Thursday, June 18, 2009

Contentment With Frugality

I am re-running this post, which I originally published in March, 2008, because it is as important to me today as it was then.

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:

Etymology: 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 necessity, 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.

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 Life As Mom.


Sonshine 8:54 AM  

I remember this post when you first wrote it!! It was one of the first posts that I read of yours!

Thanks for reposting! I needed to be reminded of these steps today! It seems that everything is breaking or needing some kind of attention and those dollars are just not stretching very far and it is becoming rather frustrating.

Enjoy your weekend!

Mom2fur 10:40 AM  

Being frugal started out of necessity for me, but over time it got to be quite fun. You stated such in #s 4 & 5! Once you get the 'high' of bringing home a basket of groceries at 40% discount, you never want to go back, LOL! I never, ever feel 'deprived.' And we never, ever eat beans for dinner. In fact, now that my 'stockpile' is pretty darn full, and most of the time it's just my husband and me (my two older kids have moved out, the two younger ones are out working or with friends), we can 'splurge' on a small but excellent steak and interesting sides for dinner once in a while.
I like #3, too, because I'm inherently (right word?) a creative person. I have learned to cook from scratch and prefer it 90% of the time!
Yep, it sure can be fun!

debra 1:48 PM  

Thanks for re-posting that. I missed it the first time around. You made some very good points. Those of us who have been living frugally for a while need to be reminded. I am sure there are some newcomers to frugality who will appreicate your thoughts.

Claire 11:06 PM  

Thank you! I love this post!

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I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

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