Frugal living is often misunderstood. Many people confuse being frugal with being cheap. Let’s try to clarify this once and for all.
For many people the word frugal seems to evoke images of Ebenezer Scrooge hunched over in a big chair rubbing two pennies together. He is wearing those gloves with the fingers missing and he is rocking gently to and fro. He is mumbling bitterly to himself about Bob Cratchit and the Christmas bonus he has the nerve to ask for. He is eating cold soup out of a tin can.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a clear example of someone who is cheap. He is the type of person who will do without basic comforts and buy stuff only because it is ‘cheap’. His love is money and it is this unhealthy relationship with money that controls his behaviours. He is blind to the joy of frugal living.
Frugal living is actually hedonistic and enjoyment driven. Frugal living means knowing what brings you pleasure and making decisions that help you get more of the stuff that you love. Sometimes it takes a while to find out what it actually is that brings one pleasure (there are oh so many distractions in a consumption driven society), but once the frugal-minded person finds it, they have a purpose. They have found their reason for being frugal; the ‘end’ for their their means.
Focus on Value
A frugal person knows that the ‘cheapest price’ does not mean ‘best’. Oftentimes you must pay more up front to get a good quality product, but it will serve you better and longer than an inferior product. As such, it represents better ‘value’ despite the greater up front cost. Frugal shoppers look for the best ‘value’ which is often not the same as the ‘cheapest’.
I will not buy cheap shoes, for example. Cheap shoes are uncomfortable and don’t last. Don’t be surprised if you see a frugal person who runs, stands, or walks a lot wearing excellent quality shoes – you should expect this.
If I remember correctly, Ebeneezer Scrooge wore stinky old boots with numerous holes in them and the soles were missing. This is because he was cheap. He put his love for money before his comfort and footwise enjoyment. ‘Miser’able
Frugal Living Means Putting Those Savings to Good Use – Finding a Balance
So you have developed a frugal mindset that focuses of getting good value for your money. What do you do now? Well after you planned for things like paying off your debts, establishing an emergency fund, your retirement, other long-term goals, etc. focus on things that bring you joy and pleasure. In fact you should be planning for the future and enjoying the things that you love simultaneously. There is a reasonable balance that can be found.
Making Happiness and Enjoyment a Top Priority
Maybe you want to take unpaid days off to sit under a tree and read a good book, maybe you want to travel somewhere, maybe you want to help other people, maybe you want to have the best and latest electronic gadgets, maybe you want to collect PEZ dispensers, maybe you want to invest it for your child’s education, etc. etc. It is up to you to decide how you wish to enjoy your frugal living dividend.
In short, being cheap means being driven by your love for money above all else. Frugal living is focused on seeking value and enjoying more of the things that matter to you most. Call me frugal, but please don’t call me cheap.
Here are some more of my frugal living posts!
What things bring you pleasure in life? What do you enjoy spending your money on?
Author: Jason Milburn Google