Thursday, March 27, 2008

10 Steps to Finding Contentment in Frugality

I personally feel a sincere satisfaction in being frugal. The world views frugality with many negative connotations. But, here is an interesting tidbit for you. Do you know the etymology of the word frugal? Next time you hear someone use the word in a derisive way, or similarly refer to your spending habits, share this with them, from MerriamWebster:

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin frugalis virtuous, frugal, from frug-, frux fruit, value; akin to Latin frui to enjoy
Date: 1590

Isn't that fantastic? If that's not enough, I'd like to share my top 10 steps for finding contentment in frugality.

1. Embrace Frugality as a Lifestyle Choice

Whether or not your frugality was born out of necessity, choose to embrace it as a lifestyle choice. It is easy to have the viewpoint that we are frugal because we have to be, but doesn't that just lead to bitter feelings? Sure it's nice to dream about going on a $5000 shopping spree someday, "when we can afford it." Or maybe instead we can say, "No, I'd never do that. I choose to be frugal. If I had an extra $5000 it would be donated, or saved, or put to good use on things that are true necessities." Which mindset is easier to live with when deciding if an extra half ounce in a can of tomatoes is worth 10 extra cents. Four years ago we had to be vigilantly frugal out of necesity, but it was by embracing a frugal lifestyle that we were able to grow and become more successful. We chose to not wallow in our situation, but to always look forward. Now, we choose to be frugal because it just makes sense.

2. Take pride in raising the next generation of smart, frugal shoppers

We are raising our children to understand the value of a dollar. They know the importance of taking the time to weigh the pros and cons of any purchase. They know how to price compare and delight in finding the best deal. (And yet, they still know the thrill of an occasional, unexpected ice cream cone treat or candy bar.)

3. Recognize Opportunities for Creativity

True frugality is not for the unimaginative. There are opportunities at every turn to find a creative substitute. Look at your frugality like a child looking at a box of 64 crayons for the first time. The options are limitless. Why stick with brown when you could choose burnt sienna or raw umber?

4. Revel in the Joy of the Chase

You are like a hunter, chasing down the most cost-effective route, searching for that elusive coupon that will allow you to actually make money when you bring home your prey. It's fun! Enjoy being the hunter!

5. Feel the Excitement of a Job Well-Done

Is there any better feeling out there than ringing up two grocery carts full of food for a whopping total of $120? Don't you love to watch the cashier's bewildered face as she watches the total drop by over $75 dollars when you hand her your store loyalty card? You worked hard to achieve that result, so be excited for yourself.

6. Avoid Feelings of Deprivation

Sometimes treats are a necessary part of life. There are certain things that we would just feel deprived without having. Cut yourself some slack and find a way to fit that treat into your budget when it is allowable. If this keeps you from feeling deprived, you will be more likely to maintain your positive frugal outlook. For example, Eric and I love dessert EVERY NIGHT. Now, it's never anything fancy or outrageous. Usually it is a bowl of ice cream. Ice cream is an allowable non-essential splurge in our grocery budget. We never feel guilty over this either, and we do share with the children!

7. Keep Your Priorities in Order

If your frugality was born out of a desire to purchase a home, or to become debt free, or to allow you to be a better steward with your money, never lose sight of that objective. Remember that what you "give up" today is for the greater good.

8. Accept the Fact that Sometimes There is NO Frugal Alternative

We really can't do much about gas prices. There is no gas station I know of that offers double couponing offers combined with buy one, get one free offers. So don't get hung up on it. Public transportation is just not reliable enough, convenient enough, or even available for some. That's okay! You're going to spend a lot of money on gas. This is not to say don't even look at the gas station billboards to see who has the cheapest cost, just don't fret over it.

9. Remember That Not Everybody Views Frugality as an Ideal Situation

There are some people who might pity you for not "being able to" buy only overpriced name brand labels at the grocery store. There are some people who might believe you are doing a disservice to your children by not buying them all the newest toys or taking them out to dinner at least once a week. Oh well. I say let these people feel this way. It's not that they're a lost cause, it's just that we should be frugal in time expenditures also and if explaining your views will take more time than it's worth, just skip it.

10. Praise God for the Opportunity to Stretch Your Faith and Your Mind While Learning to Stretch Your Budget

That's really all I need to say on that one. He is so GOOD!

So, those are my tips. Do you have any others? If so, please share them with me. And for other Frugal Friday tips, don't forget to stop in at Crystal's.


Teresa @ A Life At Home 11:55 PM  

Nope, no other tips here. Very well said! Sometimes people just don't understand that I love being frugal. It challenges me and is rewarding. My children even love it! :-)

Niki 12:31 AM  

I love these tips, especially the one about not feeling deprived just because you live frugally.


Great blog!

Miranda 8:54 AM  

Very well written!

BarbaraLee 9:48 AM  

I agree. I am a farm girl at heart and I love doing things with my own hands. We are almost debt free and going through a transion right now with hubby and work but all in all we are enjoy the simple life.

Mom2fur 1:24 PM  

I'm trying to pay down debt, and at first it was really, really hard. Then I got smart regarding coupons and making things from scratch or finding things at the lowest price. I guess my 'treat' would be my coffee and cream that I want every morning. I know where to buy it at about half price, and I stock up. It killed me recently that I didn't realize there were no spare jars in the pantry, and I had to pay full price--over $7. But! I happened to have a Walgreen's coupon for $5 off anything, so I used that and ended up paying on $2 for the coffee. You are's a game, and if you play it right, you almost always win.
I rarely feel deprived, and if I do, I get over it fast. If you really want something, there's always a frugal way to do it!
Once you've done it a while, you realize there are things you thought you simply couldn't live without, only to find you just don't care about them any more!
And God does give us opportunities, doesn't He?

Kacie 4:46 PM  

You are absolutely right!

Occasionally, I struggle with feeling deprived. Its times like those that I need to switch my focus from "right now" to long-term.

And truly, I think God loves it when we're frugal. He's helped me stretch things a lot further than I ever thought possible!

Mom2fur 7:39 AM  

thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you get to try the potatoes soon!

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