Where do you draw the frugal line?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about degrees of frugality.

For instance, many of you probably think it wasn’t very frugal of me to join a gym and buy new running shoes. On the flip side, some of you might be like my husband, who believes you can never spend too much when it comes to your health. (For the record, I’m somewhere in between.)

Some of you can’t imagine spending money on disposable diapers, and some of you would rather use coupons to get disposables at a low price instead of paying close to $20 for one all-in-one cloth diaper.

For some, time is worth more than money. Maybe you’ll willing to spend extra money on things that buy you more time.

We all have different ideas about what’s really frugal. As I’ve said many times, frugality is not one size fits all. Not even close. There are a million different degrees of frugality.

Whatever you decide, the important thing is that you draw yourself a frugal line in the sand. Figure out what’s important to you, and try your best to stick with it.

For me, frugality is about balance. It means most of the time I can’t have it all. If I want to spend money on a gym membership, I have to cut some of my entertainment spending. If I want to go to a movie on Saturday night, I can’t go out to dinner, too. That’s where I draw my line. I cover the necessities, and find a way to balance the extra stuff.

Where ever you draw the line, try to be consistent. If you decide to give up meals out so you can afford to go to the movies, don’t look at your frugal friend who spends her entertainment budget at restaurants and convince yourself that you can have it both ways. Remember your priorities, remind yourself of the decision you made, and stick with it.

At the same time, don’t feel guilty if you’re spending money on paper towels or disposable diapers while your other frugal friend uses rags and cloths. Trust your decision, and balance your budget accordingly.

It’s ok to change your mind. It’s ok to change your priorities. But always make sure you’re doing it for yourself and your family. Don’t base your decisions on someone else’s frugal choices. If you’re frugal, I’m sure you don’t believe in keeping up with the Joneses. But you also shouldn’t try to keep up with your frugal neighbors across the street.

Everyone’s line is different. Just make sure you stay on the right side of your own.

5 thoughts on “Where do you draw the frugal line?

  1. Cathy

    Great post. I agree, you have to figure out what works best for your family. In my group of friends, it almost seems like woman are trying to outdo each other on being frugal and it is a real turn off. I like your idea of doing what is best for your family and not worrying about others.

    Cathy’s last blog post..Cateepoo is Joining the World Again

  2. Sandy

    Great post! I know I’ve compared my frugality to others and felt guilty that I wasn’t being “frugal enough.”

  3. momstheword

    Great topic and so true! I think I try and go with my frugal “personality.” I save on some things so I can “splurge” on other things. We buy generic food items so that I can have my diet pepsi. For years we had dialup internet and then finally needed to get highspeed for my son in college so we cut out the newspaper and some other things.

    It’s interesting what people save or spend money on. I know one gal that has very little money but she has beautiful acrylic nails. She says it’s her one splurge and yet she always feels the need to apologize for it. However, her nails probably cost about as much as my monthly stockup splurge on pop.

    momstheword’s last blog post..I’M ALLERGIC TO MORNINGS

  4. Claire

    What a funny idea – keeping up with the frugal neighbors. We Americans always have to have someone to compare ourselves to, don’t we? It’s the “Keeping up with the Joneses” for the frugal crowd! I’m still chuckling to myself.

    You’re absolutely right though!

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