At Solo Living we’re interested in exploring different approaches to how we spend and in turn, how it affects the way we live. In this first article, we look at frugal living and suggest that while we may think being frugal means simple living, it just so happens that they are two very different things.
The inflation rate in the UK hit a high this year, marking the first time the rate has risen above 2013 figures. It’s a bit of a triple whammy, with wage growth simultaneously slowing and the recent rise in interest rates. As a result, more of us are looking at new ways to cut down and save money with people turning by choice, towards a simpler lifestyle as a long term goal. With frugality currently being a hot topic amongst savvy shoppers, we may well be adapting to and adopting the concept. Frugality is reasonably defined as being “sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance”.
Alternatively, another reason for adopting a more frugal outlook is to help save for big ticket items, worth spending money on because of thoughtful design, craftsmanship, durability and a level of quality that is often accompanied with a premium price tag.
However, this reason for adopting a more frugal outlook leans towards the idea of simple living, but StackingPennies’ well researched article suggests there is a real difference between both frugal living and simple living. Where both are often linked, we shouldn’t think of them as the same thing. Okay, does that sound confusing? Let’s break it down…
The article makes a distinction, suggesting simple living is where there is much less emphasis on saving money (it’s not the goal) and more on organising your time, lifestyle and finances in a way that best serves your relationships and priorities, placing more importance on experiences rather than material goods.
Differently, frugal living in its strictest sense, boils down to not relying on spending money for entertainment, to having cost free past-times and relying much, much less on consumer goods.
Perhaps for many of us in modern times, we find ourselves sitting at different places on the scale depending on our affluence, will, action and desire to lead either a simple life or a more frugal one with some shared goals.
For a significant number, embracing a frugal lifestyle means cutting down on non-essentials, making use of free and natural materials, and streamlining our energy and disposables consumption as much as possible to reduce our impact on the environment. Some people are even going further towards a completely moneyless society, or resource-based economy, where everything necessary to life is self-produced or bartered.
A global movement
There are many places around the world where people are taking this concept very seriously, setting up their own independent communities and as far as possible, being self-sufficient. For most of us, such a way of life can prove to be neither realistic or fully accessible in the immediate or near future. Although arguably, the principles of frugality are becoming more widely interspersed within our everyday lifestyle choices. There are many helpful resources to offer advice, information and support, like this excellent site – Low Cost Living UK. Many writers are running successful blogs on frugality and have a plethora of useful tips, including such things as offers and rewards.
Adopting a frugal outlook
In daily life, it is not as difficult as you might think to adopt a more frugal outlook. You can brew good coffee at home or in the office, for example, instead of spending pounds every week at the coffee shop. For better nutrition as well as lower costs, take the time to make your own salad or sandwich for lunch instead of going to a café or sandwich bar.
Having the talent
If you are talented as well as thrifty, you could learn how to cut your own or your family’s hair, and for those who still like an old-fashioned read, you can browse some of the really good charity shops for second-hand books.Talent also combines with thrift in making your own clothes and, as often as you can, mending them. Also springing up now are many community and city-based centres for repairing, recycling or re-purposing unwanted or broken items, like this one in Colchester. Wherever possible, you can also build your own house, grow and raise your own food, and make your own alcohol, with a view to making your lifestyle more enjoyable, rewarding and satisfying.
Is frugal living for you?
Perhaps frugal living in its strictest sense is not for everyone – we may not think we have the talent, or the time with our busy and charged lives; and living frugally also suggests a significant shift in our mindset of how we want to live. But maybe, by adopting some frugal practises and principles, we can strive towards a pared down life, if that happens to be your goal.
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