Misconceptions About Frugal Living: Frugal People are Poor

misconceptions about frugal living

Recently I was chatting with a friend of mine who confessed something to me. She told me that she adores my blog, but won’t follow it publicly because she doesn’t want her friends thinking she’s poor. I have to admit, I was a bit offended at first.

Once I recovered from the shock, I settled into confusion. This woman is actually one of the wealthiest friends I have. She lives in a very nice home, in a very nice neighborhood and her children attend private school. I can’t think of anyone who would look at this woman and ever make the assumption that she was hurting for money. Not to mention, her husband’s career (which I won’t mention because it gives up a bit too  much personal information) is in an incredibly lucrative field where he makes well over 6 figures (and that’s kind of a given with the work he does…).

She was nervous people would think she was poor simply for publicly following my blog? Really?

~So if frugal people are poor, what does she think of me?~

The more I thought about it though, I guess I can understand. You see, I’m a pretty open book person. People know when things are good for us, and they also know when they are bad. I have never hesitated saying, “Nah, we’re kind of broke right now so we’re going to have to decline.” or ” We’re saving up for “x” so we aren’t spending money on “y” right now.”. That just doesn’t bother me. I do know that not everyone enjoys the same flippancy when it comes to discussing their finances however (although people seem to be quite open when talking with me about it…I guess because they know I would never ever judge someone’s financial situation).

Why though?

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand not talking facts, figures and salaries. I don’t talk about that stuff either. Not only is that way too much information, it also can come across as bragging (or in some cases, seeking pity).

The problem my friend had (and don’t worry, I got the total okay to write this post keeping her as anonymous as possible!) with publicly following a frugal living blog was that her love of freebies, coupon shopping and bargains would make her seem poor to her other friends.

So that leads me to ask…why do people immediately assume that all frugal people are poor?

~Frugal and poor can be mutually exclusive…to a great extent~

That’s why I chose the misconception that all frugal people are poor as the first posting in my Misconceptions About Frugal Living Series. Because it is…it’s a total misconception. Just look at some of world’s richest people who claim “I’ve Got Billions, but Don’t Like To Spend It” . My friend is another obvious case of someone living frugally who is nowhere near poor.

In fact, the truly frugal often are the wealthiest of their peers because they are so cautious with their income.

So let’s bust this frugal living misconception:

Sure some are frugal because they have to be, but I think frugal living in general lends itself to a lifestyle of wealth more than anything else. Maybe not obvious wealth, but the wealth that comes from living within (or below) your means. You might not see it today…or even tomorrow, but I dare you to look ten years from now and see who has a heftier bank account. The person cutting coupons and shopping sales or the one that doesn’t for fear of being labeled “poor”.

Call me poor…and then call me ten years from now. I bet we’ll have a lot to chat about!

~Have you been labeled as poor for living frugally? Do you hesitate to clip coupons and make the most of your money out of fear of what others might think?

Want to learn more about living a frugal lifestyle? Check out my series on Frugality.

Tell us what you think:

  1. says

    Wow, that actually surprises me! Being frugal is all the rage these days! The wealthiest people I know brag to me about deals they find and coupons they clip. I think the path to wealth is paved with frugality. Very interesting post!

    • says

      You know it surprised me too! I do wonder if some people just are a bit more concerned about what others think. My friend admitted as much to me, she worries too much I think! LOL

  2. Johnette says

    Haha……This is funny because I try to look for the best deals and use coupons and my hubby hates shopping with me because he is embarrassed when I use coupons or discount cards and look for the best deals out there. I don’t work so I feel that it is my part to our family to save money on the things I can so that we can spend more money on the “finer” things of life. I do shop at consignment stores and Goodwill sometimes too and he hates that too but I can get name brand, brand new looking clothes at about 90% off or more. He says just go to the store and buy it we can afford it and we can but we can get it and save lots of money and no one knows unless you tell them. I LOVE to save money because I LOVE to SHOP!!!!! I appreciate all of your post it cuts down on a lot of my research time……..THANKS!!!!!

    • says

      No problem Johnette! I actually think that shopping at thrift stores, consignment stores, etc is getting more and more trendy around here, what do you think?

  3. says

    Frugal people are not poor, they are SMART! And her friends would likely really never even know she follows you. Those who snoop that much through your profile on FB are probably not your BFFs because if they were, they’d already know. Also, maybe your friend is missing out on the opportunity to help someone else. She doesn’t know that everyone in that fancy neighborhood or private school is doing okay financially. Maybe they have been hit hard by the economy and yet, have NO idea how to save money. Couponing is a bit of an art and it takes time to figure it all out. We connect with each other best when we are being real. I would encourage your friend to be proud of being frugal and if someone thinks you are “poor” because of it, they aren’t your friends and you don’t need to hang out with them. Just my more than 2 cents :) LOL

    • says

      I totally agree Mel. The odd thing is that she’s very vocal about her “green” living which includes cleaning with vinegar and cloth diapering. Both frugal things as well…she doesn’t see it that way though.
      BTW, she does follow me now, LOL.

  4. says

    Wow! I love this piece, Heather, and have SO much to say… But I’ll try to keep it (somewhat) short and sweet.

    Adhering to a frugal lifestyle is one of the main reasons Hubs and I get along as well as we do. (Seriously, finances IS one of the major causes for marital spats.)

    It also is what allows us to enjoy certain “luxuries” in life, including paying cash for our cars, having a well-established savings for our daughter AND for our retirement, aggressively paying down the mortgage, the breathing room that comes from NOT being in debt and not living paycheck to paycheck, and enjoying occasional little extras (but usually there’s a coupon for that, too).

    Frugal living is what allows us to be comfortable. It is a choice we make everyday.

    Yes, Hubs still frets over money; but not the way some of our peers do. We live in an area that some might consider “well-to-do”, and there are plenty of people that are ridiculously concerned about their appearance and image, and wouldn’t be caught DEAD acting “frugally”. …well, they can have it. (BTW: most of these people spend well above their means, trying to establish a certain level of wealthy APPEARANCE, but you’d be surprised how bare their savings and bank accounts are, compared with their stack of debt.)

    …..gently stepping off my soapbox for now….. Embarrased about saving money? Phffftt! Not in *this* house!

    • says

      See and this is how I view frugality. As a means to living a better and fuller life!
      I think fretting about money is only normal nowadays. There is so much financial instability out there right now.

  5. says

    Did it occur to your friend that people can be wealthy BECAUSE they are frugal?
    I look at some of my coworkers and I just wonder what their credit card debt is, based on their eat-out, shopping and beauty habits.
    A lot of them are shocked that most of my wardrobe comes from rummage sales and Goodwill! Just proves you don’t have to spend a million bucks to look like it!
    Besides, I feel like I really need to be a good steward of what we have, because NOT saving money is just so wasteful!

  6. says

    Sometimes people who have money are the frugal ones. That is why they have it. I personally have a friend that is very well off and she clips coupons, saves her cans to trade in and won’t spend a penny over what she thinks is a deal! Maybe that’s how she got where she is today! It is a way of life, not something you do because you are poor. But, if you are poor, them coupons sure do help :)

    • says

      I totally agree! I also think a lot of it is just about how you were raised. We were not raised to keep up with the “joneses”, so it’s not something that I’ve ever felt compelled to strive for.

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