Living a frugal and thrifty life can be a benefit to simple living. What is the difference between being frugal and being thrifty? Let’s compare the two and see how we can add being frugal and thrifty to our simple lifestyle.
What is the Difference Between Frugal and Thrifty?
I wasn’t sure if being frugal was the same as being thrifty. I’m pretty sure I use the words interchangeably. There is a third word that I throw in there from time to time…cheap! However, the three words are all different and have their own distinct definitions! Let’s see what they are!
Sparing and economical with regard to money. It implies an absence of luxury and simplicity of lifestyle. Purchasing clothing at a consignment shop rather than brand new would be frugal. However, I see frugal as purchasing quality items rather than just what’s cheap. Quality over quantity and the determination to find the best price for the best product. A frugal person is also careful to purchase only things they actually need.
Being thrifty also means being sparing in regard to money and not living excessively. Using money and other resources carefully rather than wastefully. There is a unique quality to thrifty people, they are typically more willing to sacrifice time in order to save money. Their approach may be more hands-on. Meaning a thrifty person is more likely to buy an item that needs restoration in order for it to be usable.
Reupholstering furniture, mending clothing, and painting an old table are all things you would find a thrifty person doing. Their time is not necessarily calculated as part of the cost, they likely enjoy the process.
Cheap doesn’t really carry a positive connotation, by definition cheap is low cost but also low quality. However, we use the word cheap when we see a good sale on fruit…wow those apples are cheap!
To describe a person as cheap usually means they don’t want to spend any money. Typically they are looking for the best deal without regard to quality. Just the cheapest washer or car, which we all know may come back to bite you eventually!
How Can We Live a Frugal and Thrifty Life?
Since we’ve established that we would prefer to be frugal or thrifty rather than cheap, let’s figure out some ways that we can be good stewards of our money and get the most value for our dollar! Some ideas will be obvious things we already know we should do, and others may inspire you to try something new!
Check Your Heart
I think contentment is always at the heart of issues like this. Guarding our hearts against constantly coveting something new or different just because we saw it on social media or in a magazine! Social media can be a hungry beast that is never satisfied! I have almost completely stepped away from Instagram. It’s a whirlwind frenzy of the latest trends and seasonal influence. It can leave a person feeling exhausted and dissatisfied with their own life.
I have watched as each year is rushed through, we cannot wait for spring to come and we rush through all the spring things, once that is over we rush through summer and then quickly on to fall decor and then the race to Christmas. Constantly looking to the next thing and feeling like we can never keep up. Life doesn’t have to be that way. We have the power to get off the hampster wheel and just enjoy our life! No need to compare and try to keep up with everyone on social media. We can just walk away!
Practicing gratitude is a huge step towards contentment. Whenever I begin to feel sorry for myself, oh my farm looks like a mess compared to others, or my furniture is so ten years ago! I have to give myself a shake and thank God for what I do have! We have a farm for crying out loud! We dreamed of this for 10 years! Or how about the fact that I have ten healthy children!
You can do this too! Likely the blessings in your life far outweigh any inconveniences or difficulties. Finding the good in our life takes daily practice but eventually becomes second nature.
Practical Tips for a Frugal and Thrifty Life
One conclusion that I have come to is that life is very enjoyable with less stuff! There is less to clean, less to store, less to manage. I used to keep mountains of clothing for my children, we would get hand-me-downs and I would keep everything…just in case. However, as I have gotten along further in my parenting I am happy to keep far less clothing for them. I keep only the things we really like and know they will wear. If it’s in poor shape I get rid of it. If I buy items for them, it’s cute and practical and something I know they will wear over and over again.
With all that being said, there are things we need. Here are a few tips for shopping and getting the best value:
Shop in Bulk
Groceries are of course a necessity. The price of nearly everything is absolutely outrageous right now. Buying more doesn’t sound appealing, however, there are a few benefits to shopping in bulk. One of course is price, you can usually save a few dollars when you buy a case of something rather than individual amounts. Warehouse stores typically have better prices overall. If you have Bulk stores run by Amish or Mennonites nearby, you can usually find better quality bulk items like flour and oats at a discount.
Another benefit I have found to shopping in bulk is that I make fewer trips to the store. I am more likely to make do with what I have rather than run out to grab something. Fewer trips to the store also mean fewer impulse buys!
Shop Off Season
After Christmas is a great time to purchase seasonal items, usually coats, gloves and hats will begin to pop up on the clearance racks. Same for flannels, sweaters, and other winter items. You can also shop for Summer items in August. Naturally, you won’t have the same selection however, you will likely save a huge chunk of money on the items that you can find.
One thing that I am purposing to do this year is to have a gift stash. How often do you see lovely things throughout the year that you know you don’t need? I do all the time, simple inexpensive things like kitchen towels, throw blankets, and candles. Often times I see things like that on sale or off-season clearance and I just pass them up. My plan going forward is to go ahead and purchase those items and stash them away for gifts. Then at Christmas time or Birthdays, I have nice things to give and I’m not running around at the last minute paying full price for something.
This would also work well for children’s gifts. Stock up on little things that you see throughout the year then you aren’t trying to fill stockings at the last minute!
Learn Some DIY Skills
- Learn to bake bread
- Making gifts like candles can be tremendous savings. More handmade gift ideas here
- A wood burner is a great tool to learn to use, here are some nice DIY’s
- Do your own landscaping
- Learning to sew is not always a savings, but it can be
- Making salves and balms is a great way to save money
- Grow your own herbs and vegetables
- Cook at home…of course
- Here are some ideas of foods to take in the car on busy nights
This is a great place to really save money on clothing, household items, and vehicles. Here are a few of my favorite places to look for secondhand items. When possible I try to purchase secondhand items in person rather than online. A few online places do have good return policies, so I try to only shop for secondhand pieces that I know can be returned. If you cannot return or resell an item that doesn’t work for you, you haven’t saved any money and will likely wind up with something you have to give away or donate.
My Favorite Secondhand Stores
Here are my favorite places to buy secondhand items. I will mention that some of these places consign items and some have their own way of allowing you to sell your items. I like to sell nice things that I have for store credit this is a great way to trade out old items that don’t work for something different.
- A local thrift store, naturally you will find the best prices locally, and there is no shipping charge! However, if you live in a rural area like me, it may take more time and effort to shop at a thrift store!
- Swap.com you can return items if they don’t work usually just for store credit and often you have to pay return shipping. However, if you know exactly what you are looking for, this is a great place to get a deal! You can also consign your own items with them!
- Thredup– they also accept returns but there is a 3.99 restocking fee, you can also consign your own items for store credit
- Poshmark– you can sell your own items with Poshmark, and their selling app is super simple to use. They have a great selection and the prices are usually pretty good, plus you can make offers and negotiate with the seller.
- Mercari– Very similar to Poshmark, you can buy and sell on Mercari as well
A skill that is quickly being lost in our society is patience. Nearly all of us have come to expect instant gratification. If we want something we expect to receive it right now. We want our internet to function faster, we want our food to be fast, and we want our deliveries to get to us quickly.
Credit cards have made saving for something a thing of the past. Get it now and pay later is the motto. Rarely does this truly satisfy us. We get the shiny thing and then move on to our next desire.
Sure there are things we need. Creating a hospitable home requires decent furniture, and getting your family to and fro requires a reliable car. However, there is often something that can be done in the meantime. When we were saving to buy our family van, we drove a dumpy van, and sometimes we had to take two cars to get places.
A Practical Example
Our kitchen is literally falling apart. The cabinet fronts are popping off, the counter tiles are falling off. The dishwasher needs to be repaired every few months, and the icemaker on our fridge leaks water. This could get me down, and sometimes it does. However, going into debt to add on to our house or remodel the kitchen is not something we are comfortable with at the moment.
In the meantime, I have removed the cabinet fronts that are cracked and irreparable and I painted the cheap fake wood. This is a temporary fix that at least makes the kitchen look a little more presentable. My husband has used spray adhesive on the ones that are falling off in all one piece. Do I want a new kitchen…sure, I want it yesterday! However, the waiting is good, and learning to be content with what I have is valuable for me and for my children. Patience is a practiced skill! Our children learn by watching us!
Do You Have Any Tips?
If you have some additional tips for living a frugal and thrifty life, please share them in the examples! A community of thrifty and frugal minded people can be very motivational!