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03-18-2008, 09:46 AM #1
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Newbie: Living Poor vs. Living Frugal?
First, I'd like to apologize. I'm brand new to this forum. My co-worker suggested that I join for more information.
This is going to sound very dumb but, I'm not really clear with what the difference is between living poor and living frugal?
I know that the term frugal has to do with lifestyle but, doesn't a poor person live the same "frugal" lifestyle?
The reason I'm asking is because, I grew up poor. In the projects in Detroit. And, due to that harsh upbringing I've always striven not to live that deprived again. But, now that I'm trying to get debt free I'm interested in the various different ways that I can cut my expenses. Hence, the need to live frugally.
ANY response would be appreciated.
- 03-18-2008, 10:02 AM #2
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Hello and Welcome! You've come to the right place for lots of help and support! I guess for me the difference between poor and frugal is one of choice. I didn't choose to grow up poor...but I do choose to maintain a generally frugal lifestyle now in order to become debt free and attain the financial/lifestyle goals I've always strived for. JMHO!
Frugal doesn't necessarily mean deprivation...it's all about choice...the choice to be in control of your money instead of money (or lack of) controlling you. I like to think of frugality as a means to an end....a tool that in the long run, will benefit me more than it would ever hinder me. yes, I may go without certain things...but not the things that truly matter to me. Everyone has their own comfort level with regards to what they are willing to be frugal with. You'll find all different levels of frugality here and I recommend you read, read, read!!! Good luck!
Tamara03-18-2008, 10:15 AM #3
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I too want to get out of debt and be financially independent. I have dabbled with being frugal for years. I did some frugal things but still accumulated "bad" debt. May I suggest a book? The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Daczyn. She has a great articel comparing being poor to being frugal. You can find it in your public library. Some of the stuff in the book is dated. However, if you are looking for frugal examples and to get out of debt she has wonderful ideas you can apply to today. Being frugal to me is being creative! The good thing about the book is the way it is set up, you don't have to read the whole thing if you don't want to but I suggest you do. If you are truly interested in making a lifestyle change, you can apply some of the ideas to your life.
It has taken me years to "get it" (not keep accumulating bad debt) and I finally have. I've been working hard for the past 2 and am seeing a difference. I feel better physically and mentally. I don't feel the need to keep up with the Jones'. I enjoy what I have because I know I work for it and pay cash for it. I actually feel bad for people who have tvs, ipods, garmins, clothes, etc. on credit.
Also, this forum is wonderful. It is a wealth of information. The people are great too. I welcome you. I know you'll find lots of information and support.03-18-2008, 10:21 AM #4
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Welcome to Frugal Village! To address your question, I would say that living frugally has a lot to do with choices. You choose to live in a financially responsible way (i.e.frugally) to obtain a goal that has been set. Some people choose to live frugally to help the environment (cutting down on waste, living a "greener" lifestyle); some people choose to live frugally so that they may achieve financial security, especially later in life; some people choose to live frugally so that they may be able to do the things they enjoy now without going into debt. Some people choose to live frugally for all these reasons.
IMO, "living frugally" does not mean "living poor". It simply means to spend less than you make by making sound financial decisions in life. Everyone has their own comfort levels as far as frugality goes. We save money and don't have any debt, except for our home. But we also are able to take a nice vacation each summer and travel. We live in a good area of town with a great school district and have three decent vehicles (not brand new) which are paid for. I also contribute 11% to my retirement fund. We have enough to eat and clothes to wear. I definitely don't feel we're poor. To accomplish these things we have chosen to live without debt and to be smart (frugal) with our money. Our yearly income is around $50,000/year so we're not wealthy and we're also not poor. At the same time we have to think about what we want to spend our money on, save for what we want and avoid buying things impulsively or for the wrong reasons (keeping up with the Joneses).
Granted, people who make a lot less are many times forced to do without. I grew up in a single parent household and we didn't have a lot. Now that my mom is married and my stepfather makes decent money, I see my mom trying to "make up" for what she did without all those years. Unfortunately, people sometimes tend to think that if they grew up poor, to not live poor any more means going into debt for cars, homes and anything they think will keep them from being "poor" again. This is what my mom tends to do, but people don't see that they are actually still "poor" because they're in so much debt. They just have a lot of stuff now. Being frugal means making the choice to have financial security over having debt. To do that sometimes we have to give up all the car loans, eating out all the time, the big house which is too much for our income, etc.
Sorry this is so long, but that's basically what living frugally means to me. Good luck with becoming debt free and glad you've joined us!
Last edited by Michelle68; 03-18-2008 at 10:24 AM.03-18-2008, 10:23 AM #5
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I think it is about choice; when you are living poor you don't have choices--you have to live that way. Living frugal means that you are making more economically sound choices. For example, when you are living poor may only get to eat beans and rice, but when you are frugal you choose to eat beans and rice because you are saving for a week at the lake.03-18-2008, 11:33 AM #6
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proactive or reactive
For me, it's about being PRO-active, and not just RE-active. When I am proactive, I think ahead, take time to make purchasing decisions, and plan to not be surprised by events that could be expensive. That gives me the luxury to make choices with my money, spending where I want to spend, and not just where I have to spend.
If I am just reactive, then I only react to circumstances, and it usually costs me more!
For example, if I have a furnace go bad, I can either dip into funds that I have consciously put away for an emergency (proactive), or I can get frantic trying to find where in the world I can scarf up the money for a new furnace fast, have to put it on a CC, take out a loan, etc. (reactive). If I lose my job, my proactive stance will allow me to use savings while I hunt for another job, but a reactive stance means that I have nothing and could lose my home, car, etc.
I really don't think being frugal has as much to do with how much money one has, as with how one chooses to use money. I choose to be in charge of my money, not vica versa, and that is what makes me frugal.03-18-2008, 11:53 AM #7
I agree wholeheartedly with others who have posted. It's a matter of choice. To me, frugality is a matter of being in control of my finances, instead of having my finances control me. There is tremendous freedom and satisfaction in having a financial plan. I am willing to do without certain things in my life....so that I can afford to do what really matters to me. Frugality has enriched the quality of my life...not taken away from it.
Last edited by Samigirl; 03-18-2008 at 11:56 AM.03-18-2008, 01:19 PM #8
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Yep, I agree.
One statement in your original post concerns me, however. You said you would never be "deprived".
That can be dangerous thinking, leading to tons of debt.
Living frugally does not mean deprivation. And debt for "stuff" does not mean abundance.
A frugal life can also be an abundant life.
In order for you to experience true success towards your goal, you'll need to examine your attitudes towards abundance, deprivation and "stuff".
Good Luck!03-18-2008, 01:38 PM #9
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I agree with everyone above. It's all about choices. The poor sometimes can't help being poor, others are poor due to bad choices. I choose to be responsible with our money. We have set goals, and done what was neccessary to achieve those goals. I don't go out to eat alot, or buy the latest fashions, I buy groceries on sale, I stock pile for a rainy day, I save all that I can. WHY? So we can get house paid off, car paid off, have no CC debt, and have a financially secure future. These were our choices.
Having stuff does not make you rich. Having a simple good life, the love of family, health, and some money for the future makes you rich. SInce the choices were ours to make, I have never felt deprived. I feel empowered!!
I have chosen my life style. I don't fall into the traps you see in advertising everyday. I don't have to have brand name everything, I don't have to be in debt to be a real American. I don't feel that I alone have to support the ecenomy.
You have an obligation to yourself and your family first. If you take care of your finances - they will take care of you.
REMEMBER: It's not how much money you have or don't have, or how much stuff you have or don't have - it's about having peace of mind each and everyday and embracing the choices you have made. We live in a credit society, but it doesn't mean that YOU have to.
Make good choices and the rest comes. It's not always easy and sometimes you may be ridiculed. Who cares - if you have a goal!!
The best of luck to you and welcome to the boards. I'm sure you'll learn bunches if you pay attention. There are a lot of smart people here!03-18-2008, 01:38 PM #10
Living frugally doesn't mean that you can't have "things" - it just means that you are more "choosy" about your things and get them without going into debt. Dh and I are going away for a long weekend. We will stay at a friend's cabin for like $25/night and the rest will go on credit card which will be paid off right away b/c we save for things like this on a regular basis. Do we have an HD TV? No, and that is REALLY hard b/c my dh works in video production. It just doesn't make sense for us when we have TVs that are working just fine.03-18-2008, 01:45 PM #11
I grew up in an upper middle class family. We really didn't go without, however pretty much everything was made from scratch food wise, we had a garden, we had rags to clean with, everything we owned we took care of so it lasted, no surprise to get hand me downs for clothes, cars were basically driven to the ground, etc. Well somehow I ended up getting sucked into the mass amounts and always new is better for me. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but not good either. Anyway this website has helped me realize and be thankful for the skills I learned as a child. It has helped me get a better perspective on my spending habits. Especially now that I live on a very limited budget. Also it is great to have the support you find here.
For me it is not about living poor, it is about living within my means without feeling deprived. Now I don't need to go to a restaurant for a specific meal. I can make it myself. Going to a restaurant should be something special for me not an everyday occurance. I am also more greatful and content with what I have now. (Ok, ok so I really want a new computer. LOL)
I suppose it depends on how you view things. One thing I have found is that being frugal also helps the environment. This to me seems like a pretty good combination. You will figure out what works best for you. Give it some time.03-18-2008, 02:26 PM #12
I agree with pretty much everything the others have said. I also had a very, very poor childhood and so I know about that idea of not wanting to be "deprived". It's very deceptive and can get you into trouble.
Just a suggestion; when I started getting my finances under control I went through a period of media black out. It was due more to the money issues than an active choice, but I had no cable, watched no tv, bought now magazines or newspapers.It is pretty amazing how quickly all the things you think you are being "deprived" of quit mattering when you are not being bombarded by advertising non-stop.
It helped me remember that not getting a new book, video game or the latest computer gadget is not being deprived. Not having food to eat, a home to live in or people to love is true deprivation.
Christine03-18-2008, 02:41 PM #13
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I 100% agree that living frugally is a choice. If you live frugally it's not because you have to, it's because you want to.
If you are poor, it's not a choice it's just you dont have the means to live above that lifestyle. I hope that sounds right.
I am not poor but I live frugally so i can save money, buy things we need or want on occasion and go on a vacation, etc..
If you are poor you cannot afford to save for vacations or buy the things you want because you dont have the money to do so. People who live frugally arent doing it because they need to, they are doing it because they want to.~TRACY~*
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Have a blog? Let's exchange links!03-18-2008, 02:46 PM #14
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I chose to become more frugal because I was having panic attacks. My husband makes good money and I was at a job at a bank, that I hated, but knew I had to keep to make money to pay all the bills we had run up when we were keeping up with the Joneses. Well, we changed our thinking and paid off our bills and now I have been at the same job for 12 years. I have now been able to go to just 3 hours a day as a personal secretary to one of the bosses and love what I am doing. I can also take days off to be with my daughter for any school functions. If we had not gotten our priorities under control and bills paid I would still be plugging away in a full time job just trying to stay "afloat". I/We are so much happier now and guess what?? No more panic attacks.03-18-2008, 02:56 PM #15
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I have known people who are poor who are most definately not frugal.
I know people who are frugal who are far from poor.
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