Keeping a Frugal Mindset

by Katy on May 26, 2015 · 40 comments

Like any other lifestyle habit, it can be difficult to stay motivated when it comes to frugality. Why? Because frugality, especially the extreme frugality that I practice involves a fair amount of choosing to “do without.” I cook from scratch, (even when I crave a restaurant meal, which is frequently) I wear the same clothing over and over again and I get most of my entertainment from library books and whatever freebies I can scrape up.

From the outside, I can see how my life might appear grim. Especially when friends and family conspicuously consume and seem to be living the high life.

However . . . because I do put a lot of forethought into how I spend (and don’t spend) my money, my frugality is a conscious decision that I control.

My control. My choice.

Staying out of financial trouble gives me peace of mind that wouldn’t be possible if I were to spend like the average American. So instead of viewing my financial restraints as limiting, I choose to see them as freeing. I’m not tied down by traditional societal expectations. I have no shame about plucking things from free piles to sell or even give as gifts. (My older son’s main holiday gift last year was an art portfolio that someone had put out for free!) We’ve never been to Disneyland or a resort, and most of our vacations involve a friend’s $65/night Oregon coast beach cabin.

Crafting an enjoyable and satisfying life for my family is a challenge that I enjoy.

I don’t feel deprived, so I’m not. As long as I have food, shelter, reliable transportation, health insurance, decent thrift shops and a few extra dollars, I’m good to go. And staying motivated year after year? Easy, as my family wants for nothing and the internet overflows with tip, tricks and inspirational stories of of individuals who’ve accomplished amazing things without the benefit of a trust fund or a corporate career.

Sustained Frugality is so much more a state of mind than it is numbers on a ledger. And it’s such a great place to be.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy May 26, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Katy, I’m with you on choosing a frugal life. Eating at home, even entertaining at home by cooking from scratch, taking care of what we already have and enjoy, doing my own housework, laundry and yard work with my husband, fills our time, provides exercise and a sense of satisfaction money couldn’t buy!
I’m using my skills and talents to make gifts for family members, often using items already in my ‘resource’ room, or purchasing on sale and with coupons.

Recently, our daughter in law requested a weighted blanket for their son. I made the blanket, sent it to them and waited for a report of the outcome. Grandson loves it, the blanket gives him the results hoped for!!
Now, that feeling of satisfaction only comes from knowing I am directly responsible for the enhancement of their lives!


Su Mama May 26, 2015 at 12:33 pm

What’s a weighted blanket — and how do you make one?


Christa May 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Would LOVE to know how you made the weighted blanket!! My son could REALLY use one…


Kathy May 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Katy, Keep up the wise efforts. I love your blogs. When I grow up, I want to be you…ok, I am grown up, I want to emulate you. Kkw


Bobbi May 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

I totally agree that choosing frugality is worth it. “Doing without” all the restaurant meals, new clothes and gadgets that many people spend their money on, means I have money for things I choose. For me, this is taking a big trip with my kids every year. Last year Italy, this year Scotland. Katy, I know from reading your blog that for your family, you have been able to do things for your kids (trips, sports) that would have been financially stressful if it weren’t for your frugal lifestyle. These experiences are priceless! My house may not be big or fancy, but like you, I have food, shelter, reliable transportation, and health insurance for me and my kids. We are safe and healthy, and I feel blessed and wealthy.

Also, I get a kick out of your frugal triumphs, so don’t ever stop writing about your latest amazing find in a free pile/thrift shop!


BRB May 26, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Katy your blogs are always inspiring…please continue to share!


Kim May 26, 2015 at 3:50 pm

A beach cabin on the Oregon coast sounds like a much better vacation than an over-priced, over-crowded amusement park in my book.


Katy May 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm



kris May 27, 2015 at 3:35 am

Seriously! For my daughter’s graduation gift, she picked Universal Studio’s (Orlando) and the only frugal thing about that trip was we were able to get there and back with only a half a tank of gas. The whole time I was there all I could hear was the sound of money draining from my bank account! I did try and do it as frugally as possible but it still costs a fortune!! And the Universal parks does not offer the ‘fast past’ for free (Disney allows a certain amount free), it’s like $35 a person! On top of what you pay to get into the park! So for my family of 6 to ‘bypass the line’ would have been an additional $210.00! A bottle of water is $4.00! And there are fountains in the park for free. I did splure on meals (outside the park) because it was a special occasion and that’s something we really enjoy but the hotel was pretty cheap!

If I never return to another amusement park again, I’ll be so ok with that!


kris May 27, 2015 at 3:45 am

Oh by the way, I didn’t pay for the by-pass the line premium, no we stood in line like you’re suppose to! lol


Alison May 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm

I love your positive outlook. No one’s life is all roses/all the time, but I appreciate that you choose to accentuate the positive. Thanks Katy!


Marilyn May 26, 2015 at 5:36 pm

I enjoy being frugal. I love that I was able to send my two kids to state universities without anyone going into debt. I love that that I don’t feel the need to spend all my free time at the mall. I love that I can sleep at night without worrying about credit card bills. There was a time in my life when I was not so frugal and truly, it was no fun being in debt.


Thereesa Smith May 26, 2015 at 6:11 pm



Katy May 26, 2015 at 6:24 pm

I know you wanted this comment deleted, but I kind of like it. 🙂


Diane C May 27, 2015 at 9:16 pm



Jean May 26, 2015 at 8:13 pm

There is a difference between forced frugality and choosing to be frugal–for many years I was a single mom, had to be frugal, and there were times it was painful. While I am in a much better place now financially, and the kids are grown, the frugal habits are still there and serve me well. The choice is more like voluntary simplicity, and is quite freeing! Bonus–at least one of my kids is as frugal as I am, and married a man with much the same mindset! The other one is coming around–went through an unfortunate round of thinking he had to have everything he was “deprived” of growing up, but is finding out that most of that has very little real meaning.


Michele May 26, 2015 at 9:07 pm

I am with you on this! I used to think I lived reasonably…UNTIL we suffered a job loss and faced tough financial times. I decided to take control and change my/our lifestyle. Thankfully, my family was on board wholeheartedly from the get-go. We have turned our lifestyle on its ear and we are all the better for it. We cut costs wherever we can and now we can enjoy some of the great ‘perks’ that we love (better foods, for one) BECAUSE of our regular, every day frugality. I am so glad that we made the change and embraced the positive. Our journey has moved us toward a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle and we’ve turned minimalist, which has also been good for each of us. It’s given us the courage to homeschool our third child. It’s given us a shiny new set of keys for a better life….even if our actual keys are for 10 year old vehicles! 😉


Lesley May 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

It’s not grim if it’s your choice. I’ve been using public transportation (and feet) exclusively for decades and frequently I get sideways glances from my peers–but I don’t WANT a car! I guess I could buy one, but why, when the bus is right there, or when walking is literally faster? I’d so much rather have that money to save for retirement or to spend on something I actually need.

If you feel strongly enough about a choice like that, it isn’t going to matter what your peers think. Shame isn’t even part of the equation. You go, Katy!


Katy May 26, 2015 at 11:03 pm

You too, Lesley!


Julia Stewart May 27, 2015 at 1:17 am

I really enjoy your blog, dabbling at the edges of frugal at the moment before diving in.

I have to say I am completely impressed by your ability to restrain your Lear Jet purchasing.

Daughter and I are about to rediscover our library…. You inspired that


Mary May 27, 2015 at 2:33 am

I am also a big fan of your blog and FB group. Frugality is mindset and a lifestyle for us, too. It’s about making choices…choices that suit us. We sleep so much better now that our 5figure credit card debt has been eradicated. This group helps to keep us inspired for this journey outside the parameters of societal norms and provides a platform for sharing/community with other like-minded people. I hope you continue blogging, Katy. We appreciate you and this forum!


dusty May 27, 2015 at 2:52 am

I try to be frugal and most times I succeed and sometimes I don’t. I do find that I get alot of flack from people telling me to spend money. Case in point, had to get a new cell phone this weekend (my old one is no longer being supported by the company), went to store with boyfriend who tried to convince me to get a smart phone. Well, I stuck to my guns and got another flip phone. You wouldn’t believe what everyone says about that. The way I look at it, all I need is a phone to make phone calls and text. My boyfriend spends 200 per month on two cell phones (provides one for an employee also), my new bill 20 per month. It’s a battle with friends trying to convince them that I’m actually happy without spending alot of money. Just wondering if anyone else finds that to be the case too.


Yin May 27, 2015 at 3:05 am

fantastic post! You are greatly admired.


Rose May 27, 2015 at 4:00 am

I was brought up to be frugal but during the course of time I allowed expensive conveniences to creep into my life and the next thing I knew I was a wage slave trying to keep up with the lifestyle! Like you, I am a nurse and I was working in a high pressure ICU , suffered from burnout and eventually it took having a stroke in August 2013 to wake me up!
Now I have gone back to my simple country roots, assisting my husband on our 100 acre farm, raising steers, raising and cooking most of our food, canning, freezing and preserving, staying away from the consumeristic lifestyle and much happier and healthier for it.
Did I eventually go back to work as an ICU nurse? The answer is yes but only on an as needed basis. I work just enough to enjoy my work but not enough to burn me out, maybe 1 – 2 12 hr shifts per week.
I can say that with frugality comes freedom! I would much rather live life on my own terms than be a slave to consumerism and debt! Plus, I am the healthiest I have been in many years!
Please keep up the good work! Your are a inspiration to the rest of us!


Laure May 27, 2015 at 4:14 am

It sure is hard to keep a frugal mindset, sometimes! Your blog really helps me to do that. It’s great to read about clever, entertaining examples — and an overall frugal mindset — to partly offset the rest of the world around me (tempting restaurant meals, etc, etc). Thank you!


K D May 27, 2015 at 8:03 am

Resourcefulness is a muscle that you have developed. It feels good to develop and maintain that muscle (skill). It is a means to an end. I also believe it is a wonderful legacy to pass down to your kids. It will give them so many more options to know how to carefully deploy money.

The big city I live closest to has been having trouble, mainly due to poverty. I am trying to understand how immigrants come here with next to nothing but generally make their way, but groups in poverty seem to stay mired there (as a general rule). Maybe it is related to a sense of deprivation, which many readers here choose to not embrace.

I love reading about all the things you and your readers do. I feel among kindred spirits.


JD May 27, 2015 at 8:20 am

I love the inspiration I get here, and my enthusiasm is finally catching on with others in my family. My husband was planning some planters for our little fish pond and was contemplating buying this and that, when he suddenly realized we had stuff at the house we could use to build planters, for very little money. Instead of being depressed that we “needed to take the cheap route”, he was excited to realize the answer was in his hands already for much less money. And I was excited for him. Thanks, Katy, for helping us love frugality.


Katy May 27, 2015 at 8:47 am



Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life May 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm

So true! There are so many people around me my age who look at me as though I’m the dowdy old lady who likes to stay at home on Friday night knitting and catching up on TV shows. Even small things like using my tea bags for two steepings instead of one is given a downward glance. I’ve learned to appreciate the things around me at a young age which means only bigger and better things are waiting for me. Bigger meaning a slightly larger tea budget…


Hobart Chic May 28, 2015 at 5:31 am

I appear to have gone from a tea canister to a growing tea/coffee/herbal- stash drawer. It’s becoming quite the collection!

I fear the next step is a room/ retail enterprise!


Linda May 27, 2015 at 8:00 pm

I am the recipient of trust fund dollars.
Despite that fact I choose to ‘live simply so others can simply live’.
I derive great joy from ministering to less fortunate people and not depleting any more of the earths resources than necessary.


Mel May 28, 2015 at 10:42 pm

I think you should write a guest post for NCA…I think your perspective and thoughts on the choices you make would be very interesting!


Diane C May 27, 2015 at 9:13 pm

DH and I have always wanted to flip a house. Literally, find an underloved house, make it pretty, and do quality work so it can be a good home to some nice family. We were having fun sourcing things frugally and doing most of the work ourselves. We are battling with our realtor over the appliances. The existing ones are beige/biscuit color and we found an almost new matching DW (the only thing not in working order) on CL.
Realtor is insisting that stainless steel is the only option. It pisses me off to have to replace the appliances just to be “fashionable”. I feel like she’s trying to make me buy a Lear Jet. Should I cave or stand my ground?


Hobart Chic May 28, 2015 at 5:33 am

Last time my mum sold her house she was told that white was “classic”. I would just go with your gut, it’s unlikely to make too much difference as long as it looks good together and is reasonably new/ in good order.


Ruby May 28, 2015 at 8:54 am

Stand your ground. If it all matches and suits the kitchen, then it will sell just fine. Biscuit or bone is actually an up and coming color that looks wonderful in older houses. We had to replace the toilet and sink in the guest bath of our 1950 house, and bone worked great with the existing tile and paneling.

The kitchen in our house had been upgraded for sale and had total stainless steel. But it was hard to keep clean and just looked oppressive. We have since replaced it all with better brands — the stuff that came with the house was cheaply made — in a color that suits the house better.


Diane May 28, 2015 at 4:30 am

I am choosing an ultra frugal lifestyle now as I want to be debt free by 73. My life has been such that it was necessary to take out loans and use credit cards to survive and save the life of my granddaughter when she was a teenager. Since 2004 I have paid by over $70K on an educational loan living on a small retirement income and occasional work. Reducing my debt while enjoying the frugal life I live is something in which I take great pride. It’s really the only thing I have control over and it makes me feel so good to know I can do this!


debra May 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Yay! I know i need to hear this every so often. Most of the time I’m good with my choices- Virgin phone plan, no intenet or cable, small house, going out infrequently, library love, thrifting ang garage sailing……etc. but sometimes when i go back to where i grew up and my whole house could fit on my sister’s deck, the cars are new and fancy, etc., i get down on my life choices. So i get on your blog, or the NCA fb group, get out my old Tightwad Gazettes or other frugal books to reframe and reiterate my choices. Thanks!


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: