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

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