The benefits of frugal living go far beyond saving money. Why being frugal is good, and the priceless gains you’ll get from living the lifestyle.
There is little question why being frugal is good for your household’s bottom line.
Just look at the huge number of money-based goals my husband and I have been able to accomplish because we’re frugal by heart:
- Paying cash for our wedding 12 years ago
- Paying cash for our 11-day honeymoon to Austria
- Paying off the remainder of our student loan/engagement ring/car debt
- Getting to quit my day job to pursue Frugal Confessions full-time (when it was still making pennies to the hours I put in)
- Paying cash for an 11-day cruise in Alaska
- Paying cash for our last car purchase
But being frugal is not all about the monetary gains.
Trust me on this one.
Or don’t – because I’m about to show you the huge benefits you will gain with the careful, daily use of your resources (money, or otherwise).
What Does Frugal Living Mean?
I’ve lived a frugal life when I’ve had next to no money to work with, and I’m continuing to live a frugal life now that we’re blessed beyond measure (both financially, and otherwise).
That’s right – frugal living has much less to do with saving a buck or two, and much more to do with how you use the resources in your life.
It’s a way of life.
Frugal living is about taking all the resources you have in your life – your money, your time, your energy, your friends, your family, your job, your side hustles…everything – and figuring out ways to both maximize them to their true potential, plus to not waste them.
You can be frugal whether you’ve got little money, or you have lots of money.
Why Being Frugal is Good
Do you dabble in frugality, but not really with any “why” behind it?
This section might change you.
Frugal living has so many benefits, beyond just the obvious one of saving more money.
And good thing it does, right? Otherwise, penny pinching gets old!
I can also confidently say that sometimes, it is these fringe benefits that really make the whole thing worthwhile.
1. You Gain a Deeper Appreciation for Things, and for Life
When you have few resources at your disposal, you learn to appreciate them more.
And 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.
Less really is more (here's the meaning of less is more).
2. It Puts You in the Power Position when Making Financial Decisions
Ever wondered how to make better financial decisions?
The three ways you’ll make better financial decisions are:
- Take the urgency out of your decision-making.
- Understand your opportunity costs.
- Test-drive to make sure it’s the best financial decision you’re making.
And guess what? Frugality helps with all three of these.
You’ll take the urgency out of your decision-making if you’re frugal in both the good times and the bad times, because you’ll have a reserve of resources to tide you over while you make your decision.
You’ll understand your opportunity costs pretty well, because as a frugal person, you’re used to carefully considering options when it comes to your money.
And you’ll be able to test-drive a financial decision before making it because you have the patience (another fruit of frugal living) to do so!
3. You Cultivate a Feeling of “Having Enough”
Frugality is all about utilizing a basket of limited resources.
It’s not necessarily about growing that basket so that you need to upgrade to a storage container in order to fit everything. It's about simple living.
Because of cultivating an understanding and usefulness for limited resources, I’ve 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.
Spending less money means you get more out of life.
Hint: this is one of the reasons why people want to be rich. Yet, you can experience this same feeling without being rich. What a great benefit of frugal living!
4. You 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.
For example, I stopped purchasing mopping solutions or an all-purpose cleaner in my mid-20s, when I began making my own vinegar and water solution. That’s a lot less chemicals I’ve had in my life and the lives of my family!
5. You 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 and reading coupon fine print – 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.
Psst: you'll want to check out my article on time vs. money.
6. You Gain Self-Sufficiency, Faster (and Longer)
Being self-sufficient – needing no outside help to satisfy your needs and wants – is a priceless feeling.
And frugality really helps with this.
Not only because you typically build up an emergency fund and other savings, faster, by living a frugal lifestyle. But also because you acquire the kinds of skills you need to stretch your resources longer, to make substitutes, and to use less (since you have a lower-threshold for feeling that you have “enough”).
7. You Benefit 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.
Or, sourcing quality furniture cheap instead of buying new furniture helps cut down on landfill waste, carbon emissions, and plastic production.
8. You Can Take More Leaps of Faith
Being able to make life decisions without basing them entirely on money is a freedom that I want for everyone to experience.
And it’s one that frugality helps with, greatly.
When you have a pot of money saved up, and you continue to live frugally, then you are in a much better position to take life’s leaps of faith as they present themselves.
For example, my husband and I have been able to take the following leaps of faith, mostly due to our frugal lifestyle:
- Deciding to move to Houston to live in the same time zone together for the first time, before I found a job (now we're husband and wife!)
- Quitting my day job to pursue my passion and build a business full-time
- Getting to Call 5 Months of Unemployment 5 Months of Mini-Retirement
9. You Can Afford Quality, When it Really Matters
Frugal living is not all about buying the cheapest things possible.
It’s more about deciding to spend as little as possible on the things that do not matter to you, so that you can then buy what you want.
And not just what you want, but you can buy quality when you buy what you want. Since you’re not piddling away a bunch of money on everything else.
This means that you might have the cheapest phone plan possible because it doesn’t matter to you, but you were able to purchase a gorgeous set of golf clubs you’ll cherish for decades to come.
It might mean you routinely use coupons and grocery receipt cashback apps like ibotta and Fetch to shave $10-$15 off of every grocery shopping trip, but when it comes to your animals, you like to splurge on grooming.
Whatever it is that really means something to you, spend the money there. As long as you are spending as little as possible in some other areas to make up for it.
10. You No Longer Have to Buy at Full-Price
When you have enough stashed in your freezer, cupboards, and savings account – a benefit of frugal living – then time is on your side.
Suddenly, you don’t have to spend money on something when it’s the most expensive, just because you need it now.
You can wait and hold out. When the price drops? Then you can swoop in and buy what you need (plus, perhaps, one more for the future to stock up again).
Hint: where does this really play out? When you decide what age to take Social Security. The earlier you draw on your Social Security, the less you’ll receive each month. If you can hold out for a few years – because you have the resources to do so, plus don’t need a lot to feel satisfied – then you’ll get more each month. How cool is that?
11. Your Lifestyle Inflation will be Less than Others
Lifestyle inflation is practically unavoidable (just look at these lifestyle inflation examples).
In fact, I go into great detail about it in my life lessons about money.
The good news is that YOUR lifestyle inflation is going to be considerably less than others’. All because of frugal living.
For example, if you start out buying beater cars to begin with (like me), then when you upgrade, you’ll be upgrading to a much-less expensive car than others who started out with a new car.
Another big area where this plays out? Rewards. Rewards inflation – where you have to reward yourself with something bigger and better, each time, to get that same “rewarded” feeling – is something I truly believe happens to all of us.
If you start out rewarding yourself for much less than others, then you’ll end up spending less as you inflate those rewards moving forward.
12. You Learn How to Pass on “Good” Deals that aren’t Good for You
When you are truly frugal – meaning, you are careful and smart about how you use your resources – then it becomes much easier to pass on “good” deals.
You know, the sale that makes most of us feel a sense of urgency with buying it right now…but then it turns out to not be as great of a deal? Either because you don’t really need the thing, or because it’s just good marketing on their part, etc.
Hint: this is one frugal benefit I still struggle with – saying “no” to a deal if it’s not really right for me. But, I’m getting better and better as I go.
13. You Can Use Your Frugal Skills for What You Need
Sometimes, a person needs to be frugal because they don’t have enough cash flow to afford their life. That means they use all of their frugal skills to help their paycheck make it.
The other way to use frugal skills is to stockpile the excess cash.
The good news? You can choose either outcome…and you can flip-flop between the two as needed.
In times of flush cash, you can still be frugal and stockpile the extra money. In times of need, you can use those same frugal skills to survive.
14. You'll Become Quite the Resourceful Person
In the course of trying to use our resources as carefully as possible, we learn a heck of a lot. Right?
In fact, you could say this blog has been one long sharing of all the ways I've learned how to use money and resources in the most efficient way possible over the last 12 years.
You'll also become quite resourceful as you learn to do more with fewer resources. It's really a cool process.
I hope I've shown you why being frugal is good not just for your wallet, but also for your life. What's your favorite frugal fruit, and how has it helped you in your finances and beyond?
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