Gender and Frugality

by Katy on May 30, 2009 · 18 comments

Power struggle

What does living a frugal life mean to you?

Is it using coupons, finding low cost recipes and scoring cheap designer duds at your local thrift shop? Or is it performing your own home maintenance, bringing your own work lunches and finding that perfectly cheap airfare?

How you view frugality and which frugal choices you make say a lot about you, but is one of those things your gender?

I feel that the strengths of my frugality lie in what I don’t buy. I forgo expensive groceries, new clothing, expensive travel and pricey entertainment. My husband Dale is completely different. His method of savings is to try and score a deal on whatever it is he’s already buying.

I save money by not buying, he saves money by finding bargains.

It’s hard to say whether this is a personality or gender issue. (Would my frugality be any different if I were carting around a “Y” chromosome?)

What do you think? Do you feel that women and men approach frugality in different ways? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

hustler May 30, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I haven’t really thought about this before. But I think you’re on to something. I try to be frugal by getting a deal on groceries and clothes and lowering the electric bill. My husband likes to save money by doing all the maintenance to our cars and house himself. If he doesn’t have a correct tool, no bother, he’ll make another one work or borrow one.


kim May 30, 2009 at 10:11 pm

I don’t know if you can use gender to decide. I am more like your hubby, I know I need to buy certain things to live comfortably so I look for the best deal. I also stockpile items that are great deals so I don’t have to buy replacements as often.


Sandy May 30, 2009 at 10:37 pm

In some ways my hubs is actually more practical, perhaps I am sometimes penny wise and pound foolish. He is the one to tell me not to be too cheap and to buy quality, while negotiating a deal. So, hard to say. I definitely consume less. He’s the deal finder.


ic May 31, 2009 at 1:53 am

The frugality that I practice most people wouldn’t recognize as such. I buy expensive good quality things, and I spare no expense on the things that I want. However, I do this within a budget and if I want something that is expensive then I save the money for it out of the money that I budget for disposable income. This means that I have to spend less when I go out.

The easiest way to be frugal and not feel like you’re depriving yourself that i’ve found is to maintain a balance… I save a certain amount, spend a certain amount on bills and necessities, and have some more left over for disposable income. This works well for me, I have a great life without wanting for anything, and I also have a healthy and growing savings account.

Incidentally, price for me isn’t an issue as much as quality is. I wear a pair of dress boots to work that I paid about $500 for. They’ve lasted five years so far and have only needed to have the soles cobbled when they’ve worn down at a cost of about $50 all up. I would have gone through at least seven pairs of non-repairable $100 dress shoes in this time. So by buying the expensive boots, i’ve saved myself $150. This is to me is the essence of frugality, but I also find it helps to know when the sales are too.

I like your blog, I can’t remember where I saw the link to it originall but i’m glad to read your posts. Keep up the good work.


R.J. May 31, 2009 at 4:48 am

I’d like to chime in as a guy. I approach frugality in two dude-ish ways: 1) by not buying a lot, no more than I need or could use and 2) by repairing everything over and over before replacing it.

The first one saves small money but the second one saves big, at least for me. If I can keep my car running well, my home together and my laptop speedy without paying someone else to fix it then the savings add up.

On the downside, my girlfriend probably would tell you that all my stuff is old 🙂


Meg from FruWiki May 31, 2009 at 7:16 am

I don’t think it’s a gender thing per se. I used to be more of a bargainista, but nowadays I have much stricter standards for quality and tend to spend a little more per item, but buy a lot less in general. For me at least, that’s been the real money saver.

My husband is probably more of a non-buyer type, but he’s never been much of a shopper. When he does go to buy stuff, he’s a lot less likely than I am to compare his options (unless it’s a tech gadget, and then he’s comparing spec more than price).


thenonconsumeradvocate May 31, 2009 at 8:45 am

I should have also written how my husband’s ability to repair our cars and do home maintenance is also a frugality strength.

For example, our otherwise next to perfect 1997 Subaru outback needed a new alternator a couple weeks ago. He was able to install a new one in a couple of hours. This saved us at least $100, not to mention that the mechanics wouldn’t have been able to get to the car for a couple days. However, he bought a brand new alternator, as he didn’t want to bother with an iffy reconditioned one.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Fairy Dust May 31, 2009 at 10:34 am

I was going to write that my husband isn’t the least bit frugal, happily buying things because he wants them and never mentioning it to me first to find out if I have a gift card or can get order through a portal that gives a kickback like Mr. Ebates, etc. (this has happened MANY times). I also know my son is the same way in spite of all my efforts. He will wait till he needs, say, toothpaste, then go to the nearest store and buy whatever he can grab first, which is usually the most expensive.

However, my husband is a master fixer, so he was able to find a part to fix our stove/oven for $10 rather than the alternative which would’ve been to buy a whole new one. I just tell myself it all evens out 🙂 Meanwhile, I’m a coupon freak and stockpiler, which I enjoy because I find it almost fun to find the deals and get stuff for next to nothing (as long as we’ll use it). But I don’t know if it’s gender-specific or not. I think it is, but I have no scientific proof – LOL!


Connie Walsh May 31, 2009 at 11:00 am

Hubby is firmly in the not buying camp. And I am a deal finder. Good system. We both add a different kind of thinking to the marriage and family.


Jacquelyn May 31, 2009 at 9:28 pm

I’ve been frugal via low consumption for years. Hubby hasn’t been frugal in any way for pretty much all of his adult life. I’m introducing him to the fun of frugality via scoring sweet deals on stuff he would buy anyways, the satisfaction of fixing things rather than replacing them, and being creative and flexible when problems and needs arise. It seems to be working! And it’s much more fun than just saying/hearing ‘no, no, no’ all the time.


Wynde June 1, 2009 at 4:49 am

I love to shop but not to spend. So bargain-hunting is my style of frugality. I guess my motto would be “never pay full price if you can possibly help it.” Garage sales are just as much fun as Macy’s – maybe more. Aside from that, I’m with IC – budget a certain amount for discretionary spending and save for what you want. This is only a female style because shopping is mostly a female passtime – and of course our consumer society needs us to be that way.


Firstborn June 1, 2009 at 6:43 am

I cannot agree with the gender differences. My sons are very frugal. Maybe because that is all they know. They have been going to yard sales etc. since before there stroller days. My husband is the same. So it must be in our blood.


Sierra June 1, 2009 at 9:10 am

My husband and I are the opposite of your family: he almost never buys anything, and seems pretty immune to commercial desires. I, on the other hand, love to buy stuff – esp. books – and I struggle to stick to a budget and find the best deals.


lindainkansas June 1, 2009 at 9:14 am

I suspect this is not a gender issue, but a personality one. Like your husband, when I know we will need to be making a purchase, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, combined with finding the perfect item and strategically negotiating a killer bargain/deal/trade, etc. However, when I try to impress my husband with how much money we have saved, his reply is always, “Ah…but how much would we have saved if you hadn’t bought it at all?” In other words, I insist on replacing, say–a couch, while it still bears a reasonable resemblance to at least a piece of furniture. He would still be calling it a couch when it was a heap of stuffing, springs, and tattered fabric held together with duct tape. (Happily married for 42 years.)


Angela June 1, 2009 at 9:19 am

I don’t know if there is a gender divide, but my husband and I are frugal in the exact same ways that you describe, including the home maintenance on the money pit of a house! The coolest thing is that he does all the car maintenance and simple repairs- I love it- it’s sort of the one way he’s tough and macho (what, your husband doesn’t change the oil in your car?) and he’s saved us tons of money over the years.


Kristie-ND June 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

I am not sure how my husband and I fall..I think we don’t really fit into one

I buy Nike socks, which are much more expensive to outfit our family, than say generic K-mart socks, but the Nike socks last 4 or 5 times longer than the generic socks, so it saves money. My dh doesn’t really see it that way, he sees it as spending more than you need for generic socks, but since he leaves all of that to my discretion, I still buy more expensive socks 😉

My husband uses that same philosophy when it comes to buying yard equipment, etc.

When I see the price he paid for a new tiller, I about fell over. His rationing is that you look at the property, the lifespan of the tiller, the amount of work you think you will use it for each year, and then you buy the best quality that meets those needs.

I would have bought a much cheaper tiller, but when I thought about it, it is much like my buying socks. He isn’t going to buy a cheap tiller that won’t last years and years and years, and won’t be able to do the work we need done w/o falling apart or needing numerous repairs.

I have learned to keep quiet about equipment prices that make my head explode and he says no more about my sock/shoe purchases that seem to him like they must be made of gold.


Kristin @ klingtocash June 1, 2009 at 6:23 pm

I think my husband and I have a great system. He rarely requests anything, but when he does want to buy something he tells me about it and lets me go deal hunting. That way he gets what he wants and I get the satisfaction of finding a really good deal.


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