Defining Frugality

Defining Frugality

Frugal is a word that I often use to describe our lifestyle.

To our family, living frugally is positive. Many people think of frugality in a negative light, viewing it as deprived or miserly living.

What exactly is frugality? Is it positive or negative?

Here’s a definition:

Frugality- The practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services to achieve a longer term goal. 

This definition of frugality explains our lifestyle in one sentence.

“The practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner”

The first thing that comes to mind when I read this is budgeting. When you are on a budget, you are restraining yourself from excessive and haphazard spending.

We definitely approach goods and services in a restrained manner; shopping is not a hobby for us. We truly evaluate wants versus needs and give in to very few wants.

As far as services are concerned, my husband cuts our boys hair, I never get my hair cut at a salon (my husband will trim it for me or my friend cuts it), and we change our own oil.

“and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services”

Instead of purchasing items the minute we want or need them we will evaluate the things that we already have to see if something else can be used or made into the item that we need.

An example of this, I once needed a bedskirt for our guest bed. Instead of spending $20+ for a new one, I took a queen size flat sheet and made it into a bedskirt for the full bed. Not only is this being frugal, it’s also being conscious of consumption.

“to achieve a longer term goal”

For us longer term goals are the reason we live a frugal life. When we married, we didn’t have much money, but we agreed and started working towards two financial goals. The first was that I will stay home with our children and the second was to own our home and have it paid off in 15 years.

If we didn’t live frugally, it would be very difficult to raise a family on a single income without feeling constantly deprived (we’re content with our 10+ year old cars, our small home and minimal wardrobes). We also wouldn’t have been able to put a significant down payment on our home and only have a 15 year mortgage. Achieving these goals are why we live frugally.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of exactly what frugality is. It is possible to live frugally without being miserly.

Do you agree with this definition of frugality? Do you view frugal living in a positive or negative note? Does this explanation change your opinion of frugality? 

*Definition of frugality from Lifestyle of the Tight and Frugal: Theory and Measurement by John Lastovicka

The Real Reason Behind Our Lifestyle

The Reason Behind Our Lifestyle


This post was originally published  July 1, 2009 on my former site, Frugal and Simple, as part of the Mommy, Come  Home series at Amy’s Finer Things. This was written over 4 years ago, before our oldest was born! Staying home has not been a financial burden for our family since we planned for me to stay home since the beginning of our marriage. 

When my husband and I were planning on getting married, we had several important conversations about finances, our roles in the household and kids. We decided before marriage that when we are blessed with children, I will stay home with them. Both John David and I had mother’s who stayed home when we were small and recognized what an impact that had on shaping us.

We married when we were young, in college, and poor! I was 19, he was 20 and our income was approximately $20,000 a year. Because of such a meager income, we knew before marriage that in order to make it and not go into debt we were going to have to live very frugally. We were okay with hand-me-down furniture from family, shopping for clothing at thrift stores, not going out much and living on a limited grocery budget. It wasn’t always easy, especially in the beginning, but we don’t have any regrets about our lifestyle and know those small sacrifices have gotten us to where we are today.

Since we entered into our marriage knowing that I will stay home with our children, we lived frugally during the next 2 1/2 years. We saved money given to us when we married, income from odd jobs and once John David started working we kept our standard of living the same as it was in college to save! By keeping our standard of living the same and continuing to fine-tune our frugality, we were able to purchase our first affordable home in December 2008 (with a 20% down payment)!

Now we are 22 and 23, own our own home, two paid for (older) cars, have no debt and almost have a fully funded emergency fund. We currently are living off of my husband’s income (less than $35,000). I work limited part time (20-30 hours a month on average). My earnings are not figured into the family budget because we don’t want to rely on my income at all. Currently, my income, after tithes, goes to a car savings fund & our emergency fund!

We don’t have children now but we know that when we have children there will be absolutely no stress about deciding if I should stay home, losing one income or how we are going to make it. We know we will have to make material sacrifices, keep our hand-me down furniture, continue shopping at thrift stores, eat out rarely and stick to a tight grocery budget but it will be worth it because our children will be our wealth!

If you are married without children, it is not too soon to make the decision to stay home. I believe the sooner you make the decision the more prepared and less stressed you will be once you find out you are pregnant or bring your precious baby home and decide then you want to stay home.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Pray!

2. Have an honest, heart-to-heart conversation with your husband and discuss whether staying home is what you both want for your family.

3. Before the kids are born (or as soon as you and your husband decide you are going to stay home with your little ones) begin to adjust your budget to live only off of your husbands income. Use your earnings to pay off debt, build up a nice emergency fund, or pay extra principal towards your home.

4. Keep in mind that all the stuff we want and work so hard for (large homes, new vehicles, designer clothes, the latest and greatest electronic gadgets) do not bring us fulfillment and have no eternal significance. However, children are of eternal significance!! I know there will be days once I have children that I will probably question my sanity about my decision to stay home but I know that once I reach the end of this life, I won’t have any regrets about giving up vacations and new cars to stay home with the children God has given me.

Be sure to visit Amy at The Finer Things in Life for more articles about staying home in her Mommy, Come Home! series.

*This is my story, my personal conviction and my suggestions to help those who feel they are called to be full-time mommies. I do not look down on women who work outside the home at all, I know they are doing what they believe is best for their family.

Tips for Preventing Food Waste

Food Waste
Eating high quality, nutrient dense foods is a major priority for our family.  We value our food and strive to have almost no food waste.

Here are a few tips for preventing food waste:

  1. Plan your meals based upon the foods that you already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry, placing a high priority on creating meals from the foods (like fresh produce) that will soon spoil if not consumed.
  2. Eat your leftovers.
  3. Have leftover makeovers – creating new meals from boring leftovers!
  4. Freeze foods that you don’t think you’ll consume before they spoil.
  5. Divide leftover casseroles and soups into 1 portion servings and freeze. These are wonderful homemade convenience foods that save money!
  6. Share food with friends and family if you purchased more than you can use.
  7. Serve smaller portions, especially to children. If the initial portion is consumed, you can serve more!
  8. Have a clean out the fridge lunch/dinner. Eat remaining leftovers and produce that needs to be used. These type of meals are fun, especially for kids!

Do you have other tips for preventing food waste


Reviving Kids Clothes

Reviving Kids Clothes

I purged and packed away the boys winter clothes and pulled out their spring clothes a few weeks ago.

My 3-year-old’s bin of spring clothes was pretty sparse.

I’ve stopped buying clothes ahead of time since my guessing on sizes has been off in the past. My thoughts are even if I just spend a few dollars on clothing that is never worn, I’m still wasting money!

When friends occassionally give us hand-me-downs, I’ll pick out the things we love and put them in his bin of next size up clothes so we have a few things tucked away for him to grow into.

His bin of spring clothes included 2 pair of hand-me-down shorts, a pair of swimming shorts my mom purchased, his shorts from last summer (which all still fit!) and one button up shirt. There were no t-shirts at all. At this point, most people would think it’s time to go shopping because he needs shirts and honestly, that’s what I thought at first too.

A look through the drawer of clothes he’s currently wearing resulted in more than enough shirts for this spring and hopefully summer (unless he hits a growth spurt). Most of his 24 month and 2T shirts from last summer still fit and a few things just needed a little reviving.

He had a couple shirts from this winter that were layered long sleeve t-shirts. They still fit and were cute shirts that he really likes to wear.

Stained Arms

He had a guitar shirt had cream colored sleeves which were stained from months of being worn by a 2-year-old. (I’ve decided to stop purchasing white/cream colored shirts for my boys, dark colors hide stains so much better!)Short Sleeve Shirt

After a few minutes of cutting the long sleeve arms out of the shirts, he had two ‘new’ t-shirts for this spring that he loves! Plus, we saved money. 

Before heading out to purchase more clothes for your kids, be sure to look at their clothes to see if there are ways you can revive what they have!