The Budgeting ‘F’ Word: Why You Should Be Frugal

budgeting 'f' word

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'f' word

Did you just use the ‘F’ Word ?

I mean really, I sometimes feel like when I use it people are cringing.  They’re like really, are you re-gifting that ugly vase Aunt Agatha gave you 10 years ago (that you used a few times and cleaned!) or did you really just dig that dirty penny out of the public garbage bin?

Please.. being FRUGAL is not a bad or dirty word.  Let’s take the stigma out of the ‘F’ word here and talk a little bit out being Frugal.

What Does Being Frugal Mean

There’s a whole lotta chit chat about being frugal and being thrifty. Ever since the US economy took a downturn it’s been a popular topic in media and around the web. Living frugally is pretty simply a necessity for many of us. Let’s talk about what it means to be frugal, do away with some myths and mis-information.  Let’s take a look at what it means to live frugally.

Other words used for Frugal aren’t always so accurate.

  • canny
  • careful
  • cheapskate
  • meticulous
  • prudent
  • stingy
  • thrifty
  • abstemious
  • chary
  • conserving
  • discreet
  • meager
  • Mingy
  • parsimonious
  • penny-pinching
  • penny-hoarder 
  • penny-wise
  • preserving
  • provident
  • saving
  • scrimping
  • sparing
  • spartan
  • tight
  • tightwad
  • unwasteful
  • wary

Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, timeor money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.

In behavioral science, frugality has been defined as the tendency to acquire goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourceful use of already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal.


Being Frugal Doesn’t Mean You’re Poor or Cheap.  

There are two common misunderstadings about the ‘f’ word , frugality. The first is that people who live frugally are poor. It’s actually the opposite. People who live frugally are smart with their money and use it wisely. As a result they aren’t drowning in debt and their bills get paid on time.

Yes, you can live frugally on a small income, however many frugal people earn a pretty decent living. They choose to live well below their means and spend money on what’s important to them. They plan for emergencies and future needs.  Frugal can mean being an organized thinker with their money. The key word here is they ‘choose’ this as a way of life. 

Being frugal is a choice, one that benefits us all.

Being frugal does NOT mean you are cheap. Not having the biggest house on the block or the fanciest car in the neighborhood doesn’t make you cheap, it makes you smart. Yes, it can be a fine line between being frugal and being cheap, there is an important difference. Being cheap often involves hurting someone else or not being fair and kind, while being frugal means you decide to forgo something so you can spend your money elsewhere or save it for a rainy day. 

(seriously, read the thrift store warning and you’ll start to ‘get it’)

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re going to your favorite fast food place and grab a burger and some fries. A cheap person will grab a big handful of ketchup packets to use at home later. A frugal person will save any leftover ketchup packets and use them later so they don’t go to waste.

It’s a fine line, but there’s a difference.  Stealing isn’t being frugal.  Simple, it’s stealing.

Being Frugal Means You’re Smart About Spending

Yes, I said it.  Using the ‘F’ word is smart! The big picture I hope you get about being frugal is that it means you’re smart about how and where you spend your money. It’s a conscious decision and often requires a bit of planning.

Instead of giving in to impulse buys (be it groceries you don’t really need or a new pair of pretty shoes), a frugal person decides she doesn’t need those items and saves the money instead. As a result she can then turn around and enjoy a fun vacation or make a down payment on a home.

Or it may mean she can stay at home with the kids. Being frugal means you have options and that’s a beautiful thing to have. 

Learning to ask yourself constantly is this a ‘need or a want‘ will help you along with this. (oh and honey, i’ve heard all the reasons for why someone ‘needs’ a something or other when I know danged well, they just wanted it) 

Being honest with yourself only is what is going to help you make your best choice, you don’t have to convince me.

Budgeting 'f' word

Matt R

Hi, my name is Matt and I'm the founder of Barefoot Budgeting. This site is dedicated to one thing... helping you budget and save money.

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