Frugal Is as Frugal Does

1422338_woman_portrait_relaxing_on_hammock_2Life may be a like a box of chocolates, but for the really frugal minded, those chocolates were half price and purchased with a coupon.

Pick a random group of 25 people and ask them what it means to be frugal and how they make choices to be good stewards of their money. Chances are that you will get a lot of different answers all across the board concerning frugality and saving money. It tends to mean different things to different people.

I recently read an article in a national women’s magazine about a family that decided to be frugal, reduce their debt, and save more. It was very interesting because I personally thought that their practices, even in “sacrificial mode” seemed overindulgence to me for a family facing financial crisis.

For example, the wife and mom made every effort to cut down her clothing allowance in half. This is admirable and an effort worth applauding. However, when I found out that her reduced circumstances forced her to spend only $150 each month on clothing for herself, I had trouble relating. I usually don’t spend that amount in a whole year for all of our clothing, and there are five of us. Some years, we might reach the $300 mark, if there is a special occasion, such as last-minute wedding or honorific event that requires something not in the closet. Even then, I’ll look to borrow first.

The wife had a discretionary budget of approximately $900 a month, and the husband one of $700 a month. Discretionary. As in to spend on anything they wanted after the bills were paid. I believe some of that money went toward food, but that is still a nice chunk of change left over.

Before I throw that poor family under the bus, I am well aware of how my own family’s spending may seem to someone in a different situation. While we aim to be good stewards of our money, we have so much more than most of the people in the world do: a home, ample clothing, plenty of food to eat, health care, and leisure time and possessions for entertainment. So many do not and would have a hard time understanding why we spend as we do. So I get it.

The take away message that I want to leave you with is that you need to be careful when you read about frugal living or saving money, because if you aren’t careful, the advice you follow could lead to more spending and debt. It is all perspective.


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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT or visit her personal blog