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Living frugally has been my way of life pretty much my whole life. It has surprised me that living frugally has become popular in recent years. My (now adult) children have described me as a “skinflint” — which I usually felt was a compliment! Living frugally is a lifestyle which in prior generations, people did out of necessity. When the “Great Depression” occurred, many families and individuals learned how to cut corners, and how to barter to get things they needed. I think it is wonderful that people now are deliberately learning some of these skills! There are tremendous benefits to living frugally, not the least of which is the ability to withstand hard times that come upon us unexpectedly.
Living frugally means we eliminate (or preferably, never acquire) anything that is not necessary to maintain a healthy, simple life. It does NOT mean we eliminate all comfort or pleasure, but we are careful to limit the amount of “stuff” we bring into our homes, or even consume elsewhere. It doesn’t HAVE to, but to me, it also means cooking healthy meals for our families, enjoying activities together, and living with very little clutter! It may mean we grow our own vegetables or even meat (rabbits or chicken, for example), but only if we actually have the space to do that. It also usually means we recycle and re-purpose whatever we can. It may mean preserving our own food for later use. It is not JUST living as cheaply as possible — it is a lifestyle choice. However, it also requires vigilance to maintain.
At this point, it would be simple to give suggestions about HOW one goes about living frugally, but perhaps it would be better to discuss WHY one might consider living frugally.
Some obvious TEMPORARY reasons for living frugally are strictly financial. For example, someone may be unemployed, or working at a job that doesn’t pay well, or it may be that the family has gotten into debt, and now is trying to remedy that situation. OR, possibly, the family wants to save for something in the future.
There are, however, a number of PERMANENT reasons to live frugally. Financial reasons still apply, especially if there are circumstances that require it, like a permanent disability or retirement. Even if finances do not require it, living frugally can be a choice that is made in order to enhance the quality of life. We all have a tendency to hoard — whether in a hobby interest, or family heirlooms, electronic gadgets, tools, collections of one sort or another, possibly Christmas decorations — whatever it is, we find ourselves having to find ways to store more “stuff” (I’ll refrain from calling it “junk” — though it feels like junk when it becomes overwhelming) than we have room for.
Why would one CHOOSE to live frugally? I believe it is a more satisfying life if we live frugally. Certainly being financially less stressed is a good thing. Living frugally means less stuff — and less “stuff” reduces clutter – causing less stress. Cleaning will be far simpler with less “stuff” around. And, frankly, it is less depressing if we know we can get prepared for company in matter of minutes rather than hours! A quick trip around the house, wiping down counters, cleaning the bathroom, and putting a few things away, possibly a quick vacuum, and the house or apartment is ready for company! So different than having to clean every room from top to bottom, trying to figure out which closet has enough space in it to hide the clutter until after the guests leave! SOOOOO much easier to organize a weekly cleaning schedule if every room doesn’t take HOURS to get presentable for company! And yes, I am speaking from experience! I’ve lived frugally financially all my life, but not always clutter-free!
There is a learning curve if you are just starting to think about or just getting used to trying to live more frugally, because one of the things you will probably have to do is determine what you can financially justify spending in various categories in your life. (See earlier post about financial freedom for more details on this.)
For me, one of the biggest reasons to live frugally is so that we can invest some finances in charities that we support. Whether that be missions or a local food bank, there are plenty of people who need our support. If we are able to live frugally within our income, then we will hopefully have more income than necessary, thus having the ability to give generously, and still keep money set aside for the unexpected emergencies that invariably come our way.
Many of my earlier posts have touched, in one way or another, on living frugally. This trend will no doubt continue. Eventually, I may do more writing on this subject, because it is one I am passionate about.