Frugal Living: How It’s Different From Simple Living

Frugal living often gets lumped in with simple living or the minimalist lifestyle, but it isn’t exactly the same thing. Still, the concepts are closely related and can complement each other.

In the minds of most people who choose frugality, frugal living is about saving money at every turn. People who live a frugal lifestyle are very conservative with how they spend their money, sometimes avoiding all necessary purchases in favor of a life that relies as little on financial resources as possible.

In many cases, minimalists and those who live a frugal lifestyle do exactly the same thing, but there’s a slight difference in approach. A simple life is usually focused more on reducing life’s unpleasant and unnecessary experiences down to the basics,  getting rid of clutter, eliminating activities that take time but provide little in return and clearing the mind of distractions.

Frugal living can accurately be considered one part of a simple, minimalist lifestyle in many cases. There are times when these two camps don’t completely agree on the best approach to life, however.

Spending To Create An Even Simpler Life

Those who choose a minimalist life aren’t always opposed to spending. For example, some simple living gurus choose to outsource their meal preparation tasks to restaurants instead of handling these tasks themselves. That way, they don’t valuable waste time preparing food. Frugal people usually avoid eating out because of the cost and instead prepare simple, frugal meals.

There could be other differences related to housing. A frugal person might choose to buy their own modest home to avoid throwing away hard-earned money on rent, but another person who prefers the simple life might choose to live in an apartment where maintenance tasks are handled by a staff handyman — even if this isn’t the least expensive option.

While a frugal person might mow his or her own lawn with an inexpensive lawnmower purchased used, a minimalist who hasn’t managed to acquire a housing situation with no lawn might outsource the mowing, paying to free up some of their precious time.

To put it another way: Frugal living often means not paying for things you can do yourself for less money. Simple, minimalist living means sometimes outsourcing unpleasant, boring or time-consuming tasks. A minimalist might be willing to exchange some money for a valuable service; a frugal person might not.

Other Ways Frugal Living Differs From Simple Living

A simple lifestyle doesn’t have to be financially responsible at all, although it often it. Some people simplify their lives specifically so they can have more time to enjoy the so-called finer things in life. That is almost never the reason for choosing a frugal path.

People often choose to be frugal to improve their self-discipline, as a religious or spiritual exercise or simply to save money.

Frugal living is sometimes more work than simple living. Tracking every purchase and sticking close to a budget is frugal, but it’s also complex. It would be simpler to only occasionally monitor a bank account online, for example, than to try to balance an account daily.

A Few More Thoughts

Living a simple life is all about freeing up time and perhaps resources so your energy can be devoted to the most important things in life. Frugal living is often different in perspective only, although there can be some different value judgments as well.

Those who choose a frugal life focus on saving money, and by doing so they often create lives with less physical, mental and emotional clutter — lives that fit perfectly into a simple, minimalist lifestyle.

The best news is that we don’t have to choose a label for our lives. We can take on some frugal tendencies and some simple ones as well. As long as we are living lives that seem better to us each day, we can be certain we’re on the right track — whether we can genuinely call ourselves frugal living converts or not.