Misconceptions About Frugal Living: Frugal People Are Hippies


To wrap up the series Misconceptions About Frugal Living, I thought I’d touch on the misconception that all frugal people are hippies. Not hippies in the free love, peace/love/happiness and ying yang sense. More like green living, touchy feely earth lovers. Is this true? Are frugal people more in touch with their green side?

First some background. I have cloth diapered my babies. I rarely buy commercial cleaning supplies and instead opt for vinegar and water for most cleaning duties. I hate how many paper towels my husband uses on a regular basis. I am not a fan of watering the lawn because I’d rather nature take care of that. If I can buy something reuseable instead of one time use I generally (not all the time though!) go for the reuseable option.

I do not consider myself green though. I’d love to be more green, but honestly the reason I do most of those things isn’t because of a deep passionate love of the earth. That’s certainly appealing to me (I’m not a total piece of trash! Pun totally intended), but if I said that was my primary motivation I’d be lying.

I am a hippie because I am frugal, and not the other way around.

This is also why we don’t buy organic, it’s just too much money and I’m not passionate enough about it to cough up the extra change.

Now if I’m confronted with 2 options and the cost difference is not a factor, I do tend to go for the greener option.

I’m not sure if I’d consider this a true misconception though. I think that green living and simplicity tends to be more of a byproduct of frugality then the driving influence. At least in my case. I know many green living folks who by no means could ever be considered frugal and vice versa.

I am curious what you think though? Are you more of a “hippy” because you are frugal? Or are you a hippy and that makes you a bit frugal? Talk to me in the comments.

Misconceptions About Frugal Living: Frugal People Are Stingy

So this is probably one of the more common misconceptions, and to be honest there is some truth to it. Frugal people are stingy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however. In fact, I think more people should be stingy with their money.

Now I’m not talking about sticking pennies instead of dollars into the offering plate at church. Or being the office party pooper who never brings anything for potluck day. I think if you are the type to penny pinch by inconveniencing or denying others…frugal living is not your problem. You have a much bigger problem. Maybe it’s an entitlement issue or maybe it’s a fear thing. Who knows?

Either way, don’t hide behind frugality as your reason for getting out of being a good person.

No. The kind of stinginess I’m referring to is the kind where you throw money at problems to make them go away. Where you attempt to change people and attitudes by overwhelming them with your generosity. Where you think your money can make up for past indiscretions or failures.

It can’t. Most frugal people know this. They know that they can’t buy affection or kindness. So they don’t even try. To some, this is viewed as being stingy.

“Well if they really loved me, they would buy me what I want.”
“If he would just give me the life I want, I can forgive everything else.”
“All I have to do is give them everything and then they will love me and be thankful for me.”

It’s not true. Sure you might get the initial reaction you are hoping for. Will it last though? Doubtful. Our actions speak so much louder then our gifts.

Frugal people know this.

That’s why frugal people spend their time with their loved ones. They know that time is more valuable then money. They know that experiences are worth more then gifts. They know that what you say matters long after what you buy is thrown to the curb.

Money can not buy love.

Money cannot buy happiness.

Money cannot buy gratitude.

Society today has told us that in order to get rid of problems, we need to throw money at them. That if we can’t be there for our loved one, we send them a gift or flowers and that is a perfect replacement for our time and affection. It’s not.

Frugal people know this. Or at least…I hope they do.

Sometimes frugality is used as a facade for selfishness. I’d argue that those people don’t get *it* though. They don’t understand the benefits of frugal living and how it can enrich your relationships with others. How looking at life from the perspective of love instead of dollar signs can make you a better, more complete person.

I am guilty of throwing money at problems. At thinking that my money can bandage a situation where I have not been present. It doesn’t work though. Our loved ones don’t want our money. They might think they do! What they really want though is your time, your affection and most of all your presence (not presents!).

So yes, people who live frugally might be stingy, but it’s because they feel they have something much more powerful to offer. Themselves.

Click to read the rest of this series: Misconceptions About Frugal Living

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?

Misconceptions About Frugal Living: Frugal People Are Fanatics

Recently, TLC aired a show called “Extreme Couponing“. It produced strong reactions from pretty much everyone that viewed it and even became a trending topic on Twitter during the show. Here are a few reactions from the show from various bloggers/sites:

“We certainly saw some aspects of frugality meets “Hoarders” in this show. One couple had enough toilet paper to last 40 years. Do they really think toilet paper won’t go on sale again for the rest of their lives?” Teresa Mears from Your Money on MSN said.

“It would have been better if the show portrayed more savvy and consumer-smart shoppers (but then would they have to rename the show to “Above-Average Couponers?”) which we believe represent the majority of coupon users.  Stock-piling is acceptable (we all have stock piles of a variety of items) but the “extreme” stock piling displayed on the show leans more toward hoarding.” Lisa B. from Obsessive Coupon Disorder said.

“…when does couponing and stockpiling, even extreme couponing, go too far?”Ryanick Page from Yahoo Contributer Network asked.

My own reaction of the show was pretty similar, and I was happy to get the chance to interview Nathan Engels to clear up some of the controversy related to the heavily edited show (which has now been picked up for a spring series, that YOU could be a part of…more on that later).

Every single one of the participants on the show received criticism that they were greedy, hoarding and fanatical. I have to admit, I thought the same thing. That leads me to ask, are all frugal minded folk fanatics?

Can you live frugally and not have a stockpile big enough to take you through Armageddon? Are you really frugal living if you aren’t doing it to extremes?

What if you use disposable diapers instead of cloth?

What if you purchase brand name household cleaners without *gasp* a coupon?

What defines frugal living and at what point does it cross the line from smart living to fanatical living?

It’s all relative

To be honest, I’m not sure there’s any measurable line drawn between smart and crazy when it comes to frugality. I know that personally…I’ve crossed that line a few times in my overzealousness to get a great deal. I’m blessed to have a husband that will say, “Okay Heather, that’s enough toilet paper“.

I think it’s incredibly easy to become fanatical about getting great deals. I mean if it’s free, or so close to free that it hurts to pass it by…what’s the harm? Everyone loves to get a good deal. I mean, how many deal a day sites are there now (read about the harms of deal a day sites here…I’m cracking skulls everywhere today!)? Obviously, people love deals.

At what point do you go from fabulous sale shopper to crazy loon territory though? I don’t think that one can say…when you have 40 boxes of pasta in your house…you are a crazy hoarder, without taking into account the individual circumstances of the pasta owner. Maybe they have 15 kids and 40 boxes of pasta isn’t enough to take them through a month of meals (we’re not discussing how fanatic someone must be to have 15 kids here…that’s another breed of crazy).

Where’s the line?

So if there is a line, where is it and how can we be sure to never cross it? Are all frugal people just doomed? No, I don’t think so. I do think that this misconception is not as black and white as the first one “All Frugal People Are Poor” (which was pretty obviously NO, and you can read how people feel about that misconception over here on BlogHer). I do think there is some truth in this misconception, because getting great deals can be a very slippery slope.

When you realize that your mailbox is filled with more free samples and coupons then actual mail…you might have a problem.

When you start sneaking shampoo bottles into the house in your purse, you probably have a problem.

When you wait for your spouse to leave to smuggle in packages from your car and hope he doesn’t notice the growth of your stockpile, you definitely have a problem.

Can this misconception be debunked?

I still think that this is a misconception though. I still think that, as a whole, people who live frugally are not fanatics. I think they are passionate and I think that it’s easy to get excited when you realize how much little things can add up. I think it’s a slippery slope, and I think the lines between passion and crazy are not clearly defined. Finally I think that just like anything else thrilling, addictions are possible and it helps to have a supportive and objective person in your life who can tell you when you are going overboard.

What do you think though? I want to hear your thoughts. Do you think this is a misconception? Do you think there is a black and white line to be drawn? What’s your take on this misconception?

Are you interested in being on the show Extreme Couponing? I received this email from Nathan Engels yesterday:

Are you interested in participating in an upcoming episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing? If you have the expertise to get amazing deals and accumulate fantastic stockpiles of goodies, we’d love to hear from you! E-mail us at extremecouponingcasting@gmail.com.

If you sign up, be sure to let me know!

Misconceptions About Frugal Living: Frugal People are Poor

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.

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