An Honest Look at Frugality

An Honest Look at Frugality | Money Advice | Budgeting Tips | Financial Management | Money InvestmentThis is a guest post by Kristen @  Joyfully Thriving

Hello. My name is Kristen and I am a coupon-clipping, sale-watching, frugal-living kind of gal. My father is a pastor and my mother stayed at home with four children, so I came into this frugal lifestyle by necessity. I didn’t know any different in my childhood years and it was good training for my adult ones. As I’ve grown older, started teaching, married and set up our own home, I’ve learned anew the value of frugality.

There are so many wonderful things about living frugally, and the plethora of frugal living blogs (such as this wonderful one by Ruth) are inspiring. However, I must admit that sometimes I feel lacking in comparison and I wonder why I am pinching pennies. Do you ever feel the same? I hope so. Let’s pause and take a hard look at frugality because truthfully? Being frugal is hard work and it’s not always fun, either.


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I’m going to be honest and say what many of us think (at times), but few of us admit. If you’ve been living frugally for any length of time, I think (and hope) you’ll relate with me. I’m going to lay it all honestly on the line for you, so here goes.

Some days, I don’t want to clip any more coupons. Right now, I haven’t even opened my paper with the coupons from the previous week, and I have expired coupons in my binder from three months ago. I haven’t had time to sort through coupons in my busy week! Plus, the coupon policies continue to change which is frustrating. I regularly give my coupons to cashiers who are poorly educated about their own coupon policies. I’m tired of having to defend myself for properly using coupons because others don’t.

Some days, I don’t want to plan my meals and cook at home. It’s nice to go out and have someone cook a meal for me at the drop of a hat. It saves me a round of dishes, too! It’s a lot of work to sit down with the sale ads and plan a menu for the whole week at once. Besides, I may not want to eat on Thursday what I planned on Monday, so why bother?

Some days, I want to go out on a spontaneous date night with my husband where money isn’t a constraint. I’m not talking a expensive night out on the town, but it would be nice to go out to dinner without checking to see if we have been given gift cards to make a date night possible.

Some days, I feel like I’m alone in this frugal journey. Frugality is a lonely road, especially if our spouse isn’t as much of a saver as we would like him / her to be. It’s also frustrating when we start comparing ourselves to others. It seems like everyone is making more and paying off their debt faster. She finds better deals or has her coupons more organized. Even more frustrating is when we feel there is no one else around who is living frugally. The isolation may be self-imposed but it is still felt deeply.

In the face of these frustrations and challenges, I wonder again why am I choosing to live a frugal life? Then, I remember. I live frugally because I have dreams and goals. It’s not always black and white, but I do know this. My long-term plans are more important than the immediate gratification of (most) expensive choices now.

It’s important to remember our dreams. Our dreams are what remind us why we live frugally today, planning for tomorrow. What do you want to do in the future? I want to travel. I want to max out our retirement plans. I want to pay off our debt. I want to have money in savings. I want to give gifts to our nieces and nephew. I want to fix up our house. I want to give generously to our church and those in need. And that brings me back full circle to the reason that I live frugally.

If I want to make these dreams of mine a reality, I need to make frugal choices now. That is why I clip coupons and meal plan. That is why I pinch pennies and plan for date nights with my husband. Living frugally means making difficult choices, but I believe that we can do so joyfully. We can do more than just survive this frugal journey. We can thrive along the way!

It might not always be easy, but the end results make living frugally worthwhile. Keep your eye fixed on the big picture and remember you are not alone. On the days when you get frustrated, take a step back and a deep breath. It’s good to be honest about the ups and downs of frugal living. Take life one day – and one frugal choice – at a time.

Kristen writes about living frugally and joyfully on her website – Joyfully Thriving. When she’s not busy finding good bargains, you might find her curled up with a good book or baking something chocolate. Kristen’s husband is living this frugal journey with her.

Thank you Kristen!  Are you interested in guest posting at LWSL?  Please email me at for guest post guidelines.

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  Do you consider yourself to be ‘frugal’?  What to you is the hardest thing to cut back on?  Is there anything you feel you miss out on by pinching pennies?


  1. angela
    May 7 at 08:33AM

    I wish we were more frugal. Thank you for sharing!

    • May 7 at 07:32PM

      I think we are all frugal – in a variety of ways. Can we all be more frugal? Probably, but that is true of all of us. There’s always more to learn. I think that often. Thanks for commenting, Angela!

  2. Tatiana
    May 7 at 08:49AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!!! So wright and so comforting to know that others get discouraged too…. sometimes I say I am lazy because I don’t wanna deal with the coupons and my husband always reminds me that everybody gets a few days off work and couponing really is a part time job for me…. thank you!

    • May 7 at 07:35PM

      You are welcome, Tatiana! It’s very comforting for me, too, to know we are not alone in our feelings of discouragement. I really like your husband’s perspective. Couponing is a job for many of us, so it’s good to take a few days of now and again. I certainly do!

  3. May 7 at 10:22AM

    I think I am kind of frugal. I definitely splurge a lot!

    • May 7 at 07:39PM

      Oh, I splurge too, Michelle. I like to say that being frugal on some things, allows us to chose how to spend our money on other things. Being frugal on groceries allows me to splurge on date nights. 🙂

      • Sara
        September 2 at 04:49PM

        I don’t understand why people are frugal with food. This is a persons health and of utmost importance. Sure that box of crap at the grocery store is cheap but we’ll all pay for later with health issues. I know some people who are frugal and eat healthy, but most eat the cheap bad food at the store.

        • MerryAm
          September 3 at 12:42PM

          Sara, some people eat that box of food because they know if they don’t, their children will go hungry. Would I like to eat more healthy foods? Sure! But I put on the table what I can afford. That box of macaroni that I got for a dime using sales and coupons gets paired with broccoli and grilled chicken. Is it the best choice in food? No, but it will help to fill hungry tummies. Don’t judge every one so harshly – you may someday find yourself in their shoes.

  4. May 7 at 11:17AM

    I’m totally there with you! I know that there are days when I could just throw it all out the window and think I deserve to go out and buy all these things. But debt scares me and so maybe I have to wait until the next day to clean that up or go through ads but it’s all about perseverance. Thanks again for posting!

    • May 7 at 07:41PM

      It’s nice to know we’re not alone, Britney. I have those days as well, yet debt also scares me. And so we persevere with our frugal choices. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Taylor
    May 7 at 12:21PM

    Great post! Sometimes frugality is not fun, but we live that way for a reason – a goal.

    • May 7 at 07:44PM

      And our goals are what keep us striving forward. I hope that you continue to see progress with your goals – as a direct result of your frugal living!

  6. May 7 at 12:28PM

    Wow! I thought I was completely alone in that feeling! I’m glad I’m not. I have nearly a months worth of untouched coupons sitting on my desk that I haven’t felt like looking at, let alone clipping. I can’t even tell you the last time I opened my binder to check for expired coupons. I still save money in other ways, though.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. May 7 at 07:47PM

    Oh, you are not alone, Teri! I know that I should sort through my coupon binder for expired coupons, yet I haven’t. Every frugal person needs a break now and again. Here’s hoping we both get re-energized with our coupons soon. Until then (and after then), we’ll keep saving in other ways, as you said!

  8. May 10 at 03:55PM

    Being frugal can be frustrating at times but don’t forget the feeling you get when you’ve spent a fraction of what others pay for their groceries….WIN!! Continue to let your goals be your motivation.

    • May 24 at 04:16PM

      I hear you, Tammy. I love the thrill of a good bargain “win” on groceries. Often times, it’s what motivates me to get going again on my frugal goals. Thanks for reminding us of this!

  9. Karen B
    May 19 at 01:50PM

    Amazing, thank you so much for this. Saving isn’t easy, but yes you’re right, is all about priorities. Thank you for toot encouragement and encouraging words.

    • May 24 at 04:20PM

      You are welcome, Karen. I’m glad you were encouraged with my words that we are not in this frugal journey alone! Best of luck as your saving journey continues!

  10. Brenda F
    May 23 at 09:16PM

    I feel like Kristen read my mind! I have been obsessing lately about “are we saving enough for retirement” and “are we living too frugally and not enjoying our life enough now”. It’s hard to find the right balance but reassuring that I am not the only one.

    • May 24 at 04:25PM

      I’m glad, Brenda. I have the same worries. In fact, my husband and I just that conversation again last week. I am learning that finding the right balance is an ongoing process that changes at different points in our life. You are certainly not alone!

  11. Me
    June 12 at 10:25PM

    Wow, that was totally what I needed!!! I feel alone on that jurney and I forget to focus on the big picture and the “far away goals”… Great post!!!

  12. Theresa
    July 16 at 10:39AM

    I’m 54 and planning to retire this December. I’ve been saving half of my salary for about 9 months now. I just ache to be home. My home is tiny and I dream about enlarging it but this dream will have to wait at least 4 years when more income streams open up for my husband and I. I came across this quote “somewhere”: “This is not the house of my dreams but it’s where I can make my dreams come true”

    My dreams: spending my days the way I want; caring for my mother; flying from NJ to AZ at least twice a year to see my grandson; being present; reading; taking care of hubby and home.


  13. Rachel
    September 10 at 01:18PM

    Thank you for this article. My husband and I were not frugal enough when we were younger, got into a lot of debt. Unfortunately, even though we tried to resolve it by living frugally the last few years, we ended up having to file for bankruptcy this spring. Nothing has been more humbling. We both work, and on top of that I do my best to meal plan along with the sales for our fanily. Since I’m short on time, I tend to skip the coupons from the newspaper, but I add them online to my preferred customer card, and also receive them in the mail. I’ve found that freezer and crock pot meals have been saviors!
    It’s nice to hear that I am not alone in my feelings of not wanting to eat in every single night (and every lunch), wanting to be able to spontaneously go out to eat. And that I am not the only one who sometimes gets down when I compare my situation to others. Although I know we did this to ourselves, our goal is to eventually be debt free with a good amount of savings for our future.

  14. Sarah
    September 29 at 10:11AM

    I’ll just say it: I think you need to splurge every now and then. Not anything excessive, but maybe a non- discounted dessert out, or a full priced latte. I don’t know how sustainable living your life for a distant point in the future is and I think it is ok to enjoy a small material pleasure every now and then. And keeping your eyes on the prize about a personal financial dream is one thing, but wouldnt we be more inspired to save if it were truly part of a bigger picture? Like using our savings to feed the poor? To be secure in the knowledge we’re not driven by material desires? To be grateful for the things in life we can’t buy? Sometimes I wonder if the ‘frugal movement’s’ focus on money just doesn’t make us miserable and left wanting more…

    • November 7 at 06:27PM

      I agree, Sarah. You do need to splurge, and you do need to keep your eyes on the big picture. My husband and I pinch pennies now so I can stay home with our soon-to-be born baby. We need to be grateful for the many blessings God has given us, because there are indeed many more important things in life than money.

  15. Anonymous
    November 7 at 08:34PM

    This is a lovely piece but please keep in mind that while some are choosing to live frugally in order to obtain a goal, many others are forced to live frugally because of circumstances.

  16. November 8 at 12:49PM

    Thank you so much for this post. We are really trying to live more frugally. It’s not been easy. But hoping to get better at it now so we can have a better, brighter future.

  17. Karen S.
    March 28 at 04:15PM

    Thank you for your story. You’re very brave.

  18. September 3 at 08:41PM

    I love that you state that being frugal is work. I know the hours coupon clipping and finding the deal takes. I also love that being frugal makes your dreams come true. I believe that in my heart. Being frugal has made my life as happy as it and made my dreams come true in turn.

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