5 Dead Simple Reasons Why People Are Frugal

By David Ning on 21 July 2010 (Updated 18 July 2011) 13 comments
Photo: urbancow

Every time we discuss the subject of frugal living, someone somewhere always brings up opportunity cost. It goes something like this. "...my time is worth a whole lot more. If I'm going to spend the time clipping coupons, I might as well spend some time working on my side business." Valid point no doubt, but there are many reasons why we share and practice frugality. Aside from the direct benefit of saving those couple of dollars, we pinch pennies when:

1. It bothers us otherwise.

It's not that we can't afford a new pair of shoes, but why buy when we can get it fixed? If we can make/build/do it ourselves, why pay and rely on someone else? I understand that you don't want to bother with learning how to live like us, but it bothers us to live like the way you do.

2. We are just used to it.

Some of us are wired that way, and others amongst us learn to just do it. The truth is that most of the time, we just automatically opt for the cheaper alternative. You are used to spending money at Starbucks, we are used to brewing our coffee. Frugality is not necessarily a better way, but it is a different way.

3. We are just watching TV with our free time.

Clipping coupons and researching the best deal takes time. Haggling takes time, and trying to reuse everything takes time. Being frugal takes time, but if we are just in front of the TV otherwise, we'd take a more comfortable retirement any day of the week. You have fun being a couch potato, and we get a kick out of getting a good deal. We don't question you. Maybe you shouldn't question us.

4. We hate complexity.

Some of us actually realize that the more we buy, the more cluttered our house becomes. Not only is it a big waste of money, it's a huge hassle to clean, organize and store everything. Sure, we can make the money and spend it too, but that's so complicated if you think about it. We rather make do with what we already have.

5. We simply love doing it.

We are frugal because we love doing it. We are proud that we aren't being wasteful, and we truly enjoy spending less than everyone else. You may love going to shopping, but we love working on our vegetable gardens. You may not get us, but we don't get you either. Isn't that fair?

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Guest's picture

I love this post! I am very proud of being frugal and totally agree most strongly with No 5 above. I have a comfortable enough salary, that I don't have to be frugal. But, I playing around with financial instruments, saving money, and contributing to charity are a hobby of mine.

Bottom line is I get more satisfaction by being frugal and having money left over to play around with than I would by having a $100K brand new car.

Guest's picture
Khürt

Number one reason why some people aren't frugal:

They make so much money per hour that doing it themselves actually cost them money. That's the opportunity cost you mentioned in the article and which you conveniently pushed aside. It's not about one way or the other. It is about making the choices that strike the right balance between frugality and enjoying life. None of us know that we WILL live to into a future where our frugality pays a dividend. We could all die tomorrow with a large savings account. Do what work for you and meets your PERSONAL goals life.

Guest's picture
Kathi

I agree with Khurt's point about balance. It saddens me to see something like this made into an "us versus them" approach. To me it's not an either/or proposition, but a continuum. I make some frugal choices that allow me to splurge in other areas of life. I enjoy coming here to find new ideas and new perspectives, not another battleground.

Guest's picture
kt

another reason for frugality is that the end justifies the means. We want a good financial foundation in future even if that means foregoing some things and planning our expenditures. I am a firm believer that there are consequences for every action and i do not want to suffer bad ones; just the piece of mind of a strong base in future with a good financial background

Guest's picture
Aaron

Very succinct David!

Guest's picture
Dorothy

Khurt's POV is one often cited, but it's fallacious for most people. You're only "losing" money if, instead of painting your own house or clipping coupons you'd truly be writing code, drafting a brief or removing someone's tonsils.

Most of us don't/can't/don't wish to work 20 hours per day. Most of us do our frugal activities in the time other people do other "hobbies" -- collect stamps, watch TV, fish.

I'm a voracious reader and I always have a book with me. I've often had strangers approach me and interrupt my reading (which they view as doing "nothing") to tell me they wish they could read more, but they don't have time. News flash: My day has 24 hours just like yours does. Each of us chooses how to spend that time.

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Heavensbee

Simplicity is why I'm cheap... I mean, frugal. I hate dealing with so much stuff.

Guest's picture
carl

"but it bothers us to live like the way you do."
"Maybe you shouldn't question us."
"Sure, we can make the money"
"You may not get us, but we don't get you either"

Sounds pretty darn defensive to me

"Some of us actually realize that the more we buy, the more cluttered our house becomes..."

It is no more cluttered to garage a mercedes than it is a toyota
one picasso is easier to dust than all your refrigerator magnets

it is simply a matter of what life is worth rather than what it costs

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm not sure that I'm frugal for any of these reasons. I'm careful with my money because I know what it is like to be without it, and try to avoid that situation.

Guest's picture

I think your fifth tip really sums it up. It's nice to think that we aren't being cheap, we are just being resourceful!

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Guest

The moment that frugality becomes a vehicle of pride and one-upmanship, the moment it has lost its value. "Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall."

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Carl

Your frugal because you want to keep your money, and you want to keep your money because it helps you feel safe and makes you feel better about yourself. Knowing that you have more money than other people is a way to attempt to block out insecurities, but it is not something which resolves problems. Not everyone is this way when it comes with their frugality, but it is often a cause. I understand saving your money makes sense when you're planning on spending it on something important... such as a vacation, or a gift for another person. But being frugal for the comfort of having money is another thing. Understanding the difference is important.

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Perri

This article was written 3 years ago, but it's still timely today. I don't understand what some of the posters are so angry about. There's great contentment and comfort with being frugal. If you think it's prideful or arrogant, I think you're putting your own judgments on the writer. As far as making too much to be bothered to conserve and save money, that's really ridiculous. We all have free time and even if you're a physician making loads of money, if you live frugally, you can save money for yourself or choose to donate to the many homeless and jobless people in our country who could use it. You don't lose money by spending wisely. It does requires one to think of the glass as half-full instead of half-empty, though.