The Versatility of Frugality

Frugality — The quality of being frugal, or prudent in saving; the lack of wastefulness.
Dictionary.com

Here’s the thing about frugal living: its different for each individual and family. Since we all have different priorities, financial status, lifestyles and objectives; rarely will the “way to get there” the same for any two people or families. While each method will most likely share some commonality, there will be some major differences. That’s why I say that what works for me may not work for you. Likewise, I may never even consider your methods as they may be unrealistic to my chosen way of living.

Furthermore, what we consider frugal will change during our lives based on our stages in life. My frugal choices being retired will not be same as a couple just starting a family. Yet, when both of us apply frugal principals and behavior, both of us will end up being financially secure.

To me, that’s the beauty of frugality! It’s like a smorgasbord with dozens of choices. We can select what methods fit our circumstances and disregard the methods that don’t. While there are many choices, the “main course” is always about managing our money effectively.

I want to provide an example, using my own life, of how practicing frugality differed based on my life circumstances at the time.

Starting a family (1970s)

The early years of starting a family were hard. There was never enough time, sleep, energy, patience or money. We had to get as many dollars out of a dime we could. For the most part, we had to buy the cheapest brand on the shelf at the grocery store, buy what was on sale and clip coupons every Tuesday and Sunday when the ads were included in the newspaper. Only buying what we needed was the only choice we had because there wasn’t money for anything else.

Today in retirement

After decades of frugal living and faithful saving and investing, life is far more relaxed and we have adequate income to live a very good life and still save in excess of 20% of our income every month.

We still buy the bulk of our clothes at garage sales and thrift stores. Stock up on non-perishable goods when they are on sale. Drive a car that is 14 years old but runs and looks good. We have no debt — and haven’t had for over 25 years. We take care of what we have regardless of how much or little we paid for it. But most importantly, we only buy what we need.

That being said, we are no longer required, out of necessity, to buy the cheapest brand on the shelf. We can be picky and buy according to quality and preference and seldom are these selections the lowest priced items on the shelf.

For us, faithful saving, only buying what we needed, and living a debt-free lifestyle (with the exception of a 15-year mortgage) allowed us to retire at age 55 and not have any money worries.

There are many wonderful sources (Internet websites, blogs, podcasts and books) that offer you ways to live frugally and financially secure. Glean all that you can from them. Just remember that you need to customize your Frugal Plan around your unique situation, lifestyle and financial objectives.

You can do this … successfully!

Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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