I think the media have a lot to answer for – peddling frugal myths with their own unique spin on the extremes frugal people are willing to go to.
And the problem is so many people believe these myths and think being frugal is a bad thing, something to be avoided at all costs.
I don’t see the press being super negative about all the debt we have as a nation, do you?
Which is worse, spending money you don’t have and not being able to afford to repay it?
Or saving money and ensuring you don’t spend what you don’t have?
I think more people should be turning towards frugality as a way to resolve their money problems and pay off debt.
Because that is what it can do for you.
Yet the word frugal in everyday language has negative overtones. It is often seen as being interchangeable with tightwad and cheap.
Which is seriously frustrating for us frugal folk!
If only those around us and the press could wrap their heads around the idea that:
- Spending more than you earn is bad
- Saving up for something rather than taking on debt to buy it is good
- Almost all debt is bad
- Living below your means is a good thing
Don’t Believe The Myths About Frugality That You Hear
Frugal people are in the minority, I wish they weren’t, but currently they are. And they do things differently to many other people.
This being different draws attention without the understanding.
People look at frugal folk on the outside, see things they don’t do and things they do and it doesn’t make sense.
Because in this day and age we are being told we deserve to have everything now.
That bigger is better.
That more is better.
More house, more cars, more clothes, more vacations.
Unfortunately these all come with more debt.
Frugal people are going against this perceived wisdom of having it all.
They don’t trade up their houses or trade in their cars for a new one. They spend less than they earn and are not conspicuously spending.
Because frugal folk are misunderstood and don’t go around shouting about why they are frugal this is how frugal myths come into being.
And once you have these myths flowing around, they are very hard to clear up but I am going to try my hardest to do that now.
Proud To Be Frugal
I am proud to be frugal because it’s why I am where I am today.
If I hadn’t been frugal I would still have a mortgage, still be chained to the 9-5 and constantly worried about money.
Being proudly frugal was one of the reasons I started this blog and writing about it, because I see so many people in debt and think – it doesn’t have to be this way.
You have a choice, you can be frugal, if you ignore these frugal myths.
5 Frugal Myths And Why Frugal People Hate Cheapskates
Frugal Myth 1 – Frugal People Are Lucky
Oh how I wish this were true! Frugal people aren’t lucky like other people aren’t lucky.
It’s not lucky that I paid off my mortgage by the time I was 40 and quite frankly it is downright annoying when people say that.
I prioritized paying off my mortgage early over and above new cars, exotic holidays, regular meals out and many other things.
Feel free to do the same as me and see how you feel when someone says you are lucky!
You make your own luck.
The frugal myth that all frugal folk are lucky is a frustrating one because others just see the end results of the years of being frugal.
So they see the paid off house, the ability to retire (early) and the ability to pay cash when an appliance needs replacing.
What they don’t see is all the hard work and money saving skills that frugal folk have employed in order to achieve these things.
They don’t see the daily packed lunch, the mended clothing, the thermostat turned down low, the cheap out of season vacations.
So no, frugal folk are not lucky. Apart from the fact they made the right decisions (for them).
Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!
Frugal Myth 2 – Frugal Folk Are Extreme Cheapskates
I have a love hate relationship with the Extreme Cheapskates show.
Some of the people featured are what I personally would call extremely frugal rather than a cheapskate.
Others are out and out cheapskates and quite frankly their ways are a total no-no for me.
Extremely frugal for me is:
- Doing your housework during the night on the lower electricity tariff
- Eating roadkill
Extreme cheapskate ideas are:
- Taking other people’s left overs home from the fridge at work
- Loading up your pockets and bag with extra food at an all you can eat buffet
- Not buying a round in a bar but readily accepting drinks when others do
Related reading: How To Be Frugal Without Being Cheap
Many cheapskates save money at the expense of other people. They save money and other people have to pay the price for it.
So they won’t tip in restaurants, they’ll load up on sauce sachets from fast food restaurants.
They don’t pay their fair share of a bill, use other people’s electricity and generally leave a bad feeling when you’ve been in their presence.
Frugal folk are careful with their money. They want to get the best value from it but NEVER at the expense of others.
Here’s what else frugal folk will and won’t do:
Frugal Myth 3 – People Are Frugal Only Because They Have To Be
To be fair, there is some truth in this frugal myth.
Many people start out being frugal because they have to be. And I am one of them.
I was on welfare benefits as a single teenage mum and going back to work full time meant I was actually worse off than staying on welfare.
I was poor for many years and frugal as a result.
And yes, in those early days, if I had more money I wouldn’t have saved it, I would have spent every last penny.
Because I hadn’t yet realized the power of being frugal and what it gave me.
Many people though, having embraced frugality in order to get over their money crisis’ don’t turn their back on it when times get better.
Because they have realized just what being frugal can offer and how it enriches their lives.
They don’t want to go back to having debt. To trying to keep up with the Joneses.
If you gave me a million pounds I wouldn’t give up being frugal, no need. I enjoy my life as it is far too much.
Obviously I would put that million pounds to good use!
Frugal Myth 4 – To Be Frugal You Need To Give Up Everything You Like And Need
This frugal myth is worth digging into a bit more. Because what is it that you need and what is it that you want?
I am sure you have heard others mention “Needs versus Wants”.
When you get really frugal you have a crystal clear understanding of what you actually need and what you truly want.
I’m not convinced that folk with a lot of debt have such a clear understanding.
Frugal folk will focus on their needs first. Needs are essentials and are treated as such. Wants are not essential and so they come after needs.
You don’t need to give up everything you like, far from it.
But what you do need to do is understand what you truly want and like and make a plan to pay for it.
Frugal folk are not interesting in going into debt to get something they want.
If you want it, save up for it! Like everyone did in the old days.
“You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want”.
Frugal Myth 5 – They Are Constantly Clipping Coupons To Save a Penny Or Dime
Coupons have their place in a frugal persons purse but for many people they play a very small part in their money saving endeavors.
Why? Because not all people have access to stores that allow coupons and many countries don’t do coupons the way they are done in the US.
I know from US friends that you can double stack coupons and save 50% or more when you use them wisely.
You don’t get that in the UK or Europe. Sure we have coupons, for 10p, 20p or a bit more but there is no double stacking.
And coupons are generally only offered for products that cost significantly more than what frugal folk will pay.
But regardless of the country you live in, many frugal folk do not live and breathe coupons.
You see, us frugal folk tend to buy the generic or value brand products and these rarely come with coupons.
Coupons are a great way to save money but only if you really are saving money.
If a coupon for 50% off means the product is still more expensive than the generic brand I usually buy then I’m sticking to generic.
Frugal Myth 6 – Being Frugal Is Embarrassing
No it isn’t.
But cheapskates have made it so other people think being frugal is embarrassing.
They think it’s embarrassing because they’ve got frugal and cheapskate mixed up.
Cheapskates have cheapened the art of saving money and made it distasteful for others.
And there are many people who really NEED to be frugal but won’t because they believe all these frugal myths and that puts them off.
Why Frugal Folk Hate Cheapskates
That folk are embarrassed to either be frugal or admit to be frugal is a terrible thing.
Being frugal could and does help people pay off debt, pay off their mortgage and feel safe in their money situation.
Personally I think the cheapskates of this world have a lot to answer for.
They have cheapened the whole idea of saving money and made it into something slightly distasteful.
This is why frugal folk hate cheapskates.
There is no need to be cheap.
You can be frugal, give generously according to your budget. You can pinch a penny and save money all in accordance with your strong values.
There is never a need to be cheap. There might be a need to be really, extremely frugal when times are really hard. But never cheap.
The Truth About Frugal Living
Let’s ignore these frugal myths and start looking at the money truths you need to know. Money truths like:
- Pay yourself first
- Your debt won’t disappear on it’s own
- Frugality is about not wasting
- Spending without thought can add up to a lot of money
I love this saying: “Learn to control your money, or your money will control you”.
The truth is, frugal living is all about controlling your money. Making sure you don’t waste it, making sure you get the best value from everything you earn.
It’s not about hoarding your money or doing without or heating your house with a candle.
Make sensible decisions with your money. Decisions like paying off your debt, not taking out more debt. Learning to live below your means.
What Can You do to Start Living Frugally
Ignore these frugal myths and do what you need to do to make your money work for you.
Don’t stay in debt just because you fear what others may think of you. Don’t keep worrying about money and then go overspending each month.
Take charge of your situation and leave others to worry about whether they are frugal or a cheapskate.
Remember it’s never too late to become frugal and always do it on your terms. What makes sense to you frugally might not be right for me.
You do you.
To help you start your frugal journey I have created a free 5 Day Frugal Foundations Bootcamp.
Over 5 days you will learn the foundational steps you should take to begin your frugal journey and start saving money.