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Avoid Feeling Deprived While Living Frugally

Updated on April 27, 2010

Many people believe that to live frugally means you are depriving yourself. This is usually the case when I meet someone who doesn't know what it means to live a frugal life. They assume we are poor and deprived. Neither of these ideas is true. Living a frugal life does not mean you have to deprive yourself of the things that matter to you. That wording there is the key difference.

Most people that are spendthrifts do not deprive themselves of anything and they do not want to be deprived of anything. They want what they want when they want it. To live frugally means that you spend carefully in some areas to better afford the things you want or need in another area. A frugal person has taken stock of their life and decided what is important to them. Then they live frugally in the areas that don't matter much so that they can live however they want in the areas that do matter.

Sometimes a person has to be frugal whether they like it or not. Maybe they need to pay off their debt, maybe they need to afford an expensive medication, or maybe they make a low income. Whatever the reason; sometimes we are forced into frugality. When we are forced into frugality I think it is easier to succumb to the feelings of deprivation. So how can you avoid this?

Well, when are forced into frugality it is best to look at the big picture. The chances are good that this is just temporary. Knowing that you are depriving yourself only temporarily will help you get through it. Nothing is forever. Just because you can't go on vacation this year doesn't mean you will never go on another vacation. Just because there is no room in the budget this month for pizza, doesn't mean there won't be next month.

Think about what got you into this situation. Did you overspend for years and years? It is time to pay it back and it might be tough for awhile, but it will be worth it in the end. Being forced into frugality and feeling deprived will give you the push you need to fix the problem so that you won't have to live like this for long. Analyzing what got you in this position will help you avoid it in the future.

If you live frugally by choice you are much less likely to feel deprived. We are frugal by choice for the most part. A little bit of necessity and a lot of choice I like to think. When I start feeling deprived by our lifestyle I try to analyze why. Usually it is when we are forced to be extra frugal and really halt the spending to pay for something big that has come up. At times like those I try to be grateful that I have areas in my budget that I can cut while also realizing that it is temporary. I also try to list all the things I do have and am grateful for. This quickly changes how I am feeling.

Another way to avoid feeling deprived is to realize that frugality is a choice. Even when you are forced into it, it is really still a choice. Every time you spend money or don't spend money you are making a choice. Realizing that you are in control of your choices will help you avoid feeling deprived. For me that means that sometimes I give into my desires and stop for a coffee. I am making that choice. I am choosing to spend my $3 on a coffee instead of something else. I am in control of my choices.

In the end I don't think that feeling deprived is entirely bad. I also don't think that living frugally and deprivation go hand in hand. It is all in your attitude and how you look at the situation. Even if you are forced into frugality, you might find that you enjoy saving money in certain areas to better afford the things you want in other areas. And that is what living frugally is all about.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great article.

    • IvoryMelodies profile image


      8 years ago

      I come from a frugal background as well, so it's normal to me. The harder circumstance, which I am presently in, is being unemployed. That feeling of deprivation rears its ugly head often when cash flow is super-tight, or non-existent. But I am learning to be content in even that scenario, and simply stay home.

      Great hub! I'll be following you.

    • profile image

      Amie Warren 

      8 years ago

      I am so lucky I knew how to be frugal before I got married, because when I was married, I had no money problems at all. Ever wished you could buy whatever you wanted without looking at the price tags? That was me. It was hard losing that, but now I feel like it's a victory every time I save money on something, or get closer to paying off my last debt ($4,000 left to go). The only thing I hate is feeling guilty when I buy something new, even on sale.

    • Megan Coogle profile image

      Megan Coogle 

      8 years ago from Alabama

      Great hub! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Jennifer Lynch profile image

      Jennifer Lynch 

      8 years ago from Stowmarket, Suffolk.

      This is really fantastic, thank you.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Frugality is a great and very necessary virtue. It is difficult to maintain because of the constant bombardment of ads which tell us that to be healthy, wealthy, happy or whatever we need to buy product X and if we don't we're going to be losers, lonely, sick! It's difficult to resist such brainwashing which comes at us moment by moment.

      Hubs like this one help to keep us aware of the need to resist the ads and make our own minds up and choose wisely.

      Thanks for sharing this important Hub.

      Love and peace


    • dolphin at play profile image

      dolphin at play 

      8 years ago

      I'm reminded of a joke:

      Q: What's the difference between cheap and frugal?

      A: Being frugal is taking your own popcorn to the movie theatre. Being cheap, on the other hand, is eating the popcorn that's stuck between the seats.

      I'm not frugal enough, however, I like to consider the reduced environmental footprint that often occurs, in tandem, with decreased spending. "What you don't have, you don't need" someone said which seems true for the most part until one considers people with disabilities where, of course, some items are greatly needed.

      A radio show once talked with a couple who had reduced their garbage to 1 1/2 of those big garbage bags per year. In a whole year! That opened my eyes to the amount of waste I was, well, wasting. Way too much clutter from the stores!!! These days, I will search out solutions from what is at hand rather than throwing things out and buying a whole new whatever. And donating has become second nature.

      I recall a study of people's income satisfaction showing, across the board, that people at all income levels said they'd be happier if they had 30% more income. Everyone wanted just that little bit more, from the very poorest to the richest. So it seems to me that if you pretended you had 30% less income yesterday, you'd be pretty pleased with today's results. Whew, what a relief, I have $10 bucks instead of just $7. Now if I save that $3 extra bucks,

      Hurray, another latte!

    • moneymakingmummy profile image


      8 years ago from yorkshire

      I am 30 years old and I live frugally, we dont go without and we save for things that have essentially more cost. I just see myself as savvy with money and believe in 'pennies make pounds and pounds make rich men'.............or women lol.

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      8 years ago

      What a great Hub and so timely as I approach my retirement years with frugality a constant companion. I totally agree with this concept, I wish I had been more frugal in my younger years. I believe a lot of us would love to turn the clock back on our spend thrift ways. But alas the dye has been cast, so one moves forward and learns from the past. I feel and Ode coming out this hub, ha. I am as frugal as can be now and I really don't do without. I compromise a lot though, ha. Peace

    • Matt Maresca profile image

      Matt Maresca 

      8 years ago from New Jersey

      I think Ben Franklin would approve of this Hub! Actually, recently I had to practice a great deal of frugality. I began finding ways to limit even my food expenditures. I purchased almost nothing that was unnecessary for my survival for several weeks. Not easy, but not a big deal when you really think about it. Now I'm working harder to make sure that doesn't happen again!

    • mse profile image


      8 years ago from texas

      We, too, are a cash only family. But we still could tighten our belts. Great hub.

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 

      8 years ago from Central Oregon

      Great advise for these times. Thanks.

    • suzannedelaney profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for putting something so important onto perspective. This world of material things and money makes people want and pine for things that are not really important or the real priority. Gratitude is a key way to enjoy what we do have, even us on low incomes live in luxury to so many others in the world. We have abundance of many things that are fun, beautiful and free! Of course I do understand and experience hard times, just need to work through them!

    • dealrocker profile image


      8 years ago from California

      Thanks Jennifer for such a nice hub. i liked your way of writing and thinking about frugality. What a nice and soothing hub. I just loved it and Im joining your fan club to be updated with your upcoming writings.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree with this hub. I think status quo is not a major thing to happen in one's life. If one is rich, then good. If not, then living frugally is also a good way of life, and not a bad thing totally. It can be avoided.

    • FGual profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Very good and timely Hub. I'm stuck in credit card quicksand so have to be frugal. Don't miss wasting my money dining out at places that provide ho-hum service for fat-loaded meals you can make yourself at a fraction of the cost. My tuna sandwiches are just fine.

    • creativelycc profile image

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      8 years ago from Maine

      Excellent advice. So many can lean a lesson from this hub, I know I did!

    • JerseyGirl profile image


      8 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Jennifer, I loved this hub! Great content, great subject! Thanks for publishing!!

    • CYBERSUPE profile image


      8 years ago from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.

      Born in 1931, I thought that this was the way of life. Enjoyed reading your Hub. The very best to you and yours.

    • Gareth Pritchard profile image

      Gareth Pritchard 

      8 years ago from North Wales

      I am told that I live frugally but to be honest I wouldn't really know I don't see it like that at all I just don't see the need for waste, the old adage, waste not, want not, sees me well.

      I could say much more on this subject but it would be wasted on the decadent masses so I won't bother.

      Thanks, Gareth.

    • Lamme profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm a single mother to 5, so we are definitely a frugal family. My kids don't want for anything and we usually don't feel deprived. There are times I wish I could take the kids to a ball game or something, but the cost is too prohibitive. My kids are learning about budgeting and wise spending.

    • jagerfoods profile image


      8 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Thanks for the great articles. I was raised to be frugal and 'if you can't pay for it in cash then you don't need it' mentality. It comes natural to me and I never had a problem with feeling deprived, I love finding a good bargain. It is extremely satisfying.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      8 years ago from St. Louis

      I live frugally, and nothing irks me more than when people equate that with being cheap. I am hardly cheap, yet I enjoy getting something for less and finding solutions without throwing money at the problem. E.g., there are three grocery stores within a short distance of my home, and I know which stores have the best items for the lowest prices. It's not uncommon for me to hit all three stores in one short trip. Furthermore, I find living frugally is emotionally satisfying.

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 

      8 years ago from Oregon, USA

      My happiness comes from feeling good in the moment and buying stuff doesn't do it. Feelings of health, well being and most important, belonging and being accepted and enjoying being with my good friends and family. Stuff only to make your life more comfortable, or tools that enable you to do something. Even then, it's still stuff you have to store, maintain and clean around. We spend big on things that are important and we try to skip the things that arent. Once in a while we make a mistake but that's OK.

    • robertsloan2 profile image


      8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      You made a good point in this article. I had more actual spending money from living frugal than I ever did from living at a normal level of expense -- that was when everything would go down the tubes and each month wind up worse than the last. The trick is to pay attention to what you really enjoy and want, versus what other people tell you that you want or that you take for granted as normal.

      Just clearing out the "normal" expenses that neither give you pleasure nor any particular better use can do a lot for a budget in itself. Eliminate the clothes you hate, the things you don't enjoy doing, the expensive habits that other people expect you to have. I had to quit worrying about what other people thought of my choices to really free myself of a lot of this BS -- in favor of being stubbornly iconoclastic about it.

      What's funny about a whole lot of brand consciousness is that people are responding to social pressure -- from unreal people in television ads. The brands don't impress the people who are right next to them, that you deal with every day. They impress people who don't exist!

      A few things, like art supplies, it does matter which brand to get because they each have proprietary formulas and behave differently in hand. But the list of those things is much shorter than you'd think. Sometimes cheaper is better anyway -- on computers and electronics, I've found a good refurbished machine is going to last three or four times as long as one new off the shelf. It's like there's some shakedown the customers have to go through on brand-new machines but the refurbishing process is so thorough that it filters out more of the lemons.

      So when I get a good refurbished gamer-quality laptop at less than half the price of a new one, I can afford to go ahead and get the best art supplies.

      On some things, art supplies and some clothing, the best are actually more cost effective because they will last longer. Artist grade paint is stronger and will cover much more area before running out than the cheaper tubes of student grade paint. So you spend less in the long run by spending more in the first place. Some clothes are like that too -- I've had my good boots for five years and they still seem like new, but cheap boots would've been scruffy in a year.

      Frugality is about paying attention to things like that and making intelligent choices that don't waste your resources. Not about depriving yourself or "living simple" or ascetic, doing without. Deprivation is usually either the result of a crisis or of long term carelessness catching up.

    • Anil Lyall profile image

      Anil Lyall 

      8 years ago

      Full marks, Jennifer. Keep spreading the message. Frugal is Sustainable. Waste is Sin. Earth provides enough for our Needs. Money is for Utilization and NOT for display. Minimal requirements for active and healthy body and mind should be our goals to generate happiness through sharing nature's bounties.

      We both work(ed), a two-salary family; rarely wasted money; took care of children and their good education. We are satisfied, thankful to Almighty, and planned till we depart. May God bless you with more powers to communicate.

    • Mark Jenner profile image

      Mark Jenner 

      8 years ago

      Very thought provoking and so true. We do not want for much and probably waste a lot. Time to take stock I think and focus on the important and put the tivia aside.

      Thanks, Mark

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      WOW! This couldn't have come at a more appropriate time. I'm actually going through this right now. And you're right I really don't mind this at all. I also realize that this too shall pass. Very encouraging, thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hub,living frugal is a doesn't mean you go with out ,it makes you set back look at your life, and put your priorities in order.When I look back at some of my best memories money is not involved.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      It's cash all the way in my family. If we don't have the cash, we don't buy it. It's simple and we can sleep at night.

    • HealthyHanna profile image


      8 years ago from Utah

      Great Thoughts! I think more of us should read this and think. Being frugal is a choice. that brings peace of mind if we don't envy. (That is a choice too)

    • U Neek profile image

      U Neek 

      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      It's all about attitude. Instead of thinking I can't afford something, it helps when I think, I don't choose to spend my money in that way. This has been especially helpful in teaching our children about money and helping them to focus on what we do have instead of what we don't.

    • JenDobson27 profile image


      8 years ago

      With the way the economy is I know plenty of people who are having to cut back including myself and it's easy to feel deprived and even a bit depressed. Great tips though. I think if we just realize it's temporary and that it's a choice to live frugally. I think so many people would be much better off if they always lived a somewhat frugal life. It seems the more people have the more they spend. If they'd just be a little more frugal even when things are good they may never need to be frugal to the point where they feel deprived.

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image


      8 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Great hub! I think lots of people do misunderstand what it means to live frugally.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very thoughtful hub. I am forced into frugality but I never was a real spenddrift. Apart from holidays I don't miss anything.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      This is good advice! Frugality should be something we are proud of.It should be something we try to practice even when times are good!

      Great hub, Jennifer!

    • PaulaK profile image

      Paula Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Austin. Texas

      An excellent hub. Thanks for sharing good advice!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      I think of myself as thrifty, rather than frugal, but they're the same thing. And I know why I'm this way - because as a young woman I set some values for myself, such as a top price I'd pay for a dress. I also discovered so many great times with the kids were free - a lunchtime picnic at the park, for instance. And as it turns out, I've never regretted not buying something, but have walked out of a restaurant after dinner regretting the waste.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      We have always paid cash for everything, including our cars. We live very well, take a lot of vacations and have done quite a bit of world traveling. The only thing we owe money on is our mortgage and not much on that!

      Just to make it official, I'm not from money. I left home when I was 15 and never looked back. With God's blessings and protection, I worked my way through high school; mainly in restaurants, did a tour in Vietnam and worked my way through the Pharmacy School in a University as a handyman maintaining off-campus privately-owned student apartment buildings and houses.

      Even in retirement we continue to save first and spend later.


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