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Roads that lead to frugality

By on April 16, 2010

Frugal living is different for everyone. It’s interesting to know what starts people on the frugal path. Some people stumble onto frugality by accident, have had a specific experience, such as unemployment, that pushed them into frugality, or were born with a natural tendency to waste less.

If you live a frugal lifestyle, tell me what made you start. Here are a few additional reasons people find frugality.

BORN INTO IT: Many people are raised by frugal parents and have never lived any other way. Siebrie from The Netherlands learned the value of money and earning it as a child. “My parents were poor — not dirt poor, but they had to watch the pennies, and there wasn’t room for many extras. We did go on a camping holiday each year, because they thought the experience was more important than anything else they could give us,” she says. “If I wanted anything extra, I had to earn the money. Not by doing chores for them because they could not afford to hire me, but by babysitting, cleaning and newspaper rounds for others.”

ASSIMILATION: Some spendthrifts marry a frugal spouse. They might have been unaware of how their choices impacted their lives. Or they were reluctant to change their overspending ways for years, but then something clicked and they hopped onto the frugal wagon.

LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE: Some people find frugality because they divorce, transition from a career to being an at-home parent, or have a loss of income or medical bills. They might start out thinking they’ll be frugal temporarily until their finances improve, but it becomes a way of life that they are happy with.

PREPARATION FOR THE FUTURE: The economic downturn was a wakeup call for many, so they’re paring down to have a backup plan because they can no longer say confidently that unemployment can’t or won’t ever happen to them.

WORK TOWARD GOALS: Frugality is often a way to save money for goals such as building a home, vacations, paying for a wedding, being debt-free or saving for college for their children. Another reader, Lora from New Jersey, is saving for early retirement. “I realized if I were frugal I wouldn’t have to go to work anymore,” she says. “I read a line in the Tightwad Gazette book that said, “I buy my freedom with my frugality,” and a light bulb went off in my head. I thought, I can do that, and have never regretted the choice I made.”

SIMPLICITY: Having a deep desire to slow things down and do the least possible damage to the planet often goes hand in hand with frugality. It’s not only penny-pinching. Frugal living helps you make the best use of your resources and allows you to live a purposeful, priority-driven life while wasting less.

photo by asha susan


  1. Carla

    4/20/2010 at 11:21 am

    I was born into it, although I am frugal in areas where my parents are not, and not frugal in areas where they are. I inherited the mindset, but with my own habits. We were not poor growing up, my parents just don’t believe in waste. My father taught us early on that wealth building was more important than appearing wealthy.

  2. Suzanne R.

    4/21/2010 at 2:40 am

    I found frugality through a different avenue. I am a creature of comfort and would like to have it all, but reality says I have finite resources and must live within my means. So for me it’s always been a bit of a game to see just how far I can stretch a dollar, and how well I can shop and/or live. To me, being frugal is being smart about how you handle your money and other resources so you can enjoy the things that are really important to you.

  3. Monroe on a Budget

    4/21/2010 at 7:16 am

    I was raised in a family of seven children. Coupons and camping trips are among the ways that my parents could afford things they really wanted to do such as Catholic grade school for the children.

    Two circumstances fine-tuned my frugality. The first was my divorce. I did work full-time, but I also had a toddler at home and therefore had day care expenses in addition to a car payment and student loan payment. Penny pinching was how my daughter and I were able to get by for those years.

    The other circumstance involved the upheaval of my current husband’s employment situation. Although he is working, he has had to sit through weeks of layoff (receiving only unemployment benefits) on several occasions during the past six years.
    .-= Monroe on a Budget´s last blog ..How to deal with home party invites =-.

  4. Anonymous

    4/22/2010 at 2:12 pm

    I was always a semi-showoff-er until I went to the US of A. And then, something changed. I was now spending Indian rupees in American dollars, where 1$ = INR 50/-. And then, my car broke and I was set back by $2500. That changed my life for ever. I started counting every penny, believe it or not, every penny, sometimes even collecting those found on the road and elsewhere. I stopped using my car unless really required. I bought only beans for food and cooked them myself to save on canned food. I started working in a gas store and earned a few dollars. Remember I had apartment rent, car insurance, electricity bills and more, to cover, too. I stopped using the A/C. I switched off the water heater, and never ventured out for the fear of wasting money. It was horrible, but I lived through it and I’m back home now. But, that experience changed my life forever and I continue to take with me my frugality although not as much as before.

    Take care!

  5. aep73

    4/23/2010 at 10:09 am

    I work in a field that is female-dominated and listen to conversations about new clothes, shoes, cars, houses, etc. all the time. To me, all of that sounds like “stuff”, and I don’t feel like lugging around things I don’t need in this life. The line about frugality being a pathway to freedom is very true. I could buy the latest fashions every season or I could visit a place I’ve always wanted to go in my out-of-date but very serviceable clothing –it’s a no-brainer!

    • Hippie Dad

      10/11/2010 at 5:02 pm

      The materialism is pretty awful on the male side too. I just escaped a career in an organization full of (mostly male) engineers by retiring. It was a never ending source of wonder to me how those alpha male types had to have all the latest gadgets to go with their expensive houses and cars. They would work themselves to death acquiring possessions to support their suburban lifestyles.
      When I hear on the radio that the foundation of the US economy is “consumer spending”, I believe it based on what I’ve seen. Those of us who are frugal have peace of mind the ratrace types will never have. As Ghandi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed”

  6. Leslie

    4/24/2010 at 8:53 pm

    I was born into it – depression-era grandparents, frugal parents and so I also lived that way. It has served me very well. I came out of college with only one small loan, I bought my first house by myself with no help, when I lost my job, I was able to live for quite a while without having to worry about whether I landed a job or sweat the day-to-day living expenses. Most recently I paid for fertility treatments and now adoption and am still financial secure and single on a pretty average salary.

  7. Julia

    4/26/2010 at 12:15 am

    I came upon frugality in a rather usual way…I was/am not happy with all the high fructose corn syrup in so many products. After reading the ingredients in chocolate syrup, I decided it was time to make my own. We found a great recipe on Frugal Village. The recipe was from the (book) Complete Tightwad Gazette. I ordered the book (on eBay) and read it cover to cover and loved it. The book is not current in many respects, however, the mindset is very current….if you can save at least 10 cents on every single item you usually buy, just think of the savings over a period of a year. From there I found that simple is best, cheaper, more ecologically sound, and you can get rid of debt much quicker. Thanks Frugal Village.

  8. Zerzulen

    4/27/2010 at 1:17 am

    When i was born my family seemed quite comfortable financially.
    We moved overseas when i was young and i didn’t understand we no longer
    had much money to afford things.They worked hard to make ends meet
    stretching food and buying my clothes brand new but buying theirs second
    hand or passed from family members.My mother was killed in 2004 so my father had to support us,i was old enough now to understand and this is
    when my life of frugality began. Father worked long hours in the blistering sun and was paid next to nothing so we had help from government hand outs. I am now 20 living away from home and have learnt
    to stretch my dollar almost as well as he did when he had to support my brother and I. Growing up it was embarrassing to me that my parents lived
    a frugal lifestyle even when we had extra money.As the years have rolled
    by I am proud of my thrifty living!
    I buy classic clothes that don’t outdate second hand, plan meals in bulk
    and freeze them (love the freezer)and keep power usage to a minimum
    much to the annoyance of my partner who grew up in the complete opposite manner
    Thanks Mum and dad!

  9. Anna

    4/28/2010 at 9:05 pm

    I was born to it. I was raised by a single mom, so money was always tight. I hated some of the things mom did to be frugal, like using the clothes line… I hated stiff jeans! I didn’t mind the second hand clothes, in fact now that’s all I buy. Now I’m a stay at home mom married to a soldier, and money always seems to be tight, so the clothes line is always in use, second hand stores are my favorite places, and I find I’m cooking much better food now than I was while we were both working. My freezer is full of homemade pies, chili, soup. As a child all we had was powdered milk, and I hated it. I resorted to it this past winter after getting a $400/month power bill, and they thought it was cool. I hated how cold mom’s house always was, but now I find the temp in my house just as low and uncomfortable if it gets warmer.

  10. Jessica

    7/24/2010 at 7:34 am

    I became frugal while working toward reaching some of my savings goals, ie. buying my first house, preparing for retirement, saving for rainy days, etc… I’m still working on it, there are a few things about this new way of living that I have yet to embrace such as buying my clothes from thrift store (I have allergies and can’t walk in those stores for more than 5 minutes). Anything else, I’m working very hard on. I also want to help the planet I hate wasting anything because I think about the less fortunate people and about global warming.

    • b

      8/9/2010 at 10:45 pm

      I think you might find some interesting hints on the post I just wrote. I cannot buy thrift store things for example. As a result I have learned that the bargain, last stop rack at up scale stores has some beautiful clothes but they are sized wrong. Take a look at the blog and see if there is anything you can use. You are doing all the right things for the right reasons. Congratulations.


  11. Sally

    8/9/2010 at 8:57 am

    My husband and I are both frugal by nature and grew up in households where our parents believed in being debt free while maintaining fun lifestyles with their friends and familes. My mother remembers the depression to the point of having an unhealthy obsession with saving money, whereas my mother-in-law tried to appear wealthy until she became wealthy. We have both had recent cutbacks in our hours at work, which set back some of our goals, but because of our frugal natures, we are still going forward toward our goals. We know how to get by on less and it is helping us reduce the stress in our lives. We view frugal living as a challenge, and who doesn’t love a good challenge?

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