I Am Frugal. You Can (and Should) Be Too

Recently, a fellow personal finance writer sent out the following question via Twitter, “Do people make fun of you because of your frugality?”  Several followers, including myself, responded to the query, as well as a fair amount of Facebook uses as well.  Yesterday, the Budgets are Sexy blog listed a few of the responses in their So What If People Make Fun of Our Frugality post. Along with our amusing answers were also some very good ideas on how people have integrated frugality into their life.

There was one response in particular caught my attention.  The responder discussed how they were going to use frugality to bring their family together over the holidays. As a result of the economy, purchasing ornaments for their Christmas tree is not in this year’s holiday budget.  Instead of going without, her family plans to work together in creating their own ornaments.  I find such an option not only to be practical, but also an amazing way to bring one’s family together throughout the holiday season. Not only can they make their holiday tree unique, but also share some quality time, which will undoubtedly make for a very memorable Christmas.

To Be Frugal

One writer summed up frugality this way – “frugality is about spending smarter, not just spending less.” If we look at this in the context of our current economy, think of how much better off we may be by forgoing those expenses we didn’t really need.  Would you have been able to build an emergency fund consisting of of eight to ten months of expenses  to help you weather whatever storms you may have encountered?  Would you been able to make larger purchases using cash as opposed to credit?  The point being is that frugality and being cheap are two separate things. We work very hard for earnings; therefore, we should apply a stricter thought process when parting with our money.

Do the Math

My grandpa shared his shopping logic with me when I was a young man and I still use the exercise he taught me to this day. Whenever contemplating a purchase, my grandpa advised me to do the math as to how much time went into earning the price of the item. Let’s take a look at an example.  Our purchaser, Kim, earns $52,000 annually. Hourly, her wage would equate to $25; however, when factoring in taxes and other deductions, she will probably take-home $18.75 an hour. One day Kim is shopping and comes across an item that catches their eye, which costs $400.  Initially, this may not seem like that much money; however, Kim does the math. In order to make the purchase, she would be trading 21 1/3 hours of labor — a little more than half of her work week.  Is that too much? Well only Kim knows for sure.  However, she took a very important step in making an informed decision.

When we sacrifice our time in exchange for earnings, it seems commonplace. Sure, we all have to work; however, we don’t need to make a million dollars a year to be wealthy. Frugality is a practice that can help us to maximize our income.  Performing the aforementioned exercise can help to use your hard-earned cash for more worthwhile goals such as reducing debt, building wealth and creating the security necessary to survive unsure economic times — such as the one we are currently enduring.

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