What is frugal? Let’s start with that. For many people the definition that springs to mind is “stingy” or “cheapskate.” Dictionary.com gives us the following definition:
1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.
2. entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty: a frugal meal.
Frugal simply means living within your means, not going above what you can afford, and doing what you can with what you have.
While we still have debt (mortgage, car payments, and student loans), we are slowly working our way out by paying a little extra on everything each month. We don’t use credit cards (we’re still paying on one, but that will be gone in two years max), and have yet to ever get an overdue notice on a bill. We do well. What is taxing is how others hear about out frugality and assume it is something different all together from what it really is.
The wonderful blog Choosing Voluntary Simplicity has a great post about frugality right now that made me think of this exact topic.
I have serious objections to much of the frugal advice that is being offered these days, especially the focus on quick-fix extreme measures. Extreme frugality is like a crash diet… it’s unhealthy and almost impossible to live with long-term… AND it will set up feelings of deprivation that will almost certainly end in a bout of spending. The money that hurt so much to save gets spent impulsively when you can’t stand feeling deprived any longer… and suddenly you’re back to square one. This yo-yo cycle of deprivation/splurging, deprivation/splurging is not LIVING frugally… it’s PLAYING at frugality… and it’s not a good way to live.
Anyone who feels like they know what frugality is, even if you claim to be living it, should read over this post! It’s a wonderful remind in tightening times such as this.