Whole Hog Frugality — No Deprivation Required

by Katy on September 30, 2011 · 13 comments

Sometimes even I get overwhelmed by the extra work involved with living the frugal life. A stressful day would get easier if I just drove my post-soccer practice sons through Burgerville, and a cleaning service would be a more than welcome addition to my life.

But I don’t practice any of that. I somehow whip together countless homemade meals and I’m working on accepting that my house is always kind of a bit grubby.

Whole hog frugality can be an intimidating beast. A deprivation mindset is stressful, and saying no to a spouse, your children and yourself is not fun. The key is to find frugal hacks to replace formerly spendy habits.

Here are some of my favorite work arounds to replace expensive habits:

  • Accustomed to going to lunch with friends? Instead get together for coffee, with a coupon. Then . . .  get the drip coffee. Just visualize the money you just saved sitting snugly in your pocket.
  • Have a tradition of holding your kids’ birthday parties at expensive locations? Instead plan a party in the park, or better yet, in your home. I held my son’s 11th arcade birthday party at home, and it was a huge success. We borrowed TVs and video game systems from friends and neighbors, and set up our air hockey table in the living room. And party favors? We handed out comic books from Free Comic Book Day. Of course, I made the cake from scratch.
  • Use shopping as a relaxation tool? Replace that expensive habit with a browse at the library, or take unwanted clothing to a consignment shop and trade it in for new stuff without spending a penny. An alcoholic is advised to stay out of bars, and I suggest that you stay out of tempting shops.
  • Love to throw dinner parties? How about swapping that out for brunch. A low cost frittata can feed many people, and you can get away without serving booze. When people ask “What can I bring?” make sure you have an answer.
  • Take advantage of all the great free activities that your community offers. Think that outdoor concerts are your only option? (I hate outdoor concerts, as it kills my back to sit on the ground, plus I hate crowds.) Free Night of Theater is currently upon us, and I am constantly amazed by how many fantastic free opportunities my city has to offer. Do a Swagbucks search for “free + name of your city” and you might be surprised to find a blog entirely devoted to the subject.
  • Get to know your neighbors. This is important not only for your own safety and security, but you can watch one another’s pets for free and borrow everything from garlic to wheelbarrows from one another.
  • Allow yourself permission to just hang out at home. There’s no reason why weekends have to be filled with out-and-about-ness, and what’s better than having your own fridge at hand when hunger strikes?
  • Celebrate the less than perfect. And then laugh off your frugal fails.

I strongly feel that choosing a frugal life is a fun and creative challenge. There is no satisfaction in filling up a big red cart at Target. Anyone can do that, and frankly, I don’t want that crap in my home.

There is no deprivation in my life, even though I haven’t flown anywhere since 2005 and my home is filled with stuff I pulled from free piles.

Whole Hog Frugality is actually rather fabulous.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jinger September 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

When I was growing up in Massachusetts in the late 40’s and 50’s, frugality was called good old New England Thrift.


Carolyn September 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I probably do not practice whole hog frugality like you Katy, but try to be frugal in a fun way, every day. If you start with a deprivation mindset, you have already lost the battle. I can be frugal because I already have so much in my life.


amber September 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I agree living a frugal life is a fun and creative challenge. Two Saturdays ago we went on a family picnic. My children are 4 and 6, they loved helping pack their lunch in our picnic basket(which we bought for $4 at a thrift store). They had so much fun at the park for free. Then last Saturday we were able to go to an art museum for free. All we had to pay for was parking, $5. If we had to pay normal price it would have costed us $35. Then tomorrow we are planning on staying here and putting up all our Halloween decorations. Which we have slowly collected over the years from thift stores, yard sales and for free.

People are always asking my husband and I how we afford everything we have and all the things we do. We are a family of four, only my husband works. He is a janitor now since he was laid off from Ford. But, our quality of life has not went down.


Indigo September 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I never view being frugal as deprivation, rather a way to get more out of less. Then again I come from a very poor family where it wasn’t’ being frugal, it was basic survival skills. There was no money to waste in the first place and without our frugal hacks and find there would not be things like beds for all of us, food on the table, or decent cloths.

I’m grateful for that upbringing everyday since I value things more and realize how blessed I am.


Practical Parsimony September 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Free concerts are easier to come by if a person lives in a university town. But, even the gas there is worth the entertainment and cultural activity. Plus, going shopping in stores with better prices on necessities can be acomplished in one trip.

Dinner parties– I have friends (Professors, PhDs, professionals of all sorts, politicans) who can afford the whole bill for their dinners. However, all these people throw get-togethers of all sorts, and I know I will be taking something. It has nothing to do with whether they can afford it or not. When I threw a party/dinner/picnic/cookout once a month for about two years, everyone knew they would bring a dish or drinks or something in addition to the minor amount of meat, a dessert, salad greens, and tea I provided. One local woman with all sorts of historic/social connections commented that my to-do was so much more friendly than the catered dinners others had.

My event was not a “dinner party,” but it was dinner and was a party atmosphere. Now, some of the guys did buy a cheesecake or bring drinks. They called to see if I that would be okay. Women cooked because they wanted to cook. Who says “no” to a scumptious deli cheesecake?

By the way, being frugal is easier if you have necessities without having to struggle. Otherwise, it just hurts…lol…But, you know that.


Adventures in Thrift Land September 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I love your jab at Target. Being thrifty is fun, and it’s all about the attitude.


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi September 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I often finding shopping at thrift stores WAY more rewarding than normal stores like Target. I also agree with getting to know others, so we can share and borrow. We are extremely fortunate to have both sets of grandparents very close by, so we rarely have to buy things. Borrow Gramps’ van to haul things. Use Pop-Pop’s lawnmower instead of buying one. It saves us SO much money to borrow, and it always feels great when we can help them in return. And don’t even get me started on FREE babysitting…creating a community is essential to frugality!


Shannon Breen October 1, 2011 at 8:22 pm

“Celebrate the less than perfect.” LOVE that! I should have it tattooed on my forehead.


Cate October 2, 2011 at 5:14 am

Love this. One of my best friends and I used to go to lunch one or twice a week, in addition to going shopping regularly. I really enjoyed our lunch/shopping dates, but after I lost my job during my first pregnancy, I simply no longer had the cash. Instead, now she comes over in the mornings sometimes (she works as a nurse and swings by after work) and I make a big pot of yummy coffee. We sit at my kitchen table or on the couch drinking our coffee, talking, and eating some kind of tasty treat. It’s cheap and just as much fun as going out.

Every year my husband and I purchase a family membership to our local zoo. It seems expensive at the outset (about $80), but once we’ve paid for the year, we can go as many times as we like. When admission for a single adult costs $13, that’s awesome savings. We also get 10% off at the gift shop, concessions, etc. (Not that we use them much, but we did buy many of our animal-loving daughter’s Christmas presents there this year and saved a bundle!) We usually pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Of course, we go 10-20 times a year, so it’s definitely cost-effective for us. Next year we plan to purchase a membership for our local science center, too.

I do love Target, but I find that I’m always happier when I leave with one or two choice items (usually ones I’ve gone to Target in explicit search of) instead of a loaded cart. That’s my experience with most stores, actually, even the awesome fair-trade store where I ogle everything in sight. Less really is more.


Ellie October 3, 2011 at 9:02 am

Another form of cheap, fun entertainment: Organize a “Board Game Night” (or afternoon) with friends!

Have everyone bring their favorite board games, or use the ones you have. (You can pick games up at yard sales of course – but even new, board games can give you a lot of bang for the buck.) Serve inexpensive refreshments, sit around the table, and play games! The best thing is that you can do it “family style” and include older kids on teams with the adults, or let younger kids play their own kid games with each other while the adults play Trivial Pursuit or other grown-up games. It’s a great cheap get-together for a dreary winter weekend!

Of course, you have to have friends who like board games!


BethD November 20, 2015 at 7:16 pm

For me being frugal has the secondary benefit of making opportunities for lifelong learning. There is so much more to learn about the world than recreational shopping offers. I learned to make chutney this week…you can teach an old broad new tricks you know. And more often than not a trip to the flea market becomes a history lesson over some collectible that I won’t buy but will admire. Plus learning about patching drywall and simple plumbing repairs are good things to know at any age. Frugality brings out the explorer in me and that make life much more intriguing than mere shopping!


BethD November 20, 2015 at 7:34 pm

K, the other side of being frugal is I have better clothes than I would if I bought new. Italian leather shoes and purses, cashmere sweaters and scarves, YSL, Chanel, Dior, Burberry, Cole Hahn, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Prada, Ferregamo…and many more have had a turn in my closet. Royal Daulton, Haviland, Limoges, Wedgewood, are so cheap around here! And gift giving is such fun because I find splendid things at outrageously good prices to give. NCA might mean I have fewer things but I sure don’t have to sacrifice quality. That’s the fun of the hunt!


NMPatricia November 21, 2015 at 5:05 am

Two things. (1) You are so right about staying out of stores. When I start feeling like I “deserve” something, I resist going “shopping” and try to find something else to fill that need. (20 Reading your blog/column helps remind me how and why to do the frugality lifestyle and gives me ideas to try.


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