Making Frugality Fun

I’ve always been a frugal person and I consider myself a disciplined person. But sometimes I read personal finance blogs and it all seems like….a drag. If you read these blogs, it seems that to live a frugal life, you have to aim to be a monk. You have to live a life of deprivation. You have to deny yourself, deny yourself and then deny yourself some more. And then you retire or die.

I think your self discipline gives way though. And even if it didn’t, at some point you realize that life is short and you don’t want to spend it denying it and being unhappy.

So if not a life of deprivation, then how does one become frugal? I thought about this when I was selecting a restaurant for dinner. One place looked much fancier, was packed and looked fun. The other was half the price in a much simpler atmosphere. But after we picked the cheaper restaurant, choosing foods was much more fun because, for the same price, we had so many options. And it dawned on me, frugality can have benefits beyond saving money.

Frugality can lead to more options
Rather than look at frugality as a way of limiting your options, frugality can allow us to have more options. If we are at a cheaper restaurant, we can choose more foods for the same price.

Frugality can lead to more creativity
If you get an expensive piece of furniture or clothing, you invest resources in trying to protect it and care for it as is. If you get a cheaper piece of furniture, you can spray paint it, reupholster it or have money to add pillows or decor.

Frugality can let you optimize your results
I am a woman who loves reading about beauty. I don’t necessarily love spending the big bucks on beauty but I voyeuristically look at other women’s medicine cabinets, as posted all over the web, and I’m shocked to see so many tiny bottles of very expensive potions and primers.

I know if I bought a lotion or “miracle product” for $100 or more a pop, I would use as little as possible to preserve the product. See, look at this. I would have spent $100 and I would be tiptoeing MY life to preserve IT. It’s pretty weird. It’s like having a child or a dog. Except it’s a beauty product. The products you buy should serve YOU. Not the other way around.

And the thing with skin care is, your skin needs moisture. Maybe this miracle product is better at moisturizing your skin than a cheaper product. But is it better than products that you actually aren’t afraid of applying multiple times a day all over your face and in indiscriminate quantities? Likely not. The moisturizer can’t moisturize skin that it doesn’t touch.

So I say, buy the products that you are not afraid to use, that serve you, rather than the other way around. And while you may feel frugal using a nonfancy moisturizer, it feels incredibly abundant to be able to use your products without abandon.

Frugality can save time.
Piggybacking off the previous idea of saving product because it’s so expensive is that expensive things make us think we should take better care of them. I take the time to be gentle to my expensive purses. I would consider saving an expensive face cream in case of a fire. But doesn’t that make you feel rather poor and insignificant? Again, you’re spending your money to WORSHIP A PRODUCT. The product should serve you, not the other way around.

Yes, you should take care of your things. There’s no need to be reckless. But there’s something wonderful to be said that it can all burn in a fire and I wouldn’t risk my life for anything (but my laptop would certainly be nice). It’s also nice to think, ok so my stuff is getting a bit of wear and tear. Well that’s what they’re there for.

Frugality can just be fun
A lot of frugal activities are recommended because they save money but often they’re just more fun to do. Hosting people over at my house is one of my favorite things to do and creates great memories. It’s great that it’s cheaper than paying for the same number of people to go to a restaurant and may even be cheaper than one’s own portion at a restaurant, if you factor in gifts of food and wine and leftovers. But mostly, I do it because it’s fun. I bike to work because it’s fun, but it does save money.

I think if you live your life in a way where most of the reasons you do things are because they’re frugal, you’ll burn out and get sick of it. You’ll get so tired of being a slave to money that you might give up on the idea of saving money altogether. If you do things for the reason that they are fun, but they could also be frugal, you are so much less likely to burn out. You’re living your life according to what makes you happy and really enriching your life by being frugal.

What kinds of things do you do because they’re fun but that are also frugal?