"Never work just for money or for power. They won't save your soul or help you sleep at night." - Marian Wright Edelman

32 Reasons to Be Frugal Besides Saving Money

By , April 3rd, 2008 | 32 Comments »

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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  • Will says:

    Wow! I never thought of it like that. I’ll admit that when it comes to money I’ve historically fallen into the impulsive buyer category. It took me a while to realize how destructive a path that was, and start turning things around. The whole frugal concept has been sort of a turnoff for me. You’ve given me a new perspective on it. Thanks!

  • Mia says:

    Wonderful writing!

  • liz says:

    great points!

  • benh says:

    I really enjoyed this. I think that there is so much focus on money that we forget about all the non monetary benefits that being frugal can bring.

    It also shows that there is a huge difference between being frugal and cheap which a lot of people equate together.

  • Ceejay74 says:

    Great article! I loved how you pointed out so many different philosophies (religion, animal rights, healthy living) that frugality can fit in with and even enhance.

  • diane says:

    Anything that improves my sex life I’m all for!!!

    I find that I actually cringe when people call me frugal because most people have a negative view of it. Do others see the same thing?

    This goes a long way to give me ammunition on giving responses when people say that I’m frugal with that disapproving tone I too often hear. Thank you.

  • Miranda says:

    It’s really sad that what was once considered a virtue in our society (frugality) has become a “dirty word.” This post, though, I think, makes a good case for bringing society back into a mindset that enough really IS enough.

  • deepend says:

    I like #5 the best and I think it’s so true. In a consumer driven society, being content and having gratitude seems to be something that is missing from so many people. I think everyone would do great wonders to the health and life if they slowed down a bit and practiced those two things.

  • trex says:

    I don’t buy it. It’s not frugality that brings all those things. you can spend money and still have nay of those things. It seems to me this is a list that is trying to justify a lifestyle and there is no need to justify if you are comfortable with a certain lifestyle.

  • Penelope says:

    Great list! #9, 10 and 12 are especially true for us. Ever since starting our frugal life (triggered by necessity after spending all our savings moving from Hawaii to California one year after college), my sister and I have begun sewing our own clothes and learned to fix up, improvise and build our own furniture; and decorate our house in unconventional ways.

    We have built our own shelves, including a 8′ x 12′ full-wall length and ceiling-high shelf, cabinets, benches (using a salvaged headboard from Goodwill), laid our own flooring, and used the trunk of an old Christmas tree and scrap lumber to make a table and a music stand (I needed a music stand when I started playing the violin last fall and they cost $30+ to buy).

    For anyone interested in seeing pictures of our Christmas tree furniture, my sister wrote a blog article on it: Make Something Useful of Your Christmas Tree.

    We also have some pictures of clothing we’ve sewn for less than $1.00-$2.00 per outfit, Save Money by Sewing Your Own Clothes.

  • henrik says:

    I must say I agree with comment #9, I too don’t buy much of it. Many of these things can still happen even if you tend to spend alot, it depends on what you spend it on….

    Also you must remeber that you are saving now in order to have even more money. To you avoid spendig now only so you can spend more money later. Why else save and not give to charity ? (besides from the building of a emergency fund).

    1. It simplifies your record keeping

    Even if I spend more the budget is just the same, the numbers are just bigger.

    And you have to do a lot of work to get the best deals, and not lest to figure out what the best deals are.

    2. It simplifies your cleaning

    Depends on what you buy. I don’t need to dust off a bunch of CDs because I invested in a MediaCenter

    3. It makes you healthier

    I could properly become healthier buying a gym membership and trainer, than relying on housework to keep me fit

    8. The thrill of the deal.

    The STRESS of the deal. rather carefree spending.

    9. It equips you to survive

    Maybe for minor fixes, but I would certainly rather buy your house knowing its maintenance was taken care of by professionals rather than your amateur learning-by-doing

    13. You become more social

    Depends on how much you spend on going out, versus sitting at home.don’t expect your friends to allways visit you.

    14. It reduces stress

    Heck no, finding the right deal can be a lot of work.

    And then the stress of watching your investment and worrying about the stock market.

    19. It saves all kinds of time

    more time finding deals
    more time cooking for yourself
    more time fixing stuff for yourself

    25. It beats therapy.

    If you are sick and depressed, stop spending money is doubt some answer to the problem.

    If you are really sick go see a doctor.

    29. It teaches the art of compromise

    So does not knowing the value of enough, even with spending all my money I still have to compromise between a motorcycle or a new car.

    only the number of zeros on the check differs.

    31. It improves your sex life

    If you spend it on sextoys you can have a great sexlife, or if you spend it on romantic getaways.

    As you can see many of the items are equally valid for people spending a good amount of their money.

    I am not talking about overspending and getting debts here, just spending well within your means.

  • Miguel says:

    I have been frugal out of need but it’s becoming a lifestyle for me which makes sense for “real” common sense reasons. Reading your article makes me feel that I want to be frugal, I don’t need to be frugal.

  • Shanti @ Antishay says:

    This is a great post! I have had it in my “to read” bookmarks folder for what feels like a long time and I’m glad I finally got to it 😀 You’ve made some excellent points here and I agree with all of them 😀 Thank you!

  • Shanti @ Antishay says:

    Did I mention I’m sick? It seems I added this post to my folder only this MORNING… durrrrr. *feels silly*

    Well, if it’s any excuse, I’ve had a fever and have had absolutely no sense of time for three days now. Anyway, excuse my random wrongness in the last comment. :/

  • alex says:

    Jennifer’s right; frugality arose from the need to save money but has now become a very liberating lifestyle, with lots more money! Jennifer’s point is that you don’t need to spend money to have all the benefits she discusses; however, if you’ve got the money to buy them, go for it. As for Henrik’comment about #9, obviously he hasn’t been burned by “professionals” repairing and maintaining his house!

  • Dolores says:

    For ALL of us, no matter your opinion of frugality…

    “If you’re not happy with what you have, you’ll never be happy with more.”

    Frugality teaches us to be happy with what we have.

  • Rachelle says:

    Thank you for this article.

  • pascale hughes says:

    I really enjoyed this list.It makes you aware of other insides or views.Everyone has the freedom to take the frugal concept to the level they are comfortable with.As an European married to an American for 17 years and having lived in 5 different countries, I learned early that 2 main reasons will force you into bankrupty; overextended credit and healthcare.
    So it won’t hurt at all to ‘take’ care of issues you can control.I still have to learn and apply a lot but it is a work in progress. Thank you!!!!

  • Empress Juju says:

    Money in and of itself is at the bottom of my list for why I am frugal. Certainly, I enjoy being self-supporting, and my heart no longer pounds when I open the mailbox, but it feels great to have dropped 20 pounds as a “default vegetarian,” and to know that I’m helping America reduce our deendency on foreign oil every time I refill my water bottle or take my own cloth bags to the grocery.

    Thank you for pointing out the many benefits to frugality!

  • Sheri Griffith says:

    Thank you for a wonderful article, very moving and inspiring. Best to you.

  • Christine says:

    After reading many of your articles, I have begun frugal at the age of 59. Oh my god, if I only did this years’ ago. In the last 2 weeks I have saved over $250.00 at grocery stores and drugstores. I use coupons, ask for coupons and get all I can on-line. I can’t believe the savings. If I had done this before the amount of money I was saving instead of wasting would have been enormous. Again, I will continue reading about frugal living and trying to do more. Thank you very much.

  • Awesome advice!! Thanks for sharing. Practical, easy, and just plain good . . . I’m glad to see someone else spreading the word about the benefits of frugality!

  • Andy says:

    Great tips here. There are also a number of cost effective ways to stay healthy by incorporating some excercise into our daily routines.

  • Uncle B says:

    Being frugal is good for the environment!

  • zak says:

    “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. ”

    oh my, this is a very blantant zero sum error, the idea that one has to lose for another to win. Goods are produced, therefore making the pie bigger. If a resource is scarce, the price system automatically pushes the price up leading people to use less of it.

  • Carla says:

    Excellant points! I come from a very self- sufficient family, married a very handy man and do most of my shopping at second hand stores. We have a lovely home, usually have enough to share and never go without. Just saying frugal does not mean poor. I love reading about other peoples experiences in frugality 🙂 Thanks!


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