Sorta Frugal

By glblguy


I was listening to Frugal Coast to Coast last Monday evening. The show was about becoming frugal. Lynnae and Jenn shared their various frugal tips and suggestions and people in the chat room did as well. I found it very interesting to observe people’s levels of “frugalness”.

Some people, like Lynnae and Jenn, I would consider very frugal. Others say they’re frugal but only practice a very few tips and seem to ebb and flow when it comes to being frugal. The concept of “being frugal” seems to be a very personal and is definitely not a one shoe fits all definition.

While I’ve evaluated my level of frugality in the past, the Frugal Coast to Coast conversation caused me to do another frugal self evaluation. I wondered whether I was really frugal or not, and if so at what level.

Sorta Frugal

I wouldn’t by any means say I am very frugal, nor would I say I’m not frugal at all. I think I’m sorta frugal. Here are just a few examples of where I consider myself frugal:

Here are a few examples of where I consider myself not frugal:

Anyway, I think you get the idea. I am sure I could sit here and list examples on both sides of the frugal fence for hours, but I think the examples above show how we’re frugal in some areas but not in others. I find it very interesting to listen and read about different peoples frugal and not so frugal practices. Doing so makes me realize that being frugal isn’t a set line in the sand, yet more of a very personal set of choices. I also think being frugal is very relevant. For example, compared to Lynnae and Jenn am I frugal? No, probably not. Compared to others though, I am very very frugal.

How about you? Are you frugal? Where are you frugal and were are you not so frugal? Add a comment.

Photo by: andyjakeman

26 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Sorta Frugal”

  1. DDFD Says:

    Frugal is frugal. It’s okay to be frugal in degrees. You need to go with your own comfort levels. There are frugal radicals out there that use alternatives to such things as toilet paper. Personally, that’s beyond my comfort level.

    BTW, going with expensive dress shoes can be extremely frugal if you buy classic styles, and maintain and rotate them. I have about four pairs that I have been wearing better than 10 years.

    Great post!

  2. Dan Says:

    There is a difference between being furgal and being cheap. Take your shoes. You could buy cheap shoes which would wear out within a year or two, or you could be good shoes which will last a very long time. Being frugal is all about maximizing the value of your time and money, and it probably turns out that buying the better shoes is more frugal than the cheap ones.

    My family is very frugal about food (my wife is an awesome shopper, and we hardly ever eat out without coupons), vehicles, clothes, furniture (buy good quality estate items if you want to have great furniture at about 1/5 the cost of new), and entertainment (few nights out, no vacation in the past 3 years).

    Alas, we have to be frugal because of the crushing debt we (mostly I) incurred before our frugal ways. Once we’re out of the debt, we will continue to be frugal and use the extra money for investing and giving to the church and to those who need it.

  3. Kristen Says:

    I think I’m in the middle of the frugality scale too.

    I am definitely believe in buying high-quality clothes. I’ve found that some of the less expensive, yet popular, stores sell clothing that barely lasts a season. I have $80 sweaters that I’ve been wearing for 10+ years and are still in good shape versus a $19 sweater from Old Navy that started to really wear after five months. To me the more expensive sweater was the more frugal investment. I’m also good at buying off-season from the more expensive stores when clothes are being sold at a huge discount.

  4. Kristen Says:

    I think I’m in the middle of the frugality scale too.

    I definitely believe in buying high-quality clothes. I’ve found that some of the less expensive, yet popular, stores sell clothing that barely lasts a season. I have $80 sweaters that I’ve been wearing for 10+ years and are still in good shape versus a $19 sweater from Old Navy that started to really wear after five months. To me the more expensive sweater was the more frugal investment. I’m also good at buying off-season from the more expensive stores when clothes are being sold at a huge discount.

  5. DDFD Says:

    Here is a followup to my earlier comment that ties in with Dan’s and Kristen’s comments.

    This is taken from a post I did a few months ago:

    “As an example, I buy more expensive classically styled shoes (close to $300 per pair) and wear them for 10-12 years with one or two decent resole/heel jobs ($45 each job). I also have more than one pair so that I don’t wear the same pair twice in a row””they need time to dry out between wearings. I used to know a guy who would buy one pair of shoes ($100), and wear them for a year. At the end of the year the shoes looked like they should have been retired three month earlier, but we will use a year in the example that follows.

    – I spend $600 on two pairs of shoes.
    – In four years, I get both resoled and heeled $90
    – Four years later, I have both resoled and heeled again $90
    – In year 12, it’s time for new shoes.
    – I spent $780 for comfortable, quality shoes that didn’t look cheap.

    My friend spent $100 twelve times for a total of $1,200.00 or $420.00 more than me. Who is more frugal and who is just cheap?”

    Here is a link to the full post:

    The bottomline is frugality goes beyond first impressions of what is frugal and what isn’t.

  6. Lynnae Says:

    I’m with DDFD, in that I’d probably consider your shoes a frugal purchase. Better to buy high quality shoes that last forever than cheap shoes you need to replace in 3 months.

    As far as clothes go, I try to buy high quality, classic pieces on sale, even though that’s more expensive than buying the cheap clothes at regular price. They last longer and look better. But if I’m buying something trendy? I go cheap, because it will wear out right about the time it goes out of style.

    I’d consider you pretty frugal. But then I have Starbucks coffee in my refrigerator, too. :)

  7. Lynnae Says:

    Argh! And I forgot to say thanks for mentioning Frugal Coast2Coast!

  8. Travis Says:

    I’d consider myself sorta frugal. The biggest part of that is that I don’t have a single credit card and never have. My wife doesn’t either. I also don’t buy clothes unless they’re on sale at a really good price.

    I’m not frugal in that I eat out a lot. Its hard for us to get that under control because we both work and have long commutes. So fixing dinner isn’t always an option.

  9. Diane Says:

    I know some people devote their lives to being frugal, but I think most would fall into the mid-range. I know I do. I’m with you on buying quality shoes and clothes and simply buying less – or less often – especially if you wait for the quality items to go on sale, which I do.

    I also like quality in certain functional items that are important to me, and I’m willing to pay for it.

    For example, I do my own dog grooming. I once had multiple dogs to groom, but now just one English Cocker, which does require a good bit of grooming. I just orderd a $90 pair of thinning shears, which was cheapest I could find this brand (range from $90-$160!).

    They are the best I’ve ever found in 35 years & I used the last pair for the past 20 years – less than $5 per year – I’d say they are worth it! They save lots of time because they do a much better, quicker job of removing hair efficiently. Why buy a $20 pair and replace them every couple of years when you can buy the best and it will do a better job AND last much longer?

    Sometimes buying cheaper is just not frugal…

  10. Nicki at Domestic Cents Says:

    I’m pretty frugal. That’s what my life demands right now, so I try to be a good steward of what I have. Like everyone has said, frugal does not equal cheap. I would even go as far as to argue there are plenty of times when cheap is wasteful. It comes down to making the best use of what you have.

  11. dawn Says:

    I’m generally very frugal (drive a 10-yr-old car, line-dry my clothes, resuse plastic baggies, etc) but i will spend money to buy quality durable goods, such as electronics or appliances.

    I try not to spend carelessly and try also to make things i already have last as long as possible.

  12. Christy Says:

    Another mid-frugal girl here. :)

    From one Starbucks fiend to another, you can do that frugally (despite what all the people who mock the prices say). We have the Starbucks Duetto visa and put all of our monthly expenses that we can on it. Every month you get 5% of everything you put on the card back to spend in the store. So we average about 6-8 free coffees a month. I haven’t paid for a Starbucks coffee in years.

  13. Christy Says:

    Sorry – typo. That should read **1%** not 5%.

    They aren’t THAT generous. ;)

  14. Personal Finance Ology Says:

    I’d say your are frugal, and so I am. The only problem I see is the coffee. You should maybe drop that but then again you have to have some pleasures. I don’t think you need 2 SUV’s, one should do the trick. You could get a mid-sized car for the other and be just fine.

    Making your own laundry detergent is borderline extreme frugality.

  15. how to manage personal finance Says:

    Great post.

    I can completely relate to this notion of “Sorta Frugal.” My wife and I have our favorites.

    We LOVE to eat at really nice restaurants, but I can’t manage to buy a box of cereal for more than a couple of bucks! :)

    Funny, isn’t it.

  16. Pastor Judith Says:

    Being frugal is not a contest! It’s not: “I’m more frugal than you are,” or “You’re more frugal than I.”
    I think being frugal begins in being grateful to God for what we have, and committing ourselves to gain and use our resources wisely.

    And God does NOT take a dim view of pleasure! It’s really okay to like good coffee! It’s His creation and he made it for your pleasure! The Biblical model, I think, is that of fasting days, normal days, and feasting days; God intends them all in their season. And it’s like the 6 days of creation, on which He worked/we work, with the 7th day for rest and celebration.

    In being frugal, we shouldn’t let ourselves become so ego-tied and never let ourselves relax and rejoice in what we’ve been given and worked for. We believe that God gave it to us, not that we guiltily snatched it from Him! The key is our heart of stewardship and our heart for Him.

    Thanks for the blog. I’m new here (came through Being Frugal’s link) and I appreciate your letting me comment. God bless!

  17. Liane Says:

    New to your blog, too:
    I think I’m a middler as well. I usually buy store brand groceries at a significant savings every week (I think a $150 grocery bill for a family of four including a two teenagers is not too bad – I’m striving to make it lower). We never ever waste food and I think someone who is frugal has a keen eye for quality. Cheaper items are usually not meant to last – they’re meant to be replaced. I bought a pair of Dexter leather clogs on sale about 12 years ago and there is absolutely no wear on the soles at all. I just touch up the leather with shoe polish a few times a year. The best pair of shoes ever!
    I did do the cloth diapers when my kids were small. They were in diapers at the same time and we were a one-income family then. It definitely helped. And, I just started making my own powdered laundry detergent, and I have to say, I think it gets the clothes cleaner than the store-bought kinds and because I have the ingredients on hand, I don’t have to waste gas by running out for detergent whenever it unexpectedly gets low (again, I have two teenagers).
    I think that being frugal is merely striving to be a good steward with the money that the Lord has so generously provided for us.

  18. DDFD at Says:


    I like your use of the expression, “Middler”.

    As to your comment on not wasting food, I thought of that a step further. If you buy the cheapest stuff and nobody eats it, it gets wasted. The money saved is overshadowed by the money wasted. I look for less expensive substitutes al the time, but I balance it with will it be used . . . we all need to watch out for what I call, “false economies”

  19. Funny about Money Says:

    I think I’m right about where you are…except I don’t drink Starbucks coffee. Not out of frugality, but because I don’t care for it much, so maybe that one doesn’t count. ;-) To make up for it, though, I buy top-quality coffee beans at an overpriced grocery store and brew my own. Cheaper than Starbucks, and ever so much mellower.

    Tho’ I don’t have a timer on the shower, I do have them on all the outdoor hose bibs. Love ’em!

    And I very much agree that you get what you pay for. Buying a cheap pair of shoes that wear out in a year is penny-wise and pound-foolish: my shoes and also the clothes that I probably spend too much on last for quite a few years. On the other hand, if you don’t have $150 to drop on a pair of shoes, you don’t have much choice and shouldn’t feel unwise to opt for the cheaper pair.

  20. lulugal11 Says:

    Your post has been featured in the Frugal Frauds Revealed post. Please come and check it out.

  21. That Frugal Girl Says:

    I am a big frugal person! I don’t believe in being a cheap skate and always having to have a coupon for something but it’s nice to save every week with coupons, scour the web for deals, and use online promo codes when shopping online. I love saving money and i believe a lot of people can benefit from doing some research on store sales, price matching, using coupons, etc. :)