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Five Mindsets That Are Imperative for Frugal Living

Guest post from Debra of Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes

Frugality is a lifestyle, right? It sure is. A lifestyle that involves thinking against the flow.

Here are five mindsets that I believe are imperative to living that frugal “against the flow” lifestyle:

1. Simplicity

Simplicity in meals means less exotic ingredients you have to buy. Simplicity in lifestyle means less gadgets you have to buy.

A friend recently told me to enjoy the journey. We were making dinner and I was feeling rushed. “She’s right” I thought… and making dinner became fun.

By embracing simplicity and remembering to enjoy the journey instead of rush through it we can save money on all those gadgets that really do not make our life easier and all the equipment we do not need for a slow and simple life.

2. Patience

It is tempting to go get something the moment I have the money for it, or see the need for it. But, oftentimes, a little patience is rewarded.

It takes time to find a good deal, so sit on it for a while. Often someone is actually giving away the thing that we were needing and praying about, so spending money on it was not even necessary.

3. Contentment

This one is huge! We live in a culture of stuff.

Be willing to be different and choose to be content. Before buying something, train yourself to think, “Do I really need this?”

Contentment saves far more money then being deal savvy. A person can go broke buying good deals. If you’re buying something you don’t need, then you are not saving money no matter how great the deal.

4. Student

Have the attitude of the student and always be willing to learn. Seek counsel from those wiser and more experienced. This one alone would have saved us about $20,000. We’ve learned to never make any big purchase without plentiful prayer and counsel.

5. Making Do

Have a need? Look around your house and see what can meet it. Don’t be afraid of a little elbow grease. In fact, we have purchased very few things all year because of making do and re-purposing.

Embracing these mindsets have saved us an incredible amount of money, and have made working on our debt, surviving grad school, two lay offs, two kids, and five moves in four years a possibility.

What about you? What are some mindsets you find important to the frugal lifestyle?

Debra is first and foremost a daughter of the King of kings. She spends her days being a helpmeet to her wonderful husband, loving on and teaching her children, cooking, keeping home, crafting, and then writing what she learns through it all on her blog Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes.

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  • Jessica says:

    I try to think about certain things in terms of whether my great-great-great-great-great grandma would have had one. Sure lots of things are fun and nice and convenient, but are they necessary to life? Not necessarily.

    • JP says:

      Great idea to recall an old friend or family member Jessica. My Grandfather lived in the same home for forty years. Even as he became more successful his lifestyle never changed.

      As I walked down the path away from his front door after a visit he would lean out and say “Be Steadfast!”.

      He also wore the same suits for over ten years. He kept them clean and well put together so they lasted.

      It’s good to remember those we admire!

  • Nice reminder, Debra. Sometimes I get caught up in “I’m saving money for a better TV” or whatever it is that I forget that while saving money is great, I don’t need to replace something that isn’t broken just because I or my husband want something newer.

  • Kaitlyn says:

    Thank you for sharing this….this is something that I know we all need to be reminded of constantly! 🙂 It is so true that when you have this kind of mindset, it is SO MUCH FUN!! 🙂

  • Heather says:

    I think about many of the people in the rest of the world – are they getting along without such and such item? Can I get along also?
    For example, having seen it myself, I know that many families of six live well in houses smaller than mine, and manage to keep things organized. But it’s been quite a few years since I’ve lived outside the country, and often I have to remind myself.

    • sarah says:

      So true, Heather! I always try to remember, my son is sleeping safe in a warm bed with a full tummy. What more can a mother really need? I’m not always perfect at it. I still get jealous at times, but I know just how lucky I am!

    • Karen says:

      I love this whole conversation!!! Great reminder to stop and think about how others make do. I grew up in a one bedroom apartment with my Mom who worked hard as a single Mom. I now have a family of my own and sometimes think my 2020 sq foot home is too small because my son and daughter don’t have their own bathrooms! Really??? Thank you for bringing things back into perspective for me!

  • Amy says:

    I think you should repost this once or twice a month. I am in constant need of this reminder.

  • J says:

    I am still on number 2.

  • Jennifer says:

    Lovely post and great reminders! We’re all blessed–to have enough to eat, a place to live, to have the option to save and not spend. So many around the world do not have what we take for granted sometimes.

    One thought on simplicity in food. Exotic isn’t always expensive and yes, sometimes it is a little more complex. I found it very worthwhile though. While I do appreciate simplicity, I have expanded the food budget to allow for some more “complexity.” Since we have the means, time, and option, I prefer to buy local, healthy and organic, where possiblem to be a valuable way to spend within the set food budget. Sometimes, that is more complicated though. Food is a pleasure and a blessing and a passion. I would much prefer amazing fresh tomatoes and seasonal produce, free range eggs, etc. This isn’t the case for everyone and I’m wouldn’t suggest it should be.

    Frugal has many faces and is about find joy and blessing in what we have and how we decide to steward it. I still coupon sometimes, shop sales, menu plan, cook from scratch and other frugal ideas. For us, food is one area we spend a little more to enjoy our blessing. I love the ideas and sharing thoughts here! Thank you all and Debra for your thoughtful post!

    • Andrea says:

      “Frugal has many faces and is about find joy and blessing in what we have and how we decide to steward it. ”

      AMEN! One thing I’ve done? My husband laughed for a few months at me for saving chicken livers. He’d say, “livers? WHY!?” I kept saying, “You’ll see…” 3 months later, I had enough chicken livers. I had some crab that had been purchased very inexpensively (paired with a winetag coupon and store sale), some fresh lettuce from our local CSA farm, and some baked potatoes. I made a flourless chocolate torte for dessert….and put the kids to bed early. We had a GREAT date night at home, and he kept raving about the pate – “where did you find goose liver pate?! Isn’t it illegal here in the States??” I just chuckled and said, “remember those chicken livers???”

      We can ALWAYS turn the crumbs into a cake. Always. 🙂

  • Katie says:

    I agree with all of this!!! Another trait that I think is vital {and goes along with contentment} is gratitude/thankfulness. Being appreciative for every thing that God has freely given me is an invaluable perspective to have whether or not you are living a frugal lifestyle. Everything I have and will ever have is from God including my family, my time, and my resources and is a blessing I don’t deserve!

  • Completely agree with each of these! Another mindset that helps me is that of “confidence,” which goes along with your “student” mindset. I like to learn how to do things myself, so I don’t have to pay someone else to do them and so that I feel a little more in control of my world. I’ve learned how to be my own accountant, how to fix small appliances, how to do minor repairs and maintenance on my car. That takes confidence in being able to figure some things out.

  • Lynn says:

    Looking around your house is one we have really been working on! For instance, I need new dishes (regular everyday plates, etc), well at least if I might want to feed more than 5 people without paper plates!! I haven’t purchased new dishes since we were married 12 years ago, so my husband was more than on board with going ahead and getting something new. But as I thought about it, I considered my “china” that we got when we were married. It’s actually a very simple white plate with a simple pattern on the edge and platinum around it. It’s also pretty basic – it wasn’t super expensive – and it is dishwasher safe (very important in my book). It has been collecting dust on a shelf and used less than a handful of times since we got it. I have decided I am going to start using it everyday. It brings us joy and it isn’t so expensive that if it were to be damaged we would be terribly upset.

    For me, this was a good way to make do with what we have and also a reminder that things that make you happy shouldn’t just collect dust – they should make you smile everyday for as long as they can!

    • Andrea says:

      My Gramma did that! She had 7 kids, and she used her china EVERY day. Her attitude was, if it’s good enough for company, why isn’t it good enough for my FAMILY!?

      My mom said that plates and stuff of course got dropped, broken, etc, but they always had lovely plates to eat off, no matter what. 🙂

  • Dd Kelly says:

    I like your post but I always think frugal is so much more!
    I was raised in this paper consumer world. I didn’t know any different than buying paper towels, paper napkins, tissues, all these things made from trees and I love trees! I’ve since have changed my ways although I still buy toilet paper and occasionally tissues (hubs isn’t on board with me with using handkerchiefs). And although my white pile has grown a little bit bigger it’s not enough that I need to split the load. Sometimes I just think I wish I had this knowledge and this way of living since moving out on my own. The money I could have kept to make myself richer and not the other guys pocket book. I’m certainly passing on my knowledge about money to anyone who’s willing to listen and take the advice. I’m happy being frugal and living so.

  • Wendy says:

    I have to remember to live frugal is not to live cheep or stingy. Buying quality when it matters saves money. If something is meant to last a long time and buying cheaper means I have to buy twice I did not save money. That is hard for me to remember when I get caught up in the momentary money amount.

  • As Christmas approaches, we would be wise to remember these as well. Make gifts from what we have. Be content with less stuff. We don’t neeed a new __________.

    • Andrea says:

      Agreed! While I DID buy a few new things for my kids this year, I’m also making a few really neat gifts I found on Pinterest. Momma and Daddy only give three gifts – Santa brings the rest. 🙂

      (Don’t let me forget, Brandy, to send you the links – I think your boys might like a few things I’m making as well!)

  • Sarah says:

    The patience one is totally true for me! I have no choice but to believe that if you are a good person and try to help others what you need tends to come to you. For example recently I was so sad when I realized that family photos wasn’t in the budget this year. My husband said we could, but I knew I couldn’t justify the money. Well, when talking to a friend she offered to use her super great camera and “swap” family photos. We met at a park, and took turns shooting for each other. They are gorgeous and I’ll only have to pay for prints!

    • Amie says:

      I skipped ordering my boys’ “school pictures” – one is in Pre-K and the other is in daycare. I bought them new shirts and was prepared to order the pics, but when I looked at the prices, I decided I could do it myself. I set up an area, dressed them in their new shirts, and snapped away. I was thrilled with the results. I was able to order a bigger photo pack from Walmart for $5 each and saved around $50. I have no regrets.

  • Hannah says:

    Thank you for this post, it was very timely for me. I’ve been praying for conviction in the areas of contentment and consistency…I needed to hear this. One thing I have really noticed is that when I remember to cultivate contentment and practice frugality (rather than getting caught up in the desire for less important things) I start to take much better care of my home and posessions, and thus, am happier with what we have. It’s easy for me to let messes pile up while I’m busy shopping for new things, and that is not the approach I want to have, regardless of how good the deal was!

  • Holly says:

    Great suggestions! I am a huge supporter of making do – it is amazing what you can come up with with a little ingenuity!

  • Amie says:

    What a nice post. I lived beyond my means for several years and I am still paying off debts. I was clueless about budgeting and had no understanding of frugal living. I was tired of being stuck in the debt cycle and I wanted more for my life, especially as I began having children. I began researching on-line and learned so much. It has taken a few years, but now I am content with what I have and I actually enjoy paying bills because the debt keeps going down. I have to be grateful to be happy and sometimes I have to remind myself of just how fortunate I am.

  • Angie says:

    Great post!

    • Heather says:

      Wonderful and timely post! I am recovering from a surgery I had just over 2 wks ago and its kept me pretty “sofa bound” for several days. We are in full-on frugal mode, but sitting in my house made me anxious in that wasn’t able to participate in the daily activities (shopping the coupon deals, etc), plus I kept watching the bills come in from the mailbox, all the while wondering how did we consume so much stuff around here? I had to be still to see it all I guess. I decided that I could still contribute while sitting on my bottom on the sofa and got down to talking with the hubby who is caring for our toddler for these 2 wks to find me stuff to sell online in our local community. All told in just over a week he has taken 2 loads to our local Goodwill of clothing and a box to the Foodbank, plus I have advertised over $150 of item; of which I have sold over $75 so far in a week!

  • These are all key to living frugally… and it can be so much more fulfilling to find a way to reuse that old sock or extend the life of your favorite dress. We love trying new recipes that fit within our budget, because then we feel “rich” (blessed!). How good God is to give us even more than our daily bread.

    I’ve been thinking about this in relation to Christmas. I just started baking bread at home – how cool would it be to ask for yeast for Christmas?? Or some other ingredient, since we love cooking so much. Plus it will be usable and we will enjoy the gift.

    Frugal living is definitely a choice… for us, it’s one worth making! 🙂

  • Your recent life sounds a lot like ours! We’ve lived in 6 places in 6 years of marriage, we survived 1 lay-off, we’re pregnant with our 3rd child in 3 years, and we’re working toward being debt-free. I agree with all of your points, and I would add “Resourcefulness” to your list. I think our grandparents’ generation learned to be extremely resourceful in order to do what needed done. We can learn a lot from them. Instead of buying things we can learn how to make them, grow them, barter for them, or work for them in other ways. Maybe this would fall under your “student” point above. Thanks for the great article! –Jessica

  • Jessica says:

    I second others comments about being creative. One of the areas I am trying to be more creative in is cooking. When recipes fail it is so tempting to just throw out the left overs (which there are a lot of because I’m the only one eating). However, I am trying to re-purpose them into something else. Thanks for this article. It was a great reminder.

  • kathy says:

    I find a grateful heart and a genuine desire to bless others are necessary to living a frugal life with contentment. We save in part to be able to give to others.

  • Great post. I think another good one is being open to buying used. I have a friend who always says, “Ask Goodwill and Goodwill shall provide.” She says it as a joke, but also lives by this mentality. Some of my favorite clothing items I bought 2nd hand and I have really learned that you can save so much money but not feel like you are living with less. Also, did you know that 80% of millionaires drive used cars? I always think about that fact and use it to guide me in a lot of ways.

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