What does it mean to be frugal?
Here’s a definition by Merriam Webster Online:
Frugal – characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources
(…from Latin frugalis virtuous…)
For me being frugal and living frugally is all about the choices I make. It isn’t just saving as much as I can on every little item and never spending money on anything I want.
It’s spending smartly and saving where I can so I then have plenty of cash leftover for the things that are important to me.
Anyone can save money by not spending it. Misers and scrooges pinch their pennies and have a perfectly miserable life to show for it. The frugal life, however, is not just about saving money. It is about making choices to enhance your life.
There are always ways to spend your money – no matter how much you have. You can buy your lunch at work or you can buy groceries to make your lunch to take to work. The frugal person will make her lunch and then save the rest of the money for something else (a vacation, paying off the mortgage early, a spa day as a treat, or a new pre-owned car).
Income tax checks are a great chance to be frugal. You could use the money to put a down payment on a new car or to buy that surround sound system you always wanted. A frugal person will save a portion, pay off any outstanding debts with a portion, and use the rest for a treat that they have desired for a while (maybe a professional hairstylist or a new outfit for business meetings). The money will be used or spent, but it will go towards things that have lasting value. Splurges are allowed, but they are controlled.
Being frugal is about spending money the best way it can be spent. You learn to compare items and opportunities and decide which one is the best choice for you. It requires a willingness to do some research, a boldness to ask questions, and the ability to walk away until another day (or for good).
It takes a special mindset to live a frugal life. You have to understand the bigger picture and be willing to sacrifice a little now in order to gain a lot tomorrow. The trick is that you may not be able to see the gain for some time. It’s a walk of faith that in the end it will be better.
A great way to start on the frugal path is to meet some truly frugal people. They will be the happy people who have no hefty bills weighing them down because they have paid them off. Talk to them about their walk and see if they will help you along your own journey.
Learning to be frugal will help you to save money, but it is not just about the money. A frugal person learns to make the best choice in financial situations so that he can enjoy his life to the fullest.