Monday, January 30, 2012

The Top Three Mental Things You Need to Live Frugally

Naomi asked me to write about the top three things I believe someone needs to do to live frugally. There are a million and one ways to be frugal, but not every frugal tip is right for another. To live a frugal lifestyle, I think that what you do is less important than how you think. So I came up with three things I think enable those that want to live frugally to do so, especially in the United States where abundance is the norm and PayDay Loans are on every corner if that's not enough.

Have a clear reason or goal for why you want to live this lifestyle

Hopefully, the core reason behind living frugally is to live below your means, but what is the underlying moral or principle for why you and your family choose to do so? Is it because you want to remain debt free? To have financial security? To be a faithful steward of what God has given you? To be able to afford to give more to those in poorer situations? To teach your children financial wisdom? etc.

The more specific you can get, the easier it will be to continue a frugal lifestyle when you......

Realize that you are going against the flow

You'd think that living within your means would be applauded, but our soaring national debt is truly just a reflection of the status quo. I've been rather surprised at how often we are made fun of for living frugally, or how many times people buy us items they can't believe we can live without. I've actually had family members and coworkers purchase paper towels, scrubbing bubbles, and pillow pets for us because they thought we were too poor to do so, when we most likely earn the same wage. Evidently the use of cloth napkins, homemade cleaners and our child being without the latest toy fad (though she hadn't any clue what it was since we don't have television) is a wrong that must be righted.

Sometimes when you see others gobble up cool new toys, when you lament that your siding will probably rot off before you can save up the cash to replace it while your friends move into a nice new house, when you get razzed for bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to work every day for five years, it can be tough to fight envy, especially in the USA when it would be so easy to drop by a store and purchase an item you are in need of, but are you truly in need? Or do you need to.......

Learn to avoid functional fixedness

Sometimes a need to buy something is really just a lack of imagination or resourcefulness. Why buy paper towels to use as napkins when a few cloth napkins in every washer load won't affect your utilities a bit? Why buy taco seasoning when you already have every ingredient needed in your cabinet? Why buy special liners for your food dehydrator when your cold cereal plastic bags can be cut and used? Why buy cloth diapers when you can make them from discarded clothing? Why purchase a shoe organizer when you have an empty bookshelf taking up space in the garage? Why use bleach when the sun does the job for free?

Sometimes I find that if I just sit and think for a few days I'll discover how to meet my need for free with stuff I already have on hand. I started my Making Do with the Not So New blog when people thought I was rather ingenious for coming up with some ways to avoid spending money, but through the online community I found out I'm not the only smart one. The online community of frugal people is a real treasure, not only because of the ideas they share, but the camaraderie you are not the only freak trying to live simply and spend wisely.


Melissa Jagears is a stay-at-home mom who writes fiction into the wee hours of the night.

If you read Christian Historical Fiction, check out her Inspirational Historical Fiction Index to find those books sorted by setting, decade and other subjects.

If you are interested in frugality, check out the archives of her Making Do With the Not So New blog.


  1. Great post! I have learnt alot just be reading this one post. I have not been living a frugal life for long but I have already made so many changes. Thank you.

    1. Glad the post was helpful. I could use a good dose of frugal thinking, that's for sure!

  2. Great post, Melissa! I'm so in your frugal camp. :) Love how you think!