Non-Financial Benefits of a Frugal Lifestyle – Frugal Confessions

Non-Financial Benefits of a Frugal Lifestyle

I was first drawn to the frugal lifestyle purely for financial reasons.

One of my early frugal successes I can remember was as a teenager when I wanted to purchase a gown for the senior prom. This wasn’t just any gown that I was looking for; I wanted to feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman felt (though without all of her employment drama…) all dressed up in a breathtakingly gorgeous gown complete with white gloves and a diamond necklace. Okay, I knew that no jewelry store in their right mind would allow my 17-year-old self to borrow a diamond necklace like Richard Gere had done, but the rest of the outfit I was certain I could have.

I just needed to save up for it.

I didn’t want to use my hard-earned (think shoveling manure), $98-dollar-a-week paycheck towards a gown that I knew I would only wear once. Even back then, I was quite prudent about my meager resources.

Instead I challenged myself to only spend the money that I could accumulate in my change jar to purchase the perfect gown.

And you know what? It worked. Over the course of eight months I put every penny that I found on the ground, in-between couch cushions, and in other forgotten places into my change jar. As the weather turned and the first spring crocuses appeared, the tally from our local Coinstar® machine was an impressive $75.40. When paired with a sale at the local department store, I was able to get my beautiful, magenta-colored, sateen gown as well as a pair of elbow-length white gloves to complete the look. Feeling like a princess on a pauper’s budget, I was hooked to frugality for life.

Fast forward to over a decade living in frugal decadence, and I can now tell you with sufficient experience that there are many fringe benefits to living frugally besides the obvious (and exciting) primary ones of being able to save money, pay off debt, and design your own life. I can also confidently say that sometimes, it is these fringe benefits that really make the whole thing worthwhile.

Frugality Cultivates Greater Appreciation

When you have few resources at your disposal, you learn to appreciate them more. I have found that as you appreciate your resources more, you begin to appreciate everything more. Suddenly, your world seems filled with people you love, beautiful landscapes, and everything that you could ever ask for. Appreciation brings happiness, satisfaction, and an entirely different perspective. The more I appreciate things, the less I seem to need or even want.

Frugality Leads to a Feeling of “Having Enough”

Frugality is all about utilizing a basket of limited resources. It is not necessarily about growing that basket so that you need to upgrade to a storage container in order to fit everything. Because of cultivating an understanding and usefulness for limited resources, I have found that being frugal helps to satiate and appease the typical consumer appetite. This has wonderful, lasting effects besides to your savings account; living your life with a sense of fulfillment and without feeling a constant need to purchase and procure leads to a more authentic kind of happiness.

Frugality Means You Can Deal with Less Consumer Product Health Scares

The number of consumer products that are recalled every year is astonishing. Reasons for these recalls range from lead paint to cancer-causing agents to other safety hazards. Sometimes I wonder what will be the asbestos and tan beds of our generation. Since frugal people generally consume less products, choosing instead to substitute, buy used, make themselves, or go without, their exposure to dangerous products can be much less than other consumers.

Frugality Benefits the Environment

Some people care about their role in the environment, while others do not. As a former environmental investigator, I think you can guess which side I fall on. Being frugal naturally results in decreasing your carbon footprint in a multitude of ways. For example, carpooling and purchasing used products over new products means you cut down on petrochemical use.

Frugality Can Add Time Back into Your Life

Contrary to recent cultural belief that frugal people are extreme couponers who must spend about 20 hours of their lives each week huddled over sales and coupon circulars, being frugal can open up a significant amount of time in your life. Why is that? Because instead of running to a store, or working extra in order to pay past obligations, or cleaning/maintaining lots of belongings, you can siphon off more of your time to spend with people and to spend doing what you enjoy.

I must admit, I am not blissed out in frugal, zen-like moments from sun up ‘til sundown (is anybody?). But for the majority of the time, I feel appreciative, I feel peaceful, and I feel like I have enough. Those feelings are something that I never would have understood as a 17-year-old, but that I am oh-so-grateful for now.

Do you live a frugal lifestyle? Besides saving you money, what other fringe benefits have you discovered?

Prom Gown

16 comments… add one

  • cj

    Amanda! My fave post that I’ve read of yours! All your points are excellent, but the one about time resonates most with me because time is all we have and we have no idea how much we have. Who the heck wants to work their life away so they can have stuff that causes more stress and clutter. Frugality is manifestation of common sense, really.
    cj recently posted..Smelling the Roses

  • Laura

    Amanda – thank you for such an inspirational message early on a Monday morning. I plan on moving in 2014 (across the country) and your note about saving time with frugality is so true. I am pairing down my items for the move and realized the more I let go and give away, the lighter my life feels – the free-er. My goal is to move with nothing more than fits into my car. Those are the essentials :).

    • FruGal

      Hi Laura,

      That is wonderful–about your move, and about feeling freer without so many belongings. Kudos to you!

  • Great post! I definitely agree with everything you have said. We want to live a more frugal lifestyle :)
    Michelle recently posted..Summer is a cash sucker – $480 Giveaway

    • FruGal

      Thank you Michelle! You guys are doing a great job with paying down your debt and saving for your goals; frugality can give you a super-boost as well.

  • Sandra

    You looked so pretty in your gown.

    • FruGal

      That is so sweet of you to say Sandra! It was quite a momentous occasion to me. Fortunately, I wore the gown two additional times: once for the Dairy Princess pageant where I handed my crown to the next girl, and the second time for a ball we had my junior year in college!

  • I have lived a “frugal” lifestyle all my life! I think I developed an appreciation for what is important. It may be friendship, relationships or how much meaningful time with someone is more important than where you spend it. I still spend money on what is important to us, but all the time.
    krantcents recently posted..The End of Google Reader is Tonight!

  • I agree with all points, especially appreciating things more. I also find the opposite is true. If something you buy is a let down, you remember that feeling more because it is wasted time and money and you, again, realize how little is really needed to be fulfilled.
    Greg @ Thriftgenuity.com recently posted..Can You Afford to Have a Baby?

    • FruGal

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts; I think you are correct with feeling even more let down than other people because of how much you value your time, energy, and resources.

  • Bob S

    Thanks so much for this. It comes at a good time for me when I’ve been going through a couple years of recession-adjusted life followed by career uncertainty and family health troubles. You remind me of what’s really important.

    FYI, I shared it on Facebook and I noticed it doesn’t come up with the article name, description, etc. You might want to check you tags to see if they contain
    <meta property="og:type" …
    <meta property="og:title" …
    <meta property="og:url" …
    <meta property="og:description" …
    <meta property="og:description" …
    <meta property="og:site_name" …
    …and so on. Those come from Facebook's "Open Graph" protocol and might help with your links. See more at http://ogp.me/

    • FruGal

      Hi Bob S,

      I appreciate you sharing this and leaving a comment. I will look into the tags–thank you for the information!

  • This is such a great post! I agree with so many of your points here but my favorite would have to be the realization of what really matters that comes with frugality. Being able to appreciate what you have so you don’t over-do lifestyle can make a world of a difference. It’s great to hear that you have not just lived like this when caught in a tight place, but rather continued to use it as a lifestyle. Your an inspiration!

    • Thank you Don! It would probably have made a world of difference to some of the people that come to use your services…a few years before they come to you. I hope to prevent as many of those types of financial catastrophes as possible by spreading the word of frugality.
      Amanda L Grossman recently posted..It is Seldom True that You Get What You Pay For

  • Frugality is important so it is just right to understand the non-financial benefits of being thrifty. Frugality leads to self discipline. This is definitely more than saving money.
    David S. @ PBC recently posted..Personal Bankruptcy Blog Carnival July 10, 2013

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