How Frugal Are You?

I grew up in a lower middle class family. Ours was a one-income household until my father, the wage-earner, lost his job in 1999. Frugality became a clear concept to me when I started assuming the role of breadwinner in a family of six right after I landed a job fresh out of university back in 2004. How our family survived from 1999 to 2004 was clearly a manifestation of the great love and sacrifice of my parents, our relatives, friends of our family, and of course, divine providence.

Frugality as a Need

These days as a married woman, I still find frugality a very relevant concept as I try to be a good and responsible wife. Of course, it’s the same with my other roles such as daughter, sister, friend, and citizen. How can I not apply frugality in my life when I’m not at all wealthy and my income is limited? I have to be frugal if raising my own family and having a comfortable retirement are part of my life goals, right? But the more important question is, how frugal am I?

frugal wisdom
some frugal wisdom to live by
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Level of Being Frugal

First of all, I’m far from being like those people featured in the Extreme Cheapskates show. I never stop at nothing to spend nothing. I don’t think I can do what those people do but they have my utmost respect and admiration. They are a rare breed!

You see, I just try to live simply and manage my finances well. I keep track of my expenses and set limits in my (impulsive) purchases. I now buy lesser stuff than before and even succeeded in my self-imposed shopping fast in 2014. I try to allot money for every imaginable expense there is. I pay my bills on time. With my sole credit card, paying in full is a must. (If you wanna learn how I became credit-card debt free, read here.)

Use of Resources

Just like most people, I still make money mistakes from time to time. I even sometimes fail at getting myself the essentials. For instance, I have yet to get a health card because I’m stubborn and lazy like that I’m waiting for our employer to pay for it or subsidize it at the very least. (I heard this year our union is going to include it in their talks with the management.) I splurge on expensive things (though I can’t help but set a limit still!) when I feel like giving myself a reward for something I’ve accomplished. I treat my loved ones during special occasions and whenever I have spare money. And I give out material gifts to people not out of need but out of love.

As a self-confessed frugal person, I refuse to follow shopping trends. I normally wait for the fad to die down before I show some interest. In those rare times I would buy a trendy item because I found it worthy of my money, it would already come with a huge discount. I look at and admire nice stuff in shops, both online and offline. I even buy an item or lovingly ask the hubby to get it for me sometimes. Haha. Recently, I’ve been avoiding shopping sales in malls like a plague. I don’t know but their allure is no longer effective to me.

I dream of owning a designer bag (know what my ultimate dream bag is by clicking here) not to show off but to know how it feels to own one and with a plan of passing it on to my future daughter. I also dream of a Europe sojourn with the hubby, perhaps on our 25th wedding anniversary? I still have 21 years to save money for that! I guess by then we’d also need to get some practical winter stuff and read Cozy Winters Reviews for smart shopping guidance. Haha.

I use just one cellphone (but this is more of a personal preference than a frugal practice). I refuse to replace my Parfois wallet even if the synthetic leather on its sides and edges are chipping off already. (In my defense, it’s still useful to me and I like how its many pockets were strategically positioned inside.) I go on a road trip, have a staycation, see a new place, and travel out of the country only after a careful planning and after checking if I have enough funds for them.

When it comes to food, I don’t deprive myself of the good stuff. (Staying with my in-laws during weekdays in Manila allows the hubby and me to save on food expenses, and for that we are grateful.) I eat well and along with the hubby, try out new restaurants every once in a while. In fact, bonding with family over food is one of our guilty pleasures!

As for time, which is a very important resource, I try to use it wisely. There are still occasions when I feel the need to slow down and do nothing, and I let myself do just that. As much as possible though, I counter these unproductive pursuits by reminding myself of all the things I wanna do but don’t have much time for such as reading (I keep a list for this), watching old movies (same here), learning to sew and crochet, doing DIY projects, baking, cooking, exercising, gardening, decluttering, sorting out my PC files, updating my notes (I keep a lot, you know), spending time with the hubby, bonding with my family, and more.

Frugality Failures

But let me tell you I still fail at a lot of things where frugality can be implemented. Like I’m not so serious at conserving water and even indulge in long showers almost every night. Red meat remains to play a big part in my diet. I’m easily tempted to buy nice and affordable necklaces with character even if I already have enough and don’t get to wear them often. I also have this habit of buying new white shirts to replace my stained ones instead of taking better care of them and washing them more mindfully. I love writing on post-it notes at work and use them liberally just because I don’t pay for them (ooops!). Oh, and I still use sanitary napkins instead of switching to a menstrual cup which is more friendly to our Mother Earth (sorry, TMI). I know I need to work on these things and change for the better. One step at a time.

Frugality Assessment

So, I guess I’m your regular frugal woman who use up resources for quality, value, memories, and joy (in that order). I just make a smart choice of spending less, saving more, and living a more sustainable life. I still make mistakes and learn from them as I go on with everyday life. I eat well and abhor food wastage. I value my time and those of others. I work hard to earn money so I could “pay myself first,” live a simple life, and do and buy things that make me and those people dear to me happy and feel loved. I also do my share in showing compassion and generosity to those in need in my own ways and means. Recently, I’ve realized that frugality is not just a need for me now, it’s starting to be a cause that’s worth pursuing.

Some Frugal Advice

Being frugal is a continuous journey so it’s inevitable that one will encounter challenges along the way. These will constantly tempt you to break your self-imposed rules and commit mistakes that may hinder you from living frugally. It’s a test of patience and discipline and character.

It’s okay to make mistakes because that’s when you’ll learn more about yourself and your capability to make your dreams come true. Remember that nobody’s perfect and even successful people continue to experience failures. But as long as you’re focused and determined, a bump or two on the road won’t keep you distracted for too long. If you really believe in the philosophy of frugality, no one and nothing can stop you from being frugal.

Just because you haven’t experienced poverty growing up doesn’t mean you can’t live frugally. It’s a choice. Even wealthy people practice frugality in their own ways. It’s something that can be done regardless of age, color of skin, economic status, location, and religion (I guess). You could always start at the level you’re comfortable with and work from there. And once you have embraced frugality, I can tell you from my personal experience that life only gets better.

Now, answer the question above and let me know your thoughts on frugality! 🙂

May you choose happiness always,
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16 Replies to “How Frugal Are You?”

  1. My answer to the question is: NOT AT ALL. It’s not something to be proud of but while I’ve definitely been a bit more responsible with money, “frugal” is just not a word I’d use to describe myself.

    But the whole “minimalist” movement has really got me thinking. Recently, I’ve been shopping less – although, sometimes it feels like I’m spending more because I now buy more quality pieces. I don’t feel the pressure to own so many things, and I easily throw away everything that’s practically useless in the house. I still spend on food but nowadays, I only eat out with friends I haven’t seen in a while. It’s a start, I guess.

    I can relate with you about time! I try to get as much rest as I can, but I just cannot stand being idle. Even when I’m just commuting, I do something else like reading or conceptualizing to compromise time wasted in traffic. (Although, watching tons of Youtube on my rest days and reading blogs – I count them as productive activities haha.)

    1. Thank you for your direct answer, Dani! Yes, I think that’s a good start. I’m a minimalist “wannabe” and I still don’t have much progress up to this day. I really like the concept but I don’t wanna commit yet lest I get frustrated with myself. I just try to limit my acquisition of new stuff as much as I can. I also follow the one-in, one-out rule. 🙂

      I agree, blogging and blog hopping are productive activities! 🙂

  2. I bought quality shoes and have it worn off for several years before replacing it. Same as for bags. As for clothes, I go to ukay. I don’t deprive myself on food too! Totally my weakness. I commute and always have packed lunch everyday at work. I saved every 5 and 10 peso coins (considered ba to as frugal? hahaha). I am also want to save for travel , eto na lang talaga siguro ang gusto kong pagkagastusan for my kids because you can never buy memories.

    1. I used to do ukay-ukay shopping, too! Now, it’s Mame who does that for me at Quiapo, hahaha. Yes sis, money can’t buy memories but it sure can make your travel more comfy and fun. Go, i-push mo yang travel with kids na yan! 🙂

  3. Interesting. I also wrote a recent blog post that is money-related. Great minds think alike! 😎

    I had my credit card line cut off and now depend on my husband. He has two–one with a bigger credit limit, the other a reloadable one which he uses for online transactions (for security reasons). We still use the credit card for gas and groceries, so as to take advantage of its rewards. Ilang beses na rin kameng nakapanood ng libreng sine dahil sa rewards! But of course, we pay on time and in full. 🙂

    I am frugal when it comes to major expenses. I commute while my husband drives a second-hand car. Our mobile phones are either free courtesy of the telco’s loyalty program, or hand-me-downs. Our iPADs we won in a raffle (swerte lang! 😉 ). And we haven’t got a TV.

    I think I’m alright. But I can be even more frugal. I agree that it is a continuous process. 🙂

    1. Haha, correct, Aggie! We use credit card for gas and a lot of other expenses, too, because of the rewards. Laking tulong, diba? I know of people who don’t own a TV set and they’re fine with it. Lalo na ngayon pwede mo na malaman lahat online, pati panunuod ng TV show and movies. Yes to being more frugal! 🙂

  4. I am not super frugal. Pero umiiwas ako sa pagkakagastusan. During weekends, I seldom go out of the house. I seldom go to the mall because first, the crowd and noise stress me out, and second, I’m susceptible to impulse buying. Bihira na din ako manood ng sine.
    My husband and I are both not into gadgets and cars. His iphone is just a hand-me-down. We are using a laptop which I bought eons ago. We don’t have a car, and I don’t think we will purchase in the near future. In our case, it’s not practical to own one.
    We also do not have an expensive hobby, at hindi din kami ma-travel. Yes, we love staying at home. Oh diba, may positive side din ang pagiging tamad. Haha.

    1. Haha, apir tayo dyan sis sa pagkakaroon ng inexpensive hobbies! Ako naman, nung masira yung laptop ko hindi ko na pinagawa at pinalitan. Hand-me-down din na iPhone ang gamit ko, kada magpapalit si hubby, yung pinaglumaan ang sa akin. Sayang, eh! Food lang talaga when we eat out ang pinaka-pinagkakagastusan namin pero may limit pa rin yon, mahirap mawala sa budget, sakit sa ulo! 🙂

  5. How frugal am I? Admittedly, I fail in some areas. While I think I’m not the worst, I know I can still do better hehe. The most challenging for me is in using my time wisely. Daming sablay at nasasayang, mostly dahil sa games hahaha.

    1. Oo naman, Mylene, lahat tayo pwede pa mag-improve. Ako naman, tamad na tamad mag-exercise kahit alam kong need ko yon. Buti nakakasama ulit ako magbike sa husband ko these days. 🙂

  6. My #Wiser2016 mantra makes me want to be frugal. I tried your shopping fast pero waley! bwahahaha.. Di ko kinaya.. I think masyado akong na-excite. Feeling ko next year kakayanin ko na sya. Nakakaloka! Just last week, I had a talk with the ninangs of my baby about money. I was telling them my major problem now, which is, wala pala akong pang grade 1 ng anak ko! bwahahah! nag iipon ako ng pang college, wala akong pang grade 1!!!!! bwahahaha! Meron naman sana kaso the school I wanted for my child is very expensive. Huhuhuh! Kelangan kong magtiis pa talaga.

    1. Sis, kayang kaya na yan next year! Hehe. Ay oo nga, mauuna pala ang grade 1 sa college, kaloka! Alam mo kahit wala pa ulit kami baby, naiisip ko na yan kasi every year nagtataas ang tuition fee ng mga bagets, need talaga ng plano. 🙂

  7. Being frugal is really a challenge for me. I don’t really splurge on branded clothes, shoes, and bags and we also avoid the malls as much as possible. Pero I need to cut down on my food expenses .

    1. Food expenses din ang binabantayan ko sakin, matakaw kasi talaga kami ng husband ko, eto nga naglalakihan na kami, waaaah! 🙂

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