The word frugal is not a one-dimensional word that can be easily summed up with meaning to a crowd. Frugality is tiered; very much a multidimensional connotation yet leaves a bad taste in many mouths. As money is personal due to the emotions it drums up in any individual, so it goes with frugalness. When one hears the word frugal, it can instantly be summed up as deprivation, cheapskate, thriftiness, penny pincher, miserly, and several more descriptions of such a powerful word.
Levels of Frugalness
It is a powerful word because those who choose to be frugal find it makes a very powerful impact in their lifestyle and financial picture. Yet for each person, they will have their own philosophy behind the actions they consider frugal. Each individual also has a plateau on the many tiers of frugalness. That plateau is their personal bottom line of where they are not willing to go in the name of saving a dime. That plateau flat lines in which an individual just considers way too extreme, wild and plum too crazy to even consider.
Ironically, there is also a top tiered threshold where things start to get into gray matter depending on an individual’s ethics and what they consider ethical or not. Of course this is all determined based on their own personal life experiences, culture and upbringing. We each have our own drum beat that we tend to follow and this is a main reason you will see a variety of ideas and thoughts on what being frugal is or things folks can do in order to save their money. The one thing that I believe helps solidify a personal philosophy of frugalness is the goal behind why it is you are seeking to be frugal in the first place.
Examples of Frugal People
With your goal in mind, how strong of a motivator does it hold for you and how bad do you truly want to achieve it? Is it in fact a goal or are life circumstances making it a necessity? What would you be willing to do all in the name of frugalness? Could you see yourself living with NO money as Adin the No Money Guy , Daniel Suelo who lived in a tear dropped cave and dumpster dived, or even Heidi Marie who has lived for 16 years without any money. Now that by most would be considered quite extreme yet by looking at folks like these, we may be able to glean a few things about how they live in order to apply it to our lives in lesser extremes.
Freegans and extreme couponers are becoming common names as well that lessons could be taken from in our own personal search of how we want to implement frugal measures. These are not people I would consider cheapskates, yet simply people who have learned to live off of others’ throw-outs and other innovative ways to get by without a dime, each having their own very personal reasons for doing so.
When you hear of people using cloth towels for toilet paper, or using 2-ply toilet paper to roll into two rolls, using outhouses or composting toilets, or foraging for food what do you initially think? Yet in many of these circumstances they hold no debt, many retain jobs, enjoy their lives, and own their homes and cars outright. So are they truly crazy or outright genius?
While I am not suggesting anyone go to these extremes, I am suggesting your review your own personal philosophy regarding being frugal and find your comfort zone that works for you. As with anything, there will always be extreme sides to everything and yet even if we can not see ourselves perhaps going to such extremes, we can pull lessons from them that will work for us. Most of us, most likely will choose to implement easier frugal decisions that we personally find painless ways to save.
Do you consider yourself frugal? Why? What do you do to be frugal? Would you consider yourself extreme? What is your motivation?
Carrie Hetu is not a financial expert, but has been passionate about finances since the age of 19 years old when a neighbor introduced her to taxes. From that time, she has made a point to increase her financial literacy into areas of frugal living, investing, real estate, budgeting and passive income. She currently blogs at Poor to Rich a Day at a Time and Simply Homeschooled.