What does the word “frugality” conjure for you? Perhaps a mirage of miserly discontent with no worldly comforts and a tin of beans at your side as your only solace in an otherwise cheerless existence? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!

Frugal Hound’s emergency fund

Frugality gets a horrendous rap, primarily from those who peddle the pricey products we’re lured to believe will equal the good life. When Mr. Frugalwoods and I embarked on our extreme frugality regimen three years ago in order to reach our goal of a financially independent life on a homestead in the woods (which we brought to fruition last year), I figured frugality would be a mere tactic–a necessary strategy–in this quest.

I didn’t realize at the time that my frugality would become a destination and an enriching element all its own. I didn’t understand that frugality gives you much more than a heap of money in the bank and the ability to pursue unusual aspirations. I didn’t foresee that years later, I’d continue to choose frugality as my preferred mode of existence, not merely as a tactic. I didn’t know that frugality offers ancillary benefits, which don’t get much press.

It’s uncommon to hear someone espouse the virtues of frugality for frugality’s sake, which is precisely why I’m taking this topic on. You’re probably curious about frugality, or you’ve already embraced it, or you’re on the fence, or your partner/husband/wife just forwarded you this article and is standing over your shoulder making you read it. No matter, because today I want to open your mind to all the ways that frugality makes my life better. Seriously, you read that right: frugality makes my life better.

19 Reasons Why I Choose Frugality

1) Frugality Helps You Identify Your True Priorities

My priorities

Frugality, at its core, is a question of doing only what matters most to you. A successful frugal budget spends money only on the most important things and a happy frugal person only allots their time to their highest priorities. There’s a reason why the first step in my Uber Frugal Month Challenge is to identify your priorities and longterm goals.

Frugality encourages you to discern what you want out of life and to eliminate the noisy, expensive, time-consuming distractions of what the media tells us we “should” do. Frugality is about living the life that matters most to YOU, not the life that matters most to someone else.

There’s a whole lot that I don’t do and don’t spend money on simply because it doesn’t rise to the level of priority in my life. I know that my time and money are both limited so why fritter either away on stuff that doesn’t bring me happiness? When I first began to cut things from my life, I thought of each cut as a loss. As something I didn’t get to do anymore. Now, I see them all as things I don’t have to do anymore. Things I don’t have to waste time, energy, and money on. Things I’ve freed myself from needing and from doing.

More on this topic: 

2) Frugality Promotes An Environmentally-Friendly Life

Babywoods in our yard last summer

Frugalism is environmentalism. The act of consuming less new stuff means a lowered carbon footprint. Driving less in order to save money on gas, and driving an efficient car (we have a Prius), decreases our impact on the earth. Not wasting food means less methane in landfills. Not throwing away clothes or other usable items means less trash. Being mindful of our electricity usage–not to mention our water–keeps our bills down and helps the environment.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I keep what we own for a long time, we don’t rush out to replace stuff, we fix what breaks, we make do with what we have, and we don’t buy more than we can eat, or use, or share. And when we do buy things, they’re usually used, which means we’re keeping something from the landfill and not incurring the embodied environmental costs of new products.

In this way, frugality is an environmental statement that’s much more powerful than a bumper sticker. Quite simply, living frugally means respecting the earth and her resources.

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3) Frugality Reduces Clutter

Buying less means you own less, which means you have less clutter and less to clean. And less clutter and less to clean means more free time and less stress. Yay!

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4) Frugality Ensures You’ll Never Be Bored

Life on a homestead is never boring

Frugality militates against boredom because it engenders a life of constant learning and creating. Since we don’t pay people to entertain us or do projects for us, Mr. FW and I are in an endless state of discovery. Just this week, we spent an afternoon measuring the walls in our basement and drawing up a design for a set of shelves he’s going to build. We want to organize our storage so that everything is easily accessible (as a side benefit, going through the basement will likely yield a bunch of stuff we can get rid of and thus help my lifelong anti-clutter mission… ).

Mr. FW hasn’t built shelves quite like these before, but he sees it as an opportunity to teach himself a set of skills he’ll use for years to come. Plus, we had fun discussing how to best design and layout the shelves for all the iterations of life we want our basement to contain–from preserved food to Christmas decorations.

By embracing the art of DIY, we’re never at a loss for what to do with our time. If it’s a sunny day, we’re out in the garden or hiking. Rainy? We’re inside writing, baking, reading. Neither of us ever runs out of ideas or projects because our life is engineered to create these opportunities for us. We don’t expect someone else to tell us what’s entertaining, we expect to create our own fun. Another advantage is that this teaches Babywoods she’s in charge of her own entertainment, which has helped her build the skill of independent play (and not a reliance on Elmo, although he is handy on occasion).

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5) Frugality = More Free Time

Free time for things like flower arranging with flowers from our land!

There’s a commonly cited myth that you can either do something quickly or you can do it cheaply. But I find quite a few instances in my life that take less time and cost less money. One of my favorite examples of this intersection are our at-home DIY haircuts.

If I were to go to a salon to get my hair cut, I’d have to call and make an appointment, drive there, wait in line, get my hair cut, pay, and drive back home. In all, this would probably take me over two hours. Not to mention I’d be out some serious cash.

Lucky for me, Mr. FW cuts my hair at home (and I cut his), which takes a whopping 15 minutes and costs me zero bucks. That’s a pretty straightforward win-win as far as I’m concerned. And I no longer worry about having ‘perfect hair’ because…

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6) Frugality Grants Permission To Let Go Of Perfectionism

It’s impossible to achieve perfection while being frugal. But this shouldn’t be too much of a blow because it’s also impossible to achieve perfection while spending a ton of money! The difference is that when you’re frugal, you don’t expect perfection whereas when you spend a ton of money, you’re counting on an ideal result.

Funky turquoise end table peeking out

Frugality demonstrates to me the power of the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto Principle). Essentially, I can achieve a result that’s 80% perfect for 20% of the cost/effort. Since I source almost all of our stuff used for either free or very, very cheap, I spend very little on it (usually much less than 20% of the original price). Because of this, I don’t expect it to be perfection incarnate. Rather, I’m just grateful to have it. Take my funky turquoise end table, for example. It was free–came to me through my Buy Nothing Group–and I love it! It doesn’t exactly match anything else, it’s kind of an odd shape, and I’m not sure why it’s on wheels, but none of this bothers me in the least.

Conversely, if I were to spend $100 on the perfect end table? I’d expect it to live up to a level of perfection that’s not possible because I’d be trying to imbue my material possessions with a power they don’t have. Stuff is not a stand-in for human emotions and it doesn’t exist to make you happy. It exists to serve a function. As a recovering perfectionist, I find it liberating to accept–at the outset–that things aren’t always going to work out quite right.

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7) Frugality Fosters Lowered Stress, Increased Peace, and Greater Simplicity

My makeup-free embrace of a simpler life

My life is simple. Not in a boring, backward sort of way, but in an unhurried, un-frantic, uncluttered sort of way. Through my frugality mindset, I’ve eliminated unnecessary elements of my life and whittled my days down to their raw essence. Yes, I do stuff I don’t 100% love because we have to run a household (I’m looking at you, laundry… ), but there’s a lot that I flat out don’t do because I don’t enjoy it. This simplification and streamlining means that I have more time to devote to the activities that I do find fulfilling.

Case in point: I stopped wearing makeup on a daily basis because it was expensive and, I decided, a waste of my time. Plus, it caused me anguish: did it look right? Had I selected the correct color of lipstick? Did I just accidentally rub my eye and smear my mascara??? These the traumas I used to endure. So much easier for me to simply say no. To simply not wear it anymore. To not buy it, to not need it, to not put it on. To simplify and to do without is to create a level of ease and calm.

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8) Frugality Increases Happiness

Babywoods + cake! Don’t worry, it was sugar-free

Frugality encourages an embrace of life’s simple pleasures. It’s also the antidote to the dangers of hedonic adaptation. When we continually treat ourselves–with lattes or, you know, yachts–our brain adapts to those treats. We begin to expect those treats on a regular basis in order to maintain our baseline happiness. Then, over time, we gradually need bigger or more frequent treats. This is how a weekly latte becomes a daily $5 binge. We’ve essentially calibrated our brains to expect more. To anticipate that jolt of dopamine and to crave it more and more. Frugality, on the other hand, trains our brain not to require those consumer highs. We’re happier with less and we enter a state of contentment, as opposed to a state of constantly craving.

This is what happens to me when I eat a piece of cake. If I were to just, you know, NOT eat any cake, I’d be perfectly fine and would merrily go about my day. But when I eat a piece of cake? I become a cake-obsessed raving sugar lunatic, trying to scrape bits of frosting off of other people’s plates to devour in secret and possibly inject into my veins. I nearly took out a six-year-old at coffee hour after church last Sunday as we both dove for the last piece of coffee cake. I regained composure and let her take it, but I considered grabbing it and handing her a carrot stick instead. I didn’t say I was proud of this. Same goes for buying stuff. If we keep ramping up our purchases, we essentially become deadened to their pleasures because of the routine exposure.

Going out to dinner is another excellent example. Mr. FW and I used to dine out all the time. All the time. And while yes, we enjoyed those meals, we weren’t deriving a high level of satisfaction from them. Now that we only eat out once a month, we find we enjoy that meal far, far more. It’s a rare treat and our pleasure level is commensurately much higher.

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9) Frugality Encourages Creativity

Frugal people are creative, not perhaps inherently, but frugality makes us creative (not to be confused with crafty because we all know where I stand on crafts… hate them). Frugal people don’t use the boring, easy option of money to solve our problems. We innovate, we experiment, and we do it ourselves. We devise our own food, our own entertainment, our own gifts, our own way to live. Normal is boring (not to mention expensive and typically stress-laden).

10) Frugality = Not Worrying About Money

Our first family photo, taken by the nurses in the NICU

Frugality grants you the financial ability to: 1) manage crises with ease; 2) seize fabulous opportunities that come your way. Unexpected events–both amazing and terrible–will be thrown in our path, it’s pretty much the one constant in life. Frugality ensures you’ll have the financial capacity to cope with these extreme joys and extreme griefs.

When you can eliminate the stressor of money, you can instead focus on what truly matters. Babywoods had a rather traumatic birth and spent a week in the NICU, which was certainly an unexpected curveball for us. I was so thankful–in the midst of that sleep-deprived anguish–that we didn’t have to worry about money. It was just one less thing on our plates.

Frugality gives you the liberation to know that a job loss would be merely an inconvenience, that if your dream house comes on the market you can afford to buy it, that you have ample investments to ensure a happy retirement, that if your child needs medical treatment you can pay for it. Frugality frees you from the day-to-day anguish of managing a rigid budget.

When you operate with the worldview that there’s very little you need to buy, you no longer need to count pennies or worry if there’s enough money in your account. You’re set.

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11) Frugality Facilitates A Deeper Connection With Your Partner

Mr. FW and I do just about everything together. A life of frugality is one of insourcing, which means collaborating with your partner on everything from the mundane (how many times have we cleaned the kitchen together over the course of our marriage…. ) to the profound (making the decision to buy our homestead).

Hiking together is our idea of a perfect gift.

We’ve learned to respect one another and rely on each other’s skills in nearly every facet of life. Rather than paying someone else to solve our problems, we work together to develop a relationship that isn’t conflict free, but that has a framework for resolving conflicts.

It’s also true that our shared frugality has eliminated the urge to fight over money. By being on the same financial page, we’re committed to open communication about our finances. This has enabled us to set–and achieve–longterm financial aspirations.

There’s no single thing that has brought us closer in our nearly nine years of marriage than our frugality because it focuses us on the same goals.

More reading:

12) Frugality Encourages a Harmonious, Family-Centered Balance

We don’t structure our lives around externalities such as employers, busyness, distractions like television and shopping, and a fear of not owning enough stuff. Instead, our days are dictated by our family’s needs, wants, and feelings, and by our own personal to do lists.

Mr. FW and Babywoods

This doesn’t mean we’re entirely inward focused hermits–to the contrary, we’re extremely involved in our community, our church, and with our friends and neighbors. But what it does mean is that we consider the needs of our family first. If Babywoods is exhausted or sick, we stay home. We prioritize the rest and recuperation she needs rather than dragging her to a party we want to attend. If I’m feeling the pressure of a deadline or just need time to do yoga alone? We don’t rush out to run errands. We structure our lives so that self-care is paramount. We go to bed at the same time every night and get 7-9 hours of sleep no matter what else is going on. It sounds indulgent to sleep that much, doesn’t it? And yet, it’s what’s recommended and what makes us feel good. Sure, we watch less TV and do fewer chores in order to get to bed on time, but that’s what our bodies need.

Frugality has simplified our lives such that this mode of living is possible. We spend less money, we bog ourselves down with less stuff, we do fewer things, and as a result, we’re happier. It’s also true that we’re incredibly fortunate to spend every day together as a family. The ability to quit jobs that kept us separate is perhaps the best fringe benefit of our frugality. By focusing on our family–not on buying things for our daughter or upgrading our cars or getting take-out every night–we’re able to eliminate the expensive distractions that would keep us apart.

Embracing what makes us happy, and not worrying about doing the ‘expected’ thing, is a wonderful gift of frugality.

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13) The Fewer Choices Of Frugality Make Us Happier

Research has proven that the glut of choices we face in making decisions in our modern economy do not, in fact, make us happier. The more options we grapple with, the more stressed we become and the more likely we are to regret or second-guess whatever we do finally decide to buy.

Babywoods in her $5 jogging stroller

Frugality allows us to narrow our choices in two ways: 1) we need less stuff; 2) the stuff we do need, we buy used or accept as free hand-me-downs. Take Babywoods’ jogging stroller, for example, which I recently bought at a thrift store for $5. The entire purchasing experience–from entering the store to checking out–took us about 5 minutes. We saw the stroller, we tested it out with Babywoods in it, and we bought it. We didn’t do hours of research in advance, we didn’t have to compare 20 different models of stroller, we didn’t have to endure an upsell from an employee, and we certainly didn’t have to stress out over the expense. After all, it was a whopping $5.

The same scenario plays out every time we shop at a thrift store or a garage sale. There’s a misconception that used shopping takes longer, but I can assure you it’s much faster–they either have what you need, or they don’t. Frugality ensures that I don’t fall victim to the dangers of paralysis by analysis. It also ensures that I don’t waste precious time comparison shopping and panicking that I’ve selected the wrong thing!

I’m far happier with the stuff I buy used. Since that jogging stroller was only $5, I’m thrilled every day that I hike with it. I don’t worry that maybe I should’ve sprung for a better model, or a different color, or one with a cupholder–none of those concerns ever enter my mind because I eliminated those choices from the process. It sounds counterintuitive, but research bears it out and I encourage you to try it and see how you feel.

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14) Frugality Provides Built-in Exercise

Much of frugality is the art of doing things yourself. Lucky for us, these things are often physical in nature! Hefting a toddler around, weeding a garden, chopping down trees for firewood, clearing brush on our hiking trails, cleaning our house, walking the dog, carrying the laundry downstairs to the washing machine, even cooking involves movement!

Mr. FW splitting wood

By doing everything ourselves, we have ample opportunity to move our bodies throughout the day. I’m an inveterate fidgeter, so this suits me quite well. I can only sit at my computer and write words for an hour or so at a time before I need to move around. Fortunately, there’s always something active I can turn my attention to (usually the ever-mobile Babywoods).

Not only is it healthy to move frequently, it’s also much cheaper than paying for a gym membership. Ponder for a moment that the stereotypical middle-class American lifestyle is to work at a stationary desk job for far more hours than you care to in order to afford to pay people to do all of the active chores I listed above PLUS pay for a membership to a place where you go and exercise your body on a machine indoors (commonly referred to as a gym). Just think about that one for a minute.

P.S. We didn’t have a gym membership when we lived in the city either. By biking and walking everywhere, we were set. Plus, I worked out a system of barter and trade with my yoga studio in exchange for free classes! Now, I do yoga at home for free using the site doyogawithme.com

Further reading:

15) Frugal People Have Hobbies

Frugality is a hobby in and of itself, but it also encourages you to seek out fulfilling, free, interesting hobbies that build your curiosity and promote lifelong learning. Mr. FW and I know how to do so many more things now that we’re frugal. Frugal folks don’t fritter away their time at the mall, or the movie theater, or the hair salon. Frugal folks are out doing things.

We’ve taught ourselves how to refinish kitchen cabinets, how to install window trim, how to redecorate rooms, how to plant gardens, how to plow snow, and the list goes on. Plus, on the purely recreational side of things, we nurture free hobbies: hiking together through our woods, playing board games, doing yoga, reading, and more. We’re both innately curious people and frugality allows us to feed that appetite for learning without the expense of “traditional” hobbies.

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16) Frugality Engenders A Gratitude Mindset

Letting go of perfection

I used to be envious of other people’s fancy kitchens, their lovely clothes, and their flawless skin. I stewed over how to manifest these fabulous things into my own life, because I assumed that’s what would make me happy. I wondered how I’d cope with this desire for the finer things when we embarked on project extreme frugality. Would I be eaten up with jealously? How would I go three years without buying clothes (very easily, as it turns out)?!?

Turns out, frugality profoundly shifted the way I think about the world. Instead of this endless lust for more, I found myself experiencing an abiding sense of gratitude for everything that I have in my life. I’ve come to understand that Mr. FW and I are among the most privileged people in the world and I find there’s no room for jealousy in this life (ok I am not perfect, as previously asserted, so there’s still some jealousy… ).

When I stopped consuming, I started to see how many things we own that we never even use! Forget buying new stuff, we don’t even need half of the stuff we have. Frugality encourages you to cherish what you have, not to lust after what you don’t and I find that, more often than not, this gratitude mindset is what permeates my life.

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17) Frugality Will Increase Your Confidence

I used to be insecure. I was forever fretting about what people might think of me, my appearance, and my choices. Would they think I was successful? That I was doing the right things? Did everyone love my dress??!!!?? I wasted so much energy in totally worthless, pointless, vapid worry.

Found my coat in the trash and Babywoods is sporting a 100% hand-me-down outfit

Embracing frugality became about embracing who I really am. I no longer strive to attain the (impossible) standards our consumer culture establishes. I no longer care about the harsh judgments of others and, interestingly, parallel to this was an evaporation of my judgment of them. When I stopped worrying that everyone was judging me, I also stopped judging them.

I let go of comparing myself to other people and started creating my own metrics for achievement. I now ask: have I met my own expectations? Am I being the writer, the parent, the partner, the friend, the daughter that I want to be? Am I creating an environment of peace wherever I go? Ok definitely not that last one, so there’s something to work on…

After quitting my conventionally successful job and leaving my conventionally “perfect” life, I was freed from living a life that didn’t make me happy. I stepped off the consumer carousel of trying to keep up and prove myself and I stepped into a simpler life that doesn’t give me shortness of breath and sweaty palms. I made a conscious decision to stop trying to demonstrate my worth as a person through the things I own, which allows me to focus much more on the things I do.

When I feel bogged down in the day-to-day (laundry, deadlines, a whiny toddler), I do the cliche thing of stepping back and pausing. For me, this means going for a hike in our woods (or if I’m short on time, just standing on the back porch can suffice). I clear my mind, I breathe and I ask myself if I’m creating a life I’ll be proud of and happy about when I’m an old woman reflecting on how I spent my days. What I’ve come to realize is that in the end, the only person who’ll care how you lived your life is you.

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18) Frugality Builds Community

Babywoods + me at a town potluck last summer

In our increasingly fragmented, individualistic society that’s focused on paying money as the answer to everything; frugality, conversely, encourages us to meet our neighbors and build connections. The ethos of barter and trade is far from dead–as many of you shared in my post on the topic.

Frugality encourages a reliance on one another, a sharing of skills, of time, and of stuff. While part of the reason Mr. FW and I enjoy a vibrant community life is that we live in a small, rural town, it’s also true that our frugality–and our willingness to give and receive help–enables us to foster these relationships. The frugal life is an interconnected life where you acknowledge that you need help and have gifts to offer.

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19) Frugality Gives You Options and Freedom

I saved the very best for last. More than anything else, frugality gives you options. Or, more precisely: frugality gives you a level of financial stability that affords you options. When you’re not in debt and you’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck, you are able to make decisions based on what you want to do with your life, not what you have to do.

When we mire ourselves in costly, consumer-driven lifestyles that require tons of money to maintain, we’re effectively limiting our options. We might own a lot, but we’re unlikely to be able to do a lot. I’d much rather have a life rich with experiences, with family memories, and with the pursuit of passions than a life rich with brand new furniture and cars.

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Frugality Is About So Much More Than Money

Love this ancient maple in our woods

I’m passionate about the positive change that frugality has brought to my life and, in many ways, my frugal worldview is informed by tenets that stretch far beyond the financial. My quest isn’t to become rich, it’s to become content and fulfilled, but what I’ve discovered is that I reach that end with–and through–my frugality. For me, frugality wrought a wholesale lifestyle transformation.

I’m fond of saying that frugality is a virtuous financial cycle: the less money you spend, the more money you save, and the less money you need to earn. But frugality is also a virtuous lifestyle cycle: the more you embrace frugality, the simpler and more enjoyable your life becomes because you need less, you want less, and you do less of what makes you unhappy.

You can’t buy your way to happiness, but you can certainly go into debt trying. You have permission to stop spending money in ways that don’t feel rewarding, to stop competing over material possessions, and to instead start looking inward. Allowing frugality to take hold in your life can bring dramatic and powerful changes that are likely to sharpen your priorities, assert your values, and eliminate the unimportant.

How has frugality changed you? What do you love most about frugality?

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  1. I was talking to someone last night and they were telling me ever since they became more frugal that it has completely unlocked their creative mind. He went on to talk about how in college he was constantly looking for ways to recreate things for free. But when he got a job that his creativity went out the window because he was able to buy whatever he wanted. He said being frugal was by far one of the best things he’s done in his life and brought so much more happiness than he could have imagined.

    1. A friend of mine mentioned that same thing when she was living in Africa. You can’t really pop down to Wal-Mart and replace things, so you either fix it, or move on. It’s pretty freeing!

  2. Frugality means responsibility, self-discipline, stability and preparedness to me. There have been many points in life where I felt so lucky I had saved up the money that I did. I can’t predict the future. But I sure can be proactive in preparing for it.

  3. All of these are great. I think the biggest changes that I have seen are identifying my true priorities, a sense of gratitude, and options/not worrying about money. These are all obviously quite central to life, but I think knowing your true priorities and having a sense of gratitude are really huge boosts to happiness and are underrated life improvements. Once those fall into place everything else becomes a whole lot easier.

    1. Quite true Matt.

      Frugality starts to open a new sense of freedom that you probably haven’t experienced before. Once you understand everything isn’t about money, you can learn to enjoy the pleasures of life.

      It’s really amazing what a pinch of frugality could do for you!

  4. This is the BEST article I have read (on any subject) in quite some time. I love that the stuff you write is the stuff you live.

    Awesome and inspiring!

      1. I third that – I loved this so much. Letting go of what others think of us and letting go of perfectionism chime extra strong with me.

        1. Love this article! Read most of it out loud to my husband. I’m inspired by your blog every time I read it. Thank you so much!

    1. Couldn’t agree more. I generally love your articles but this one is a keeper. Reading as I was walking down the street in my amazing UK city.. we thrive on a wonderful community here too. I am going to print this article out and keep it. Thanks Mrs FW!!

  5. I can really relate to this. We are doing the homestead ourselves and while there are things we buy, we are doing all the labor. Building raised beds for the garden, planting fruit trees, berry bushes, building the fences and planting the vegetables that will be eaten fresh, canned and making jams. I fired the salon years ago, my husband cuts my hair and always does a great job, he gives the children their haircuts each month as well. It saves me so much time. As you mentioned, no making an appointment, driving there, waiting and then paying alot for which most of the time I wasnt happy with. For mine, I tell hubby I want mine trimmed, and he does it for me, takes him about 20 minutes, as he does the full sectioning, and trims each layer. For the children, I remind him they are due, please take care of them. About 10 minutes per child and then they are off to the shower after their haircuts. A really simple routine and it saves us a lot. We also have started keeping bees, there are costs up front, but they are great for pollinating the garden and we will see the rewards of our own home produced honey. Very healthy and you cant get any more local than your own yard. And I have friends asking when are we going to have some for sale, so I see it as becoming a source of extra income as a home business.

  6. I agree! Just tried out the haircut tip the other week…worked great! I’m much happier than my salon haircut which I just wrote about two days ago here:

    Also included is a photo of my dog, mid-haircut with cute lil curls all around her because I stopped taking her to the hair salon (aka groomer) also. She likes the doggy spa at home a lot better, where her mamas massage her and she doesn’t have to be around tons of other scared dogs!

    One contention is the gym. I can’t wait to retire so I can have more time to spend at classes at the gym! It’s just so fun to me be around other people, have someone else design a workout routine that will push me harder than I could push myself alone at home, and have someone to correct my form at yoga and help me get better. But I will never have homestead wood chopping chores and cleaning the baseboards just isn’t as much exercise or as appealing!

  7. I agree that there are many benefits to frugality. However, I think it’s something deeper than frugality that has brought some of these wonderful elements into your life. It’s not just the how of handling money, but the why. This is why some people “try” to be frugal, and write it off as a failed experiment or not for them. It seems you have your deeper purpose and values worked out, which drives your frugality. I would argue that frugality is a tool, not a purpose or a value by itself. I’m curious what you think about this distinction, as it could explain why it “works” for some and not others. But I absolutely agree that the tool of frugality can bring these great benefits, and have experienced many of them.

    1. I think for me, it is the frugality itself because that’s what helped Mr. FW and I hone our priorities. That’s why the Uber Frugal Month Challenge starts off with a prompt to identify your longterm goals. At the end of the day, the ultimate purpose of frugality is to decide what kind of life you want to lead. But I also find that all of these other benefits come to me specifically through frugality. When I chat with friends who I consider to be very grounded, spiritual, and at peace, I find that my frame of reference for my own worldview is frugality, while theirs might be, say, yoga or a religious vocation (and while I both practice yoga and am religious, it comes back to the lessons of frugality for me because I see how it positively impacts every other part of my life). Does that answer your question? I feel like maybe not, but I hope it helps :)!

  8. Great post! For me, it’s the simplification of my life. Fewer worries about acquiring and maintaining and competing with others. Which gives me more time and mental space for other more important things. The money savings are a nice bonus too.

  9. Awesome article. Wondering if you might allow me to reprint this in a print magazine I publish in the Va. Beach/Norfolk area called Tidewater Women. I would be happy to include a blurb at the end about your blog and contact info.

  10. I think what I like most about my budding frugality is that I am able to roll with the punches that life brings. Case in point – my fiancee totaled her car over the weekend. We looked for a new used car, and two days later got the car we wanted for the price we wanted and it in no way is a financial shock to our system. We decided to go with a low interest loan because we are saving for a wedding in March, but after we pay for all that – in cash – then we will pay off the loan in full by this time next year.

  11. All of your points are so true! I think my favorite parts about trying to frugalize my life has been the environmentally-friendly and built-in-exercise aspects. I feel like these go hand-in-hand in some ways. For example, while I work pretty far from my house, I can choose to bike to the train station and then take the train, instead of driving to the station. It saves me on gas money (not to mention car payments and insurance, since I don’t own a car!). Not only that, I get some exercise and fresh air. It’s a good way to live!

  12. Completely agree with all 19 reasons! Don’t think there is anything I could possibly add.

    For me frugality means freedom and flexibility. We’ve been able to take advantage of lots of interesting opportunities simply because we had our finances in order.

    PS. Love the $5 jogging stroller. Good find.

  13. Great post! I found myself nodding my head at each reason you listed. I recently read the book your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig and appreciated his insights on the idea of money and happiness. For example, he talks about the fact that how good our money makes us feel depends partly on how much money the people around us have. Therefore, I think frugality is so helpful because it gives us a new metric to evaluate our lives by. Instead of focusing on the spending side of the equation, we often prioritize the savings side. And since happiness comes from wanting what we have, frugality is the perfect way to start seeing all the value and abundance in our current lives.

  14. I truly loved this article. It summed things up perfectly for me. Although I have always had a tendency towards frugalness, I never really knew what direction I was going in. This blog, along with Mr. Money Mustache were truly life changing for me as I now have a clear and defined path and am happily and rapidly taking steps towards FI and all of the benefits and options it brings. Thank you for your inspiring posts! By the way, I went the no makeup route and I truly do feel more confident, which was totally unexpected.

  15. Yep, I was nodding my head to every one one of those! Although we’re not extreme frugal maestro’s like yourselves (yet!), we definitely adopt the approach of conscious consumption. For me, on a par with keeping our spending low, are our efforts to reduce our environmental impact/footprint.

  16. The biggest benefit for me is the family time, and the simplification. I am not sure how the ‘average’ person with multiple kids runs around all day chasing the whims that most of society chases. I am tired enough at night! It’s not as easy when your kids get old enough to start having their own opinions though. Their friends are usually not from frugal families. This brings on a whole new dynamic that we are starting to deal with now.

    1. I agree with you about the friend comment. Most of my daughter’s friends aren’t and/or don’t need to be frugal. She came home from a playdate once and asked me why we don’t have an elevator in our house (what in the world?!?!). I asked her if she’d rather have Mommy go back to work and have a huge house or Mommy stay home and not have an elevator. She picked Mommy staying home. Good thing because I don’t think that a house with an elevator would fit our frugal lifestyle 😉

  17. Great post! My wife and I have recently paid off our student loans and we are in our early 40’s with no debt, except our low interest rate mortgage. It really is freeing and liberating to be debt-free. We will now be more frugal in life and try to save half our income, and not make the same mistakes we did in the past. Thank you guys for your blog, it gives us joy to know we are on the right path.

  18. A really great article, and I think you captured all the points. I was struck the other day by the fact that I could afford to snatch up a really great deal on a used item because I had the money for it, and I had the money for it because I hadn’t frittered it all away on things I wouldn’t even remember a week later. The peace of mind is wonderful. I think that the most fun I get out of frugality is the creativity. I love to come up with new ways to repair or create, using things I already have or can get very cheaply, even free. I feel so much happier doing that than when I just go buy a new whats-it or pay someone to fix it.

  19. This has read just like an engrossing book! Because I once was extremely poor (hungry) money became a stressful topic in my life. I almost didn’t take the uber challenge but you and another lady encouraged me to try and that month changed everything! Where money used to equal lack and fear of “not enough” now I see that possessions and finance are only tools and I have a God-given responsibility to have charge of them. Thank you!!

  20. Frugality made me view the world differently – especially after taking the Uber Frugal Challenge. It made me a lot more content with small things

  21. We have always been ” pretty good with money” and other folks see it as some sort of mysterious happening, when in fact we just live below our means, sometimes way below our means. Yeah, a lot of people have newer cars, expensive clothes, etc. but we have all we want.
    We are in the process of selling our home and moving to Vermont! Exciting and scary times.

  22. As usual, another amazingly written post about the benefits of frugality. I’ll be sharing this with others, as you have a beautiful way with words to tell your story and what you’ve learned. I am impressed by how much you’ve grown and changed in the short three year since embracing this lifestyle shift.

  23. I really needed to read this today. We are in the process of preparing our house to list and – hopefully- sell. My mind is over all the do it yourself that we’ve been doing. But reading this -and especially #16 -was just what the doctor ordered. I can make it through. There are some who would give anything to be in the situation that I’m in. So thanks. Great article.

  24. I used to be so stressed out about money when I ate out all the time and went shopping for new clothes every weekend. It never clicked in my head that those two things were related! I think the day I added up all my debt was the day my life changed. I was shocked at how much money I owed. I slowly became frugal, it definitely didn’t happen overnight. And as the debt disappeared, so did the stress. Weird!
    Over time I realized that the best way to get out of debt and save up a ton of money is to stop spending your money! I started making all my meals at home, clothes shopping at the thrift stores and just not spending money on things that I don’t really want.
    Now that I have some money saved up and I’m debt free I can afford to do things that I value. Like traveling. I’m so grateful that frugality has given me the option to see the world. Next month-Aruba! I can’t wait! I’m so happy I’m frugal!

  25. Yes!!! I especially loved that frugality allows you to let go of perfectionism. So true!!! We waste SO MUCH TIME trying to get our house perfect, our clothes perfect, our makeup perfect, etc etc etc that we miss out on what life’s all about.

    My mom and I were chatting today about how lazy society has gotten, haha. But everything nowadays is SO CONVENIENT (which also costs money!!). I’m all about living a simple, healthy life where I can spend time with my loved ones, exercise and simply enjoy the day 🙂

    Fantastic post, as always!


  26. Reading this made me feel so content about the frugal choices I’ve been making recently. This blog post is just full of so many good feelings.

  27. I am yet a frugal novice, but I confess that I have been surprised by how little this journey has to with saving money, and how much more it is a lifestyle design choice. For those amongst us who tend to be a tad competitive, frugality scratches that itch quite well too – acquiring things ones needs non-conventionally and for a lower cost can feel like a game, and one plays (against oneself) to win. Thus far though I think I’ve enjoyed the environmentally friendly benefit most of all though, because that one feels a bit like coming home to my immigrant roots – to a childhood where nothing was wasted and everything was reused.

  28. I read one of your blog posts a while ago and then a few weeks ago Society of Grownups sent an email that included one of your latest posts. It brought me back to your blog and I am so glad it did! I have been reading your new posts and catching up on old ones and your writing is constant inspiration for me to step back and think about what I truly value and prioritize!

  29. I love the way you are able to but into words exactly what I feel! And your links to previous article makes it easy to navigate and reinforce this 😊

  30. Great post. Really enjoying reading your blog. I am curious about 2 things you mentioned though. To your point of frugality saving time, and your mention as well of limiting decision making with the example of your stroller, I wonder how much this is true, or if your experience will vary depending. With your stroller example, the buying process itself was quite efficient and didn’t involve much decision making, but in your original post about that find (which was incredible btw!) you mentioned that you had spent a lot of time researching your options ahead of time and reaching out to people to see if you could find one in other ways. So it seems there was an amount of research, decision making, and investment of time prior that allowed you to make a final quick decision when you learned that stroller was available. Of course if you ever find yourself in a need of a stroller again you won’t necessarily need to repeat that process, but with each new thing there may be some level of research/education to even know when you’re getting a bargain or something that will last/be worth the money.
    You’re also going to have a hard time convincing me that I won’t save time by spending money hiring people to do work (home repairs & updates, cleaning, etc.) that I would otherwise have to do myself. Not that there isn’t value in doing it in yourself, and I do enjoy the learning process of DIY I’ve found recently, but I don’t have a partner who is handy. It’s me, or I hire someone. I can occasionally call on knowledgeable friends for help, but that’s limited. So for instance the time I would have to invest in order to be able to build my own set of storage shelves would likely be much higher than what you and your husband will need to invest, which gets me to my your mileage may vary point.
    I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this, as well as perhaps from other readers who are in a more similar situation to me, ie. single, ie. it’s all on me. 😉
    Thanks for all of the time you invest in writing your posts. It’s encouraging me to be very thoughtful and rethink some major life decisions in my quest to reach my financial goals.

    1. I think it is sort of like travel—some people live frugally so they can spend their money on travel. I am not handy and, truth be told, don’t really want to learn how to replace my broken living room window; I’d rather be reading. But, since I am thrifty in other ways (like my backyard garden averages over $2000 worth of produce after I subtract expenses), I feel no guilt in hiring a person to replace my window.

    2. I am frugal on things I can easily be frugal (I do not eat out, cut my own hair, do not have a tv, drive a Ford Focus, live in a small, cheap house I bought in a very poor town). However, I do spend to get oil changed etc. I make choices that are easy for me.

  31. Great post FrugalWoods. Giving up on perfection made a massive difference in my own life, and my own happiness. Frugality truly is about more than just money.

  32. I absolutely LOVED reading this story. I am 54 years old (almost). A couple of years ago, I realized how far in debt I really was. I have stopped buying things and eating out and attempting to rid myself of most of the things that I do have. It’s going to take a couple of more years to get out of debt. But your life – simplicity, living on a homestead, just spending time together as a family, and being content – that’s my dream and my goal. I so wish I had learned this years and years ago!

  33. Great post. We are on our way to frugality, but I can tell you that since we’ve started our journey we found ourselves more happier than we used to be. We less worry about stuff and more enjoy our life. We less care about what other people think about us and more care about our future.
    And we are so excited about future changes in our lives

  34. Wow this is a great list. Something we can all relate to (at least some of them). It was probably a lot of fun for you to list out too and realize how fulfilled of a life you truly live. Probably a good exercise for us all. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Great post as usual Mrs. Frugalwoods. Frugality has made me find hobbies that I thought I would never do before because I thought that paying people to do it is the norm and that’s what everyone else does. From cutting off cable tv to looking into makings things like selves and tables frugality has expand my creativity and is more self-satisfying. Instead of racing home to watch a ballgame or catch the latest episode on cable tv, I look forward to hiking with my wife and kid and not worrying about anything else. It’s like I have a greater sense of freedom. I’m planning to take a furniture making class this fall and I’m already envisioning projects like making a tables and selves even before taking the class…lol. I would never thought of doing something like this until I read blogs like Mrs. Frugalwoods and other frugal blogs and it feels great to look forward to something that I will create myself instead paying someone to do it.

  36. I was looking for wheels for spouse’s chicken tractor build, grabbed some out of a trash pile during town’s cleanup week, it was a double jogging stroller, intact, air in tires, cover needs a good scrub , but I got a fully functional, probably> $250 stroller for free. Don’t need it, but may someday if grandson ever has a sibling.

  37. I love this! So spot on as always.

    I gotta say though I LOVE my gym membership. I pay about $600 a year including unlimited childcare while I workout. I’m a SAHM to an 18-month-old and I always look forward to that hour by myself to take a yoga or Pilates class. It has done wonders for my physical and mental health.

    As you say though it comes back to priorities. I don’t get my hair or nails done or buy new clothes or have cable and we rarely eat out. Being very frugal in other areas gives us the freedom to have the gym membership.

    1. I think your gym membership sounds like a perfect example of frugal prioritization. As you said, you save on things that don’t matter so that you can spend in an area that brings immense benefits to your life. Now that’s the beauty of frugality :)!

      1. This is a great way to look at it. Currently, I’m working until 2am. Lacking sleep. Feeling awful. I wale early to be with our kiddo so we don’t have to do daycare. I have just accepted a position (9-5 job) but have family to help with childcare and I will get back to normal sleep and healthy habits. This makes a HUGE difference in my life. I can feel healthy again to use my body to create and build around our home rather than being drained. Tic for tac!

  38. Because I am frugal, I just don’t worry about certain things. I have been fairly lucky to have good jobs ever since I graduated from college almost 20 yrs ago. Recently, I came as close as I have ever been to being unemployed due to a potential contract change. There was a fair amount of uncertainty that made some of my co-workers really nervous. It all worked out just fine, but while it was happening I just shrugged it off. I am generally a pretty anxious person- but $ isn’t something I worry about. If I lost my job, then we would have started early retirement a year or two earlier than planned, our “bingo” numbers are a conservative since we live so well on so little. The year or two of extra savings could have been made up spending what we currently spend for a few years instead of the more spendy amount in our projections. My only worry during all of that was having to figure out the new timeline for getting our house ready to sell and the logistics for relocating (we only live where we do because of my job). My husband goes through a similar contract thing in a few months and if I had to guess, I bet he is hoping that his job goes away.

  39. I awoke to a beautiful warm spring day….Living a frugal lifestyle allowed me to retire early from a stressful job which I went to for the last 27 years….I spent my morning first sitting in my yard admiring my vegetable and flower garden. My dog was splayed out on the grass …I could hear all the birds and cluck of my neighbors chickens…..A feeling of pure joy came over me….I am so grateful for all the blessings in my life…..I now have time to enjoy each day….to be a human being…..to smell the roses…….all because I chose to live a frugal life…..

    1. Divine! Sounds like you’ve carved out an incredible life–I’m so happy to hear it :)!

  40. I love this article and I always adore your writing. Did you know that your blog was the #1 inspiration for me when I began my frugal journey about 18 months ago? Since that time I’ve saved $26k, practically removed all spending, taken up so many new hobbies and most of all I really connect with the philosophical benefits of frugality that you’ve mentioned above. I now adore the things I do have, without feeling the need to obtain anything else. I adore my life, my friends, my family, my quiet time, the space that frugality breathes into my every day life (space that used to be taken up with wanting more). And I LOVE finding ways to do things for myself – lifestyle problem solving is the best kind of problem solving. So, a huge thanks to you FW Family for being my frugal inspiration from another nation! xx

    1. Oh that is so wonderful to hear! Thank you! I’m so happy that you’ve unlocked the amazing life that frugality offers! That makes my day 🙂

  41. Best… Post… Ever!!!
    I’m sharing this one with my husband, sons, sisters, a couple of friends,
    Practically perfect in every way. Thanks so much

  42. Love this post! I’ve found many of the same things to be true in my life. Frugality made it so that when my husband almost died of septic shock when I was 31, I could make it through the loss of income, huge increase in monthly expenses, and tremendous medical expenses with financial ease (although not really with general ease-it was hard as heck). Ruthlessly cutting expenses to the bone was not a sacrifice. And continuing to live that lifestyle to rid ourselves of the mortgage, the last piece of debt we have, is not a sacrifice either. I now make more than I ever thought possible, and all the extra goes straight to that goal. I’m crystal clear on my priorities and working hard towards them.

  43. Awesome list!! Frugality is so often confused with being cheap and not enjoying life. Contrarily it is enjoying the best parts of it and using money to get the best experiences in your life!!

  44. This is a phenomenal post! 🙂 I can relate to every single item on the list, but the one that really stood out for me was #11 – the deeper connection as a couple. In my marriage, I’m infinitely grateful to have those shared goals and work on them together every single day.

  45. Great post and I wholly agree – but I caution everyone to remember that we enjoy frugality BECAUSE we are financially secure. Much of the world still has to live frugally as their only option to stay alive. We are blessed because we choose to live frugally with middle class incomes.

    1. Good point to mention, but both my husband + I were brought up in poor households by parents who went through the Great Depression in 1929. Through our parents, we learned frugality, studied hard, got good jobs, and are now retired without pension plans–only savings and social securities. We live a simple life, keep healthy with our own cooking, and keep out of debt!

  46. I agree that this one of my favorite posts yet! Number 16 (Frugality Engenders a Gratitude Mindset) made me think about a quote that I love about the rich perspective of gratitude. Beat writer and American Buddhist thinker Allen Ginsberg put it in a 1966 letter to the Washington Post: “You own twice as much rug if you’re twice as aware of the rug.”

  47. When I retired from being a RN after 45 years, which is a high paying + also a highly stressful job, by lack of money coming in from a bimonthly paycheck, I learned to become much more frugal, and websites such as this one has helped so much. My husband is also retired, and we seem to be doing all the right things, maintaining no debt, no mortgage, no car payments, + keeping out of that credit card debt! I no longer have to keep up with the Jones’s, so to speak, or every latest fashion craze. You don’t need more “stuff” just to store. It’s forever a learning process, but you do find out more about yourself being frugal than with more material things in your life. Actually, it has become a hobby of mine!

  48. Love these frugal reasons! We experienced the same thing in college when my husband and I would eat out at one of our three favorite restaurants every Friday. After a while, I lost the happiness of the occasion; I would expect to eat out and be neutral about it, or I would be sad if we didn’t do it. Whereas before the eating out pattern started I was so excited at the special occasion of going to a restaurant. We went from usually neutral and sometimes excited to usually neutral and sometimes sad, AND we were spending much more money!

    Also, we love our jogging stroller too- it’s great for hiking, and we throw snacks for the whole family in the basket underneath 🙂

  49. Frugality is not a thing, but its everything from your experience. I loved the post a lot for its frugality, And I am inspired to be frugal in every aspect of my life.

  50. Greetings from Brazil!
    Your words captivate me! In the quest for a simple and more frugal life I feel lucky to have found your blog. Whenever I feel like buying something or spending money I ask myself “What would the Frugalwoods do?”. It usually leads me to a sensible/smart decision.

    Thank you so much for your blog.

  51. I love this post. I just forwarded to my boyfriend since you captured many of my thoughts on frugality exactly. My absolute favorite is number 7 – Frugality Fosters Lowered Stress, Increased Peace, and Greater Simplicity. Couldn’t agree more.

  52. “Embracing frugality became about embracing who I really am.” Yes! I remember hearing so much growing up that happiness is so important and that money is not everything, and yet, my choices were often made with money in mind: what to study in college, what type of job to take, etc. Now that I’ve cut my spending dramatically, I’ve had to explain to people why I don’t go out to eat, why I go to happy hour but don’t always drink beer, and why I choose certain activities over others. This can definitely be uncomfortable at times but it is always a character and confidence building experience! Without money as a mediator, I’ve really had to turn and face myself! I like what I’m seeing.

  53. Ah frugality is the hidden path to happiness that we’re all searching for! I love that it’s good for your wallet, your confidence, your independence, your relationships and the environment!

    I started saving for FI in November 2015 and since then, I’ve saved over £1,000 every month towards a house and reduced my spending down to 25% of my earnings.

    On this journey I too stopped wearing make up and started cutting my own hair, buy no clothes and my life has only improved! There’s so much confidence to be found in your morals and your personality once you look past your outward appearance!

    The only downside to frugality is your depleting tolerance for excessive spending. I often have to look away haha!

  54. The sentence that really resonated with me is “What I’ve come to realize is that in the end, the only person who’ll care how you lived your life is you.”. How true. But sometimes hard to do! It so helps if you have strong convictions and know what it is that you want!

  55. This is such a great way of looking at things! Doing the frugal challenge really made me think about where I wanted to put my “free” money (ie, the money that doesn’t go to savings or bills). I had been buying lunch two days a week. But I didn’t actually like what I was buying more than what I can make and bring; what I actually liked was leaving the office for a short walk to clear my head. So now I bring a smoothie from home, pop in my earbuds, and walk around the block while I drink my lunch, which is about $60 a month cheaper, and I can use that money for something I enjoy.

  56. I like #9 in creativity. As a result, you get to learn more about things like I dunno….cleaning hacks using household products, or more recently I saw a FB post about how to make a BBQ grill using a tin can. Crazy and creative and I thought of that as soon as I read this!

  57. Great article. For a novice entering the world of frugality, could you throw out a question to the other readers? For things that you routinely buy or do, such as getting your hair done by a stylist at a salon, or maybe even getting a subscription to the local newspaper, how do you cut back on these sorts of things without feeling the guilt? I feel guilt for cutting out the paper, for instance, because it affects my paper carrier who earns little; I feel guilt for cutting out something like getting my hair colored by the stylist because I know it affects her income. Maybe I shouldn’t feel this way, but I just wondered what other readers thoughts were on this. I took baby steps with the paper, going from daily to just the weekend. I haven’t done so yet with other things. Thanks for any input anyone has.

  58. Great article and very motivating. I have always said “contentment is the ultimate wealth in life”. In a world filled with “gimme gimme gimme” types, it’s so refreshing and uplifting to see young people who know what is truly important. Keep on keeping it simple! Thanks again for the great post.

  59. Hi Mrs Frugalwoods!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about frugal living. What you write always gives me ideas and is like fresh air, thank you!

    But I have a question: could you one of these days write something about your house cleaning (maybe you’ve already done this ?). What I mean is how you organize your cleaning routine through the week. I’d appreciate that greatly!! 🙂

  60. Couldn’t have agreed with you guys more. Living frugally really helps me to get down to the basics. It helps me to identify what matters more to me while focusing on more quality time with my friends and family.

  61. Love the inspirational blog! Thanks for pointing out that frugality should not be synonymous with pain. Frugality just expedites financial freedom. I love the attitude that the simplistic things in life bring joy. Living in the woods reasonates with me. The worst day in the woods is better than the average day in the grind of the rat-race. It’s always a joy to read your work!

  62. Reading your blog from Estonia. How grateful I am to have found this blog, sharing thoughts with like-minded folks on the other side of the globe. It makes me really happy to know that there are people like you. I am a single mother of a 5-month old, dreaming about (and working on) having a house on the countryside. I agree with everything you say about the beautiful way of living frugally.

  63. Flylady.net gives specific cleaning routines. Really helps to just do what she says to do each day when you feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

  64. This is my favourite article! It’s one that I will read over and over to remind me about why I am making frugality a priority. Thank you for providing such an in-depth description of the Why!

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