Why be frugal?

By glblguy

Photo by: mugley

This is a guest post by Steward from My Family’s Money, a blog about personal finance and changing the world. Like this post? Consider subscribing to his feed via RSS or email.

There is a lot of buzz on the World Wide Web about the the topic of frugality. There is a frugal this and frugal that. The word “frugal” returns over 7,000,000 results on a simple Google search. That is cooler than the Dali Lama, Pat Sajak, David Hasselhof, and Barret Oliver combined! Now that’s pretty cool. Heck, there is even an alliterative carnival completely devoted to the topic in the personal finance world – and I love alliterations. For all the tips and tricks out there on the Internet I think that one very important question needs to get a little more love from the frugal public. That is, why be frugal?

I’m sure everyone will answer this question differently and have a variety of reasons for doing so. I like to think of all the possible reasons for doing a thing as fitting somewhere on this continuum:

Alright Reason –> Good Reason –> Better Reason –> Best (True) Reason

I am certain that most of the reasons that people live frugally are good, but I have a sinking suspicion that many don’t give much thought to the better and best reasons for living a frugal life. We spend so much of our life dealing with the day in and day out that we forget to elevate our thinking and find the true reason we do something. Once we find that true reason, we find our resolve and energy to go about our task, no matter how difficult. So here are three better reasons to live a frugal life:

  1. Being frugal ensures that your real needs are met. When you aren’t concerned with consuming and having the latest doohickey you are freed to make sure you have sufficient food on the table and proper shelter for you and your family, and with these you become content. Satisfying your wants only leads to wanting more while satisfying your needs leaves you feeling satisfied and content. How would you rather feel?
  2. Being frugal lets you give more time to causes you care about. Frugality that seeks to be content with the necessities (as opposed to the frugality that wants to get things that you don’t need on the cheap) will free up an individual’s time for other pursuits. With that time you can keep a lonely widow company, be a big brother to an orphan, feed the homeless stranger, or visit those in prison – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are funds to be raised and miles to be walked for countless charities. There are children who need things from help with homework and reading to a fun, safe place to hang out after school. Even animals could use some of your tender love and care. There is a lot out there to do, and being frugal helps you do it.
  3. Being frugal lets you give more money to those that need it. Sometimes there are places that we cannot go to help those in need. Distance, circumstances, or both prevent us from impacting a person with our physical presence. But our money can go anywhere. For a little more than a dollar a day we can have a lasting impact on the education and nutrition of one child from the millions that grow up in countries less fortunate than our own. We can supply clean drinking water to hundreds with our collective change. We can provide simple medical procedures that would have otherwise been totally unavailable to an individual, greatly improving their quality of life.

We can do all this by being frugal (and by living debt free as well). Making conscious choices as to what we do with our money can effect not only your life and that of your family but also the lives of countless people the world over if you decide that money is a tool to improve the lives of others. The good reasons to be frugal will not sustain you through hard times, but these better reasons and the best reason will. Be frugal, but be frugal for the right reasons.

From Glblguy: Are you frugal? If so why? Not frugal? Why not? Add a comment!

12 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Why be frugal?”

  1. Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net Says:

    You know I’m frugal! Or I try to be.

    The reason I’m frugal is that I want to make the best use of what God has given me. And I think all three of Steward’s points are covered in that. :)

  2. Deamiter Says:

    What about bad reasons? Why7 did your continuum stop at “alright”?

    I can think of a few bad reasons — like being frugal to make your spouse feel bad whenever they purchase something, or to save up money to get revenge on the judge who threw out your lawsuit.

    Just saying… frugal isn’t all good!

  3. Steward Says:

    @ Deamiter – You are definitely right that there are many bad reasons to want to be frugal. I left them out because most people either don’t think their reason is bad or they are so self-deceived that they think they are actually being frugal for a good reason! Take the spouse example you mentioned, the bad frugal may think they are just trying to make sure the family has what it needs but is instead putting money above people and using it as leverage against their spouse to vent some hidden resentment. This is obviously no good and must be eradicated with extreme prejudice, but it hides very well under the guise of an alright, good, or even a better reason.

    The only way I know to combat these hidden reasons is complete honesty and full disclosure. If we are honest with ourselves and others these types of things will come to light and we can deal with them.

  4. Carolyn Says:

    This is a great article. Thank you for writing it. I posted a little more of my thoughts on my blog at ivyleaguehomemaker.blogspot.com.

  5. Heather Says:

    Thanks for this post. It is easy to defend
    being frugal with lots of other reasons. I feel that you
    gave very honest reasons why we should be frugal.
    For me, I am trying to live the frugal life to
    help our family to get out of a large amount of
    credit card debt. Instead of spending our $ on
    useless things, I know that I am spending $ more

  6. Philip Brewer Says:

    I’ve long thought of voluntary simplicity as an essentially hedonistic lifestyle. By refraining from spending money one area (where it gives you modest amounts of pleasure), you’re able to spend more money another area (where it gives you maximum pleasure).

    We all get pleasure from things, from experiences, and from helping others. Frugality just means that you get more pleasure per dollar than other people.

  7. Gina Says:

    This is a great article. Really challenges you to “think seriously” about why you want to be frugal. I agree that once you get the best reason it does become easier to do.

    As a fan of Dave Ramsey, I am frugal because I want to “change my family tree.” Learning better money management and becoming frugal will do just that. And I will be able to give it to those in need sooner rather than later. THAT is ALWAYS fun!