One Frugal Thing — Contentment

by Katy on January 19, 2015 · 37 comments

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of Five Frugal Things blog posts. Partially because they’re easy to write, but also to demonstrate how true frugality is a mix of the dramatic and the little stuff. And mostly, it is the little stuff.

Frugality is going to the grocery store and sticking to your list, it’s meeting up with a friend for a walk instead of lunch, it’s creating meals from what’s on hand instead of getting takeout and it’s choosing to be content with what you already own.

But if you want to know the one key frugal thing that trumps all others it’s this:

Find satisfaction and contentment in daily frugality.

Without comparison to others and without a sense of deprivation. Own it. Eat those bean based meals not because you’re broke, but because it gives you control over your life. Fill your home with fixed up free furniture not to brag on Pinterest, but to keep your expenses in check. Back away from social media if you find that seeing the sanitized versions of your friends’ lives makes you feel bad about your own.

Find your own contentment and frugality will follow.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Baldwin January 19, 2015 at 11:54 am

I love your way of thinking. Nuff said.

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Katy January 19, 2015 at 11:56 am

Thank you.

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marieann January 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Yes, this is the key….to life. Be contented with what you have!!!

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Linda January 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Well spoken!

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JD January 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Where did I read this quote? Who was the philosopher? I can’t remember! Something about him eating his humble dish of lentils and a friend said (paraphrasing here), “Look, learn to be subservient to the king and you won’t have to eat lentils!” To which he replied (paraphrasing again), “Learn to like lentils, and you don’t have to be subservient to the king.”
Frugality is freedom.

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Katy January 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm

I remember that quote from The Tightwad Gazette!

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The Frugal Shrink January 19, 2015 at 3:01 pm

The Song of the Bird by Anthony DeMello. That was my email signature line for years! 🙂

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A. Marie January 19, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Although I’m not in the least religious, Proverbs 15:17 expresses the same thought: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” (I know this verse from Jane Eyre; Jane quotes the King James Version of it during her Lowood School days.) I’ve thought about this a lot this week as DH and I go through the discards of the acrimoniously divorcing couple across the street.

And thanks as always for the inspiration, Katy.

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dusty January 20, 2015 at 4:03 am

I have been following what you have been posting about your neighbors A. Marie and I would like to say I’m shocked but I’m not. It’s so sad what people throw away. My landlord (who maintains the beautiful yard where I live) brought home several plants that he found in the trash the other day. He also gave me a small wine rack for my kitchen that he found in the trash. He told me he could open a store with all the items he finds in the trash. If I’m not mistaken I think the most expensive item you found was a phone. I laughed at that one cause I have an old flip phone that is cracked and I refuse to buy a new one. Thanks for all the posts.

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Kelly in MA January 20, 2015 at 7:45 am

It is unreal what can be found in the trash. Just a couple of weeks ago I found a laundry drying rack in nearly perfect shape (one of the poles that you hang clothes on broke.) I tossed it in the back of the car, stopped by the local hardware store and the manager helped me find the right sized dowel! It cost about $1.50 which I paid with change from the bottom of my purse and now I have a brand new drying rack for $1.50 instead of $20-30 from the store!

Often when I pick great things from the trash and find I can’t use them I donate them to a local Goodwill style thrift shop. I am really lucky to have a great organization locally that supports 3 communities with their food bank (more then 3,000 families a year) they also set up emergency housing (2013 the set up more then 500 emergency homes- for those displaced by tragedy or otherwise [house fires, domestic violence survivors and their children, homeless families…] They also offer a variety of other services so I know when i donate to them it is defiantly going to make a tangible difference in my community.

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A. Marie January 20, 2015 at 12:16 pm

dusty: Thanks for your interest. DH is a 30-year veteran landlord, and we’ve seen some pretty astonishing discards in our time, but this haul was a record-breaker. We’re still mulling over what to do with the Kindle and the iPhone; both are first-generation devices and are now mainly of antique value/interest, but both still work and should fetch a few bucks.

Kelly in MA: You’re absolutely right about passing on what can’t be personally used, and we’re doing this. A full box of school/office supplies went to the educational nonprofit in our neighborhood (an organization trying to help struggling inner-city students). An artist friend is coming over tonight to go through the art supplies (the wife of the divorcing/discarding couple is a graphic designer). We’re taking four bags of linens we can’t use to the local animal shelters this weekend (we’re looking for a new cat anyway). Everything else has gone to one of the local thrift stores.

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Sarah January 19, 2015 at 12:55 pm

LOVE this post! 🙂

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Rachel January 19, 2015 at 1:23 pm

LOVE this! Perfection.

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K D January 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

I was just thinking as I was walking errands this afternoon that gratitude, creativity, and a sense of humor (which you brought up the other day) are the keys to frugal living. I do believe contentment sums it up.

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Katy January 19, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Yup, gotta have that sense of humor. 😀

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Lorraine January 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Well said.

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The Frugal Shrink January 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Preach!! So very true.

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Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom January 19, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Love it! Frugal habits become such a part of your life that it’s hard to pick them out. They just seem ordinary. But, the best things in my life happened because I lived within my means.

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isabelle January 19, 2015 at 4:23 pm

So true!

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Alycia January 19, 2015 at 5:59 pm

I needed this today! Thank you, Katy!

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Amanda January 19, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Katy,
I have read your blog for over two years now and it has become one of my absolute favorites. I am a SAHM of five little kiddos (13 thru age 4) and so agree with this post. It’s also interesting that kids are definitely able to enjoy frugality as well. Mine never seem to mind shopping for Christmas/bdays for each other at yard sales and love the thrill of a thrift store. Life is happy and simple. Attitude is everything. Thanks for your blog and sharing your insights!

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Kelly in MA January 20, 2015 at 7:56 am

Amanda,

I have just one 5 year old but I may just have a tip for you involving the kids gifting! I take my daughter to the free kid’s workshops at both Home Depot and Lowe’s every month. In order to not have a house full of things she has made (at least one item from each retailer every month.) We talk about what family or friends have birthday’s coming up that we can gift to. It is wonderful for me because I get to see her doing something she really enjoys and then she gets to see the value of making things for gifting. That the real value comes from the love we put into things not the price tag that comes on things. I do allow her to keep a few of the projects she makes and I have found that she often just likes to have the objects around for a few days to look at and then she is happy to pack it up and get it ready for gifting! She has become discerning in her choices of what to keep (which is a blessing in other areas, this past weekend she (independently) took a grocery bag and filled it with toys to donate because she doesn’t really play with them anymore.

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Joan January 19, 2015 at 11:09 pm

Great post katy! Somewhere along the line we started to care more about “things” than people. If this were to change this is where we would find true contentment and satisfaction in life!

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Karen January 20, 2015 at 3:14 am

Spot on, Katy! And I am much more content reducing the time I spend on social media; the comparisons with others became overwhelming.

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Kelly in MA January 20, 2015 at 8:01 am

‘Back away from social media if you find that seeing the sanitized versions of your friends’ lives makes you feel bad about your own. – See more at: http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/one-frugal-thing-contentment/#comments

I had that same problem a while back. Took a break from social media and saw this quote at some point. It helped my to take a look at things from a different perspective.
I have a screen saver that says:
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.- Steve Furtick”

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kris January 20, 2015 at 4:23 am

Truth!!

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Amanda January 20, 2015 at 5:38 am

A friend of mine told me that she didn’t have cable. I said cool! Me neither! When she looked at me strange I realized she was trying to illustrate how deprived she is. One man’s deprivation is another man’s simplicity. Love all the five frugs!

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K D January 20, 2015 at 10:18 am

Very funny. I think many of us here are glad/proud that they don’t have cable. I guess your friend will have to find someone else to commiserate with.

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Isabelle January 21, 2015 at 5:01 am

Don’t have cable eighter, by choice. Never had. Never will. Proud of this!

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Mary January 20, 2015 at 5:58 am

I, too, am frugal because I enjoy being that way, and think it is sinful to waste food, clothing, money, etc. I read your blog and the comments every day and have come to believe that you and all the readers not only want to live frugally but live well.

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WilliamB January 20, 2015 at 11:54 am

OTOH social media can be your frugal friend as well. Rather than surround yourself with the Joneses’ highlight reel, surround yourself with frugal friends. It can give you a nice sense of support and positive feedback for the “crazy” things we sometimes do.

Frex: a few months ago I turned a $10 Goodwill stool into a plant stand. Y’all would think that was awesome; others of my acquaintance would think it was a bit odd.

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Betsey January 20, 2015 at 1:33 pm

I needed this today! I do not covet much, but I went to a friend’s new condo and salivated. I was willing to give away the dog, sell the house, and move! But then I came home to my cottage with very few “new” pieces of furniture (most of what I use is family hand-me-downs) and a dog joyful to see me, so I came to my senses. I do need new drapes, the hardwood floor redone, and the 3 season porch updated. All in good time.
So thank you Katy for your good sense.

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Theresa January 20, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Amen and hallelujah too! I started from necessity, and graduated to the challenge of the thing. BUT if I don’t learn to do this because this is how I want to live, then when I feel there isn’t much challenge left, and my finances are doing well, I’ll just slide right back into consumer life like a temporarily missing cog. No thank you!

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Diane January 20, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Just wondering if you could do a post listing your dinner meals for 2 weeks. I need to economize more on food buying and I think your meal plan might be a big help.

Thanks!

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Denise January 20, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Go, Katy!
Go, Katy!
Go, go, Go Katy! 🙂

Love this!

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Sarah January 22, 2015 at 11:03 am

I feel an embroidery project coming on:
“Find your own contentment and frugality will follow.”
Words of wisdom — thanks for sharing!

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Lucy January 24, 2015 at 10:42 am

So glad I found your blog! I love the 5 Frugal Things posts, and the point you’re making here really sums up what we’re trying to do in our lives.

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