Last week an anonymous reader left a comment questioning my frugality. He/she seemed rather fed up by my recent expenses and let me know that he/she would no longer be reading One Frugal Girl. Now I wonder if that anonymous ex-reader thinks I’m not frugal or not frugal enough.
My wealthy great aunt used to stash wads of paper napkins, plastic dining ware and ketchup packets into her purse every time she dined at McDonald’s. While some would consider this frugal, some would say it’s miserly, and some would say it borders on theft.
I decided to look up the definition of frugality and found the following:
prudence in avoiding waste
Frugality is the practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal.
The quality of being frugal; prudent economy; thrift; A sparing use
frugal – Avoiding unnecessary expenditure either of money or of anything else which is to be used or consumed; avoiding waste
By these definitions I consider myself frugal. I try hard not to be wasteful. I re-purpose, reuse and recycle. I am not as fanatical as some, but I do my best in an attempt to avoid needless spending and to help preserve the earth.
For the most part I acquire goods and services in a restrained manner. While I do spend money on things I want I often wait for a sale or coupon, and more often than not I convince myself I already have an item at home that will serve the same purpose. I primarily limit spending in an effort to reach long term goals. Those goals may include remodeling the house, buying beach property or retiring early, but I can often set aside today’s desires for those of tomorrow.
The fact is that I am frugal by nature, not by necessity. This means I can often afford the things I deny myself. Here’s a perfect example… I am a huge fan of Entenmann’s chocolate cakes. I pass the table of Entenmann’s baked goods every single time I go to the grocery store, but I only buy a cake every four or five weeks when Entenmann products goes on sale.
The retail price of that cake is $4.59 at my local grocery store. Can I afford to pay $4.59 for that cake? Well, yes I can. Nevertheless I choose not to indulge weekly. I wait for a sale and even write to the company every so often in the hopes of receiving coupons. I am frugal not because I do not have the money to pay for that cake, but because I choose to save my money for larger, longer-term goals.
I will plunk money down on large expenses from time to time. I will buy expensive furniture or spend thousands of dollars on season tickets to sporting events. I balance my every day saving strategies against my longer-term goals so that I can spend money on the things I want.
In my opinion this does not mean I’m not frugal. As Donna Freedman once wrote “it’s not about who cuts the most corners. It’s about using money intentionally.” I think very purposefully about how I save and spend my money and thus I consider myself frugal, others may not.