Why I Choose to be Frugal

CIMG8825 I have been thinking a lot lately about being frugal and how I spend money.  I read a terrific article in The Tightwad Gazette that made some really great points.  Here are the highlights of the article:

“We still think that frugality has to do with being “poor,” and that wealth and frugality are mutually exclusive terms.  Overcoming this misconception is crucial to achieving a successful frugal life.

The fact is that income level has very little to do with whether a person chooses frugality.  Many poor people aren’t frugal, and a surprising number of wealthy people are.

People who live an affluent lifestyle are seldom wealthy.  Affluent-lifestyle people spend all of their money on extravagances and have nothing left over.CIMG9521Wealth, on the other hand, is not how much you earn, it’s how much you accumulate.

The wealthy person typically acquires money through hard work and self-discipline.  And he is a compulsive saver and investor.  It simply isn’t his nature to spend money frivolously because it wouldn’t be a good investment. 

Most Americans are confused about the relationship between frugality and wealth.  This confusion has a profound impact on how Americans spend.  Because we think frugality has to do with being poor, we see it as an admission of economic failure.  We think only poor people go to thrift shops, only poor people bring home a good find from the dump, and only poor people cut their kids’ hair.”CIMG0892This article really hit home for me and helped me better understand why I choose to seek after the frugal life.  I think I grew up thinking we did these things because we were poor (and like the article mentions, how America has portrayed this view point) when really we were doing quite well.Urke-289My parents have always been a tightwad of sorts, working in their own businesses, scraping by…yet we lived in a really nice house, had clothes to wear, food to eat, were able to participate in extracurricular activities…and we were happy.  My parents joke now that they are “debt free poor” meaning they have paid off their home, cars, two children’s college tuitions, and my wedding last year…yet aren’t making a whole lot of money right now.  I am beginning to see that “debt free poor” is actually another word for wealthy.  DSC_0289 I still struggle with what people think of me when I make homemade gifts, order the soup for dinner, and pick up furniture off the street.  But I am beginning to learn that it is not a reflection of being poor, rather it is a reflection of our priorities.  To live off of one income now so that I can be home with our kids one day…to grocery shop weekly on a tight budget even if we don’t have to…to cut back on clothing so that we have the luxury of buying things like a new camera of going on vacation. 

There are always exceptions to this rule, and I do not want to make light of those in financial hardships outside of their own control.  But rather I hope to make a point to myself, to embrace my frugality, to no longer use being poor as an excuse to be this way, and to ultimately let go of the pressure people and our culture put on being frivolous with money. 


  1. This is a great post. You know I have out of necessity become frugal when we decided it was best for our family for me to stay home and raise our 4 girls. My husband is a youth pastor and doesn't make a ton of money. But we always make it, God always provides for us. And we are doing our part in living frugally.
    And honestly I wouldn't have it any other way :)
    Thanks for this post. So good.

  2. AMEN Ashley! Didn't know anyone else knew about the "Tightwad Gazette"... I love my frugal life and it is a choice! I have always wanted "freedom" for my life and being "debt free poor" does that for me. My husband and I have so much abundance in our lives, we don't waste and we don't take one thing for granite. I love seeing you out at the thrift stores... not only are we frugal, but VERY creative! Great post... keep sharing your ideas!

  3. Well said. I come from a family of 8 and I always wonder how on earth my parents where able to pay private schools and Universities to all of us and how they manage to pay their vehicles in full and build their dream home with no loans what so ever.
    I do splurge on things that I know they are worth investing in but we have no Credit cards and save up for what we want.

  4. Very well said! I kind of grew up poor. My mom didn't do garage sales of thrift stores but we washed the dishes by hand and hung the clothes on the line to save money on the power bill. Over the bills I've bounced back and forth from being frugal out of necessity to being a little spendy (like buying a new car instead of looking for something used). Sometimes it's hard not to compare yourself to the "Joneses". After seeing the housing market crash I'm glad that we don't have that big house, fancy new boat, nice camping trailer etc to struggle pay off. I'm happy in my little house thank you very much!

  5. That should be over the years not over the bills lol

  6. Well said!! You pretty much summed it all up. :) I have friends who live the "high" life and boast about their fancy cars, huge houses, and designer clothes...but I never hear them boast about their credit card balances. ;)

  7. Yay for watching every penny! We're doing the frugal thing too, with budgets for everything -- you might want to check out Dave Ramsey's "financial peace" series. My favorite slogan of his is "Live like no one else today, so later you can live like no one else!" Ie. saving today in preparation for the future pays big dividends in having peace financially down the road. That slogan really helps when my husband and I say "no" to a dinner out, or choose to watch a DVD at home rather than go out to the movies.

  8. I grew up with parents who were children of the depression. I could never understand why they saved plastic bags, re-used twist ties and rinsed our jars to use later on. As I grew older I realized the wisdom of my parent's frugal lifestyle. They were able to travel the world (in still a frugal way) and enjoy their retirement because they had worked and saved all their lives. We kids never wanted for anything. My parents gave us their time and love, instilled in us the love of books, nature and playing games.

    I have been wasteful at times in my life, but I try very hard to be mindful and live in a simple way. When our kids were small our vacations were mainly camping trips and we were lucky to travel a great deal because we saved so much by not staying in hotels. We all have the most wonderful memories of our crazy car trips together.

    Ashley, you will make the most wonderful mother and I can tell you are an exceptional partner to your hubby. Ann

  9. I love this post, Ashley! We are also a one-income family, so that I can be home with our children. We are frugal by choice so that this can happen. We were a one-car family for 5 years, because we vowed to never have more than one car payment. I shop thrift stores for clothes and many times end up with nicer things than if I bought new! There is a great deal of satisfaction in making wise choices so that we can do the things we truly want to do.

  10. We're frugal too. LOVE IT.

    One question though ... if you don't work now - and you don't have kiddos - ... why don't you work and bank the income? Meaning still live off one income and you'll just end up having a really great nest egg for when you guys do have kids?

    I think in this day it is REALLY hard to live off one income, have kids and save ... so save now? What are your thoughts on that?

  11. Ashley thanks so much for your entry on frugality. People sometimes think I am crazy living with my mom but I have chosen to invest in my son's education instead of having my own house. My brother is super wealthy and there are times we think he is funny about money but really it is like you say that he is smart and frugal with the type of car they drive and the size of house they have so they can enjoy their family and travel.

  12. Ashley I LOVED this post. We are definitely of the same mindset and I too am a frugal gal. My friends call me the coupon queen-it used to make me feel a little geeky, but when I look at how much I save and how much I can do with what we have (we choose to share one car and bascially live off of one regular income to allow both of us to persue our passions)I am proud.

    I wish more people thought like this. Unfortunately the frivolous attitude of never ending resources-environmental, monetary and otherwise-gets passed onto future generations. This current economic time is the perfect time to shape the next generation's thoughts on money and to make better choices ourselves.

    I used to make a LOT more money working for an employer than I do now working for myself but I have to honestly say I'm MUCH happier now. The sweet song of a birdy at my window, a swan gliding across the lake where I jog is far more touching and meaningful to me than gold.

    Plus, frugal is FUN! I get such a rush out of yard saling. LOL

  13. I absolutely LOVE this... and I LOVE your blog. I just stumbled upon it today and I am a new follower for sure!!!
    You might enjoy my mom's blog... she is the queen of frugal!!!

  14. I hope you don't mind that I shared this post on my facebook page. I love it! It hit home with me and makes me feel proud to be trying to live a better life full of frugality. Is that a word? Anyway, thanks!
    ~ mishmashedme at blogspot . com ~


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