29 Jun

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on June 29, 2009

What does it mean to live frugally? At a very basic level, frugal living means that you live your life in a way that allows you to limit your spending. However, there are many different approaches to frugality that one might take. In truth, being frugal can mean very different things to different people. The reasons that you opt to embrace a frugal lifestyle will have a significant impact on your type of frugality. Let’s take a look at some of the core philosophies of frugal living.

Simple Living

A lot of people who choose to live frugally are engaged in a practice commonly known as voluntary simplicity. These people believe that life should not be about the acquisition of material goods. Instead, these people aim to live a high-quality life comprised of doing things that they enjoy with people that they love. Being frugal assists them in living this way. It helps them avoid getting sucked into the repetitive cycle of ongoing material consumption. It also helps them to reduce the amount of money that they need which reduces the amount of time that they have to spend working. This frees up their time to do the things that are important to them. The philosophy of frugal living for these people is that living frugally allows them to live the simple lifestyle that they believe is important.

Green Living

A lot of people today are trying to live a green lifestyle. This can go hand-in-hand with frugal living. Many of the things that people do to be green are things that naturally allow them to save money. Walking to work instead of driving, reducing the waste of water and energy in the home and making sure to re-use items instead of buying new ones are all examples of green habits that are also frugal habits. Many people adopt a green living philosophy and it leads them towards living a frugal life. The core philosophy for this type of frugal person is that it is important to live frugally in order to reduce waste and to live in harmony with the environment.

DIY Lifestyle

The DIY lifestyle is one in which people believe that it is better to make as many things by hand as possible rather than buying them from stores. This includes making meals by hand (and possibly growing their own gardens). It also includes making household items (cleaners, candles, clothing, etc.) by hand. The DIY lifestyle has strong ties to simple living. The difference is that these individuals aren’t so interested in reducing their quantity of material goods as they are on reducing their dependence on getting consumer goods from mainstream outlets. The DIY lifestyle also has many similarities to the green lifestyle since it tends to involve reducing waste in a number of ways. People who live a DIY lifestyle tend to live a frugal lifestyle. They often work in craft-related businesses that they don’t derive a lot of income from but which give them enough money to live off of if they live frugally. The basic philosophy of this lifestyle is that frugal living is a necessary way to live a make-it-yourself way of life.

Spiritual Frugality

There are a lot of people who opt to live a frugal lifestyle for spiritual reasons. This spirituality can take on many forms. Some of those people are part of a traditional church that believes in living frugally. The Quakers, the Amish community and some types of Buddhism are all examples of modern religions that support living a frugal lifestyle. Other people may not be part of a formal religious group but may nonetheless feel that their spirituality is hindered by consumerism and the “rat race”. These people may embrace a frugal lifestyle in order to live a simpler life which allows more time for meditation or prayer.

Frugal from Necessity

Not all people who are frugal actually choose to be that way. There are also some people involved in what has become known as “frugality from necessity” or “involuntary frugality”. In other words, these are people who simply don’t have extra money to spend. They also don’t have access to loans and credit cards so they can’t live lavishly beyond their means. These people have no other choice but to live frugally. Although some of these people would continue to make frugal choices if they did get money, most would prefer not to live frugally since it is a lifestyle that has been forced on them by their circumstances. For these people, the philosophy of frugality is that it is something to be endured rather than something to be embraced.

Accidentally Frugal

Finally, there are some people who seem to have a natural talent for living frugal lives. These are often creative people who don’t necessarily earn a lot of money. They find creative ways to get what they need in life which results in living a frugal lifestyle. For example, instead of throwing away a pickle jar when it’s done, they’ll naturally use it to make something. These people are not actively embracing a frugal lifestyle. They may not even be consciously aware of the fact that they are living frugally. Instead, these people are accidentally adopting traits from the various other types of frugal living and these traits combine to create a frugal life.

Those are the major types of frugality. There is certainly some overlap between these different types of frugal philosophies. Someone who lives a green lifestyle may also live a DIY lifestyle all in an effort to reduce waste and to live frugally.

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2 Comments

  1. 2

    kasey
    July 14th, 2009

    Great post! I never really think about the people who live frugally for a reason other than mine.
    -Kasey
    thriftylittleblog.com

  2. 1

    Shawn
    July 4th, 2009

    Nice summary and break down of the different reasons people choose to simplify.

    An editing suggestion… the header “Spiritual Frugality” sounds like trying to be frugal in spiritual matters, rather than being frugal to have more abundance in their spiritual life.

    Maybe something like… Frugality for More Spirituality. hmm, that’s pretty clunky. “Spiritually Inspired” perhaps.

    Frugal on!

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