Are You Really Frugal? The True Meaning of Living a Frugal Lifestyle

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Are you really frugal? You might think so but not be! Learn what the true meaning of living a frugal lifestyle is and why you should make the change!


The other day I was having a conversation with a close friend and she made some offhanded comment about thinking she was frugal and then realizing after talking to me that she really wasn’t. So that got me thinking about what it really means to live a frugal lifestyle. This particular friend of mine does quite a bit to save money, but after talking with me about how we live our lifestyle, she decided that she wasn’t frugal, she was more thrifty. Frugality as a whole is a lifestyle. It really is. It isn’t about saving a few dollars each shopping trip, its really about saving as much money as possible in every aspect of your life. Take a look at these differences and then let me know, do you agree?


The thrifty person will look for a deal and then pay retail if they can’t find one.
A frugal person will wait until they find THE deal, even if it means not getting their wishlist item for months.

The thrifty person may know whats for dinner tomorrow and the day after, but that’s as far as it goes.
A frugal person has their family’s menu planned out for the entire month to make use of what they have in their house.

The thrifty person may have a budget, but it may not always be updated and they don’t always track their expenses.
A frugal person updates their budget regularly and always knows where their money is going.

The thrifty person is perfectly willing to go into debt for an item they really want.
A frugal person understands that debt is never the answer, even if that item is considered a need.

Speaking of needs, a thrifty person sometimes mistakes want for need.
A frugal person always knows the difference between want and need.

A thrifty person looks for vacation deals but will go anyway if they can’t find one.
A frugal person looks for free activities to do and if they must pay? They save for it until they have all of the money they need plus extra for pop up expenses.

A thrifty person does basic things to lower their utility bills, but doesn’t pay too much attention to the bill.
A frugal person goes through their bills with a fine tooth comb and are always looking for ways to lower them.

A thrifty person makes the minimum payments on their debt.
A frugal person pays off their debts as soon as possible.

A thrifty person may have a few dollars in savings, but a really big emergency can put them into a hole.
A frugal person has a separate emergency fund set aside and puts money into it on a regular basis.

A thrifty person eats a lot of boxed mixes and pre-packaged foods.
A frugal person cooks from scratch.

A thrifty person uses coupons.
A frugal person uses coupons, shops sales, uses savings apps, and know the price per unit/ounce of everything they buy to save the most.

A thrifty person lets their family know their end of life wishes.
A frugal person lets their family know, has a will, plans for their estate and has life insurance or other plans to cover expenses.



There are a ton of other differences but I really don’t want this post to be 100 pages long. Do you see the differences though? What other differences can you think of?


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Stacy Ott
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Stacy Ott

Stacy Ott is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family.By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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Stacy Ott
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  1. Good points! It’s so important to really understand the heart of being frugal! It’s generally not what people think. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I see the distinction you’re trying to make here (and I do like this post), but I think you’re using the wrong words. By pure dictionary definitions, thrifty and frugal are much more similar than they are made out to be here. The title (“Are you really frugal?) is great. Based on that, I’d adjust the text by replacing “thrifty” with “not really frugal” and leaving “frugal” as is. That way, the text more accurately reflects the title *and* the word “thrifty” isn’t misused throughout.

  3. I am thrifty and frugal. I wait until I can afford to purchase what I need, what I want, and what I cannot live without until I can pay cash. But I do not purchase anything just because it is on sale. And I have found that I can live without most of the stuff I don’t think I can live without because of my best motto: If I am supposed to have it, it will still be there when I can afford it. If I have time to think about it I usually don’t want it.

    I live by lists. Budget for everyday expenses and emergency, Menus for a month at a time, a permanent grocery list, permanent chore list, permanent inventory list, etc. You name it and I have a list for it. And I USE those lists. How else would I know it is time to make more deodorant, Meals in a Jar, clothing, Socks, dishtowels, etc? Or get the oil changed in my rigs, or change the filters in the furnace and swamp cooler? Or even what I need to get planted for my garden and when?

    If you really think about where your energy and time goes as well as your money, you will end up being frugal.

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