I agree, We’re not frugal, or at least I don’t consider us frugal. We are on a quest to be more frugal, but we’re not there yet. But then I began to wonder, how will we know when we get there? What is frugal exactly and what defines one as being frugal vs. not being frugal? I then began to wonder, do we really want to be frugal? Hmmmm…
These questions of course kicked in the strong researcher side of me and I looked into what it means to be “Frugal” and what societies view of frugal really is. Lets look at a few definitions and perspectives on Frugality:
Wikipedia defines Frugality as: Frugality (also known as thrift or thriftiness), often confused with cheapness or miserliness, is a traditional value, life style, or belief system, in which individuals practice both restraint in the acquiring of and resourceful use of economic goods and services in order to achieve lasting and more fulfilling goals. In a money-based economy, frugality emphasizes economical use of money in meeting long term personal, familial, and communal desires.
One my favorite frugality blogs, Being Frugal, Lynnae talks about what being frugal really means to her. But in a nutshell, she says being frugal means:
- Living within her means
- Not wasting
She sums it up with: I desire to live a simple life that reflects good stewardship of the resources God has given me. Well said I think and this is what being frugal means to to me as well. It all boils down to good stewardship.
Frugal For Life
Frugal for Life, a blog about frugality says the following about Frugality:
~It is living below your means; living on 80% of your pay instead of 100-110%
~It is being conscious of your spending and making sure it is a need and not a want
~It is giving yourself time to research the best deal so you don’t waste money
~It is seeing treasure in items with as much as you can imagine using your creativity
*It is not living a life you dread waking up to
*It is not thinking that money controls you, but instead you control it
*It is not about what works for you will work for everyone else
FFL’s point are a little more specific and measurable. One that really struck a chord with me was “It is seeing treasure in items with as much as you can imagine using your creativity“. I thought that was pretty unique.
Frugal Village states that Frugality is often associated with unpleasant thoughts and that people like Mr. Scrooge or the 60′s Mom come to mind. They then say this isn’t true, bu that being frugal is really “It is being in control of our money“.
Are We Frugal?
There are literally thousands of pages indexed on Google that describe various perspectives on being frugal, but the perspectives and definitions above really hit the highlights and provide a consistent view of frugality. I am going to analyze our personal finances and values against each of the above perspectives and see how we measure up.
Wikipedia - We practice restraint when acquiring economic goods. We avoid temptation and do a great deal of research and price shopping before buying items. We do these things because they make me feel better about our spending and they help us meet the goals we’ve identified in our financial plan.
Being Frugal - We make every effort to prioritize our spending. We focus a considerable portion of our income to debt repayment, schedule and plan for items or expenses we are going to purchase or incur. We also spend less than we make (live within our means) and we work hard to not waste. I eat leftovers for lunch, we’ve started sharing large meals, we recycle, and look for ways to re-use existing items we already have. My wife is way better at the last one than I am.
We also work diligently to be good stewards of our money and of what we have. Are we perfect? No. Do we do this consistently? No. This isn’t an overnight process and we still have long way to go, but we’ve also come a long way since we started.
According to Being Frugal, we are frugal
Frugal For Life - Since we allocate more than 20% of our pay to debt repayment, we do live on less than 80% of our pay. We budget and manage our spending to insure we are living on less than we earn. We don’t dread waking up, we manage our money instead of it managing us, and we decide what works for us.
According to Frugal for Life, we are frugal.
Frugal Village - Since we budget, spend less than we earn, and account for every penny of our money, I’d say we are very much in control of our money.
According to Frugal Village, we are frugal.
This exercise surprises me honestly. It would seem that based on the definitions of Frugality from four authority sites on Frugality that we are Frugal after all. Are we as frugal as we could be? No, absolutely not. But, each week we are learning and applying that knowledge to making ourselves even more frugal.
It would seem we have indeed crossed the line into frugality. Now that we are there though, we have quit the journey to get where I would like to see us. Will we ever be “super frugal”? No, that’s just not for us. I think once you are frugal, the next step is determining how frugal you want or need to be.
What are your thoughts? Are you frugal? Is so, how frugal are you? If you aren’t, are you trying to be? Where do you miss the mark?