Being frugal is about more than just saving money. To me, being frugal is about using your resources wisely and being more efficient with everything you do. Unless you are independently wealthy, you probably have a limited amount of time, money, and other resources - and you probably need to find a way to make the most effective use of all of them. To me, doing this is being frugal.
I try to make frugality a part of my daily life by finding ways to save money, saving energy, recycling, doing my own projects around the house instead of paying someone else, and borrowing books and movies from the library instead of buying them.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that being frugal is not just important to me, but to everyone. In fact, I would say it is necessary.
Resources are limited
Money, energy, time, and materials are finite. There never seems to be enough of any of them and wasting these resources stresses people, our wallets, and our earth. Finding ways to cut energy usage, reuse items, and save money and resources will help everyone in their personal situation, as well as help everyone as a collective.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
I remember learning the “Three R’s” when I was in grade school. It was funny though, because I lived in a small town where no recycling facilities existed. However, I did take those lessons to heart, and I taught myself to make better use of my resources. Now, the town I live in has recycling centers and I recycle everything I can. Being frugal with my resources has become second nature to me.
Do the big things and everything else will fall in line
Go for the big wins first – use a programmable thermostat to save a lot of money on your utility bill, buy a fuel efficient car, buy used instead of new if it makes sense (or cents) to do so. Just keep in mind, there needs to be a balance. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to search for 3 hours to save $5, or drive half an hour each way to save $10 on an item. Sure, you save some money, but in my opinion, frugality is also about being efficient with time and energy usage.
Make frugality a habit, but don’t deprive yourself
Frugality is a lifelong habit for me. I have always been careful with my money, but as I have grown I have become more considerate of other things as well, including conserving resources and trying to find more efficient uses for my time. But I don’t deprive myself; I prefer buying quality items, I like a certain (expensive) brand of orange juice, and sometimes I like a long hot shower. You don’t need to deprive yourself to be a frugal person, you just need to be aware of how you use your resources, and decide what is best for your situation.
Do you have a definition of frugal that varies from mine? Feel free to leave your definition or frugal tips in the comments section.