How Many of These "Frugal Virtues" Have You Mastered?

By Tim Lemke on 24 January 2017 0 comments

What does it mean to be truly frugal?

It's more than just trying to save money. In many ways, being frugal is a lifestyle. It's a virtuous one, too, if you can handle the commitment.

To embody a frugal attitude requires you to follow a philosophy based on simplicity, discipline, and an awareness of yourself and the world around you.

These are the Frugal Virtues. How many have you mastered?

1. Stifling Instant Gratification

You buy a $5.99 cappuccino because you feel like you need caffeine immediately. You buy a new car because it's shiny and awesome and you just can't wait to have it. You're the first to get the next iPhone, and absolutely must see the next Star Wars sequel on the night it comes out. You're not the type to wait for things. Unfortunately for you, when it comes to spending, patience is a virtue. New products are almost always cheaper if you wait to buy them. And when you wait to buy something, you may realize you don't need the item after all. Spending to satisfy every immediate urge is not part of the path to financial freedom.

2. Seeking Efficiency

To be efficient is to have maximum productivity with the least effort and expense. This concept of efficiency can be applied to a number of areas of personal finance. It could mean driving a car with good fuel mileage, or finding an air conditioning system that gives you the most bang for your buck. It may mean investing your money so that you can generate income with little effort. It could mean spending a small amount of time planning meals for the week, so that you're not wasting time and money later.

3. Looking for Free Stuff

Why pay for something if you can get it for free? One major virtue of frugal people is their ability to find a cost-free option for many items that the rest of us usually pay for. It might be using a coupon for a free meal at a restaurant, checking out books from the library, or grabbing a perfectly good lawn chair that's been placed out in the trash. It means being happy with over-the-air television, and dressing the kids in hand-me-down clothing. Not everything in life can be had for free, but you'd be surprised what you don't need to pay for.

4. Ignoring Advertising

When you watch TV or surf the Internet, you're bombarded with companies trying to get you to part with your money. Marketing folks are experts at manipulating people's emotions, ultimately convincing them that they need a product or service. Frugal people don't get swayed by commercials and banner ads. They don't jump at the latest email promotion or Facebook ad, and they know when something is baloney or not. When they buy things, they are motivated only by their own needs, and aren't swayed by outside influence.

5. Ignoring What's Popular

So everyone you know has a wide selection of clothes from LuLaRoe. They have the newest smartphones. They have awesome sunglasses and eat at the trendiest restaurants. A frugal person ignores this, and avoids making decisions based on what is popular or cool.

6. Avoiding Financial Traps

A financial trap is something that, on the surface, seems like a good deal but is more likely to harm you in the long run. Adjustable rate mortgages, quick payday loans, and even car leases are often considered traps because of their potential to hamstring a person financially if they aren't careful. A frugal person understands the potential pitfalls of every financial decision they make, and stays away from these traps.

7. Embracing the Sharing Economy

Do you and your neighbor both need a high-powered leaf blower? Why not buy one for the two of you and split the cost? Do you have an extra property that you could rent out on Airbnb? Could you save money through a ride-sharing service rather than buying a new car? The sharing economy is based on the notion that we don't need to "own" things as much as have access to them whenever we need them. By reducing what we own, we can save money, clutter, and possibly our sanity.

8. Staying Informed

There are reasons why stock prices go up and down. There are reasons why the cost of goods and services can fluctuate. There are reasons why you're paying more for housing than your parents did. When you understand how markets and the economy work and pay attention to financial news and world events, you're in a position to make smart decisions at every turn. Frugal people know how to read the tea leaves to make the right financial moves. The most frugal people don't just avoid spending; they also make informed choices when it comes to their money.

9. Understanding Value

The concept of value is a bit nebulous, but we've all heard the term "bang for your buck." In essence, this means getting the most out of every dollar you spend. It doesn't necessarily mean buying the cheapest item every time. Rather, it means avoiding luxury for luxury's sake. And it means taking into account things like overall quality and durability of the items we buy.

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