Shh . . . It’s The Secretly Frugal

by Katy on October 21, 2009 · 44 comments

Shh

Frugality is everywhere. It’s on TV, in the papers and certainly on the internet.

It’s inescapable.

But that doesn’t mean that frugal folk stand out any more than your average American. Often, frugality is completely behind closed doors.

I come across a wide cross section of society in the course of my job as a hospital nurse. I was caring for an East African woman a few weeks back and sure enough, the subject of frugality came up. I explained the measures my family takes to live inexpensively, and her response was, “Oh, but there are no other Americans that live that way.”

This got me thinking about how I might appear to someone who would simply be taking me at face value.

Because I live in a large house in a desirable neighborhood, to a stranger it would be a safe assumption that we are the Joneses. The outward appearance of our lives would appear as anything other than your typical mall shopping, credit card swiping average American.

Of course, you know better. You know that we cook inexpensive meals from scratch, shop thrift stores for almost all our needs, shy away from pricey gift giving and do almost all of our home improvement projects ourselves.

Of course, there is the opposite situation where people appear to live in luxury yet are actually swimming in debt. This, we expect. This, is covered quite nicely in the media. This, people expect from Americans.

But the secretly frugal are not on people’s radars as much. We exhibit no stereotypical signs of poverty such as run down cars and grubby clothing. We appear to be living the American dream.

No wonder my patient thought there were no frugal Americans.

Do you feel like your frugality is behind closed doors? Are you private about the financial choices that allow you to appear to be living beyond your means? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara Morrison October 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm

I know some people think we are cheap but we don’t care for debt. Granted we are not as frugal as you but we do all our cooking from scratch, buy the majority of our clothes used and usually engage in inexpensive or free entertainment.
Our major expense is food I try to buy as much locally produced food as I can and this can get pricey. I feel completely justified because it supporting local businesses.

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Meg October 21, 2009 at 6:50 pm

So, true! We really don’t know a lot about people sometimes even when they are neighbors and/or we see them daily. And sometimes what is frugal to one person might seem very UNfrugal to the next.

For example, I like wearing nice outfits. I don’t have to pay a lot for them or wear name brands, but I like to feel ‘put together’. Some people find that snobby and especially unfrugal. Some (mostly family) have called me a fashionista or clothes horse — and not in a good way. In fact, I bet my wardrobe (minus the shoes) is a lot smaller than theirs even though they have “nothing to wear”. I buy fewer clothes, but I buy very strategically and take good care of them (hang drying helps). When they become stained or tattered, they become “at home” clothes. And I just don’t buy clothes that I find unflattering. I might be picky, but I think that’s a far more frugal option than buying clothes that don’t do anything for me besides cover me up.

Sometimes people do hurt my feelings with their comments, but I’ve realized that no matter how you dress, someone will be judging you. So, I just dress to make me feel good and try to forget about them.

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Sue October 21, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I may be considered secretly frugal to those who don’t know me well. My now 9 year old vehicle is in great shape, I live in a nice house with some property and I only purchase good quality clothing (new or used, as long as it’s not to trendy and will last). I don’t fit the stereotype of “frugal.”

But, for those who know me, that’s a different story. I’m very open about being thrifty. I find no shame at all in doing what I feel is the right thing and the responsible thing to ensure that I keep as much of my hard earned cash as possible.

There’s something that frugality gives me over and over again, and that’s peace of mind. I know I’m on track with my goals. I’m totally ok with making tough choices now to ensure that I get what I need out of life-whether it’s a roof over my head (almost totally paid for!) or an opportunity (travel).

So, maybe this peace of mind is seen by strangers as someone who can afford not to worry over money-and in a way, that’s the truth (not because I have money to burn, I don’t, but because I know where my cash is going and I’m in control of it).

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melissa October 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Living frugally helps my family of three to live well above our means. Because we know how to cook, preserve, thrift-store-shop, refinish, reupholster, we have a much nicer life than our finances would allow otherwise. Great clothes- thrift store. Lovely garden? Designed, planted from small starts and seeds (and plants discarded by the side of the road) etc etc. Lovely antiques? Also discarded by the side of the road and loved up. AND regularly add to a healthy savings account? I’d so much rather live this way than pay retail for everything (though I do buy a good pair of shoes, either running, boots, or clogs, quarterly), eat out constantly, and see nothing left at the end of the month.

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Maniacal Mommy October 21, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I live in a small town, where my frugality is a bit more on display than I would like. Any given day, I might look like hell in my old shirts and baseball cap (I should fix my hair to garden and vacuum?). You can see our laundry and cloth diapers on the clothesline and know we shun the dryer. You can see our vegetable garden, our chickens, and maybe you buy our extra produce or eggs.

You can see our old, but paid for vehicles in our driveway.

But when need be, we can look good. My husband’s suit, I got for a song at the thrift store. Ditto for my oldest son. The blouse I wore to my son’s baptism this week cost $4 brand new from a dept store on clearance. You would not look at my nice handbags and know that I paid a dollar for them. If you compliment me on anything, I will gladly tell you what I paid for it, as I love to find a bargain! Right down to my pre-owned shoes.

I don’t hide my frugality, I guess because I can’t. But what some people spend on cell phones and eating out, my son gets to go to Catholic school. The smaller class size means a lot to me, and he is thriving there.

I was able to purchase most of his school uniforms on Ebay, and his grandma helped with the rest.

In my area, the money spent on Catholic school makes us seem wealthier than we are. We know the truth, and how it does come down to using your resources for what is truly important.

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allison October 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Like you, Meg, I like nice clothes for when I am in public (my dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits don’t care what I wear at home) and tend to buy non-dated classic styles that don’t go out of fashion. I can buy from the thrift stores and get the good brands for 10 to 25 cents on the dollar. Today I bought a brand new London Fog rain jacket with liner for $4.00. Looked it up online and the cheapest I could find a comparable jacket for (used) was $25. Last week, I bought a reversible padded silk jacket from Chico’s for $6.50. Brand new! This folds up tiny, doesn’t show the wrinkles (unlike me) and will be going in my suitcase. I could never afford to buy it in the store. My wonderful collection of vintage Hawaiian shirts….all from the thrift store and never paid more than $5. I have been offered $50.oo by someone who wanted me to take it off to sell it to them. (I always wear them over a t-shirt)
I live just like my very much in debt friends (better, I think) and have no debt except my mortgage and utilities. Oh, and the feed bill for all those animals!
There are a lot of us out here. I never hesitate to tell people where I shop.

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Mary Bigger October 21, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I have found that some family members consider being frugal a) un-american and b) an embarrassment. Tough. Financial freedom is a wonderful thing. I keep a low profile with friends and co-workers especially when the moaning about debt or credit cards begins because being debt free is not what they want to hear from some one else.

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namastemama October 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm

oh my, you seriously hit a note. It drives me crazy when people say how “lucky I am to stay home” or “we couldn’t afford….” I have even lost a friend when she asked how can you afford to save for college? I said because I don’t have Brand X and Brand Y SUV’s. She had justified these purchases for weeks and I was tired of hearing how they needed this big truck to pull the camper they never use. I don’t know how transparent our frugality is. I will gladly tell someone how we can afford to buy a Honda Odyssey – cash – or get hardwood floors – put them in yourself but people don’t want to hear it. We recently found out that our neighbor’s make $150K a year, we live the same (outward appearance) lifestyle on $60K a year. Now my hubby understands why I am so tired of people saying “I can’t afford it”. They simply choose not too.

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Meg October 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm

@Allison

Great finds!

Yes, there’s definitely a big difference between what I wear at home and what I wear out and about. Fortunately, our chickens and cats aren’t too critical, either. And my good clothes wouldn’t be so good if I spent a lot of time in them at home, what with the kitties kneading my lap.

I think my husband and I live better than most (maybe all) of our friends, too — even though we’re still working our way out of debt with intensity. But how it appears…well, it depends on what people look at. Some people are jealous of all we have. Some people wonder why we’d choose to live “so poor”. Personally, I feel like we’re living very well — and lots better than we did when we were swiping the credit cards frequently!

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Meg October 21, 2009 at 8:38 pm

@namastemama

Amen!

I realize that other people have different priorities than I do, and I don’t fault them for spending differently, and maybe what they wish is that they really could have it ALL. But saying that I’m just “lucky”?! That’s an insult because it minimizes my efforts to be where I am today. Sure, I am lucky compared to many, but it isn’t just luck. It’s hard work and sacrifice, too. But funny how those seem to be alien concepts to most of those telling me how “lucky” I am.

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thenonconsumeradvocate October 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Wow!

These are great stories, keep them coming!

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate

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Jeanne October 22, 2009 at 4:20 am

And we thought we were the only ones!

We’re like you, Katy. We have a beautiful home. Everything is well cared for. I plant a big flower garden and people think I spend a fortune on landscaping (I save seeds, take cuttings, and buy packages of new seeds at the dollar store – 10 for $1 gets you a lot of flowers). People who visit my home exclaim over the antiques; I love my furniture, but it’s all hand me downs from relatives, pieces found thrown out and refinished, and very few new pieces.

We live frugally, enjoy free or low cost entertainment, and love our lives. It is so good not to have to worry about “keeping up with the Jones” or about bills.

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Kristen@The Frugal Girl October 22, 2009 at 4:20 am

Hmm, that’s a good question. I don’t think I look particularly frugal to the passerby. We have nice clothes, good food, a fairly nice house, and we go on vacation. We just manage to get those things through frugal means.

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Cate October 22, 2009 at 5:13 am

I’m willing to tell anyone and everyone about our frugal choices that allow me to stay home, allow us to live in a nice neighborhood, eat good food, give generous gifts, etc., but no one asks! To the casual onlooker, I’m sure we look like average consumers, but pinching pennies is how I can afford to stay home, how we can buy only sustainable meat, etc.

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NMPatricia October 22, 2009 at 5:28 am

Ahhh, one more been there, experienced that. I think being frugal here in Santa Fe is decidedly nonfrugal. But we are just the opposite. Yes, we live in a gorgeous SF looking, platinum LEED house. But we have zero utility bills right now. I cook all from scratch, but people think we have gourmet meals. We are beginning to have a great yard which we have done all ourselves which includes putting in the watering system (which comes from rainwater catchment) by my husband. One of the few things probably very uncool by SF standards is the vegetable garden and my compost pile. But I am quite proud of my first-time fledgling efforts. People think we must be rich for the trips we take. But this is from years of careful living and planning. When we redid our wills and the attorney asked us to consider how much it would take to live, he insisted we had to be wrong on our monthly allotment. We own our home and have no debt (we abhor debt-we pay for our stuff). I took have some things from thrift stores that I always get compliments on. I guess I could go on and on, but you all get the idea. Great post, Katy.

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shymom October 22, 2009 at 6:27 am

We are somewhat in the opposite situation. We are frugal to the core and have always been. (With the exception of a brief–educational– stint into too much credit card use in our 20s)

That frugalocity allowed us to buy a small house in a very nice neighborhood where the public schools are awesome and also allowed us to build a large nest egg. We would look to be an average American family to most of the country, but this is a much more expensive area. So here we appear to be relatively poor.

Since our house is smaller and older than many of those in town and the fact that we don’t even try to keep up with the Jones, we are sometimes looked down upon. Usually the rude behavior is by adults who are younger than us and don’t see us as being someone they can use to further themselves. I figure anyone who is rude to us because of how we dress etc. really isn’t very happy with their own lives.

We, however, are very blessed, but just don’t advertise it to the neighbors. What people don’t realize is that my husband retired from his 9 to 5 job 9 years ago at the age of 41 and has only held short-term, part-time jobs since. I work part time at a job I love so much I forget that I get paid to do it. ( I recently turned down a promotion that would have doubled my salary, because I didn’t want the stress. It would have increased my standard of living and lowered my quality of life.)

We are financially independent with enough in savings to live frugally for the rest of our lives. We have time to be with our kids and each other, we often go to concerts and plays, we go on a big trip every couple of years, and participate in rewarding volunteer work in the community.

While we may be poor in merchandise, we are rich in time and that is something you just can’t buy.

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Bellen October 22, 2009 at 6:33 am

We’ve been living the unstylish, frugal lifestyle for about 35 years of our almost 42 year marriage. During the time we were not – 1) we were not happier 2) we got into deep debt 3) we accumulated a lot of high end stuff we did not need or really want 4) we learned what our real values were. Now, living on SS and a tiny pension we are debt free, except for the mortgage and have just what we need – from yard sales, side of the road, dumpsters, thrift & consignment stores. We garden, are super conscious of our water and electric usage, rarely eat out and cook from scratch, use the library, take advantage of free entertainment and take care of what we own making repairs ourselves, cleaning after use, etc.

For any of you out there who are wondering – be frugal now, be conscious of what you NEED not want, stay healthy, keep your weight at normal levels, exercise by walking, teach your children these things. When you get to retirement age you will not be wondering how you will be able to live if SS does not have a cost of living increase. And, don’t count on your pension, we have several friends who have lost it due to the economy.

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Sarah October 22, 2009 at 7:12 am

To a stranger, I suppose we look like we aren’t exactly frugal as we do have a nice house, two cars, nice clothes etc..

However, to my family and friends who know that my husband and I earn a good salary mock us for being cheap. Honestly, they think we have more money than we actually do.

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Shannon October 22, 2009 at 7:19 am

This all brings to mind one of my favorite books, The Millionaire Next Door. We too live in a pretty nice neighborhood, nice house, we take care of our things. We shop a lot from thrifts and yard sales, do our own landscaping, and save cash to do updates on our home. What’s funny to me is how people always comment about how lucky we are (like previous poster said) to be able to do improvements on our home—comments are made by friends who run out every week to buy dvd’s, music, go out to dinner, etc. What they don’t get is that we’re making lots of things for ourselves, doing a lot of vegetable gardening, that sort of thing, plus what we are NOT doing: eating out a lot, eating convenience foods, buying consumable things like movies, music and books, shopping for fun. So yeah, at the end of the year when the IRA’s and 529’s are fully funded, if we have something leftover, we make an improvement to the house or take a nice vacation. But again, our friends only see the nice new countertops or the fun vacation.

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Sharon H December 18, 2015 at 10:03 am

I was remembering the excellent advice in “The Millionaire Next Door” too, Shannon.

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Christopher October 22, 2009 at 7:27 am

One of my colleagues got complimented for his appearance at work a few weeks ago, and he replied “Shirt and tie compliments of Goodwill Industries!” That was great! I already held this guy in high esteem, but I told him how cool I thought it was that he said that without any hesitation and with pride.

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Tracy October 22, 2009 at 7:44 am

Our neighbors actually tease us about being “rich” because our house is paid off, which makes me laugh out loud! But I think my friends might see me as a “penny-pincher” because I drive a 12 year old compact car, rarely shop for new clothes, don’t get my hair cut & colored every 6 weeks, etc. Then they are stymied when they see us taking really nice vacations and eating local/organic/gourmet food. I have a good friend who kept telling me I needed a bigger house (my family of four live happily in 1350 square feet) and a bigger car (“how do you get four people in a Sentra?” answer: easily) – she is now filing for bankruptcy which makes me so sad. It could easily have been avoided, as she makes twice my salary. I don’t want to “preach” frugality, I just try to represent it by living well. And for my family, that means saving money on things that aren’t a priority for us (big house/luxury car/name brand clothes), to have enough for the things that are!

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WilliamB October 22, 2009 at 8:54 am

I aspire to be “The Millionaire Next Door” – rich but you’d never know it.

I am quite open about some of my so-called frugal items, such as driving cars to the ground and not replacing a TV just because something better is available. My feeling – openly stated to anyone who asks – is “Why replace it? This one works and meets my needs.” I’m very open about some purchases not being a good bargain and my next car will be *smaller* than my current one.

(Ahem. I may have falled off the wagon on the TV front. Someone gave me a TiVo. The pix is so amazing that I replaced my 10 yo tube TV with an LCD HDTV. Yes, a 10 yo tube TV and the new one takes advantage of the TiVo, but the fact remains that my old TV hadn’t died yet.)

On other fronts I am not open. I would be embarassed to ask my neighbors for their coupon inserts, for example. Nor would I host a yard sale in my neighborhod.

For those who are annoyed by being told they’re lucky to have something they worked for, here is my response:

“Fortune favors the prepared.”

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Judy October 22, 2009 at 10:15 am

I think that most of the people I know, all have some sense of frugality.

Some of us are just a little more frugal than others!

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Tracy Balazy October 22, 2009 at 10:28 am

My husband and I are 42 and live in metro Detroit. Our cars are paid off, and we buy almost everything at resale and garage sales. (The house will be paid off in 13 years.) Except for building materials, which he buys at Home Depot; Chris does all the home improvements himself, which has saved us tens of thousands in the three years since we bought our 1941 fixer-upper home. He built the kitchen addition and the garage, sided the house, and is about to gut and re-do the bathroom (including using a light fixture I bought for $10 new at a garage sale).

Other people frequently sneer and act creeped out when I talk about buying clothing at resale, and then I gently remind them, “You eat off silverware at restaurants, no? Do you wash it yourself beforehand?”

As I’ve said here before, some of my co-workers have expressed astonishment and disbelief that I drive a 9-YEAR-OLD CAR. They act as if I’m Amish. I’ll be retiring early; they’ll be working for their new stuff!

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Anne L. October 22, 2009 at 10:33 am

When I was younger and first starting out on my own, I was very concerned about material things and keeping up with “the Jones’s”. I cared about what my friends and co-workers thought. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart or a thrift store. I was horrified at the idea of using coupons or buying anything at a yard sale. I bought the name brand clothes, drove a nice car, took nice trips, and made a habit of eating out. Then I bought a townhouse and discovered what a budget was. That was a real wakeup call!
Now, 15 years later I am the opposite of that. I love to use coupons, and hate to buy anything that isn’t on sale. Walmart is one of my favorite stores. My husband and I live in a modest house in a nice neighborhood. We don’t wear fancy designer clothes or drive expensive cars. We eat out only once in awhile. We live below our means and don’t really care what other people think. Our closest friends live the way we do. It is so much easier not living with the pressure of worrying about what other people think. We are happier living our lives this way.

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Tracy Balazy October 22, 2009 at 10:45 am

I had to add, I enjoy thrift shop/garage sale shopping far more than going retail. I never outgrew my childhood distaste for “regular shopping,” and malls still bore me to tears.

I enjoy the clothes I’ve found at thrift/garage sales because it’s more of a challenge finding them; instead of a rack full of the same thing in every size, I enjoy the discipline involved in searching for an item that’s my size AND I like, and without the instant gratification I used to experience in grabbing multiple clothing items at Macy’s or Lord & Taylor, where I’d find a good sale, but then overbuy. OK, enough from me! Katy, you’re an inspiration!

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Lisa October 22, 2009 at 11:59 am

I definitely don’t hide my frugality behind closed doors! We live very well, have our home almost paid off, (2 more years!), and share with those less fortunate. All of this is accomplished via a small social security disability check. I do become testy though when asked for financial favors by people who are still working and earning much more than myself. That happens more often than you might think! Do any of you fellow frugalists experience this?

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KC October 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I am very open to people about living frugally.

I drive a 19-year-old car (not sure how much longer it will last for), I hardly ever eat out, I have a thriving vege garden, I have chickens who produce eggs for me, I hate shopping with a passion and I cook from scratch. Any purchase is thought about long and hard. I can’t imagine living any other way. This type of lifestyle is quite new to me and I am not yet reaping the financial rewards but I know it will happen and the only debt I have is my mortgage so it’s not a bad place to be.

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Marlyn October 22, 2009 at 5:34 pm

We have also been asked for financial favors on more than one occasion by people who make way more money than us but have chosen not to be frugal and responsible with their money.

Yes, it does happen quite often and I have learned to say no, even to family.

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Marguerite October 23, 2009 at 6:44 am

I’ve been speaking to my friends and family about the fact that we started to cut down, buy food on sale only, shop at second hand stores and I was surprised to see how many are doing the same thing. I was amazed. This is happening here in Montreal, Canada too. We were a lot affected by the American crisis unfortunately but we’re in a better position here than you guys as our laws for mortgages and loans are more restrictives. We can’t borrow for a mortgage we can’t afford and the free healthcare and medication law helps a lot too. Take care!

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jenn baron October 25, 2009 at 7:21 am

I am so proud and inspired by this post and all the comments! We should feel no shame for doing what is best for us and our families and if others choose to judge us then so be it. Keep up the awesome work and thanks for your posts! 🙂

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AJ in AZ October 25, 2009 at 8:04 am

Actually, I talk about living a frugal life to anybody I can get to listen. I’m probably a bore about it, but I do try to limit myself if I can see that the audience just isn’t receptive. Lots of people, though, are interested but just have no idea how to start. I LOVE to talk to somebody like that. And of course, I always recommend your blog.

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Diane October 25, 2009 at 1:48 pm

We live beneath our means, we’re frugal with most things (though DH loves technology and gadgets). I buy almost all my clothing from thrift stores, and we cook from scratch a lot. We eat out maybe 1-2 times a week, DH takes packed lunches to work. Recently we bought a 2nd hand motorhome to go on vacation (so we could take our dogs with us) and we paid cash. The only debt we have is out mortgage which we should be paying off in 2014 (6 years early!). Frugality isn’t about doing with less it’s about deciding what’s more important, to us it’s more important to pay down the mortgage and have the opportunity to retire earlier.

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mary October 25, 2009 at 6:01 pm

I never thought of myself as frugal but I guess I am. I would rather have one nice,well made blouse than severial cheaply made shirts. I look for quality not quantity when I have to buy something. The products I seek has to last a long time. I would rather cook and entertain at home than go find a babysitter, go out to eat and watch a movie. For Christmas I believe in a family gathering with good food and fun, than any gift can bring. When I was growing up, I was raise into believing family and friends come first before things. I wish everyone could understand that.

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Jane in Seattle December 18, 2015 at 4:10 am

I’m not exactly quiet about being thrifty. I wrote a blog. Mostly to help people on snap learn how to cook and shop wisely to make their food dollar stretch. I have always been frugal. We built half our house ( mostly my husband) with a regular hammer, a skill saw he got for a perk for designing the company logo, and two thirty dollar drills working after work. We loved on the basement and I cooked for four of us with a microwave and a one burner hotplate. We live in a large home by the water, drove 15 yo economy cars, o have nice clothes because I shop the goodwill and once a year we go to the off price mall and fill in the necessities. Last ot,e o got sox blouses for 20.00. I coupon, take advantage of veterans discounts when we can, and never pay full price for anything, I want the highest quality of life we can have on a retirement income,

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Deb December 18, 2015 at 6:10 am

I try not ti leave it behind closed doors. I want young people to know there is another way to live and live happily.

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Thevail December 18, 2015 at 9:41 am

I sometimes wonder if being secretly frugal is actually a prop to the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality though. If people have all the expected outward trappings of “the American Dream” but they aren’t in debt or struggling and also don’t make a million dollar salary, doesn’t that mean the lesson of not spending too much is sort of lost on most people? Overall, it just makes it MORE convincing that anyone can (and therefor has no excuse not to) live “the American Consumerist Dream”? While it is certainly frugal to buy the trapping of a modern consumer lifestyle at 90% off, I suspect it fails the Non-Consumer test.

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Justyne December 18, 2015 at 11:20 am

I am positive that people who do not know me think we spend money like crazy. I am like most people posting here and I buy second hand for almost everything. We live in a nice house and have two vehicles. Aside from the house payment we do not owe money on anything. We save and pay cash for all major purchases. This included all gifts, a wedding and a vacation to Barbados for this year. So to the outside world we may appear to be in debt but we pinch and watch every penny to make the most out of our resources.

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Betty Winslow December 18, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I have been frugal since we got married (43 yrs and counting) and it has enabled us to put four kids through 9 yrs of private school each (except the oldest, who only had 4), allowed me to be a SAHM for the most part, and buy and pay off one home (unfortunately, not the one we’re currently in, but the paid off one was waaaay too small for a family of five, let alone 6!) We aren’t ashamed of it, even though we’ve never owed a brand-new car, never gone on a vacation that wasn’t to see relatives, never had cable…. We’re happy.

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Cindi Myers December 18, 2015 at 5:42 pm

My relatives think I’m cheap, but it’s because they are spendthrifts. My neighbors probably have no idea how frugal I am. We live in a very nice house in a very desireable (read, expensive) area. My husband retired at 58. Years of frugal living and saving with no debt helped us realize this dream. I still hang laundry, cook at home, grow a garden, clip coupons and shop at thrift stores. I must admit, I have to bite my tongue when I hear people complain about debt or never having money — and then they say “I could never give up cable TV — or eating out — or a foreign vacation every year or designer clothes or new cars — or whatever it is they don’t want to give up. We all make choices in our lives, but most people can’t afford to have it all, so why not choose to spend on the things that truly make you happy? For us, that’s our dream house in gorgeous surroundings.

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