What does frugal look like…

The question is — What does frugal look like in your life?

Awhile back I did a post entitled Top 7 Things About Being Frugal, but I feel some very important elements were missing from that list. I thought now might be a good time to get a more detailed, closer look at some of the changes we have noticed within our family.
Here are some more things I have noticed lately:
  1. Gratitude –By cutting back on expenses, and re-evaluating how we want to spend our time, we have learned to cultivate a greater sense of gratitude for the things we do have: a happy home, healthy kids, a supportive marriage, etc.
  2. Creativity –These tough economic times have lead to greater creativity — beyond our wildest dreams. We are creating more projects together, and having more fun with less stuff.
  3. Family Togetherness –Instead of going out shopping, we now schedule Family Painting Time. After my husband comes home from work, we clear off the kitchen table, bring out the paints, and everyone paints together as a family. We entertain at home a lot more, and our relationships with friends now have even deeper meaning.
  4. Better for the Environment — For the most part, being frugal consumes less resources, and produces less waste. We use cloth napkins, for example, that can be washed and reused instead of purchasing new paper napkins that end up in a landfill. However, there are exceptions (buying organic produce is usually more expensive), but in most cases a frugal lifestyle and a green lifestyle look very similar.
  5. Learning New Skills — Mark has taken on several home improvement projects from tiling to installing ceiling fans and kitchen sinks, (and probably learned waaaaay more about heat pumps than he ever wanted to), but learning these skills has saved us a significant amount of money and added value to our house. I learned to bake bread, make homemade chewy granola bars, and sew curtains, tablecloths, and place mats. We have also encouraged Emily’s learning by building a Learning Studio with discounted craft supplies, a reading nook, an invention kit (made of items found in recycling bins) and plenty of working space with natural light.
I also want to emphasize that most of this takes hard work, and we did not change overnight. What you are seeing on the blog is the culmination of many years of marriage. When we first got married, Mark and I worked together. We had a dual income and no children. The financial decision we are most proud of, however, is that we never became accustomed to living with two incomes. Instead, we pretended as though Mark’s income did not exist. It went directly to a high interest savings account and we did not even look at it. When I first became a stay-at-home mom, the financial impact was minimal because of that one simple decision.  However, it is the frugal lifestyle that allows me to continue to be a stay-at-home mom, keeps our family out of credit card debit, and allows us to enjoy family vacations. 
Making a lifestyle change is not easy, but it can be done. It is my hope that this blog inspires you, and I do my best to keep things here upbeat and positive. The world could use some more positive thinking right about now, don’t you agree? 
What does frugal look like in your life?


  1. Frugal looks like only having to work 6 months out of the year for us. We both work at seasonal jobs, and are very frugal throughout the year, so that we can have the lifestyle that we have. Way less stressful, and we have had fewer illnesses since we started doing this.

  2. Jenny Henny says

    I’m actually changing what frugal looks like in my life. For a long time frugal looked like saving money on stuff so I could get MORE stuff. Now I’m trying to be frugal, to appreciate what I have and not need more stuff.

  3. Great points, Karen. We have noticed a lot less stress as well.

    Jenny Henny, I love how frugality and appreciation go hand in hand. The true tightwads learn how to appreciate what they have, so they want less stuff!

  4. Great post! I heartily second your recommendation to start out living on one income. We did that, too, and it was not a big adjustment for us to actually *have* to live on one income. We used my (small) income to pay off things like student loans and a car, so while we didn’t save much, we did reduce our expenses.

    I agree about the stress, too! I am much less stressed when I don’t try to “keep up with the Jones.”

  5. While we’ve always been fairly frugal (out of necessity), we’ve been in the process of “re-centering” our frugality recently…we had begun to slip in various areas, and now we are not only trying to get back to where we *were*, but also implement “new and improved” frugal ways. 🙂 We’re also working hard to make frugality an “adventure”, rather than drudgery.

    We’re also excited about not only providing for our family’s needs and savings, but also having a little extra to share with others. We recently began sponsoring a child through Compassion, International, and it has been so neat to see our children denying themselves extras in order to have more to send to “Frank”.

    I so agree with the things you are seeing…we’re seeing them here, too…especially the first two.