I am what you could call extremely frugal, but my reasons for being so are not strictly monetary. In fact my investment income alone exceeds my spending by almost 50% and yet I see no reason to become less frugal and increase my spending. My long term goal is to reduce my spending even further.
My primary reason for being frugal is part ethical and part about resilience and preparation. The ethical part is somewhat summarized by Buddhist economics, where the main principle is to minimize suffering. Thus, I will, for example, spend a lot of effort finding a way to get rid of things I no longer need in a way that minimizes overall suffering and benefits someone else instead of just throwing them in the trash. The resilient part is just a question of risk tolerance and a feeling of control. Being frugal makes it much easier to weather financial storms. For example, the Great Recession didn’t result in any changes in our household because it is on the whole not very dependent on the economy with its jobs and supermarkets.
Actually, I would consider frugality to be a subset of a “home economical skill set”. In modern times, most people need to purchase a solution to all their needs/wants and thus they are highly dependent on having a job to earn the money and shops and services where they can go on and spend it. All home-skills have effectively been out-sourced. Yet, homes used to be quite independent units. It’s no more than 100 years ago that buying groceries from someone else was considered quite unusual. Most people made things for themselves instead of buying them.
You could also say it’s about being who I am. I like to think of myself as adaptive, competent, and self-reliant. Spending money is in many (but not all) ways the exact opposite of these character traits. To put it more accurately, these particular traits/skills allow you to spend very little money to satisfy your needs/wants and I get some—well a lot of—enjoyment out of saying “I made that” rather than “I bought that”.
Thus I don’t consider frugality a means to an end but rather an end in itself. This also means that frugality is not a sacrifice. It is a way of life. It is what makes me happy and it is what feels right to me.
Originally posted 2011-06-30 13:45:33.