Since I began writing this blog in January of 2014 the meaning of “Classy Frugalist” has changed a lot. At the time I started this blog I was engaged, fresh out of my first job, and just figuring out what it meant to have a steady income that allowed me to spend some money on "wants" not just "needs." And now, I’m thirty, married, in my third job, and doing better financially than I had expected.
Can you still be “frugal” when you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck? Absolutely! To me, being frugal means that I handle my money mindfully - just as I did when I was a graduate student and I had no other choice. Each dollar matters to me. I’m clear about what my values are and I’m clear on what I will and will not spend money on. Now that I’m married, these are decisions that my husband and I make together. We make goals together and we hold each other accountable. We trust each other enough to let the other person know when we are making spending decisions that don’t align with these goals. It leads to tough conversations and even tougher choices, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being frugal doesn’t mean being fearful. I refuse to give in to a mindset of scarcity. Whether I was living in a broom closet in seminary or the home that I now own, I recognize that I have always had enough to cover my needs. I’m grateful that I never had to go hungry or wonder how I would pay my next rent check. This is less due to the growth of my paycheck and more because I was willing to make smart choices. I’ve always been cognizant of how much money I had available and the order of priority in expenses. I realize that there are many people in our world today who do not have that luxury.
In my experience relating to people of a variety of different income levels, I've come to believe that scarcity is less of a reality and more of a mentality. Often those who suffer with a scarcity of resources are the least likely to have a mindset of scarcity. They are grateful for the money they have, the community they are a part of, the lives they lead. They find greater value in the things that money cannot buy. While they may wish for a better financial life, they do not let fear get in the way of their joy. They are content to focus more on what they have than what they don’t.
Being frugal means that we use money mindfully. Frugal people are choosy. They are willing to search for the right thing rather than just giving in to the convenient. They have a clear sense of their long-term money goals and they refuse to let today’s desires get in the way of that. One of the frugal choices that my husband and I decided to make this year was to buy more clothes that were more durable and sustainably made. Often this means they are more expensive, but we know over time this will save us more money since we won’t have to buy as many replacements in the future. We’re committed to buying more sustainable, well-made clothing in the hopes of helping the environment, our bodies, and our wallets. Frugal people think twice. Not only do I have enough money for a purchase, but does it match up with my values and goals? What’s the long-term impact of this purchase?
I’m convinced that frugality, done right, is classy in the truest sense. You don’t have to give up the things that you love! You can share well, save well, and spend well all in line with your values. It’s that sense of balance that gives you that sophisticated air of confidence!
Join me on this journey and you might just become a classy frugalist too!
Photo by Tandem Tree.