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Living Frugally

By KSU Counseling Services Staff

Living frugally doesn't seem like it is part of a glamorous life. It seems a little old school, a little barebones. It seems like something one wouldn't do unless one were forced to. But with the economy the way it is, frugality may well be coming back into vogue as a matter of necessity.

What's Frugality?

Frugality isn't about being stingy or about hoarding cash. Some have defined it as focusing on the long-term future instead of the present. It's about deferred gratification.

People may have read about some extremes in frugality, like unknitting a sweater in order to re-knit it into a scarf. Or saving orange peels to flavor cakes. Or sifting out weevils from flour to use the flour. Or reusing glass jars and plastic food containers as cups and food storage.

What does modern frugality look like?

Not Paying Official Prices

One common move towards being frugal involves not paying official prices. For example, people will eat out during discount nights. Or they'll sneak snacks and pop into the local movie theater.

Stocking up During Sales

Another way to be frugal is to buy strategically and in bulk. When there are sales on food items that are staples and that will "keep," it may be a good idea to stock up. The point is to be strategic, though, and not load up on something that won't be useful or will go to waste in the future.

Buying Used

Buying used clothes, furniture, books, and other items is commonly done to save on moneys. Garage sales, second-hand bookstores and consignment shops are popular places for bargains. For children's clothing, some parents will buy used, and when their toddlers and children outgrow the clothes, they'll sell the clothing back to the consignment shop and trade up for larger sizes.

Clipping Coupons

Coupon clipping and finding Internet-announced sales is another popular approach.


Riding public transit (if available) or carpooling is also popular to save moneys and gasoline.

Driving an Older Vehicle

Instead of regularly trading in an older vehicle for credit and buying up, many more people are hanging on to their vehicles. This sort of trade-off makes sense as long as the vehicle is sound and well maintained.

Packing a Lunch

Eating out can get expensive very quickly, with the rising costs and the tipping. For many, packing a lunch or having some extra snacks at work may take the edge off the hunger and may enhance the budget bottom line.

Growing Vegetables

Those with a green thumb will grow vegetables. Even those without a small pot may try growing vegetables in pots .


Quite a few frugal people may be found at the local recyclery with their carts full of papers, newspapers, tin cans, glass jars, and plastic bottles. The ones that pay though are the aluminum cans, and these can bring in a little money.

Staying on the frugal track requires a lot of discipline. It also means avoiding competition such as the need to keep up with the Joneses.

Frugality means having a pretty penny at the end of it all.

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization.

Living Frugally (pdf)