You Can Live Frugally Without Being Cheap

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Some people still associate living frugally with being cheap, as in chintzy. But that’s simply not the case! Living frugally involves making the most of what you have, looking for – and taking advantage of – good deals on everything you buy, and stretching your paycheck as far it will possibly stretch. Being cheap, on the other hand, consists of disregarding quality, refusing to spend money on what you need, even at times taking advantage of others or a situation. No one wants to be, or even appear to be, cheap. But being frugal is a good thing!

Living frugally is about more than just becoming a bargain-hunter extraordinaire, although that’s part of it. Living frugally also involves:

• budgeting and planning for large purchases
• shopping around until you find just what you want at a price you can pay
• making what you do have last longer
• and even – in grandma’s terminology – learning to “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Being cheap, on the other hand, is often:

• having a mindset that is more concerned about quantity than quality
• looking for ways to “beat the system”
• not realizing that having to replace an item sooner can cost more in the long run than buying a better-made item in the first place.

Here are six ways you can live a more frugal lifestyle without appearing cheap.

1. Realize that other’s expectations of how you live are not as important as your own. If your family thinks you should be able to go out to eat three times a week or give lavish presents for birthdays and Christmas, don’t let them pressure you into doing so unless you know you can truly afford those things. Live by your own expectations, not someone else’s.

2. Learn to find happiness in life itself – in your relationships, in simple pleasures – rather than in material goods. Anyone who has faced a terminal illness will tell you how little all those “things” mean when you truly grasp how short life is. Make the most of every day and find joy in people, not possessions.

3. Set limits on your frugality. If you’re truly concerned about appearing cheap, it’s not necessary to take your frugal lifestyle to extremes. Washing and reusing coffee filters may seem perfectly sensible to some, but if you’d “die of embarrassment” if your friends knew you did that, then don’t do it. There are many ways to save money. Choose those that work for you without making you feel uncomfortable.

4. If you truly have to live in extreme frugality for awhile, look at as 1) temporary, and 2) a choice. Dave Ramsey says that if you live like no one else, you can live like no one else. What he means is that if you sacrifice some of the things that others enjoy today, later on you’ll be able to live better than most because of your choices. Keep that in mind when the next time you pass up something you really want but simply can’t afford.

5. Consider how much easier it is to live with less. Less furniture and decorative items in your home means less cleaning. Less vehicle means less insurance. Even less food means less cooking! You can, of course, go to extremes… but you get the drift.

6. Shop for quality, even if it means buying used. Some people have a strong aversion to buying “another man’s junk.” But when you realize that you can own a much higher quality item for much less than was originally paid, you may find buying used to be your next best thing.

For instance, you may love name brand clothes but can’t afford the price tag. By shopping yard sales, thrift stores and consignment shops, though, you can buy top of the line clothing for you and your family at a fraction of the cost. And no one has to know they’re secondhand except you.

There are so many ways to improve the quality of your life while still living frugally. Learn to recognize them every day and make the most of what you have now.


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