Frugality is a word we hear tossed around frequently these days. Dire news reports on the economy state that people are pinching their pennies, going back to the frugality of their grandparent’s days.

They way frugal living is explained in the mainstream media often leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. It’s as if being frugal is something people have to do, because of the economy. It couldn’t possibly be something people want to do. Or could it? I think you know my answer.

So What is Being Frugal?

According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the definition of “frugal” is

characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

And while we’re at it, the second definition of “economy” is

thrifty and efficient use of material resources : frugality in expenditures

So, basically frugality is the thrifty and efficient use of resources, and a frugal person is a person characterized by thrifty and efficient use of resources.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like something to which I want to aspire! Efficiency is good, right?

Why Does Frugality Have Such a Bad Rap?

Too often frugality is confused with cheap or miserly. And being cheap or miserly is definitely not a good thing!

The definition of cheap:

at minimum expense

And the definition of miserly:

of, relating to, or characteristic of a miser ; especially : marked by grasping meanness and penuriousness

And miser:

a mean grasping person ; especially : one who is extremely stingy with money

Stingy. Mean. Spending the minimum, no matter what the cost. Those are things I don’t want to be! But they have nothing to do with frugality. They have nothing to do with using one’s resources efficiently. And too often being cheap or miserly hurts other people.

Not leaving a deserved tip. Filling your purse with ketchup packets from fast food restaurants, so you don’t have to buy ketchup. Never offering to pay when you go out to dinner with friends. All of those things could be considered cheap or miserly, but I wouldn’t consider any of those things to be frugal.

My Take on Frugality

The Lynnae McCoy definition of frugality is this:

Using your resources in the most efficient way to meet your goals in life.

Frugality is going to look different from person to person. Three of my goals are

  • to honor God by taking good care of the resources He’s given me
  • to be available to my family as a stay-at-home mom
  • to meet our family’s needs while accomplishing the above

Those three things are a huge influence on how I spend my time and money. Because I’m a stay-at-home parent, I frequently have more time than money, so I plan accordingly. I shop sales, bake from scratch, and do things myself that other people might hire out. That works for me. Frugality for you might look different, but as long as you’re making efficient use of your resources, you are a frugal person.

So to the people on the news, who turn their noses up at frugality, I say it’s your loss. Being frugal is a good thing. And if the state of the economy starts a frugal revolution, I say bring it on!

How about you? Are you proud to be frugal in any economy? Or are you just trying to get through the recession?