WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Frugal is cool

Posted March 11, 2010

On this month’s Smart Shopper blog we are talking about why frugal is cool.

Back to the basics week 9: Frugal living Smart Shopper: Why frugal is cool

What is frugal living?

Basically frugal means living within your means – which generally means spending less money than you earn each month.

It also means using what you have and not constantly buying more stuff when you don’t need it.

Frugal used to have negative connotations. People who were frugal were considered lower income and less educated. In reality, many people who were frugal 40 years ago went on to become silent millionaires – you know, those people next door who drive the same car for decades and live in the same modest home. Later in life, you find out they actually had millions banked, but they never chose to flaunt it. As a matter of fact – I hope that’s our family one day!

In this tough economy, frugality is now a key way to get through layoffs, pay cuts, unemployment and the rising cost of so many everyday expenses including power, food and gas. You see people from all walks of life and income levels using coupons, turning down the thermostat and carpooling to work.

Frugal is in and frugal is actually cool.

So what encompasses frugal living?

It involves all of the things I have been writing about each week in our Back to Basics 12 week series as well as the remaining techniques I’ll be covering in these last few weeks of the series.

Frugal living involves:

Budgeting: so you know how much money you are earning vs. how much you are spending

Couponing: to cut costs on grocery and non-food essentials. Shopper in 2009 saved over 3.5 billion dollars using coupons. Have you seen all those coupon shoppers in the stores lately – pushing the grocery carts with their coupon binders? They are savings billions of dollars this year! Are you?

Meal planning: to keep you out of the drive through and cut costs on meals while also offering healthier choices for your family.

Cutting utility and other household costs: such as heating and cooling, electricity, water use, TV, phone and Internet expenses.

Having fun frugally: which doesn’t mean cutting out restaurants, vacations and family outings completely - it just means being smart about where and when and how you are having fun.

Frugal holidays and gift giving: which aims to keep you from going into debt while still allowing you to give great gifts and host fabulous celebrations.

These are all aspects of frugal living that everyone can use to get out of debt, stay out of debt and even prepare for a comfortable retirement. That’s pretty exciting!

Are you frugal?

So…the question is - how frugal are you? If you have been reading the weekly Back to Basics Series AND following the techniques outlined in the series, you should have a good grasp on where you stand financially. You should also know where you are spending too much money and where you need to cut back.

The best part about being frugal is that once you realize that you don’t need all of that expensive stuff you may see your neighbors buying, you have less debt, less stress and more hope for a financially sound future. Keep in mind that those neighbors who drive a new car every 2 years, go out to eat 5 nights a week and live in a McMansion may have some pretty hefty debt of their own.

We didn’t buy the house that the bank said we could buy 10 years ago. Instead we bought a 5 yr old house on 1.5 acres in a quiet subdivision out in Johnston County. Because we didn’t opt for a fancy, new, huge home with all the bells and whistles, we are now on track to pay off our house before our kids go to high school! That’s the big picture with frugal living. We have no other debt and soon the house will be paid off as well.

You tell me which is cooler – having all your debt paid off or having a huge house and lots of toys and lots of debt to go with them? I’d say option 1 is infinitely cooler!

So there you have it – the basics of frugal living and the reasons that frugal is cool. If you aren’t already on the frugal fun ship, come aboard and watch your savings increase, your debt decrease and your financial stress go out to sea forever! As I always say, it’s your money – spend it wisely!


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  • 1967EE Mar 14, 2010

    Amen! My husband and I paid off our house mortage about 2 years ago, and at my daddy's suggestion 10 years ago, we applied for a free home equity loan - just to have in case of an emergency.

    Well, my daddy died unexpectedly a few months ago and my husband, who worked for him, found himself out of a job. We are so thankful that at least we have our house paid off, and we are having to borrow money from our home equity loan each month!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Mar 12, 2010

    kizee - I totally agree abotu comparing prices. I will check out the site you recommended.

    cokesbury - I will work on loading some pics of my overstock onto a blog post soon. :-) I use FIFO - first in, first out. When I buy something new - it goes to the back of the shelf.

    Audrey - not sure which store you are referring to - help me out.

  • CountryGirl10 Mar 12, 2010

    Faye, I would love to see pictures of the inside of your freezer and pantry and wherever else you store your purchases. How do you organize and track everything so you are sure you use the oldest ones first?

  • audreycurrin Mar 12, 2010

    Faye, You didn't list these, so is the CVS Tide, Downy, and colgate listed in the flyer a good deal? Thanks!

  • kizee19 Mar 11, 2010

    Frugal living also involves price comparison. If you find something you like, take note of its price and check for similar items in other well known shopping sites like Google products or

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Mar 11, 2010

    Thanks for sharing your frugal stories cc and Nancy!

    Your Dad sounds like a very wise man, Nancy. I hope to impart the same wisdom he shared with you on to my children.

    CC - great job on your monthly savings. That's a ton of money!

  • Nancy Mar 11, 2010

    My father was the epitome of the word frugal. Shoot, I didn't know his net worth (not a topic of family discussion ever) until I was in my 30's and had to pick my jaw up off the floor!

    But I obviously learned from him and my mother, waste not, want not. And one of my Dad's favorite sayings was "make your money work for you" meaning invest it wisely, safely and long term.

    He's 85 now and I send him weekly letters sharing my bargains I made on paper so he can enjoy seeing the savings. He truly gets a kick out of getting something for nothing and doing it legally. He did it his whole life. Although a Sr. Mechanical Engineer for a major alumuninum company to see him on a Saturday dressed in work greens, you would have thought the man didn't have two dimes to rub together.

    Frugal was a way of life for our family of 8, and the lessons were good and they were passed on.

  • coffeecrazy Mar 11, 2010

    I have been working on my "frugality" for a couple of months now. I'm saving tons of money using coupons and reading about the best deals for groceries and at drug stores. With just a small portion of the money I am saving, my family can join the Y and go to the Y pool this summer ($60/month, plus $20 for the pool). My husband owns his own business; we don't really take a vacation - so going to the pool every day this summer IS our vacation. I'm saving probably $200-$350 in coupons/sales per month, at least, so my grocery costs are way down. Being frugal is definitely FUN!
    Thanks Faye,