I’m frequently asked why I choose to be frugal. Is it all about saving money? My answer is always, “No, it’s not all about saving money, although that’s a nice side effect.” Saving money tends to be the driving reason behind why many people turn to a frugal lifestyle (and it was for me, in the beginning). But after being frugal for a while, most people find that there are additional reasons to stick with this lifestyle, beyond the monetary savings. So what are some of the other reasons people pursue a frugal lifestyle? If you’re thinking about going frugal, here are some of the additional reasons to consider.
It simplifies your record keeping
When you’re not overspending and incurring tons of bills, it’s less paperwork to keep up with, less bills to pay, and less time you have to spend tracking your money.
It simplifies your cleaning
When you’re not drowning in clutter, it’s much easier and faster to clean your house. You’re not always trying to clean around and between things you don’t even use.
It makes you healthier
Chances are that if you’re on a frugal plan you’ll eat healthier and exercise more as you stop eating out and do more for yourself.
It’s better for the environment
When you’re frugal, you generate less waste and consume fewer resources. The planet thanks you.
Frugality inspires an attitude of gratitude and contentment
Frugal living makes you appreciate what you have and helps you to realize that you are blessed to have it, even if it’s not the newest luxury what-not. This makes for a far more content life, rather than a life spent straining and whining for the latest thing.
You gain a better perspective on what “enough” really is
Frugal living teaches you that “enough” is not the newest luxury car, but a functional car (or no car at all, if you live in an area where that’s possible). “Enough” is not the latest gadget, but a loving family and food on the table. It helps you realize that you probably have “enough” and that there are a lot of people who don’t.
It might make you more generous
Once you realize that you have enough, and you’re grateful for that, you might find yourself more willing to help those who aren’t as fortunate, whether it’s through donations of money or time.
The thrill of the deal
Beyond the money you save, there is a thrill you get when you know you’ve gotten the best price on something or, better yet, scored something for free.
It equips you to survive
Truly frugal people do a lot for themselves. What they don’t know how to do, they learn. They learn to fix a car, repair a leaky roof, cook, garden, or sew. Many of these skills are forgotten or deemed unnecessary in today’s world, but should there ever come a time when you have to do for yourself (job loss, another depression, disease outbreak, etc.), frugal people are better prepared than most.
You learn a lot
If you’re doing a lot for yourself, chances are you’re learning those skills as you go along. Learning new skills keeps the brain active and gives you a feeling of accomplishment.
You’re teaching the next generation
If you model a frugal lifestyle for your kids, chances are they’ll go on to live a more frugal lifestyle and teach their kids the same. You can’t beat giving your kids a head start on good money management skills at a young age.
You become more creative
Making do with what you have and reducing spending requires you to more creative to get the most out of what you have. Can you reupholster that chair instead of buying new? Does that glass jar have some other use? Can the kids make craft projects out of that box?
You become more social
As you detach from “things,” you may find yourself moving more toward people. You may reduce your cell phone or email use and talk more in person. You have more time to go out because you’re not tied to TV. You get more involved in your community.
It reduces stress
Your “to do” list is likely to get smaller when you get off the consumer treadmill. You won’t “have to” go out to eat. You won’t “have to” take the kids to fifteen different activities if they’re having fun in the backyard. “You won’t “have to” work extra hours to earn enough to cover your wants. You won’t “have to” go out and buy new clothes every season. With less to do, you’ll find your stress level decreasing.
It puts you in control
When you do more for yourself, it puts you in control of the result. If you fix your own car, you know the mechanic isn’t charging you for stuff he didn’t do or wasn’t necessary. If you cook at home or garden, you know what’s in your food. If you handle your own finances, you know exactly where your money is and how much it’s earning.
You’re more comfortable
I don’t know how many times I see people here go out in the foulest weather because they “have to” go to the movies or the mall for something to do. I’d much rather stay in my climate controlled home with my frugal entertainment than sit in a cold movie theater (that I had to drive in the rain to get to) listening to the jerk behind me yak on his phone.
You can be lazy — to an extent
Frugality frees up time that would otherwise be spent driving, working, or shopping. With that extra time you can take an afternoon nap on Sunday, stay home and read the paper, or just stare out the window and daydream.
You have more options, flexibility and even freedom
When you’re not servicing the consumer debt machine and constantly worrying about making it to the next paycheck, you have many more options in life. You can choose to work more hours or not, or even change jobs, as your desire allows. If you’d like to live somewhere else or work somewhere else, you have the freedom to look into it without feeling trapped by “having to” stay at your current job. You can choose to have an additional child/pet (or not) and base that decision on more than money. You can choose to retire early or work through old age, if you want to. Frugality opens up your choices.
It saves all kinds of time
You spend less time in traffic. Less time cleaning. Less time standing in line and waiting. Less time dealing with unhelpful sales people. Less time shopping and running errands. Less time on the phone straightening out a financial problem. Less time paying bills. Less time dealing with the daily crap that clutters so much of our lives.
It satisfies a moral or religious edict
If your faith or morals dictate that you do more with less, frugality is the only way to go.
You want to make a political statement
If you want to rebel against consumerism and make a political statement about the evils of spending, frugality is one way (and the most authentic) to do it.
You believe in social justice
Some people become frugal out of a sense of social justice. In other words, they realize that they are taking more than their share of resources and that doing so depletes the availability of resources for others. They also realize that many goods are made with questionable practices and that to forgo some goods might help better those circumstances. They become frugal in an attempt to balance the scales.
You’re an animal rights activist
Many frugal people are also vegetarians. Eating less or no meat is a frugal choice that some people make because they don’t care for the ways farm animals are treated. Many frugal people also refuse to wear fur or leather because of animal rights’ issues, but it also saves money.
You want to lose weight
Frugality entails eating less/healthier foods and exercising more (walking to work, doing your own yard work, etc.). All are great ways to lose weight.
It beats therapy
Stress, depression, feeling out of control, and anxiety are all hallmarks of the consumer-driven lifestyle. Frugality reduces stress, increases your feelings of contentment and gratitude, reduces anxiety associated with money concerns and puts you in control of your life. Yes, you could see a shrink or take a pill to accomplish the same things, but it’s healthier and cheaper to eliminate the lifestyle that’s causing the problems.
Frugality honors your culture/heritage
Maybe you come from frugal parents and grandparents and were raised to be frugal yourself. Maybe your race or ethnic group honors frugality and being a spendthrift isolates you from those core beliefs. Some people go frugal to honor those who have gone before.
It’s fun and challenging
It’s fun to find great deals, to learn new things, to find new ways to save, to do for yourself, and to meet others who share the same goals. The more you work at it, the more fun it becomes.
It gets you away from the media machine
If you’re worried about the effect that constant advertising has on your brain or your kids’ brains, frugality is one way to separate yourself from that. Less exposure to advertising teaches you that most “needs” are manufactured by Madison Avenue. You start to think for yourself again.
It teaches the art of compromise
Frugal people learn that you can’t always have everything you want, but you can have some of what you want. The daily compromise between buying store brand ketchup and name brand, or between buying a new bedspread and mending the old one, all so you can have more money for something else, teaches us how to compromise to get more of what we really want.
It puts you in touch with nature
Being frugal puts you back in touch with what “natural” really means. You’ll probably spend more time outside, buy or grow organic food and fabrics, and become less dependent on artificial “stuff.”
It improves your sex life
When you’re not strung out about money, you can have a more fulfilling life in the bedroom. When you’re not cramming your life with artificial entertainment, you have more time to play in the bedroom.
You want to sleep better
Rather than lying awake at night worrying about their money crisis, frugal people sleep better knowing that, whatever else goes wrong in the world, they’re able to care for themselves.
You can see that there are many reasons why people choose to be frugal, other than saving money. Saving money is a nice byproduct of these actions, but it’s not always the entire reason why someone chooses frugality. Next time you meet a frugal person, ask them why they choose that lifestyle. You might be surprised by the answer.
Image courtesy of consumatron
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