Frugal: Necessity or Choice

In reading the various blogs dedicated to frugality, two main currents are quickly apparent. There are those who are frugal out of necessity and those who are frugal out of choice and a few who straddle the two camps.

What do I mean by choice? Well, everybody sets limits to their frugality. For some it is organic produce: they are frugal, but are willing to pay much more for organic foods. Others are frugal, but they do not like eating leftovers. Some are frugal, but believe that they are justified in buying new and very expensive jeans because they will “last longer” making them really cheaper than discount jeans or jeans bought in a thrift store.

Others are frugal out of necessity. I fall into this category. My separation and divorce a few years ago as well as the bills and debt left me with no choice but to find ways of cutting back costs. I had to find ways of living frugally. However, the necessity of being frugal has forced me to change my outlook in life. I now value frugality and have become a better person. Now, I can cook and can make meals that my wife and I will enjoy. Now, I know how to enjoy life without having to spend money. In other words, the necessity changed me and once I have resolved my financial problems, I will remain frugal by choice. I will, however, continue to love leftovers 😉

I am curious: where do you draw your line in the proverbial sand? Are there some things that you are not willing to sacrifice for the sake of frugality?

Here are a few of mine:

  • Pancake mixes: it is certainly cheaper to make my pancake mix from scratch, but I confess that I prefer to buy mixes for making pancakes. Costco sells big bags and I prefer to buy these instead of making my own;
  • New bicycle: I could have bought used, but the local store offers lifetime service. They are also quite reliable: they offer decent bikes at a good price. I was also able to have it put aside at a large discount until I save the money to pay it off.
  • Good vacuum cleaner that I know will last: I refused to fall for the hype of Dyson and was tired of cheap vacuums that don’t do a good job, so I bought a Miele on sale ($300 off).
  • Sushi: my wife and I love sushi and we go out every two months or so to a decent Japanese restaurant.

These are my frugal failings. What are yours?

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2 Responses to Frugal: Necessity or Choice

  1. slb725writer says:

    1. My daughters education. She is 16. It would certainly be cheaper to send her to school full time, rather than homeschooling her for most of her classes. She takes Bio Lab and Algebra at a high school not too far from us.

    We opt for her to take those classes at a school that is not within walking distance. The one closer is not good enough, and we take her education very seriously.

    So, I buy almost of of her school materials and supplies, plus pay at least $1 a day during the week for bus fare. Sometimes $2 because she is also in key club.

    2. Our cats. We cannot afford the vet, but the males have been fixed. There are two males, and three females. All but one are indoor cats, so we need litter. Food as well, but they eat some of our leftovers as well, which is cheaper.

    They are family, not pets. And the two 6 wk old kittens arrived a little over a week ago, because they were taken from their mama and abandoned. They need love and a home, so here they are.

    I have a friend who charges only $6 for distemper shots, and am looking for a clinic for rabies shots. Other than emergencies, we no longer go to the vet.

    The oldest cats are 5 1/5, and we have only had one emergency.

    3. Tea, and the occasional diet cola.

  2. thepennypincher says:

    Does home schooling your daughter help to cut costs other ways? She is at the age where there would be a lot of pressure to conform and wear the “right” (read expensive) clothing.

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