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Your Take: Why Are You Frugal?

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Frugality has become a very hot topic lately because of the recession. In fact, it became the topic of Chris Farrell’s The New Frugality and one that I think was overlooked for far too long. Despite my Devil’s Advocate post saying that frugality was foolish, I believe the being frugal is exceptionally important, especially if you’re young.

When you’re young, you usually have very little money but a whole lot of time. You’re able to turn that time into money through your work and that’s generally where you make the bulk of your income. As you get older, your savings grow and are able to generate income and, hopefully, generates the bulk of your income. The more you can save when your young, the faster that capital accumulates and you can live off that income. You go from depending on your labor for income to depending on your capital. I’m frugal because I believe my dollars can work on my behalf if I can keep them in my wallet.

The second reason I’m frugal is because there are things I value and things I don’t. For the things I don’t value, I want to pay as little as possible. I don’t pay top dollar for a brand new car, I buy used and off Ebay to get the best deal I can on something reliable. I don’t need a $40,000 or $30,000 or even a $20,000 car (and the car loan that comes with it) because that isn’t important to me. I’m able to save there so that I can spend my money on the things I do care about.

As I’ve often said in the past, my lovely wife and I love to travel and when we do, I pay for quality and value. I don’t spend freely without regard but I certainly budget a large amount for the trip and spend close to it (if not more!). As Greg Karp once said to me, Experiences appreciate, things depreciate, and I fully intend to invest as much as possible in experiences. 🙂

Why are you frugal?

{ 74 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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74 Responses to “Your Take: Why Are You Frugal?”

  1. Elle says:

    Having goals motivates me to be frugal. It’s the other side of the coin that you mention. I deeply care about certain things (like getting a house) that I’m willing to cut or reduce the unimportant things.

    Goals help you prioritize your spending and helps you examine what your really value in life.

  2. Daniel says:

    For me, the simplest and truest answer to ‘why are you frugal’, can be summed up in two words: My Family.

    I can’t even begin to explain how much my financial intelligence grew and how much more frugal I became, once my children entered this world.

  3. Shirley says:

    “Why are you frugal?”

    I agree with all of your reasons for being frugal. I think the main reason I am frugal is because I was raised seeing that as the norm.

    My parents lived through some hard times, as did their parents, and being financially conscious was just a natural way of life for our family. While we definitely have everything we need, we do take a moment to rationalize things we want and their timing.

    This has led us to a very comfortable retirement and I couldn’t be any happier with the whole situation.

  4. cubiclegeoff says:

    I agree generally with your ideas. I’m generally frugal because I want to have a time when I don’t need to work in order to pay bills. I do waste money, like most people, on some things, but I’m conscious of what I spend money on and only spend one what I can afford.

    Partly what drives me also is that my in-laws like to say I’m frugal (what they’re meaning is that they believe I’m cheap, even though I’m not), but then complain about money issues and how my wife and I go on vacations. We can do those things because we are aware of what we spend elsewhere.

  5. Amber says:

    I’m frugal for many reasons. One, it increases my enjoyment of life. I notice this most in restaurants – if I eat at fancy places often, I don’t enjoy them as much as the one special “date night” we do every other month or so to somewhere new, tasty and exciting. I fight lifestyle creep in all areas of my life because it makes what I have that much better and the special treats that much more special.

    I’m frugal because it will create freedom. I have $40k+ in student loans and am working diligently to pay them off. When I’ve done that, I will be obligated to no one, and that will be wonderful.

    The last big reason is that frugality is good for the planet. Reusing, using up, making do or doing without is inherently better for the environment than spending without discretion and throwing out perfectly good stuff. I am the one that takes home my coworkers leftover sandwiches and the extra pizza from the work party – win win win as far as I’m concerned. I reuse bottles and Ziploc bags.

    Plus, I want to take a year-long trip around the world in the next 5 years and I won’t do it by spending frivolously!

  6. WR says:

    I have two reasons:

    1. Opportunity Cost.
    2. It’s fun.

    The Cost of not being frugal is higher than anyone would likely admit.

    For many people (to paraphrase Tobias): “A Dollar spent is 2 dollars earned”. Once taxes and inflation take their piece of your income pie, There is quite a bit less to spend on stuff.

    Simply put, you are either investing in your future or stealing from it. There is no equilibrium.

    Frugality is quite fun.

    I absolutely love to get a bargain. I’ll have to tell you all about how I got a great deal on my tractor.
    One of my favorite things to do in the spring is to go to Estate sales and/or yard sales. You can find some of the most amazing things. Have I told you about my car purchase? The (almost) Brand new Leather Sectional I got from Craigslist for a song. Maybe I’m crazy but I tend to like the things I have alot more just knowing I got it at a bargain.

    Now, everyone’s definition of frugality is different. For me, frugality is simply being smart with your money. I’m not cheap and I rarely buy things because they are cheap. Most times it is quite better to buy a used high quality item for more than a cheaply made new one. I try to apply a total cost of ownership model to anything of value. This helps me get the best deal and may also convince me to just rent the thing instead.

  7. Diasdiem says:

    Necessity. Two years ago my truck finally died on me, and I had to get a new vehicle. This was right around tax time. Because the office manager had screwed up my W-2, I hadn’t been paying enough withholding. Between the down payment for my car and about $2000 in owed taxes, I had about $2000 left in the world, which was about 1-2 month’s expenses at the time. This woke me up and I started keeping track of what I spent my money on and was shocked at how much I was wasting. So now I try to watch how much I spend. I’m not perfect at it, (I still eat out way too often), but I’m making real progress, and I’m planning on having my car paid off in 9 months, which is my only debt.

  8. It’s in the genes. Both parents raised in the great Depression, Mom in an orphanage,Dad barely scraping by on a farm. They knew how to stretch a dollar further than anyone I know… some of that rubbed off… and the idea there is nothing worse than wasting money, food or anything else on God’s green earth.

  9. Jin6655321 says:


    I come from a very materialistic family where it’s believed that happiness = how often you upgrade your luxury car, the sq. footage of your house, the logos on your clothing, etc. They are living WAY above their means.

    I work a low paying job because I LOVE it. I drive a modest Civic, I’m purposefully looking for a place that’s small (why waste money on utility bills to heat up space I don’t need?), and, gasp!, I don’t have a single Louis Vuitton bag, real or fake! Oh whoa is me! I must be sooooo miserable with my awesome credit score, cushy emergency fund, my retirement savings and my zero debt!

    My mom worries about me. Just because I don’t wear my wealth she thinks I’m penniless, toiling away at a minimum wage job, miserable. I’m like, “You know what makes ME happy? Being able to sleep at night not worrying about how I’m going to pay the bills. Not having to FREAK OUT when something comes up because I have money saved to take care of it.”

    • WR says:


      I have friends and family just like that. I hear the “You have SO much money, why don’t you buy a bigger house/ newer car”.

      This is advice coming from someone who drives a 2010 Mercedes, Lives in a 4500 Sq ft McMansion (way underwater) and lives paycheck to paycheck.
      All I see are the same 4 wheels that I have and way too much space to furnish, clean, heat and cool.

      uh, no thanks 🙂


    • Shirley says:

      I love your story… you are one smart rebel-rowser!

  10. Martha says:

    I like being frugal since it gives me the feeling that “I’ve got a good deal.” This makes me appreciate the things that I have purchased even more! For example, I was super excited to get a 4 Star hotel using Priceline for only $75/night ($90/night after taxes and fees) in Miami! When staying there I wasn’t too upset that the room didn’t have a minifrig since we were paying so little in comparison to others around us… Being frugal is fun and I enjoy being able to spend the money I’ve saved on other things such as yummy Cuban pastries!

    • echidnina says:

      Yeah! I’m frugal for some things in order to be able to splurge on other things. If I don’t eat out very often, I can treat myself to a new pair of shoes (or whatever) with the money I’ve saved.

  11. jsbrendog says:

    “I don’t need a $40,000 or $30,000 or even a $20,000 car (and the car loan that comes with it) because that isn’t important to me. I’m able to save there so that I can spend my money on the things I do care about.”

    this. i feel the same way. Even if i really want somethig of value and am willing to pay for it I will do my homework and wait and find it at the best price. Plus, in my research sometimes i even find something comparable or better for a better price/deal.

    “Experiences appreciate, things depreciate, and I fully intend to invest as much as possible in experiences. ”

    This too. I will gladly eat a peanut butter sandwich every day for lunch at work and be able to go to all the concerts I want to see or go on two vacations. Cheap used 4 door car with good gas mileage? boom, more chances to travel around the northeast. it is all about weighing what you want out of life. Experiences are what make us who we are and give us our personality.

  12. The Rat says:

    I’m frugal because it allows me to park more of my hard-earned dollars towards creating an income stream and retirement purposes. Also, by being frugal, I don’t mind splurging a bit more when my wife and I go on vacation together. It ends up being a more satisfying too!

    Nice post

  13. ziglet19 says:

    I am frugal so that I can focus on the things that are important to me, being with my family. With my furst baby on the way, my husband and I have spent the last few years trying to pay off everything and make sure we have enough in savings so that we have some flexability about whether I have to work or not. So, like a lot of people, being frugal = freedom to me to do the things I want, not the things I have too.

  14. Shirley says:

    Once something that was so special becomes commonplace, it isn’t special anymore. Self-satisfaction and experiences are two things that should always be special and be worth frugality in order to have.

  15. WR says:


    You hit the nail on the head. Things don’t make us happy, experiences do.

    Some of the best experiences in life are free (or near-free).

  16. Fred says:

    I’m frugal because one day I want to have the *option* to start my own business, or retire early, or work a lower-paying job. I never want to have my standard of living dictate what I need to do tomorrow – I’d rather let bigger life goals dictate that.

  17. Peter says:

    I’m frugal on the things I don’t care about (like cars and furniture), and not as frugal on some other things that we enjoy like travel. Overall, however, we like to be frugal so that we can save up for our future, and so that we can give more and help others as well!

  18. Sheila says:

    I’m frugal for these main reasons:

    1. I grew up pretty poor.
    2. I started working (babysitting) at about age 12 where I started understanding the value of a dollar.
    3. I think frugality can also be a form of being environmentally conscious. When I can reuse and repurpose I save money plus help the environment.

  19. I am frugal because its just the way I am. I have a very strong sense of want vs. needs. I understand that I don’t want to pay too much for things that I want, just what I need. But then again there are things, like you said where I enjoy a lot and hence I want to get the best. We too like to travel and when we do travel we like to do it well.

    Great blog by the way. I just found it!

  20. Patrick says:

    My frugality motivator: FREEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOM

  21. Austin says:

    A very nice post. Here’s why I like being frugal:

    1. As you rightly mentioned, I like to save so that I can spend on things I care.

    2. It’s easier to save.

    3. Being frugal helps me save for a rainy day plus helps me build a good savings that I can invest so that money makes money.

  22. saladdin says:



    • echidnina says:

      Could you elaborate?

      • saladdin says:

        As I read all these comments they can be summed up as “fear.” I’m no different.

        Fear of dying broke.
        Fear of working my whole life for nothing.
        Fear of getting taken advantage of.
        Fear of ending up like parents.
        Fear of others thinking we make bad money decisions.
        Fear of ending up making $7.25 in a factory.

        Of course some will read this and say they don’t have “fear” when in fact fear drives all of us.


    • Shirley says:

      Sometimes a healthy fear comes from knowledge, logic, or aforethought. Having followed your comments, I would imagine that yours is concerned with all three. Not at all a bad thing as long as it is not all-consuming.

  23. echidnina says:

    I am a mad bargain-hunter… If I can help it, I try not to buy anything at full price. Once I realized that you didn’t HAVE to pay full retail $ for things, it became a game for me. How cheap can I find this printer ink/coat/set of knives/item I need? Then it becomes all about the ‘thrill of the chase’, so to speak.
    Saving money can be a rush! And then you have that money left over to put towards savings or things that you want.

  24. govenar says:

    I think the reason I use coupons is that it’s like a game, trying to get the best deal, even though it only saves a few dollars and probably isn’t worth the time on a purely financial basis.

    • Shirley says:

      The rewards game! For a year or so my Discover CC had Staples as a cashback bonus where $20 was worth a $40 certificate at Staples where I bought computer related items. I would buy the needed item on sale there with the certificate and the price of that item would go on my Staples Rewards total for another quarterly bonus. That was a fun game while it lasted!

  25. daenyll says:

    I’d say my parents… I watched my mother self destruct on debt(more than once), and my father burn out working 2-3 jobs at times trying to dig out after their divorce. I won’t say I haven’t made mistakes but I learned from them and I got thru school on as little in fed loans as I could get away with, no CC debt, started a IRA early, and save a good part of my meager PT pay both in school and now while I’m looking for a well paying full time career position. I am not interested in having the bigest, best, shiney new toys but would rather have the means to live comfortably without having others controlling my choices.

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