Last update: 2019-08-09

What is 'frugal' for me

The frugal movement has become very big lately, along with the FIRE movement and other sustainable living metaphors. It's no wonder, seeing how the average salary is getting stagnant while inflation keeps going up. But I feel like a lot of people are still misunderstanding what 'frugal' actually means. They equate frugality with cheapskate. They think a frugal person must be living in an empty apartment and divest themselves of all earthly goods.

For me, being frugal means only spending money on two types of items:

  • Basic necessities such as food, housing, insurance, clothing, Internet access, etc.
  • Things that bring you joy.

Being frugal isn't about depriving yourself or living in an empty house. In fact you can be frugal and have some expensive physical assets. Instead, frugality is about being hyper-focused on what is important for you. Case in point, I collect anime figures. You wouldn't typically think of someone who buys a $200 plastic figure of Mordred from Fate Grand Order as being frugal. It's an expensive hobby, but it brings me much joy, so it's an important part of my budget. I also put on strict limits, such as buying a maximum of one figure per character, and only buying figures of characters I like and identify with.

On the other hand, I don't have a car. I never buy alcohol. I never go to Starbucks or buy coffee. I don't go to parties. I rarely dine out. These are all things that most people do, and can add up to quite a bit of money. But because these things aren't of value to me, I completely cut them from my budget.

So I believe it's very possible to be happy and frugal, and that's what I aim for.

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