Works for me: selective frugality

Today I was reading a post by a careful spender who called herself a frugal traitor after she and her husband decided to once again subscribe to satellite TV. She went on to describe how she resolved those feelings. Her post hit upon an important part of my frugal life philosophy.

Deciding to be frugal does not mean you never buy non-essentials. Sure, I watch prices and buy food where it’s cheapest and buy in bulk and cook from scratch. I buy clothes at yard sale and thrift shops and cheerfully accept hand-me-downs. Our garage freezer came from a yard sale and our garage fridge came from and we bought our pool used on

But not everything in our lives is bare-bones. The TV in our living room is (ahem) a wee bit bigger than strictly necessary. There are vacations and trips to the movies and a subscription and a small array of other niceties that we could live without. But we choose not to.

I do not believe that these extras spoil my frugality record. We carefully choose which ‘extravagances’ are most worthwhile, and we don’t feel guilty for thoughtfully deviating from deep frugality in those instances. And here’s the truth: not only does frugality enable us to afford those small splurges, it also lets us enjoy those extra goodies in our life with a thankful heart.
Selective frugality: it works for me!


  1. I totally agree! Thanks for sharing

  2. Nice prospective.
    God placed my husband and I together in a very clever and divine way. I am frugal. He is a spender. Between the two of us we operate something like what you described above. Without my frugal living we would not be able to enjoy the splurges. Without his splurges, life would be much less interesting.

  3. Well put. Being frugal makes me feel in control of our finances, and I like being a good steward of our resources. Of course, frugality is becoming necessary for many as gas and food prices (and all other prices soon to follow) squeeze us a little.

  4. It works for us too. When we buy, it’s things we will actually use. And we buy good quality. But we also are thrifty in normal everyday places, much like yours. It really helps stretch out the dollar.

    I think it’s a very good way to live.

  5. I agree! Frugality also involves be aware where your money is going. Thanks for the post!

  6. Great post. When our frugal efforts started paying off a couple years ago and we finally had money in the budget for some “wants” I had to fight that “frugal traitor” feeling.

  7. I completely agree with you. I wrote a post called The Frugal Burnout that talks about this very thing. We can get so steeped in the frugal mindset that we miss the precious/fun things in life as well.

  8. My mid-20’s son shops at thrift stores. His girlfriend brings home pull-dated food from the health food store where she works. He saves money for a “rainy day”. They also spend a small amount on going out to eat at small local cafes once in a while. Everyone needs balance in their lives or you end up feeling like all you’re doing is surviving.

  9. Great post and a wonderful reminder. I think I had a hard time admitting that I was not willing to give up my television for the sake of the frugal cause and had publicly announced that we were ridding ourselves of it, only to find that I really and truly missed it.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with this!

  10. This is a wonderful post. I remember reading in a frugality book about how the author’s mother would give her chocolate chips for Christmas because they were too much of a splurge for her – and that put me off the whole idea of frugality for ages. The idea of being SELECTIVELY frugal is much more doable.

  11. Yes!

  12. Jeanne A says:

    I grew up not ever going out to dinner. One of the splurges that we do as a family is to go out to dinner every couple of weeks. One of the rules is that the whole family has to be able to make it.

    There are so few things that our family all likes to do—and I feel that being together as a family is of utmost importantence. But it’s hard to me to reconcile poverty and frugality with a few luxuries.

    But we watch our pennies during the rest of the meals at home. And we don’t always go to the most expensive places—-Wendy’s was chosen a couple of times. And the kids get to take turns choosing, too.

  13. I agree as well. Like Lisa stated above, if we are being so frugal that we are not enjoying life we have become “martyrs” of a sort and that’s no fun nor is it a good advertisement for frugality and budgeting. Its to free us for the good things we chose to buy or splurge on, not to keep us bound and in a “have to do without” prison. Great post. I may link to it at a future date.

  14. I so agree! Good post!

  15. Thanks for posting this, Mary.

    I’ve started being frugal about eating out, about clothes, about gas, about toiletries, etc. But when it comes to the food I have to eat on a daily basis, there are some things I splurge on.

  16. Oh how I agree!! I don’t need my netflix, but it is something for me and hubby. It is something we do for oursleves, and love it!


  17. I really like this post. Good perspective. Finances and our mamagement of them is always something that requires lots of heart checking and prayer in our home. Simetimes I/we get it right, sometimes I know I could’ve done better. I am learning more and more how to be a wise steward.

    As far as observation of those around me I have noticed some super budget conscious folks who seem to actually have a streak of materialism in them. I don’t think they would ever guess others could view it that way though. It’s almost a type of false sense of humity over how good they are with finances. I’ve seen pride flare up as they make judgements about others and their finances. I notice too that these people tend to be less giving as they are always so budget consious they tend to excuse away giving beyond their budget alotments and fail to be flexible. Hyper furgality has bred in them, I think, the opposite of what frugal living is so beneficial for. Instead of leading to more generosity and humility it’s led to a less sacrificial attitude laced with some pride.

  18. I love the balanced view this post betrays. 🙂

    To me, a large part of being wise with the resources God has given me is being purposeful. I don’t want to waste money. But how I define that is surely different than how you define it.

  19. Very well said!!!