Tell Us Tuesday: Why Are You Frugal?

by Kelly · 26 comments

in Tell Us Tuesday

tell-us-tuesdayWelcome to the first edition of Tell Us Tuesday! To kick off this new series, I’ve thought of the perfect, starting point, question: What lead you down the path to frugality?

Some people are born frugal. (I’m obviously not one of them!) Are you? Or was there something that led you to change your ways? What was the changing point in your life?

Tell Us Tuesday is about your stories, so don’t hesititate to join in the conversation. And if you have a question you would like to ask the other readers, please email me at almostfrugal at


1 Tanja March 3, 2009

I grew up fairly poor (not deprived!) and then had this reaction to that where I just wanted to keep on spending. This lasted a few year, never _really_ got out of hand (my debt most of the time equaled my month income). In recent years I started to become more frugal, because the reaction started to wear off. I realised I didn’t have to react to those things. The past few years I’ve worked to pay down the debt and to get things in order, which required me to become more frugal. I’m not there yet, due to illness my income decreased a lot over the past year, however, due to me canceling unneeded things (magazines, cable etc) it has left me with a small dent in my money that I feel confident I can fill up.
So basically, I got tired of spending like there’s no tomorrow. It didn’t make me happy and I find that at least trying to do the frugal thing feels much better than just tossing my money at something. 🙂

Tanja´s last blog post..Postponing tasks in OmniFocus (and snoozing)

2 Habbala March 3, 2009

Out of necessity.

My family never ever had enough money growing up; if there was any extra fund at the end of the month it was cause for splurging on something- like going to the movies or eating out. Saving was not even on my radar. Any conversation about money was a fight between my parents. And there were secrets– secret cell phones that my dad didn’t know about by my mom wanted so badly.

Now I live with and hope to marry a man who expects me to not be a slave to my finances. Budgeting, planning, saving, talking: all new things. I am a student, so there’s not much to save, but I am saving. I do not keep secrets, and telling him that my credit card is at zero with a substantial amount saved: felt good. Being in control of my finances and what I spend my money on; it’s freeing.

3 Emily@remodelingthislife March 3, 2009

I am not naturally frugal, although it comes more naturally to me now. It’s for a few different reasons. I need to be because we only have so much $$ to work with and refuse to go into debt for things that I have long since learned are not necessities. I like that frugality leads to certain things like simplicity – having less to store, clean, etc… and conservation of resources. Dabbling in frugality has led me to an entire new lifestyle that is about far more than just how much money I spend or don’t spend.

4 Rebecca March 3, 2009

We never had a lot of money when I was young, but never had a lack of it either. Typical middle class. But I think there’s some research that if you come from lower middle class that you’re one of the hardest working when you grow up. That’s me. Plus I like the satisfaction of seeing my accounts grow – just like when I get new subscribers for my blog 😉

Rebecca´s last blog post..Enter to win a Flip Video Camera from Alice!

5 neimanmarxist March 3, 2009

I learned the importance of frugality the hard way. I was raised by a decidedly un-frugal mother (“if you like it, you should get it in six colors.”) and a relatively frugal dad whose marriage was destroyed in part by bickering over finances. then i went to college, got a credit card, and racked up debt at stores like jcrew and anthropologie. then i got married, got a clue, and was inspired to start my family life off right: with open channels of communication about money, a firm belief that happiness comes from something besides co-ordinating furniture, and that there are better things in life than new cars and closets full of cashmere sweaters. I find frugality rewarding, responsible, amusing and inspiring, and I love reading about how people make the most of life with what’s available to them. It’s nice to not want, want, want anymore.

6 Bellesouth March 3, 2009

I found myself in a spending trap. I started spending more than I earned, taking on credit cards and racking up lots and lots of overdraft fees.

Finally I woke up and decided to take control – and now I live on no credit cards and a cash-only lifestyle. It’s much more freeing and I have more money to spend on things i need, and things I want. I just find now that the two go hand-in-hand more than ever.

Bellesouth´s last blog post..Health insurance and the Stimulus, or, nothing’s an easy fix

7 Kika March 3, 2009

I don’t thrive in clutter or a hectic lifestyle and “frugality” fits into a slower and more peaceful lifestyle to me. I recognize, too, that I need to manage my finances, energy, relationships (etc.) wisely in order to be healthy – spiritually, financially, physically – and be able to accomplish, with excellence, the things that are MOST important to me (like raising my kids and homeschooling). I guess a third consideration is that my husband’s family lives in Africa still, with basically nothing, and my conscience won’t allow me to live in excess (although we still live like kings compared to much of the world) while others live with so little.

8 Francine March 3, 2009

It started out purely as necessity when I moved to France and we only had one income. Then over time I realised it gelled well with our ecological/environmental philosophy. I used to be a horrible spendthrift with credit card debt, but the last five years I have really learned that I don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. I think that even when things are better for us financially, we will continue to consider our purchases carefully

Francine´s last blog post..Take only photos

9 Stacey March 3, 2009

Great question! My husband and I (together 16 years) have never been big spenders – and never had debt associated with anything other than education (paid off) and a home mortgage – but about 4 years ago we decided to have a kid and for husband to stay home as the primary caretaker since I loved my job and could work part-time and support us financially. We had a good bit of savings (60k left to us by dh’s mom when she died) so I didn’t worry when over the last few years I wrote checks when we transferred our IRAs to a Roth (8k), fixed our roof (10k), converted our front lawn to an edible garden with beautiful stone walls (10k)… ad infintitum. Finally last May (2008) I realized that even without big-ticket items we were still moving 1k out of savings to checking every month to cover our average bills and our savings were down to about 7k. I told my husband I didn’t feel comfortable having any less than 5k in our savings and asked him what we thought we should do. We had a meeting later that week and my solution was that he should get a part-time job that pays (in addition to caring for our child, he works at least 20 hours a week, unpaid, on community/political organizing). His solution was that we should find “20 places to save $20 each week”. I knew that it was unlikely he would get paid doing a job he loves (and that’s important to me), so I told him I would give it my best effort for 3 months but if it felt too hard, I would ask him to reconsider getting a paying job. I initially thought it wouldn’t be possible – again, I didn’t feel like we were living high on the hog, but there were obvious places to say – mainly with our food budget. The great good news is that I found living cheerfully on less an exciting and satisfying challenge. Today we are easily living within my part-time income and even saved 1k last month!

Stacey´s last blog post..What’s Cooking 3.2-3.8

10 Sophie March 3, 2009

My family was poor while growing up, although I never knew until I was a teenager. Both of my parents were incredibly frugal and self reliant, and I’m glad they’ve passed those traits on to me.

Sophie´s last blog post..Getting Around with a Broken Leg: Tips for Adults

11 One Frugal Girl March 4, 2009

Oh I love this topic. I'm always fascinated by how people come to frugality! I think I've always tended towards the frugal side. I remember saving up babysitting money and rolling quarters and pennies at a very young age. After college I was frugal out of necessity. I am very debt averse and did everything I could to avoid owing anyone money. Saving in my 20s really paid off and now in my 30s I am frugal because I choose to be. It seems that the greatest pleasures in life are often free, so why spend money on unnecessary purchases when I can be just as happy without spending a dime?

<abbr>One Frugal Girl´s last blog post..Considering Buying a Camera</abbr>

12 Sherry March 4, 2009

Ditto Abigal….great post…don’t you love the happy dance when you have scored a good deal or find a great coupon? I live for the coupon inserts & the sales ads!! Oh, what little things make us happy 🙂

Here’s to many more happy dances!!

13 Dana @ Letters to El March 4, 2009

Why am I frugal? Because I want freedom. Freedom can only come to my family when we are not in debt. We want the freedom to change jobs when we see fit. We want the freedom to move when we want. Being debt is having a ball and chain. Being frugal tells the world I'm not glued to stuff.

<abbr>Dana @ Letters to Elijah´s last blog post..Blogging, Twitter, Facebook… the funny side</abbr>

14 Sherry March 4, 2009

I posted in an earlier post about my "heritage". I am the product of 2 parents who lived thru the Depression. A full pantry & $$ in the bank were a form of comfort. We grew up as a middle class family, enjoying many nice things i.e. vacations (to the "shore"~not the beach!), dinner once a week @ McDonald's (when they really had Golden Arches!) and other things. However, there was an unspoken understanding about hard work & spending. And this was learned by EXAMPLE, not words. If I wanted something "special", I had to work, earn the $$, then put part of the $$ in savings, pay a full tithe & then the balance was mine. So a pair of jeans took more than a couple babysitting jobs!

I will never forget a conversation I had with my Dad. I was "whining" about my "benefits" at work (I think I was comparing what another hospital offered their employees..something idiotic, I'm sure!)….anyway, his response was "you have a job, what more do you want? That is the benefit you need to concern yourself with!" And my mom was cleaning homes/businesses at the age of 8, just to help pay the electric bill at home or help buy food. And her behavior was not unique for that time period, that's just the way it was, every able bodied family member pitched in to help.

Fast forward to my adult life, I did carry some credit card debt as a single parent but I had a sense of being "strangled" everytime I opened the monthly bill. It just didn't feel right. The only "real" debt (>$5K) that I ever incurred it was for my son's or my education. I made a goal to pay BOTH sets of debt off within 18-24 months & I did. Mostly by living on nothing & paying all I had towards the debt.

As I type this, my husband & I have no debt except our home (which he purchased prior to our marriage). We have chosen to carry a mortgage (4.28% interest) as we are both the only surviving children of very elderly parents. We will both inherit sufficient funds to pay off our home. So, mostly for tax purposes, we have carried a mortgage. We have saved & paid cash for our cars & other purchases. Although, I am a firm believer of getting the most for my bucks…so I use a credit card that will give me points or cash back, etc for major purchases & then I pay them off immediately (like the day I make the purchase).

I place a tremendous value on self reliance & feel a strong "stewardship" for those things/monies I have been blessed with. I have strived to choose to use my resources wisely (as I'm able to) & appropriately. To do so otherwise, would be disrespectful & dishonorable. I know this may sound "arrogant" but I just feel like I can not be careless with what I have been given or earned. Please understand, I'm not preaching, this is just what "I" feel & this is what has motivated me to live frugally.

15 Abigail March 4, 2009

I grew up with a mom who was frugal. So it was ingrained in me from an early age.

Now it comes in useful, because we're on a very tight budget and still trying to pay down debt.

Overall, though, you can grow up with something and not cling to it. So I guess I'm frugal because there's that victorious feeling when you save a few bucks. (Earlier today, for example, I did a little inner happy dance when, through a combo of coupons and store specials, we got 8 boxes of cereal for $10.)

Or when you do the research and know you're getting a product that you can use for ages.

I guess it just boils down to that nice feeling you get knowing that your initiative saved you some money.

<abbr>Abigail´s last blog post..How do your emotions affect your spending?</abbr>

16 Heather March 4, 2009

I’m not exactly frugal yet, but my husband and I are currently living on a structured budget each pay period. My parents were both professionals in their fields and had good salaries. They didn’t live beyond their means in terms of “stuff” but bought vacations homes where we traveled each year. I always thought we were rich.

I never had a real job in high school, but I babysat every weekend, sometimes after school as well. I didn’t spend much of it except to pay for half of my car when I graduated from high school. I got scholarships to my expensive private college, but even with my parents’ assistance I still wound up with $20k in student loans upon graduating. I worked small part-time jobs throughout college and had credit cards but never carried a balance. I was pretty good with money.

Then I got married, and my husband came from a family with slightly less money than mine, but who spent most of it on STUFF. Big Stuff. Like cars, and airplanes, and motorcycles, and … just stuff. They very much considered being in debt a way of life, and that’s how he grew to believe everyone lived. Being in that mindset, when we got married he convinced me to abandon my more frugal ways and start buying our life together.

Over the course of six years we accumulated about $100k in debt, not including our home, and last year we both got sick and tired of it. He got a great offer from the military to stay in for 3 more years in exchange for a lot of money… which we took and used to pay off a credit card with a huge balance. Then we attended a Dave Ramsey seminar, and one year later we’re just ten months away from having all our debt, with the exception of our mortgage, paid off.

So I’m probably frugal by nature, if not by habit. As we work more deeply with our budget, I’m constantly looking for ways to cut back and do without the things we previously thought we “had to have”. It’s a lovely feeling.

Heather´s last blog post..Wednesday Workout

17 Leslie March 4, 2009

Living in Los Angeles with three kids and not a Hollywood worthy income was the kick-off for my interest in frugality. It became an obsession and a way of life. I mean, the 99 cents only stores there are THE BEST!! But, now I’m in Oklahoma – still frugal, still loving it.

Leslie´s last blog post..Family Spring Break Ideas For Frugal Moms

18 Nancy March 4, 2009

I started out being frugal so I could stay home and raise our two boys. We always lived below our means–living off one income and using my part-time job income for extras and savings. It took us 10 years to buy our first house and part of that time we only had one car but we never were in debt and always had money set aside for an emergency or two. I feel lucky that I learned early on that I would rather live a simple life with less, than work like crazy to afford stuff that in the end, doesn’t mean anything.

19 A Frugal Friend March 4, 2009

We used to be a 2 income family with no real money concerns…….then I got pregnant and new my heart would be at home. So at least for now, I have chosen to leave the professional world behind. I had to quickly figure out how to make sure I could stay home once we lost almost 2/3 of our income.

So, while I have always loved a deal, becoming a stay at home mommy led me to my frugal lifestyle and my blog "A Frugal Friend"!

<abbr>A Frugal Friend´s last blog post..Costco Free Sample – Ziploc</abbr>

20 Kelly March 4, 2009

I am so loving reading all of your stories on why you became frugal. Whether it was always part of your life, you married into it, you became frugal through necessity like too many debts, or through choice like wanting to stay home with your kids, I am honored that you are sharing your path with us! I find your stories to be inspirational!

Thanks- and keep 'em coming!

21 Cath March 4, 2009

I think the real push for me was realizing how much stuff I had and how it didn't bring me any joy. The other piece of it was realizing that I had spent my whole career to date working on environmental issues – but working so hard, so fast, so long that I didn't have any time to put my beliefs into practice at home. The birth of my first a few years ago provided some much needed space to rethink, and that's what's set us on the path we're on as a family.

22 Dr Judy March 4, 2009

I came to a frugal lifestyle by disaster mostly. I grew up in a family who saved, rarely used credit, invested…and taught us none of it…barring an occasional remark here or there. I married and we "had to have". We made loads of money which we promptly spent and then borrowed to spend more. When my husband left me and three children, I was scared to death…but would go months without accurately monitoring my bank balance. (Unless you call panic when the balance drops below $1500 monitoring.) A major job layoff sent me into a tailspin. Back to school for an advanced degree. What an idea! Enter massive school loans. After graduating, I couldn't find a job that paid more than $10/hr! I know what…defer the loans! I took a position with a couple of self-serving entrepreneurs…who left me all but bankrupt nine months later. Back to the drawing board…grabbed the first available job. I had to eat somehow. First, I broke my ankle. Then two hospitalizations with all kinds of tests. Then daily meds to pay for. The school loan folks deciding to garnish my wages (15% of gross=30% of take home. Ouch!) and a head-on car crash left me unable to afford an apartment alone. So my daughter and her family took me in. Now five surgeries later I am struggling to get everything together. I no longer use credit. I watch what I spend carefully. I have $750 toward an emergency fund…and finally a little piece of mind. My last credit card should be paid off in less than two years. The school loans? Plugging along. I still have some things accumulating dust that I should sell. Something from my parents must have stuck though. I haven't had a car loan since 1992. That's a plus. And I really do know how to budget. I manage on a take home of less than $1K per month. I managed to pay my entire out-of-pocket medical ($1200) in the first two months of last year without credit. Still, I have a goal to live on my own again.

23 Anna March 5, 2009

Being frugal has been a long journey. I was as a child – very careful on how I spent my allowance. As a kid, you can't have credit cards and everything is about cash. Then I discovered credit in my twenties and couldn't put Pandora back in the box. My husband, thankfully, held on to his frugal values so I didn't screw us up too badly.

My goal right now is to downsize on things that don't matter to me but upsize where it does. We have expenses that we feel are a "must" since my husband has family in other countries and we live 800 miles from mine, travel is a must. But I don't need the latest trends in clothes or the latest new car. Both our cars are paid for and are older models. We should be able to drive both for at least another 5 years. My husband loves to cook and garden, so we downsize on food expenses and don't eat out a lot. But we both work in the computer field and use internet to keep up with family and friends. So we probably spend more than others on this expense.

The biggest lesson I've found with frugality is it's all about priorities. If you have goals, you can meet them even if they at first seem unachievable. You just have to pick what matters most to you – and get rid of those items that are not so important by comparison. There is no one way to be frugal or one size fits all plan.

24 Christy March 5, 2009

My frugality began to develop as a child watching my g-grandma coupon shop (for others most of the time). She set a (very-high) monetary savings limit on herself to begin with…. if the checking account got down anywhere near this amount then as far as she was concerned … there was nothing there. (And that was the case most of the time.) So in order to fulfill her desires for providing for others without blowing her savings … she clipped coupons. She would then take these coupons and follow the sales as many of us do now … but she had a way of doing it that made this simple little "task" look interesting and fun … almost a game. She never paid for much of anything in this game and often was paid to leave the store with a buggy full of items. (Which is of course unheard of these days as the stores have all set up policies not to allow this kind of thing to happen) But let me tell you, back then she could sure do it! And did all the time! She would then take all of these "free" puchases, fill the trunk of her car, and drive around to all of her "shut in" or disabled friends, family, church members, or any others she heard of in need and pass out what ever they might be in need of. To her this was such a (fun) and simple thing … but in the eyes of THIS child and the eyes of all those who desperately needed what she was giving … it was an amazing miracle that she could walk in to a store with a wad of coupons, some change in a coin purse, and walk out with a buggy loaded full of necessities, a smile on her face, and sometimes even a little extra jingle in that small coin purse of hers. Now I try to apply this "game" to my personal life and pray for there to be enough extra to put a smile on someone else's face. I'm no where as talented at this "game" as she was … but I'm proud to have had that example in my life!

Thanks for the opportunity to share!

25 Ayesha March 5, 2009

As a child we lived very comfortably but not in luxury. My parents who are both professionals had saved to build their own house and put us through college so we thankfully ended up with no college loans. I had odd jobs as an undergradaute and was able to pay my rent and utilities but never really had much left over for socializing or travel or even a car. I bought my first car in graduate school. Here I was 'earning' money for the first time (as a research assistant) and spent a lot on things I could not (or thought I could not live without) before and so the first few years I contributed nothing towards a savings account although I never over-spent. I never incurred any credit card debt or loans.

Then it just so happened that I moved out on my own (until now I had roommates) and then had to be hospitalized 3 times in a matter of a year and a half. This is when I began to take stock of the fact that it's alright to not incur debt, but it is NOT alright not to have any savings to fall back on. The bills seem astronomical now that they are no long split 2-3 ways, the prices of everything keeps going up (which didn't really bother me before) and I will be graduating soon and job hunting (in this crazy market!) and definitely need a fall back plan.

So now I watch everything and am proud to say that I have been able to save up quite a bit and pay all my expenses as I go along. I have not felt cheated in any way because a lot of things I can do without and have been able to and am very happy in the process!

26 Penelope @ Pecuniarities March 6, 2009

I think, in a way I’m naturally frugal. I’ve always hated the idea of waste – be it money, food, paper, time, etc. But my frugality with money started about 6 years ago when my sister and I left Hawaii, where we grew up, and moved to California to try to find a new life.

We had saved up $10,000 after working full-time for a year and thought we had enough to start over somewhere. Unfortunately, we underestimated the cost for the movers, and after buying plane tickets for ourselves, our 16 year old cat, our dog and 22 mice (the mice counted as 1 pet), paying a deposit on our new place, when we got to California we found we had just enough left to cover the movers.

We had to learn to get ourselves settled into our new home using as little money as possible and as much creativity as possible. This soon became a habit; even when we have enough money for things that we needed, we still always try to find a cheaper alternative because it just bothers us to spend more when we don’t need to.

Also, we remember those scary weeks following our move when we had only $100 in our bank account, and never want to feel that way again. We give a detailed story including childhood influences for our frugality in our Family Financial History, if you don’t mind my sharing.

Penelope @ Pecuniarities´s last blog post..Who’s to Blame for Your Spending? You or You?

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