65% of Americans said the pandemic has pushed them to become frugal.
This proves that frugality is gaining steam as we speak, with more and more Americans embracing this lifestyle.
However, there are still some myths that scare off some folks.
They expect frugality to make life miserable, dull, or unhealthy, to name a few.
In this post, we’ll go over some common expectations about frugality and how they actually turn out in practice.
What is Frugality?
Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer.
To many, it’s a synonym for cheap.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
On the other hand, Merriam Webster defines it as:
“The careful management of material resources and especially money.”
Now, that makes sense.
I would add “to be intentional with one’s resources and avoid excessive spending.”
So, if you’re frugal, the goal is getting the most out of your resources, lower your expenses, and manage your money wisely.
If you don’t need something, you’ll refrain from splurging your hard-earned money (that’s the mindset).
Now that you know the basics, let’s dispel some common myths.
Expectations vs Reality
Expectation: “I’ll starve.”
Reality: Buy the food you like and eat healthily, just don’t get the most expensive brands
For some reason, frugality skeptics assume cutting down on expenses means eating like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
In practice, it just means buying the essential products and foods you enjoy while cutting down on premium foreign brands.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get those products, though. By all means, get them.
However, premium products should represent a small part of your diet. Otherwise, you won’t be frugal.
Opt for more affordable, equally healthy options to balance out your diet and end up with more spare cash as a result.
If you want to optimize your spending, though, cooking your meals at home will be one of the pillars to big-time savings.
When you spend $15 on food 5 times a week, that’s $300 a month (It adds up exponentially).
Instead, you could invest those $300 (or more) and start creating wealth for yourself.
Expectation: “I’ll never go out.”
Reality: You will, but not every day
While it’s true that clubbing 3 times a week is the opposite of frugal, it doesn’t mean you won’t have fun anymore.
You can perfectly go out with your friends once or twice a week with proper planning.
Include this in your budget and, it’ll give you an idea of how often you can go out without breaking the bank ― you don’t want to improvise with your spending, you’ll miss out on gains.
An alternative would be to engage in more affordable activities.
Instead of spending $75 just to enter a club, buy some drinks in the supermarket and party at a friend’s house, for example.
Remember, the beauty of frugality is that you can do the things you love because you’ve cut costs on less important areas. Prioritize.
Expectation: “I won’t get dates.”
Reality: Frugality is an attractive quality.
A study found that frugality is actually viewed as an appealing trait in a partner.
Think it’s a one-off?
Recent research also backs up that being financially savvy is attractive.
That’s right, you’re more desirable. When you’re frugal, people view you as:
See? Don’t worry about coming off as cheap, it’ll only hold you back.
Expectation: “I’ll have to settle for the cheapest stuff.”
Reality: Focus on value buys.
I’ve heard this myth so many times I’ve lost count.
Frugality is about getting the most bang for your buck. It’s about ditching overpriced items in favor of those that provide the most value for a fair price.
This includes clothing, food, housing, leisure, among others.
You can definitely be stylish and feel great about your look without buying $500 shoes or $200 belts.
You can go out with friends and have fun without wasting $150 on a single night out.
If you’re going to learn one thing from this article, let it be this: when you have a frugal mindset, you’re constantly looking for the best value you can get for your hard-earned money.
So, the goal is to focus on value, not crappy products that won’t last.
Expectation: “It’s not worth it, YOLO!”
Reality: You’ll regret being broke at 50
One of the biggest criticisms frugality gets is that it’s simply not worth it.
The main reason given is that “Hey, you only live once!”
Well, you know what’s not living? Having to scramble and hustle at age 50 because you didn’t set yourself up for financial success early on.
Frugality paves the way to reaching your goals and become financially free.
There’s no doubt you can enjoy life while living below your means and investing the spare funds.
As a result of these healthy financial habits, you ease the economic burden on yourself as you age.
Also, because you don’t need that much income to sustain yourself, you can be stress-free when retirement knocks on your door. It’s a no-brainer!
Easy Action Steps to Get Started
- Create a budget
- Cook your meals at home
- Ask yourself if a purchase is necessary before spending
- Focus on value buys (avoid overpriced premium brands)
- Identify areas where you can lower expenses
Now that you know what frugality is (and what it’s not), it’s time to take action.
If you commit to a budget, spending less, and focus on value when shopping, you’re already on the right track.
That’s not too hard, is it?
See frugality as a gateway to what you really want (financial freedom, travel, etc..) rather than a constraint.
Because when you dive in and experience the benefits of this lifestyle, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to adopt it.
About the Author:
John Sandoval is a personal finance freelance writer and blogger. Through his writing, he strives to dispel the “finance is boring myth” that he once believed in. Check out his blog at Properwriter.com.