Why are you frugal?

After reading Miss M’s recent post about wealthy Mr. M’s recent forays into frugality, it made me wonder about the reasons behind everyone else’s steps towards reduced spending – especially those who, like me, don’t fall into the two obvious categories of pennypinchers.

Two Obvious Reason for Being Frugal

  1. You’re barely making ends meet
  2. This new recession/depression makes you nervous

I never do anything for one reason, so my money habits have multilayered origins. One of them is definitely #2 above, as you can probably tell from the timing of this blog launch. Since I work in what most people treat as a “luxury” industry, it’s a freaking rollercoaster. As for #1, I grew up with a double-couponing mom and, from age 8 to 16, a no-income household. What can I say, we’re all good at turning off lights and rolling toothpaste tubes, but several of us had to learn the hard way that instant materialistic gratification is stupid. Heck, my brother is still learning that lesson – I’m delighted that he’s buying a home, because that will give some direction to his finances.

And then there are my other reasons for recent efforts…

  • I wanted to be more charitable, but creatively. In other words, cutting a check to UNICEF every now and then just doesn’t push my buttons. So one of my efforts includes clipping coupons for the Overseas Coupon Program – I mail big envelopes of current and recently expired to an air force base in Okinawa for military families to use at the commissary (they get 6 months beyond the expiration date). Hm, I noticed how valuable a lot of those coupons were. I was used to seeing 35 cents off a $1.99 item and didn’t think that was worth bothering with in Manhattan…but $1 off a $2.50 tube of toothpaste, geez, that’s 40%! I love numbers like that.Following on from that, the best deals are on things I either don’t use or, as a single person living alone, don’t need much of. Seriously, I can get 10x the amount of shampoo I need for free, so what to do with it all? Donate.
  • I’m bored. As shallow as it must seem, it’s probably my top reason for doing this. I have no husband, no children, no responsbilities beyond taking care of myself (and I’m doing a questionable job of that…sigh). I admit, I’ve turned charity and frugality into tandem hobbies to keep busy to counteract the isolation I feel thanks to the metaphorical fences I’ve had to put up to survive my profession and New York City. It’s good for me to get out and interact outside my comfort zone, and handing over bags of freebies and cheapies assures me a welcome. I also get a kick out of turning a nice CVS cashier into a partner in my couponic adventures – that job must suck.

So my question to you is… what are your reasons for being frugal? Anything outside of “the obvious”?

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11 Responses

  1. I like being frugal because I’m super competitive. And keeping within a budget is like a contest with myself.

  2. So that I can one day work what I want to work, travel where I want to go and to help those I can.

  3. Slight correction, Mr M was raised fabulously wealthy but is the black sheep of the family. He’s broke as a joke. But, he bears the scars of growing up wealthy and frugality does not come easily to him. If he wants something, he buys it. The idea of working to earn the money first is foreign to him. The idea of pinching pennies seems silly to him. He definitely comes from a different mindset, to me you get a job to earn money. He has lots of ideas of what he wants to do with his life, all require loads of money upfront.

    His dad died when he was 15. He was raised to expect dad to set him up with a business, to guide him into the upper class. He really has no clue how to succeed in the middle class, work for a living and save for the future. All fodder for another post later!

  4. I am seeing a lot of “frugal” blogs these days I thought I will put in my 2 cents. Right now a lot of us are frugal because of #2 i guess and also when I see myself spent $10 for 2 airfreshners and another person in line next to me get about 20 for 0.87 cents (hypothetical) I kind of look a fool . BUT then I give myself the credit that I decreased the recession by 0.001% maybe and he/she increased it 0.5%. Just my thoughts
    Go frugal/cheap everything if you need to you, u cannot make ends meet , you have debts/motgages to pay off. But still use deals/coupons on things you need. Like you need cereals to be stocked up probably do it but don’t clean the shelf of Diebetic drink that you will not even use just because u had coupons and you could get the CVS ECBs.
    By being frugal because we are bored, because there are free things to be hoarded we are running the economy deeper and deeper into depression (you would ask does your 10$ help , just take the number of frugal/cheap blogs multiply it by 10 and you will know it counts) .
    How I hate to read in paper job cuts everyday now Macys, US runs on a consumer economy that is you have to buy/spent for business to work. I guess I look like a fool in thris frugal world.
    Live within means, spent wisely on things that you need, don’t hoard up and make life difficult for people who probably cannot even afford the coupon printouts and the trips to 5 CVS to clean put the shelfs else the result will be your pantry and cupboards full of stockpiles but a husband and (maybe u) at home without job . For now it may be the low-paid people who lose their jobs but it will come up 1 layer at a time.
    It sickens me to see photographs of tables full of “deals” got with about 20 Electrosol , 30 airfreshner, and the stories associated with the “steal”.

  5. Jo, in a world where Big Business is getting bailed out while we get crappier interest rates on savings but massive interest rate hikes on our credit cards, there’s no room in my conscience for the perceived “hardships” of corporate America.

    Besides, CVS, Walgreens, ShopRite, etc. are in the business of making money, and they would not offer deals and programs if there wasn’t a financial advantage to dong so. Imagine what the mark-up on these items must be that they are able to this and transfer some of your defensive consumerism to that angle.

  6. I will not drag this long sorry for intruding into your space neither will I discuss the Govt policies, bu bailout or not who do you think would have suffered a bankrupcy? Do you think corporate America would suffer any loss bailout or not ? Another thing is that it is business and business needs profit, do u think if you had a business you would give out on the profit or think socialist but we expect our Business providers to cut down their profit.
    And abt CVS Walgreens etc giving coupons, yes if you has a business you would give a few deals to survive competition but once you see that you are barely able to keep your head above water with all the deals/offers you cut it all off or move your suppliers right ? Now think where would CVS suppliers , company agencies go to China , India, Bangladesh?
    If Macys is now cutting jobs you know it is starting to hit closer home . CVS , Walgreens would all soon follow. Are we waiting for that to realise that while we blame corporate greed we are no better than them when we hoard up on products we barely need (even if to donate – because while we think about Africa we forget the people who suicide in US becuase both husband and wife lost their job).
    If you can afford to buy something without coupon don’t think you lost 2$ think that you helped a storeguy survive for 2 more days on his job. Just my thought – trying hard in this frugal blogsphere to see that everything needs a balance even frugality . Being Frugal is a lifestyle – wanting and buying just enought to live.
    And I would also like to say that I am not pointing at your blog or any specific when I say all this. I am just hoping someone will understand and before the US economy crashes and we depend on China from grains to grass each of us instead of complaing about the Govt (do u really think they will help??) do our smallest bit.

  7. I work at being frugal because:

    1.) I want to be financially secure in the knowledge that if I lost my job, I’d be alright.

    2.) I want to travel and experience life before I’m too old to do so. Therefore, I penny-pinch on the things I don’t need to put towards my travel fund.

    I’ve mentioned over at Master Your Card that saving money is actually quite hard for me. My natural inclination is to spend the money as quickly as I can. I have to work extra hard in order to keep within my budget. So for me, another big reason for this is the challenge. I know I struggle here, so I’ll never be bored as I continue to work on this.

  8. I’m frugal out of necessity – I can’t makes ends meet (#1) without limiting my discretionary spending. And #2 weighs heavily on me too. Fun times… Not.

  9. I’m frugal because

    a) I work in a comparatively low paying industry (nonprofit sector)
    b) I want to be able do what I want to do, not held hostage by financial responsibilites- travel, stay home when we have kids, etc
    c) It’s a challenge

  10. I’m living frugally out of the desire to be debt-free. As a teacher, I make very little per year, significantly less when I factor in the money I spent for my classroom this past year. I am attempting to curtail credit card dependency as well. I don’t have any children, it is just me, but I don’t want to be like the average person my age who has approximatly $20,000 worth of credit card debt. I’m hoping that my year of living frugally will instill some discipline in me, and that I will be able to moderate my spending in the future.

  11. I’m frugal now for most of the obvious reasons. But I want to stay frugal even when I have lots of money. Money is a limited resource that should be used for worthwhile things. What constitutes “worthwhile things” is at least an entire post itself and is for sure subjective.

    I hope the recession makes us less wasteful, as a whole, and more frugal.

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