A lot of people think being frugal means living stingy. In other words, they think you have to live a deprived life to be frugal.
In reality, that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Frugal living is all about being resourceful. It is about discovering ways to save money, whether via do-it-yourself hacks, freebies, or coupons. Frugality is also about getting maximum usage out of the things you already have. The ultimate goal with frugality is to live your life in ways that allow you to aim your attention and focus your money on the things that matter most to you.
Even though frugal living may seem like you need to sacrifice quality, the good news is that it does not have to be. For the most part, you can opt to have a frugal lifestyle in ways that’ll add more significance and advantage to your life. In fact, there are a lot of great ways to live frugally without sacrificing every comfort or luxury.
While living stingy may seem like a life of sacrifice, the truth is that frugality in some areas of your life will likely set you free in others and ultimately allow you to reach your money goals.
Read on to learn more about living stingy the frugal way with these tips. But first, what is living stingy and frugality anyway?
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What Does Living Stingy Mean?
The word “stingy” has a negative connotation, and for a good reason. The definition of stingy is “sparing or scant in using, giving, or spending,” and people often use the word stingy to describe negative attributes in others.
It doesn’t sound like living stingy would be much fun.
However, living stingy is really the same concept as living frugally. The philosophy of frugalism has been discussed on this site before, but rather than being cheap and spending as little as possible on everything, frugalism is a money management system that allows you to spend money in the ways that matter most to you.
The goals of frugality are not to save on everything but rather to understand how money-related systems work, use that knowledge to save money, and get maximum value and usage out of the purchases you do make.
In essence, frugality is more about reallocating money rather than depriving yourself.
Is Living Stingy a Choice?
Before we go any further, we need to acknowledge that living stingy isn’t always a choice.
Unfortunately, millions of people must save money on everything they can to pay their bills. Thus, the ability to choose to live frugally is a privilege in and of itself that we shouldn’t take for granted.
For those living stingy out of necessity, we have a few tips for your consideration.
First, if you haven’t already, build a budget and see exactly where your money is going. You may find areas where you can save further or places where you can reallocate your spending to save more or reach other goals. Check out one of these budgeting methods and see if one will work for you.
Unfortunately, you can only cut so much, and you may find that your budget is bursting at the seams with no room to spare. In that case, see if you can increase your income in some way. There are a ton of different side hustles out there, even ones that can be done online. Another option is to increase your skillset so that you can get a higher paying job. There are plenty of high-income skills you can learn without a college degree.
Lastly, see what community resources are available to you. Many community centers offer adult classes and coaching for free. There may also be financial resources you weren’t aware of that can help get you moving in the right direction.
Pros and Cons of Living Stingy
Before we jump into specific tips for frugal living, let’s briefly discuss the pros and cons of frugality.
Understanding the Value of Your Purchases
If you’re frugal, you’re also likely considering each purchase you make, at least at a surface level. Frugal people don’t tend to make impulsive decisions and instead consider the time and value cost of each purchase and the monetary one. You’ll start to look at most purchases regarding whether it really matters to you and how it might affect your other goals.
Of course, the main goal of living stingy is to save money. However, frugality goes far beyond simply saving money. The real benefit comes when the savings you’ve found are reallocated to the things you really care about. These things can be travel, investing, or saving up for a desired item.
The ultimate goal of many who practice frugality and living within their means is financial independence. Financial independence (FI) is when you no longer need to work to cover your expenses but rather can cover all your bills and spending with investments/savings. FI is the ultimate long-term goal that many are willing to sacrifice a few years of living stingy for.
As with anything, where there are positives, there are also negatives. Here are the cons of living stingy.
While the goals of frugality are not about sacrifice, there is some sacrifice involved. Clearly, if we had unlimited income, we would probably spend much more freely and have many more things. As a result, frugality will inherently limit you in some ways, but if you remember that the ultimate goal is to spend money on the things that really matter to you, then the sacrifice should be worth the reward.
As mentioned above, the idea of living stingy or frugally is often given a negative connotation. Unfortunately, you may be accused of being a tight-wad, stuck up, or some other synonym meant to pull at your emotions and manipulate you into a different way of operating.
While some may meet your frugality goals with negativity, know that it is likely because of jealousy or to make themselves feel better. People will often put down those they wish they could be like, so it’s important not to fall for this trap. Just know that if someone in your life is unwilling to offer their support, you may want to reconsider whether they are someone you should continue to associate with.
Going Too Far
The last major con to the idea of living stingy is taking it too far. Some get so into extreme frugality that they begin saving just for saving’s sake and end up enjoying nothing with the fruits of their saving. Saving can become a compulsion that ends up doing more harm, so remember why you’re living stingy and the goals you want to accomplish.
Tips for Living Stingy
Now that you understand what living stingy is and the goals of frugality, let’s talk about some ways you can start to become more frugal.
There’s A Season for Shopping
When it comes to shopping, keep in mind that there is a right time for buying certain items. Although shopping for groceries like vegetables and fruits when they are in season will, without a doubt, help keep your spending under control, it is also smart to purchase other items when they are on sale.
Some organizations and websites monitor the time of the year when products are likely to be discounted. As a result, you’ll get to know when the best time to buy a lawnmower or a new TV is.
One helpful tip to save is to buy holiday gifts when most people might not consider it, such as after the Christmas season. During this time, stores and malls start setting meager prices on their items to clear inventory. Another idea is to wait to buy desired items during known sales like Black Friday.
If you don’t need an item immediately, waiting to buy it when it goes on sale is a great way to save money and practice frugality.
Get Discounted Gift Cards
Another idea to live more frugally is to consider buying discounted gift cards online. Did you know that you can get gift cards for at least twenty percent off this way? Buying gift cards at a discount will allow you to turn them into discounts at stores that don’t usually provide sales, such as restaurants.
What’s more, when you combine all of your acquired discounted gift cards with sales at other shops, you’ll be able to stack your savings even more.
Learn Some DIY Projects
When you need a product, you usually have two options: make it yourself or buy it. Even though going to the store is much more convenient, doing it yourself is normally much more affordable.
While DIY does require a lot of time, a little artfulness and inventiveness can make the things you own last longer. Community classes and online tutorials can help DIY everything from small appliances to clothing.
Here are some DIY tips:
- Make your own beauty products such as dry shampoo and deodorant.
- Create your own cleaning products such as laundry detergent, window cleaner, and stain remover.
- Tailor and repair your clothing yourself.
If you have disposable income, one way to make it hard for you to spend money regularly is to save it before you can spend it, otherwise known as paying yourself first. If you can, save around twenty percent of your income as soon as your check hits your account. One of the simplest ways to do this is to set up an automatic transfer every month into your savings/investing accounts. This way, the money will be gone before you have a chance to spend it, and you’ll adjust to living on less.
It’s best to pay yourself first because you can effortlessly convince yourself to splurge unused money.
Cable and Electricity Bill Payments
Another way to practice frugality is to try and save on your household bills. One option for a frugal investment is a programmable thermostat. Buying and installing one enables you to more easily regulate the temperature in various seasons, at dissimilar times of the day.
For instance, during the winter season at night, you can lower the heat and shoot up the temperature in the morning. In this way, your household becomes much cooler all day. You can save significantly on electricity costs by only using air conditioning or heat when you are at home instead of wasting it all day and night.
Another increasingly common way to save money is to cut the cable and go with cable alternatives. While watching TV is a pastime for many of us, it shouldn’t take up the majority of your day. Take note that there are other things you can be doing with your valuable time, such as learning a new hobby, spending time with your friends and family, and more. You could even make money while watching TV with surveys or playing games!
Plan Your Trips Advantageously
Travel hacking has become hugely popular in the last decade and is a great way to save money traveling. And the great thing is that utilizing hacks such as rewards credit cards can help you travel to the destinations of your dreams without sacrificing the quality of your accommodations.
You can live frugally and still enjoy your vacation fully.
Make sure to join rewards programs, loyalty programs, and stack rewards whenever you can. For instance, buying through an online shopping portal that offers cashback combined with a rewards card will increase your savings. Even small travel hacks can save you a lot of money.
If you are thinking about saving money when flying, consider collecting miles and points to redeem for free or reduced-cost flights. The Southwest Companion Pass, for instance, is a great way to save tons of money on travel. You could also invest in a service like Scott’s Cheap Flights, which searches for deals from your local airport.
A lot of people think that living stingy requires sacrificing many things they love. As long as you are flexible, you can undoubtedly do much of the things you want while still practicing frugality. For some people, this means looking for deals.
Say, for example, maybe there is a great deal at a French restaurant this week and then next week, perhaps there’ll be a free music festival or a bowling deal. Look to use coupons or other discounts whenever you can, and plan your entertainment or shopping around those deals. Groupon or the Entertainment book are other great options for finding deals.
A frugal lifestyle does not mean that you have to give up every comfort. You do need to be flexible and willing to sacrifice things that do not add value to your life.
Living stingy in specific aspects of your life usually means you can afford to spend on the things that add the most value to your life. No, you won’t be able to have it all, but who does?
How would living stingy improve your life?