Frugal Living From a Minimalist's Perspective

19 Comments

  1. My friend was going to throw away some blankets and towels. She was cleaning up
    her late brother’s apartment. I took them home and washed everything, then donated the linens to a homeless shelter. If they were stained or worn looking, I would have washed them and given them to an animal shelter. I think I am frugal, I
    try to waste very little. Minimalist because for three of us, we have 6 bath towels.

  2. We only buy what we need, when we need it. I have 3 kids. No back to school shopping. No big school supply shopping. No window shopping in my free time. We go to stores with a list, when we need something. I buy the kids clothing, shoes when they out grow what they have. I keep school supplies from year to year so we “shop” from what we have. We’ve changed our patterns and don’t visit stores because we are bored. We don’t purchase something, even if it is on sale, unless we need it. It’s been life changing.

  3. I am a minimalist, but also I am frugal. I do see the two as compatible in as much as buying a quality item that lasts longer than several replacements ultimately saves money, and hence contributes to frugality (and reducing waste). I try to buy towards the mid-end of cost to get a good lifespan from the item but also not to be too extravagant, preferring functionality over aesthetics.

  4. Thenk you for the post.
    I think being frugal means living with less and not living with better. Than, in my opinion, less is also better….

  5. I have felt that minimalism can feel pretty classist to me, especially as a person who grew up without the choice to be minimalist. When you have so little, the idea of getting rid of things that, a la Kon Mari’s method, don’t “spark joy” sounds like a luxury the privileged ones can afford.

    I do, however, believe that now that I have more income and more ability to make choices, I should make ethical choices where possible. It isn’t cheaper for me to take a cloth napkin in my packed lunch, because I can get free paper napkins at work, but I try to take one anyway, for example. Similarly, I don’t have to take my own utensils because there are plastic utensils available for free, but I do take them because I don’t want to waste things needlessly.

    I understand the appeal of owning just a few things and buying things when you need them. But I can’t shake the feeling that doing that is something privileged people do, and even though my income allows some of this, I live with the memory of never really having enough. So I suppose I tend more toward frugality, minimizing waste, and being conscious of what I buy, but I doubt I will ever be minimalist.

    1. You make some really valid points, and this idea of minimalism for people of privilege is something we’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

      For me though, minimalism is not solely about the things you own and use. It’s about intentionality. Intentionality in the sense of how you spend your time, who you let into your life, what commitments you say yes too. And that’s where I think it draws many similarities to frugal living.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  6. Thank you for your post Michael.

    This is an excellent follow up to your previous post about buying items just because they are on sale.
    I believe you can be frugal and minimalist, and in most ways the two lifestyles are complementary.

    Whether a person decides to be minimalist or frugal depends on their values. Although they are complimentary, I can see some differences. Both frugal living and minimalism question the cost versus the value of an object before acquiring it, but minimalism asks the deeper question of” Why am I buying something?”, or “How does this align with my values?”, beyond it being a good deal. I always try to save money wherever I can, but not just for the sake of saving money, it is for the sake of spending money where and when it really matters.
    For example, I never buy coffee at coffee shops. Instead, I make my own from fair trade whole bean coffee I grind myself and brew in a French Press. Doing this saves money, and I get coffee that is ethically sourced, and much better tasting than any coffee you would get at a coffee shop. With the money I save I can focus on more important things like travel, health, and wellness.

    1. Hi Dominic, thanks for piecing the links between posts. Very observant of you! Your example regarding coffee is the perfect illustration of how minimalism and frugal living can work together. Both lifestyles come down to living with intentionality.

  7. Thanks for this blog post, Michael.

    This is a topic I’ve thought about a lot as well.

    All my life, I’ve moved around a lot and have therefore become excellent at decluttering, or rather never actually owning anything. And this is where I often run into problems even with smaller things (ie., not furniture): Rather than buying something of good quality (shoes, jeans), I try to think ahead of whether or not l’ll want to pack them when I move or if buying a cheap pair will do for now as this means I save time and room when I do move again by giving them away. But then I find myself packing the most random things like sticky tape and a hole punch, stuff I could buy anywhere for very little. I am often confused where I stand on this “scale”; I try to be practical, economical, environmentally conscious.

    Money has never been a huge issue, luckily, but I always feel like it is. Maybe the pressures from outside, hearing about investing in the future, having enough money saved up for when I can no longer work, or saving money for some emergency that may happen, always makes me feel as though I mustn’t spend money. It’s gone so far that I don’t even spend any on experiences anymore (concerts, comedy shows) or feel good about having a nice meal out. Is that being mindful of money or does it have other roots, feeling like I can’t allow myself to “treat myself” sometimes? Like I don’t deserve a good quality pair of shoes that might cost 80€ but also improves my walking experience immensely?

    This isn’t necessarily on topic of your wonderful blog post. But it triggered these and many other thoughts in me and I hope they somehow enrich your life maybe just a little. 🙂

    1. Hi Ruth! I think what you’ve written is totally on topic. This outside pressure of how you “should” spend your money definitely changes our relationship with it in the short-term. That’s why to me, frugality promotes a scarcity mindset, which is sometimes at odds with minimalist values.

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by. Hope you’re well!!

  8. Great article with plenty of food for thought. I don’t consider myself frugal per se, but I am a minimalist. What this means to me, is that I make deliberate and well considered choices about my purchases, and will focus on quality, purpose, functionality and alignment with my values and beliefs. I will by-pass items that are cheap if they do not align with the above, but if I intend on making a purchase AND I can get it at a discount then all the better!
    Frugality for me is more about stopping the waste, and only buying what is necessary. I live simply and intentionally, and that for me is more appropriate and meaningful than just cutting back on spend, or trying to be more efficient. I do admire people who can make their frugality work for them though. But I personally find more value in paying the cost for quality.

    1. Nadine, couldn’t agree more. I think you landed on an interesting point about frugality representing cutting costs or living more efficiently. While minimalism is not concerned with cutting costs, it’s more about value. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I consider myself align with frugal minimalist as well. But maybe frugal in the sense that I see myself as a small part of the whole eco-system. I donate, money or other things, because that does not create more junk and unnecessary things into the world, it is to distribute value or things one doesn’t need, hopefully to someone who actually need them to survive. I don’t reach out for anything impulsively, especially involving plastics or other diminishing resources, unsustainable product. Because I know the impact of wasting to the whole world. It’s the cost to us all, that I really am frugal about. At least that is what I try to remind myself of, with each purchase, or decision making.

    I have enjoyed all the blogs on the website so far!

  10. I consider myself to be a frugal minimalist – in fact, being frugal (from necessity) greatly improved my journey to minimalism (by choice). Frugality can really help you to think creativly to meet a need, rather than following the impulse to just go buy a new thing.
    Now that money is not so tight, I’ve managed to invest in some quality items that I needed; while not cheap, this is still frugal as replacing cheaper items more often actually ends up being more expensive in the long run. Using the shoe example, now that I own some good quality shoes I own fewer pairs, as the ones I have meet more of my needs.
    In regards to food, I exercise frugality in only buying what I need for the next week or two, rather than stockpiling bulk items to get a cheaper price. I still spend less than most people by shopping from bulk bins for exactly what I need, rather than have package size determine how much I buy. The space I gain and the option to choose different ingredients each time I shop is worth more to me than the cost saving of buying a 25kg sack of one thing.
    Being frugal and being a minimalist can be adapted in many ways to suit your own needs. They can work well together if that’s what you want, but you’re also free to adopt one or the other according to your priorities.

    1. Riana, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience. You make an interesting point regarding frugality out of necessity. I think this perspective shapes your relationship with accumulating things even as you make more money.

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