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Frugality: Increasing Your Quality of Life for Less.

A while back, I asked when the savings kick in from various kinds of frugality. Basically, we enjoy free things like DVDs from the library and such. But we wouldn’t spend money on them anyway. So are we really saving money?

The consensus was that no, we’re not saving money. Money is only saved when we put the money in a savings account.

I agree.

But the good thing about frugality? It helps you have a better quality of life. Which is the exact opposite of the idea that frugal people are unhappy misers…

You can borrow movies from the library which you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten a chance to see (because you have a small entertainment budget).

You can eat more of the foods you like because you pay attention to coupons and sales. Or you simply learn to cook your favorite restaurant meals at home and pay a lot less for them. Or because you’ve decided to cook in bulk.

You can “shop at home” for things instead of buying something new.

You get the most out of what you already own because of your frugal mindset.

The only other real way to increase your quality of life is to spend more…which may mean using credit—but that just causes quality of life problems for the future—or spending money you wanted to use for something else—which might take away from your plans for the future/retirement/etc (depending on how much you have and what your goals are).

How does frugality increase your quality of life? What do you get by being frugal that you wouldn’t/couldn’t get/afford otherwise?


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly February 16, 2008 at 9:10 am

In one way being frugal increases my quality of life because it gives me things to think about- I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to make the buck (or euro, in my case) stretch farther, and I’m also discovering blogging by being frugal, which really helps prevent my brain from disolving into mush. Being frugal has helped me set goals as well, and I get a real sense of satisfaction from it. None of these things are tangible, but they’re certainly what I get out of it!

Ron@TheWisdomJournal February 16, 2008 at 10:06 am

We decided that we wanted to go to Disney World several years ago, but we knew we couldn’t afford it. We began saving pretty religiously and one thing we did with the kids was anytime we went out to eat, we would drink water and then go home and put $10 in the Disney fund (there’s 5 of us). We were going out anyway so this was a true savings.

We told family what we were doing and they would give us cash rather than some silly little gift for birthdays and Christmas. I would chip in $20 here and there as well.

We saved well over $2,500 in no time at all and went on a paid for Disney vacation. It was awesome!

CatherineL February 16, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Mrs Micah – I’m only really learning to be frugal now – mostly from you.

I was frugal in the past and it definitely teaches you not to buy things just for the sake of it.

The trouble is, I had high earnings in my last business, so I spent too much on travel and eating out – travel is my biggest weakness.

So, starting again from the bottom means I have to get used to being careful and it’s difficult. But, your suggestions on here are helping alot.

For example, you’ve made me realise that it’s just as much fun to eat in and invite people over.

Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances February 16, 2008 at 6:43 pm

We definitely have better quality of life right now — even if we’ve had to spend less, and even though I hate not being able to just buy what I want when I want it (I hate to sound like a whiny tween, but don’t we all?).

Eating in with friends has been really fun.

For less than the cost of my shopping ‘hobby’, I’m taking classes at the local community college where I sing and play music with lots of new friends. Of course, factor in the new (but actually used) sax I got last semester and maybe it’s not so frugal — but maybe I’ll recoup that money later if I ever do play a professional gig some day.

I need to go to the library more often, but I really enjoy myself when I’m there. I have to remind myself that the stuff is free to borrow because it still seems too good to be true (silly, huh?). Knowing what’s available has also enabled me to give away a lot of my books that were weighing me down as clutter.

Also, I’m looking forward to trying homemade cleaners when we finally finish with what we have. I’m trying to go greener, but it’s not like flushing the old stuff would be very frugal or green.

Funny about Money February 16, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Strangely, frugality allows me to have a BETTER standard of living than during the spendthrift days.

Because I now live within my means, I’m not forking over 20 cents on the dollar to credit-card interest on every purchase large and small; this means my dollar buys 20% more and better STUFF.

Also, because I no longer have to devote a chunk of my paycheck to debt payment, I can put a larger amount of money into what I call my “indulgence savings” every month. This adds up surprisingly fast, and it allows me to pay for anything I want in cash. If I want a new piece of furniture or my washer croaks over and has to be replaced, I now have the cash in hand to pay for it outright — thanks to the savings that sensible lifestyle habits have allowed me to set aside.

Truly, one day I looked around my house and realized that I was living a lot better than when I was married to the indebted lawyer:

* My furniture was new (with very few exceptions, everything he and I had was hand-me-downs).

* My house was newer, easier to care for, and had been beautifully renovated (the lawyer & I lived in a huge, ostentatious 1950s house that took six to eight hours to clean, had decrepit plumbing & wiring; needed a new roof; needed new air conditioning; needed new bathroom everything; needed to have the kitchen yanked out and rebuilt).

* My yard was prettier, ecologically correct, and infinitely easier to care for.

* My swimming pool was bigger, deeper, and newly renovated (don’t even ASK about the pool at the old house…gaaahhhh!).

* My car was better.

And not only that, but

* My dog was smarter.

1stopmom February 16, 2008 at 11:45 pm

It is so weird that I came across your post. I was just talking to my husband about this very topic.I have always been a “little” frugal and I believe that is why we are able to live on one income. If we had not been a little frugal I would not be able to be a stay at home mom. But I am striving to become more frugal by making better money decisions. My goal is to be able to not stress about credit card bills and unnecessary debt. We would like to be able to indulge sometimes and not incur more debt. I guess that is what I hope to accomplish by being frugal.

Shuchong February 16, 2008 at 11:59 pm

I think the biggest draw for me, and the biggest quality-of-life enhancer, is that being frugal makes things simpler. That doesn’t just free up money, it frees up time. Less junk, fewer bills, less time spent buying things (or dealing with things that you feel obligated to use because you paid for them and now they’re just sitting there… think stair-stepper or cable), it all means more time to spend on other things.

Also, frugality and my social life combine to create far more opportunities for in-depth conversation than I had before. Dinner and a movie seems to be the default social setting, but I find that cooking a meal for someone and having them over is not only much easier on my wallet, but far more fulfilling.

Mercedes February 17, 2008 at 11:58 am

For us its a combination of being frugal and having moved to an area with cheaper standard of living that allowed us to have me stay home with my kids. Being home with them has liberated me of the daycare guilt/anxiety and I am a better mother, wife and person now that I have more time to do thing for me as well.

JvW February 17, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I couldn’t agree more! I like to make every dollar of mine go as far as possible to maximize my money and not spend uselessly unless I explicitly choose to. Not only that, I enjoy getting a “good deal” and relish in the game. It’s win-win!

Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances February 17, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Good point 1stopmom!

Sometimes I take for granted that my husband and I are doing alright on pretty much his income alone. That’s enabled me to get my bachelor’s degree and take my time building a career that will be worthwhile for both of us in the long run.

nomoredebt2008 February 18, 2008 at 2:27 am

I am being more frugal by spending a few more dollars at the grocery store. I have my favorite meals I would go out to eat for so I got those ingredients so I could make them at home. I figure I can make about 10 of my favorite restraunt meals at home for the price of eating one at the restraunt. I am much more content to eat at home if I know I have food I actually enjoy.

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