dave ramsey

Misconceptions About Frugal Living: Frugal People Are Not Materialistic

Where's the frugality app?

Last week, I started a series entitled Misconceptions About Frugal Living. It was mainly inspired by a girlfriend of mine who was too ashamed to publicly follow my blog for fear that others would think she had fallen on hard times financially. I started thinking about all the misconceptions I’ve heard in the past about people who live frugally, and decided to write an article about it. Well one article turned into 2 and here I am on article #3. Proof that there’s a lot of half truths out there and stereotypes of frugal living.

Since it is my goal to change the view of frugality, I figured who better to debunk these misconceptions..then me? So I started doing some research on my brand new flat screen computer, downloaded a few books to my Kindle, and even researched on the go on my iPhone.

Wait a second.


You have a brand new computer?

You have a Kindle?

You have an IPHONE!

Before you unsubscribe and scream FRAUD! She is NOT a frugality blogger…hear me out.

Misconception #3 of Frugal Living: Frugal People Are Not Materialistic

Not when I have a coupon for Land O'Lakes

There’s a picture of frugality that implies bare bones simple living, and in some cases…this is true. Sometimes it’s out of necessity. Sometimes it’s out of a desire to keep things simple. Sometimes, it’s due to outside pressures to maintain a certain image. Regardless, living simply doesn’t necessarily mean living Amish.

Frugal folk are just like anyone else. They want life to be easier, they do desire modern conveniences. Sure they might be more likely to make their own bread from scratch or sew their own clothing…but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want a bread maker and a sewing machine to help that process along.

Maybe they will clip coupons for hours to keep their grocery bill under $50 a week for a family of 6, but will happily throw $50 into a date night with their spouse.

Frugal living does not mean that you have to churn your own butter, make your children play with tupperware and wooden spoons, or deny yourself the luxury of cable. It just means you pick and choose where and how to spend your money and you spend it where it matters to you.

My motto has always been that we live frugally and save wherever we can so we can spend wherever we want.

Why should I pay full price for a loaf of bread when I can pay pennies and spend the extra on something fun? For some, they live frugally today so they can live better tomorrow. Take Dave Ramsey, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

He didn’t become famous and have thousands of people cutting up their credit cards and shunning debt because that is NOT an attractive promise. No way. More and more people are shunning the modern conveniences of today to live better tomorrow.

Simple today to be comfortable later:  More appealing then an iPad?

Really popular guy.

In truth, I’d suspect a lot of people who live frugally today don’t expect to be nickel and dime-ing it forever. Oh, I’m sure they’ll always be cautious and careful with money. Once you’ve lived frugally, it’s incredibly difficult to go back to full price (trust me, it’s hard for me to do a quick run to the grocery store sans coupons!). They just have theirs sights set on the horizon. On that beautiful promise that penny pinching today will provide greater rewards and comfort later.

The main difference between the truly frugal and others, is not that frugal people aren’t materialistic. I suspect the percentage of materialistic frugal people pretty evenly matches up to the percentage of materialistic people world wide. People who live frugally make the choice that materialism isn’t worth making today’s fun, tomorrows problem.

So I might have a Kindle (paid for in cash), a brand new computer (a purchase planned for over 2 years & paid for in cash & built by my husband to save money) and an iPhone (my Mother In Law’s old phone that she passed down to me as a gift)…but we would not have those things if we had to go into debt over them. It’s just not worth forsaking tomorrow for today. I’m not going to lie, it can be hard to keep our eyes on the future at times. We like living this way though. We enjoy the simple pleasures and the splurges we allow ourself. We’ve made cutting back here to spend more there a kind of art form and we’re always looking for ways to make the most of our income today, while saving for tomorrow.

I’d argue frugal people are no less materialistic then anyone else. Maybe they just have their eyes on the bigger prize?

Food for thought? What do you think?

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Heather is the creator and owner of Family Friendly Frugality. She calls Texas home and is married to her best friend. With 2 children 22 months apart, she has her hands full. So full that she decided to start blogging as a hobby. That hobby blew up into a full time job. Now she's got the husband, the kids and the blog. We're not exactly sure what she was thinking, but she's too busy for us to ask. Find Me On Google +

8 thoughts on “Misconceptions About Frugal Living: Frugal People Are Not Materialistic”

  1. I like this series too. I’m not as good at couponing and saving as most I try to save where I can because it justmakes,sense.

  2. I absolutely agree with everything you said. Loved the part about my giving you the recyled iPhone which was almost new. Frugal people put their money where it will best benefit their families. I would much rather buy several new state of the art cameras for my business than go on a pricey vacation…..or go on a pricey vacation rather than buy a new wardrobe. The point is to buy what is important to you and NOT to buy anything that will put you in debt. Wait it out. Find deals. Pay cash. There is no better feeling than having your home, cars, business, credit cards all with a zero balance. Operate in the black and set money aside for the bills you know are coming. I could not be prouder of you, Heather. It’s like you are my own daughter and not my daughter-in-love. Like minds.

  3. This is a tough one. I personally have these things but DID go into debt to get them so I feel that they are counter productive to my now-frugal lifestyle. For example, the iphone service just got too much. My husband and I both have them, and we were paying $80 each a month on service alone. We decided to down grade and went with straight talk where we pay $30 a month instead and have a more normal phone. (consequently the service is actually better and no more dropped calls). We still use our iphones more like ipod touches with wifi and honestly I feel a lot better when saving $100 every month on cell phone plans. He has been drooling over the ipad since it came out but I told him no way until we get rid of credit card debt. It is interesting you mention Ramsey I have been looking into his stuff and want to read his books.

    1. You have a very valid point. Honestly I think it depends on the individual (or family) what kind of luxuries are worthwhile and what are not. With credit card debt though, you are definitely doing the right thing by cutting expenses and getting that paid off first.

      I had heard that you could use iPhones as iPod touches once you disconnected your service. That’s really interesting to me. Can you still access email and 3G? Or can you only use it for offline games and apps?

      Love Dave Ramsey. Big big cheerleader of his thoughts on finances and getting out of debt.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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