What comes to your mind when you hear frugality? Does the image of a miser appear in your mind? Maybe an image of an old rich woman living in a rundown home?
Or does it conjure an image of a wise man who takes good care of himself, knowledgeable and restrained not just in his words and actions, but also in what he wears and where he lives?
Somehow we sense there’s a difference between being frugal and being miserly. We see one as a virtue and the other a sad fearful person who seems to hide from the world.
What does being frugal mean and how can that be a quality I want in my life?
What Frugal Living Is Not
Frugality is certainly not being miserly. It’s not about just penny-pinching and tightening the belt. It’s not just about saving every single penny. It’s more than that. Frugality is also not being a masochist. It’s not about enjoying the pain. It’s not about looking out for experiences of loss. It’s definitely not that. Frugality is definitely not about not spending. It’s not about living in the desert alone, away from the world. It’s certainly not about isolating myself. A frugal man is certainly not the man with a hole in his pocket.
What Frugal Living Is
For me, the image of a frugal man is a stoic man by the idea of stoicism that comes from the wise Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and philosopher Epictetus. A frugal man is not just someone who’s restrained in his possessions, his clothing, his house and home. He is someone who is purposeful and intentional in all that he does, including what he buys and owns.
A frugal man takes care of his body. He eats well and watches what he eats. He always thinks twice when he brings something into his life in what he buys and what he takes. He spends according to his means, his principles and what the need requires.
Frugal living is intentional living. Its living life choosing the best possible action that will make my life better every moment of every day. And while frugality pertains to how I spend my money and what I acquire, it’s first and foremost making choices that align with my life principles and values.
So, frugal living necessarily leads from having life principles and values. It’s about having restraint in the good things of life, the toys, the food, the pleasures… still enjoying all these but saying “not too much” because all these good things should not supersede other things in life that are just as important if not more.
Now, why is it so important to live a frugal life according to our principles and values? How does that lead to a life well-lived? Frugal living is purposeful living. It’s living life making every moment count, making sure everything you do is getting you to a better place. That usually means becoming a better you and then it shows in having a better life, having better choices and having great relationships with people you value most and attracting the kind of people you want to be around with.
Isn’t that a life of success?
That’s what frugal living will bring you.
That’s what frugal living is all about.
Frugal living shows up when we’re offered a huge discount on a home entertainment option we find enticing… But we say no. No thanks. It’s not something I really need. It’s effectively saying yes to more important things like maybe spending time with your kid or just saving up.
It’s about frugal living when we opt to walk to the library a mile away instead of taking your car.
You can, of course, choose to reason out that time is more important to you spending as much time as you can read in the library. But instead, you choose to walk. That’s frugal living.
And that’s living with success because you’ve made a choice that you decided was undeniably better for you and for your future. Seeing your life progressing in your choices builds your sense of integrity and self-realization. Both of which are what gives us this sense of progress which adds deeper joy in our life.
Frugal Living Is Living By Your Principles and Vision
When you choose to live life with frugality, there’s restraint and there’s purpose – restraint and purpose to realize your own personal life principles and your vision of the future you want to be and you want to live.
Frugal living is living with creativity in that sense. It’s a creative choice to translate the way you use your time and your money every moment of your day to realize more of what is not yet entirely your life yet.
Making choices daily frugally is not just saying no to something; it’s actually more about saying yes to something else. That something else is your dream of a better you and a better future according to the principles and values you’ve chosen to live by.
That’s the reason why living frugally is not arbitrary living. It’s not about living by chance nor living life taking risks. It is true that living life by the vision you hope to become is also not yet fully real; but as you choose to live frugally realizing your visions in small actions, you’re slowly realizing them today. In that way, risks are minimized.
Choose To Live Frugally
So when you face a choice today whether you should buy something or take something home, ask yourself: will this bring joy in your life? Will it help realize a better you?
That’s how you live a frugal and successful life.