Hi all! I’ve been thinking a lot about frugality lately and about what it really means to be frugal. We here at Casa Frugal are leaning on our frugal habits and skills more than ever right now as we attack our debt with a vengeance. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of frugal role models in my life (and some not-so-frugal ones too), so I’ve learned a lot from them about frugality. And I’ve also learned a lot about the opposite. 🙂
If you have older people in your life, particularly of the Depression-era, then you’ve likely learned some frugal skills from them or at least heard stories from them. My grandparents lived through that era, and although they are all gone now, I vividly recall some of their stories. Suffice it to say, they were all masters of reusing, repurposing, and making sure that nothing went to waste. They leaned on friends, neighbors, and family members for support and helped each other out. In a lot of ways, I really think that Tom Brokaw was onto something when he christened that generation as “The Greatest Generation.”
However, whenever my grandparents got around to discussing life on the farm before electricity and indoor plumbing, it always made me feel grateful to be of my own generation, no matter what Tom Brokaw thinks about whose generation is the best.
At any rate, we can learn a lot from older generations about frugality.
However, I also know a ton of millennials who are rockin’ the frugal life as well! Sometimes this is out of choice, or necessity, or both. No generation has a monopoly on frugality, but there ARE certain habits that frugal people tend to have, no matter their age.
9 Key Frugal Habits
- Frugal people operate their finances within a budget. They know how much they can spend on any given item or budget category in a given month, and as a general rule they do not exceed it.
- Frugal people do not waste anything. Whether it is a cardboard box that came in the mail, aluminum foil, or plastic bags from the grocery store, frugal people recognize the opportunity to save money by reusing items, or using them in new ways.
- Frugal people carefully contemplate major purchases, and often do a lot of research prior to making such purchases. They shop around before making big purchases, in order to make sure they are getting the best possible deal.
- Frugal people are more likely to buy items used or heavily discounted, because of their tendency to shop around. Frugal people rarely pay full price! In fact, I know some people who absolutely WILL NOT purchase an item unless they can score some type of discount on it.
- Frugal people tend to be very in-tune with their own personal needs and wants. They are less likely to be influenced by what their neighbors or co-workers are buying- they just don’t care! Frugal people are much more likely to be seen driving the same car for decades, or repairing their own 20 year-old lawnmower. In other words, they are masters at preventing lifestyle inflation.
- Frugal people cook at home. They know that food they prepare at home is likely to be far healthier and wayyyyy cheaper than anything they could find at a restaurant. They also tend to meal plan in advance (either self-created or using a cheap service like $5 Meal Plan), which helps keep them out of the drive thru lane on busy evenings.
- Frugal people find ways to make their time and money go as far as possible. Whether it is shopping for clothes at thrift stores, installing a water-efficient shower head to save money in the shower, or using a rewards website like Swagbucks to do all of their online searches, frugal people are always interested in getting the most for their time and money.
- Frugal people find frugal ways to take vacations. Frugal folk understand that it’s not always necessary to stay in a super nice hotel, especially if most of the activities you have planned will take you away from the hotel anyway. Frugal people also aren’t afraid to think outside the box when it comes to travel destinations. For example, my friend Holly recently took her family to a theme park within driving distance of their home, and saved a boatload of cash compared to what a Disney vacation would have cost them!
- Frugal people tend to care a lot less about what is currently fashionable or trendy. They understand that trying to keep up with fads today will do them no good, because something different will be trendy next month or next year. Also, frugal people just tend to care a whole lot less about what the Joneses think of them anyway!
Suggested Reading: One of my favorite books about forgetting the Joneses and livin’ the “stealth wealth” lifestyle is The Millionaire Next Door. This book profiles numerous individuals and couples who are masters of frugality- and, as the title indicates, are often millionaires. If you have not yet read this book, I definitely recommend that you give it a read.
CMF’s favorite FREE money management tools!
Some of the best online tools out there for money management are at Personal Capital, and the awesome news is that they are all FREE! Cash flow tracker, 401(k) fee analyzer, investment checkup, net worth monitoring, and many more! I’m a net worth junkie, so the net worth monitor is my favorite. Check out my Personal Capital review here, or click here to check out all the awesome tools for yourself!