Frugality is a lifestyle, not a fad


When it comes to frugality, it has always been in my blood stream. My parents have already been frugal and this frugal practice was passed down to me. My parents frugal practice were passed down by their parents. You see, both sets of my grandparents were farmers by profession. As farmers, they knew that food comes from hard work and one should not waste food. Because life was hard as farmers, both sets of my grandparents taught my parents that they should live frugally. Not surprisingly this frugal lifestyle was passed on to my brother and I. Although Mrs. T has a slightly different family background than me, her family is quite frugal as well. This makes us the perfect match.

When it comes to frugality, I truly believe that frugality is a lifestyle, not a fad. With fad you can only keep up the practice for a short time and eventually the craze fades away. I've encountered some people that practice frugality to an extreme. They talk about being frugal in order to save money. But frugality isn't a lifestyle for them. They're only doing it so they can save money to purchase a big item later. They plan to eventually go back to "regular" spending lifestyle just like the average Joneses. This kind of practice is not sustainable in the long run and it's simply the wrong reason to be frugal. One should enjoy frugality and be proud of it.

Here are some frugal practices that are considered as second nature.

Purchasing 2nd hand clothes
Purchasing 2nd hand clothes is just a fact of life. Growing up I've had my shares of 2nd hand clothes either from thrift stores or passed-down from friends or relatives. My parents recently stated that they haven't bought any new clothes for the last few years. All of the "new" clothes they own are 2nd hand clothes that they purchased from a thrift store which they volunteer at.

When we look at Baby T's outfits, about 95% of them are 2nd hand clothes purchased at the thrift store that my parents volunteer at or passed down from someone we know. We purchased cloth diapers from a Craigslist ad and saved about 80% from buying new. You can't tell the difference between a 2nd hand cloth diaper and a brand new cloth diaper after a couple of use, so why not save some money when we can?

When I look at my wardrobe, some of my clothes are 2nd hand as well.

Buying grocery at a local produce store
We usually buy our grocery at a local produce store instead of the big box names like Safeway and Save-On-Foods. The local produce store provides significant amount of savings when it comes to produce. For examples, we can buy bell peppers for $0.99 per pound instead of $3.49 per pound at Save-On-Foods; we can buy bananas for $0.49 per pound instead of $0.89 per pound at Save-On-Foods; we can buy apples for $0.49 per pound instead of $2.99 per pound at Safeway. Considering that we go through quite a bit of produce each week, these savings are quite significant once we add them all up.

Use paper on both sides
Instead of writing on one side of paper and just throw it away, we write on both sides. Sometimes I take it to the extreme and write in different colors so I can differentiate all the items. For general printing purposes, we print on both sides of paper as well. The only time that we print on one side of paper only is when we have to use it externally.

Stock up on essential items
This is something my parents do quite well that we can do better, especially now we live in a house and have a bit more storage room. My parents stock up on essential items like toilet paper, cans of tomatoes, and pasta. No they're not hoarding items but simply buying these items whenever they're on sale. A couple dollars here and there, the savings can add up pretty quickly.

Use old clothes as cleaning towels
Have old T-shirts with too many holes? The best way to utilize these old shirts is to cut them into smaller pieces and use them as cleaning towels. Why spend money to purchase special cleaning towels when you can make them yourself?

Have only one car
Growing up, it was challenging when I had a basketball practice and my brother had another commitment else where. Somehow, everything worked out with my parents only owning one car. There was never any thought about having multiple cars at home. Having only one car meant lower insurance and maintenance cost as well. Now Mrs. T and I have formed our own family, we only own one car too and have no plan to get another car any time soon. Because I need a car to commute to work, if we reach financial independence, we can probably forgo the car completely and ride bikes or use public transportation.

Drink water at home and when dine out
We don't drink pop at home. Water is what we drink. On the special occasions we may drink juice. We don't really drink alcohol at home so our spending on alcohol is very low. When dining out, we typically drink water instead of fancier drinks like wine, beer, or juice. Restaurant's markup on alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic beverages is huge. Stick to tap water to save money.

Dry clothes the old fashion way
Although we have a dryer at home, it is almost never used. We have multiple drying racks at home for drying clothes. This is something my parents and Mrs. T's parents do on a regular basis as well. In fact, Mrs. T's parents have never owned a dryer. Drying clothes can be done very quickly when it's sunny and hot outside. When it's raining outside, simply dry your clothes indoor by leaving the drying racks in a well-ventilated area.

Buy high quality items
Being frugal doesn't mean that we buy the cheapest items available. It makes sense to spend a little extra to get a higher quality item so it can last longer. For example, I have a good quality Seiko watch for over 15 years that's still running strong. The watch cost a bit more than a cheapo battery operated watch, but the average cost per year is certainly a lot lower over the course of 15 years. In our kitchen we have ultra-sharp Shun knives and Le Creuset pots that will last us a life time.

These are some of the frugal things that we do on a regular basis. All very simple and the savings really add up over time. Do you practice frugality as a lifestyle? Do you have any tips that you'd like to share?

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  • Reply
    Matt @ The Resume Gap
    November 25, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Completely agreed! I have a blog post brewing on this topic, but I think the way to make these habits part of one's lifestyle, rather than just "fad," is to build the processes and routines such that there's no way to deviate from them. Maybe it's regular grocery shopping to avoid the temptation to dine out, or living walking distance from work so there's no reason to use the car. Or to use your example, I don't drink soda at home because I don't buy it and we therefore never have it around. That makes the decision pretty easy!

  • Reply
    Income Surfer
    November 25, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree Tawcan. I've been asked dozens of times why I operate the way I do.....frugally......when I can afford more (or bigger/etc). It's just the way I am wired. I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything!

    I hope your week finishes out strong

    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Bryan,

      It's totally OK to be frugal and be proud of it. Spending extra just because you can simply doesn't make sense. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    Thias @It Pays Dividends
    November 25, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    I totally agree with you on frugality being a lifestyle. If you want to truly be frugal, you have to make it a lifestyle change, otherwise it won't have the impact that you want. You can't half-ass being frugal because you will just revert back to your old ways. I'm lucky that both me and my wife have always been naturally pretty frugal so implementing a frugal lifestyle for our family has been easy so far.

    I agree with you on the baby clothes and cloth diapers too! We bought some cloth diapers used, were able to use them for 3-4 months, and then sold them and got about 90% of our money back. Can't get much better than that!

    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Thias,

      It's like going on a diet for losing weight. It will only work for the short term. To make real changes, you need a lifestyle change.

      It's awesome that both you and your wife are naturally frugal. Awesome that you were able to sell the cloth diapers again.

  • Reply
    Dividend Diplomats
    November 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm


    Completely agree. It is not being wasteful and knowing how you want your money to be spent. I like your produce store idea and I probably should look for a local market rather than where I go to buy mine. Thanks for writing and happy thanksgiving to you and the family.


    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Lanny,

      We are always amazed how little the bill is whenever we shop at the produce store. Fully loaded baskets with fruits and veggies end up with less than $20. Would have cost twice or three times more in the big stores. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    Investment Hunting
    November 25, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story Tawcan. It is frugality, but also responsibility. Why waste, when secondhand or the backside of paper is just fine. Frugality s a byproduct of respecting resources. Nice work sir.

    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Investment Hunting,

      You're right, it's about being responsible in your life. With limited resources we have, being frugal is a great way to help out the environment. Good point.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2015 at 5:46 am

    I do most of these besides the water one (should really drink more of it) and local produce store. I frequent Walmart...gotta support the stock 🙂
    Frugality was an acquired taste for me that I have come to enjoy very much!
    Take Care,


    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Hi JT,

      We shop at Walmart here and there but the produce store is so much cheaper than Walmart. Must take advantage of it and support local stores. Glad to hear that you've enjoyed the frugality lifestyle so far.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Well, thank you! Reading this made me feel more frugal than I thought! 😉 We, as a family, are doing most of the things you mentioned and happy to do so.

    Cheers to frugality!


    • Reply
      November 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Cheers to frugality indeed!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Fervent Finance
    November 28, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Definitely great ways to live the frugal life. I'm not as frugal as most in this community, but definitely am when compared to muggles. I have no cars, try to cook at home, drink lots of faucet water, and buy high quality items when needed (not very often). These are great things for people who make $40k a year or $150k a year, everyone has the ability to be frugal.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2015 at 6:43 am

      We all start somewhere right? 🙂

  • Reply
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank
    November 29, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Hi Taw, being frugal is really a choice and should become a way of life especially when a person wants to achieve his financial goals or become financially responsible. One I always practice is that I buy grocery at a local produce store to save money and it's close to our house.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Being frugal is something that I also learned at home. There were times that we needed to pay attention to what we bought. Not everything was possible and choices were needed. At that time, it was not always easy to accept.
    Many years later, it serves us in living below our means. A lot of things you mention, we do naturally.

    If there is a buy 3 get 33pct discount, then I do not hesitate if it is a product we use a lot and can not go bad. Picking up tooth paste, shower gel and others like this is great. Getting 33 pct return in less than an year? I am in!

    • Reply
      November 30, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Stock up on non-perishable products when they go on sale is a great way to save money in the long run!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Excellent frugality tips Tawcan!

    I've never been too into frugality and rarely track my monthly budget, something that I should change though.

    We shop a lot at Costco and buy in bulk. Seems to be quite cost-saving. 🙂

    • Reply
      November 30, 2015 at 6:45 am

      Costco is definitely one way to reduce overall cost, just need to make sure you use up all the stuff that you purchased in bulk. 🙂

  • Reply
    our next life
    December 2, 2015 at 11:47 am

    We can attest to both sides of frugality: as both a fad and as a lifestyle. When we were getting out of debt several years back, we sure acted frugal, but we couldn't wait to get back to "normal" spending, which we promptly did as soon as the debts were dispatched. We often wonder if we could be retired by now if we'd just stuck with the frugality then -- made it a real lifestyle -- instead of reverting back, but hindisight is always 20/20! We're happy to have finally changed our ways for good, and now consider ourselves to be the real kind of frugal, which happily also happens to be the most environmentally friendly way to live, which also makes us happy!

    • Reply
      December 3, 2015 at 12:48 am

      That's great that you have finally change your ways for good. A healthy lifestyle is way easier to maintain than a fad.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    December 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Same with us...both my parents and my wife's parents were ultra frugal and it has been ingrained in our heads to be the same way. Granted growing up, I sometimes disliked the frugal lifestyle, but once it was my own money, I realized the amount of money people waste on stuff and embraced the frugal lifestyle. And honestly, people try to equate frugality with deprivation but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's just about value, quality and optimizing your resources...and realizing the spending more money won't make you happier.

    • Reply
      December 4, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Hi Andrew,

      Frugality doesn't mean deprivation. People link the two together because the examples of extremely frugality. That's perhaps why "frugality" may have a bad vibe in the general public.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Clay Marquis aka The Claymobile
    December 15, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Greetings from Gods Country (West-Central Missouri)! I came across your website in the comments section over on I could write a whole article on the ways I live frugally but I will try to be brief. #1. Buy a good used vehicle with cash then drive it until the wheels fall off! #2. Maintain that vehicle with good quality lubricants, filters, and parts. #3 Buy meat on sale and put it in the deep freeze. #4Wear your cloths 3 days in a row. #5. When you come home from church take your good, dress cloths off and hang them outside in the fresh air. By doing this you can wear your dress cloths over and over before they ever need washing. #6. Before you wash your pants, zip up the zipper and button them. That way the zipper doesent act like a chain saw against the other cloths in the washing machine. #7. When you go into a business and they have a coffee cup full of ink pens on the counter, grab you 2 or 3. #8, Combine errands and shopping in 1 trip. If you think you are going to be gone all day, fix and take your dinner with you.(in the family I was raised in the noon meal was always referred to as "dinner" and the evening meal was called "supper"). If youre not sure, take a stack of crackers with you to eat and push down the hunger pangs in case you dont make it home by noon. #9. Always take your dinner to work. You can fix a meal at home for a tiny fraction of what it costs to eat out every day. Hope this gives you some ideas. May the LORD Jesus bless you with prosperity and good health. The Claymobile. P.S. I get alot of my dividend investing ideas from & Are you aware of these 2 websites?

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