The word frugal means 'spending very little money and only on things that are really necessary' according to my Macmillan English Dictionary. I bought it for $2 when the local library had a sale. Individuals interpret 'frugal' in somewhat different ways depending on their outlook on money and their individual finances. People are frugal for different reasons.
What reasons may an individual have for adopting a frugal lifestyle? The motivation to have a frugal lifestyle may be
To pay off debt
To save for a time of less income
Limited finances There are varying degrees of 'limited finances'. Some people have an extremely limited income.
Others have high essential costs such as medication or health expenses which are neither covered nor heavily subsidised by government schemes resulting in little money to cover other essential costs.
Some have to be careful with money because they have a low income but it is not 'extremely' low.
It is not just how much money is coming in but unavoidable expenses such as rent that determine whether an individual is forced to be frugal to make ends meet. Sometimes cheap but adequate rent is not available.
To pay off debt An individual mayhave to live frugally to pay off debt so goods are not repossessed or to avoid declaring bankruptcy.
Perhaps a person chooses to pay off their credit card(s), store account, car or other debt as quickly as possible with the aim of a better lifestyle in the future.
To save for a time of less income Sometimes a person knows they will have less money in the future so they live frugally now to pay off existing debts and save up a nest egg.
The person may be planning to quit work to spend time at home with a baby or to provide full time care to someone who is elderly or has a severe disability. They may be thinking ahead to retirement. They could be planning to leave work for an extended overseas trip or to travel around Australia. Perhaps they are planning to start their own business.
Habit There are those who have practised frugality for a long time and it is now a habit. Seniors who were brought up in a time of financial hardship may be so used to frugality that it is the way of life they have continued to live. They may view many forms of expenditure an unnecessary and wasteful.
Others needed to be frugal at an earlier time but rather enjoy the challenge of getting value for money. They continue a frugal lifestyle even when they have increased income.
Some continue their frugal habit to save money to leave to their children or grandchildren.
While some use their hard earned cash to travel during retirement others live frugally because they want to leave their children well provided for Image by Marie Vonow
Environmental consciousness Some people are 'accidentally frugal'. Their focus is environmental consciousness but in adopting this lifestyle they practise frugality.
An individual may choose to not own a car. They use public transport, ride a push bike or walk to reduce their carbon footprint. They are also spending less money.
A person may take their own bags when they go shopping and avoid having to pay for bags. They may buy second hand wherever possible to prevent perfectly good items becoming land fill. They may avoid consumerism and not buy goods they consider unnecessary because of the non - renewable resources consumed.
An environmentally conscious person may grow their own vegetables and fruit. She/he may swap with neighbours and friends. Perhaps this person belongs to a local produce swap group or barters some goods and services. In many ways such a person may live a frugal lifestyle but their number one concern is the environment.
Growing vegetables in the home garden may be motivated by environmental consciouness but can also be part of a frugal lifestyle. Image by Marie Vonow
The reason behind practising frugality will influence a person's emotional response to living this way. For some there is no choice, for others a feeling of pride and satisfaction and for those whose motivation is not primarily saving money, their focus is likely to be elsewhere.