The idea of toting around a coffee thermos, packing a crappy sandwich and only drinking water in a restaurant are uppermost in people’s minds when they hear the word “frugal.” But if you think of living frugally as an exercise in deprivation, you’re never going to want to embrace the very tactics that might help you find the money to save.
When the recession started to bite in the U.S., articles proclaiming the wisdom of frugality sprang up like dandelions. Not surprising, since folks had been spending more money than they made for years. As with everything else, the pendulum swung from the sublime to the ridiculous so now people are talking about washing out their bread bags and reusing them to pack a lunch for work or splitting their two-ply toilet paper. Hey, if you want to wash out your bread bag and split your two-ply, go ahead. I do not.
That’s not what living frugally is all about in my book. If you go too far in cutting your expenses to the point where you’re miserable, you won’t be able to stick to the plan. I think frugal living is about making conscious decisions about where money is going while paying particular attention to taking care of your financial foundation.
Not everyone makes enough money to buy whatever they want whenever they want it. Most of us have to make choices: we have to decide what we’re prepared to give up, or have less of, so that we can have the things that are really important. That’s frugality: making choices and prioritizing. And if we have to clip some coupons, search for a sale or come up with a creative solution to a problem to save some money, that’s what we do.
If frugality is the new black, it doesn’t have to come in the form of a widow’s dress. Get yourself a snappy little black number that turns heads. That’s my kind of frugal.