Reader Suggestions: Defending Your Frugality Without Sounding Defensive

Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!

Why don’t you ever spend money? Aren’t you miserable being so frugal all the time? You deserve to treat yourself! A little bit of debt is no big deal–just put it on your credit card, you’ll feel happier if you own it! Buy it new, you can afford it, why would you get it from a garage sale?!? How much money do you need saved up?!

This is my anchovy fund

I’m going to wager that many of you have heard these or similar anti-frugal, pro-consumption quips lobbed in your frugal direction. I know I have. Even though I devote inordinate space on the internet to explaining that our frugality is a lifelong choice, one that brings us tremendous contentment, that has allowed us to achieve our dreams, and that we consider our life luxurious, I know there are doubters. And haters. And that is OK!

I’m not here to evangelize the transformative powers of frugality, the ability it has to improve nearly every aspect of your life, and the ways in which our materialistic culture makes us profoundly unhappy (ok maybe I am a little bit… ). But I am here to support all of you on your own journey through frugality and sage financial management. No one has ever regretted managing their money wisely and no one has ever wished they had less dough in their savings account. Full stop.

Just because you know these universal truths doesn’t mean that your best friend/mom/brother/colleague understands why you bring your lunch to work everyday, eschew new furniture, and refuse to drop $40 on a night out at the movie theatre* (full disclosure: I haven’t been inside of a movie theatre for more than a decade so I actually have no clue what you pay for the ‘privilege’ of sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers watching something that may or may not be good and that you can’t pause if you need to use the restroom… ).

Springtime barn!

So what’s a happy frugal person to do? How do you go about your simplified, stress-free, debt-free (or on the way to debt-free), peaceful frugal existence while barraged by well-meaning spendy folks, without sounding defensive and/or like the crazed frugal evangelist you truly are?

We all want to get along, live and let live, and the magic of frugality and financial independence just ain’t for everyone. But if it is for you, if you’ve unlocked the revelatory path of living outside of the over-spending norm, you might be in search of a few strategies for explaining and defending your lifestyle.

I’ve tackled this topic a few times in the past, most notably in How To Build Confidence In Your Frugality and Maintaining Friendships And Frugality. Today, however, you’re in for a veritable compendium of tactics for deflecting rude or probing queries about your frugality. I’ve polled the best resource I know–the readers of Frugalwoods–and compiled some of their results below. For the full conversation, check out our Facebook page.

How Frugalwoods Readers Defend Their Frugality

Mim advised, “I always share absolute enthusiasm with them about how and where I am saving. Several relatives have switched to having a ROKU this year vs cable TV. My Mom was paying $300 a month and now she pays $20. All she had to do was consider how much she would save in a year and she was as excited as I was.” Sidenote: if you too would like to watch free/cheap TV, here’s a post for you.

Springtime baby!

Carlos keeps it short and sweet, “I prefer to spend my money and my time on things that really bring me happiness.” Perfection!

Sara wrote, “I usually frame the conversation to be about how boring I am that I’d prefer to have a pile of money around when an unexpected expense comes up (such as an emergency vet visit this week).”

Lori said, “I tell them I like to vacation more than buying stuff.”

Erin shared, “Specifically related to electronics (cell phone, tv, etc) I have had grown adults make fun of what I have because it is an ‘old’ model or style. I simply say ‘I don’t replace items that still work.’ They seem to quiet down with that practical response.”

Elizabeth commented, “The main thing I do when I say no to getting a coffee or eating out, is explain what I’m doing instead – the larger goal. If I just say ‘no thanks,’ they’ll be more likely to pressure me. But if I say, ‘No thanks, I’m…hoping to retire by the time I’m 40,’ or whatever, then it starts a totally different conversation entirely, ha! They are way more interested and respectful of that reason and they know that I’m not just blowing them off. I also often suggest other frugal activities like a hike, or I’ll go WITH them to coffee but not get one myself. It’s their company I like, not the extra ‘stuff’.”

Gillian says, “I’m happy to say if I can’t afford to buy or do something – best to be honest I’ve found. Not embarrassed with trying to live frugally. Some folk may laugh (and they have) at my regular purchase of reduced price food items, (near their sell-by date); but I tell them that shopping this way hasn’t killed me yet and I have saved loads of money at the end of the day. They can’t argue with that.”

Joann shared three of her responses:

  1. “I’m a late adopter of technology so they can get the bugs out. Give it 10 or so years and I can get it for free.”
  2. She’ll explain that, since she’s an engineer, “it’s more efficient to minimize waste and time. [The] less stuff you have, the less you have to maintain.”
  3. And her favorite is, “I’m just lazy and would rather not have to maintain a lifestyle like ‘the Joneses.'”

Baby frugality: eating asparagus she harvested from the garden

Laurie said, “I usually say, ‘travel is so important to us we spend as little as possible on ___.’ The only people who really comment on our frugality are my parents.” She said she then gets responses like, ‘Wow! You were able to go to Southeast Asia for two weeks and pay for everything in cash!’ etc. I think it’s hard for them to see we have different priorities.”

Linda relayed, “Depends on what I’m invited to do… if it’s a once a year event, I budget for it…. if it’s just a spur of a moment, I say no… I believe that living frugal is a matter of attitude, emotional strength to do what is right for you, so you can live your life as you wish… one has to overcome peer pressure, [the] sooner you can the better [off] you’ll be :).”

Nancy shared, “I let people know there are ways to live a great life on a small income or do what is important to you by cutting back on the unimportant .” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

April put it succinctly, “I just tell them I’m a grown woman, and I can do whatever I want.” Sounds good to me!

Mary shared that she has brought her family around to appreciating her frugality, “My family loves my frugal ways as they benefit from it with goodies from goodwill and bags of personal items paid for with coupons. They have started to give me a wish list of items for me to get them on my frugal hunts.”

Melissa said, “It depends on the nature of the interaction. Sometimes, people are coming at you from a place of judgment and will criticize your choices no matter what reasons you provide. In those cases, I feel it’s best to gracefully divert the conversation. If people are genuinely interested in and open to hearing about my perspective, however, I will usually say something like, ‘I’m frugal because I just don’t want the expensive things most people want (new cars, fancy vacations, etc.), and I don’t see the point in spending money on stuff I have no interest in just to be like everybody else or to impress people. That’s not what I’m about.'”

Our apple trees in early blossom

Jessica wrote, “I say, its all about choice. I choose X over Y. Funny, I rarely get comments about my frugality–more comments on the things I chose to splurge on–like camping or hiking gear or trips (as in I WISH I COULD AFFORD THAT). When I explain they can, they tune me out about the time I get to ‘I don’t have cable tv.'”

Hart shared, “My life now speaks for itself. People always asked why we did without or made fun of what I did have. Now my home is paid for and my car too. Everyone always wants to know how but the simple facts were explained a long time ago. I refuse to pay 150.00 a month for cable, cell phones and other luxury items. Sadly I know someone whose life continues to go downhill. No heat, no car and now needs a new roof desperately. They just don’t get that the phones, cable and cigarettes could have provided them with everything they needed in the last few years. As for me, I already have a new roof fund started for that someday purchase.”

Jennifer gives people a very specific answer, “…the more money I save, the more I can spend on horse shows. People believe it and accept it, and although its partially true, the rest I am socking away for early retirement, no one questions it.”

Semira explained,I’m just honest and say ‘no thank you’ to coffee or ‘I don’t want to do that’ to something like an expensive concert and suggest something else (free boat trip anyone?). I’m pretty blunt so my friends seem to be used to it . They all know of my longterm FIRE plans and haven’t questioned it. It might also help that they see my pictures of going to exotic places (what I like spending money on) so they can see what saving a little on a lot of things allows me to do.”

Springtime view of the yard from our porch

Mallory and Rachel both say they tell people that certain expenses just aren’t a priority for them and that they choose not to spend their money in that way.

Mandie responds with, “”I’m just really conscious about the trade off between time and money.”

Cara says, “When I have to turn down an invitation but don’t want the person thinking I don’t want to hang out I keep it simple. I’ll say ‘that’s not in the budget, want to do x instead?’ We are a single income family so my friends understand .”

Marion shared that,I’m old enough that I don’t explain and really don’t care how others react. Those who know me also know what the deal is.”

Terry employs a practical approach, “I explain that with each expenditure I make, I ask myself: ‘How many hours do I have to work for a jerk in order to have that thing?’ People shut right up.”

Jeremy says, “I explain it as a game because everyone loves games. I approach budgeting like golf. Can I make par? Can I improve my handicap? And unlike other games, there is a genuine prize at the end of the month.” Clever!

Be Confident In Your Choices

That is a fabulously diverse number of methods and approaches for explaining (or not) and justifying (or not) your frugal life choices to other people who question your lifestyle. At the end of the day, however, your life is your own. How you live it is entirely at your discretion. Because in the end? No one is going to care how you lived your life except for YOU.

Live your best life, not someone else’s

Don’t live for other people and don’t make yourself miserable trying to cram your unique personality into the prescribed boxes of our consumer-focused society. Know that your choices are valid and have merit. Be confident in your frugality and you will reap the legions of benefits that a financially secure life delivers.

If you’d like some additional support and inspiration for living a life of sustainable, joyful frugality, join me for my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which we’re taking as a group during the month of July 2017. Join over 16,400 fellow frugal acolytes who’ve taken the Challenge and saved thousands–if not hundreds of thousands–of dollars. For more information on my free 31-day money revamp, check out this post.

How do you explain your frugality? What types of responses work best for you?

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Signup

We all need encouragement and inspiration on our financial journey! Starting July 1, I'll send you an email a day for 31 days. Each email will have a tip, a mantra, an action item, and recommended reading. If you've already taken the UFM, but would like to take it again in July, you'll need to sign-up again.

Powered by ConvertKit

You may also like...

104 Responses

  1. I find that the best response is to be open and honest about our priorities. Like a few of the folks you quoted, I’ll tell people that our family is prioritizing savings so that we can take advantage of what life has to offer without being overly stressed and worried about finances. I will be specific if we have a current goal (paying off loans or saving for an item), but I will also say things like “we are prioritizing our retirement” (which cues puzzled looks from many of my 20-something friends..).

    I really like what JoAnn mentioned about “The less stuff you have, the less you have to maintain.” I had a big wake-up call in this area when we moved from a 600 sq. foot one-bedroom in California to our new home in Michigan. At first, I kept thinking “oh, I need something to put there…”. But as we settled in, I realized that unless I have a true need for an item or a piece of furniture, I should stick to leaving spaces open and free from random junk that I will need to dust!

    • Such excellent advise! I find that establishing those conversations and talking points outside of the moment is the best method. Most people are accommodating and will understand. If they don’t, they probably aren’t work your time.

  2. Julie says:

    I feel like most of our friends are frugal like us (or either that, they just like doing what we like to do!) For example, when we do see each other, we are over at each others’ houses playing board games. I’ll make cookies. Sometimes we will have frozen pizza/apps if it turns into dinner. I feel like this has become the norm now that we are in our thirties. I have a grandma bedtime 🙂

    I will say that I never liked going out to eat in large groups, although we still do this from time to time if a friend is in town. I make sure to bring cash so we are paying for only what we ordered. I can remember days with a different group of friends where maybe I wasn’t more forward in only paying for my meal and ended up paying more than double when checks were split equally. This feels like a hot topic on a lot of websites, but I never order appetizers or drinks and just get a cheaper entree! Why do people think it is acceptable to have a huge group out for their birthday and expect the group to pay for their birthday meal? Anyway, my point is that I much prefer to have people over in the afternoon for baked goods and games.

    • Eliza says:

      This has been our experience as well Julie. Our friends are all pretty frugal and enjoy cooking for each other so there isn’t a lot of pressure to go out. It’s also lot easier now that we all have kids – they have more fun running around the backyard than sitting in a restaurant. And I agree with you regarding splitting bills, I always find that so frustrating!

  3. I think my family likes the fact that both Mr. FAF and I are frugal. But sometimes they give me a hard time about not wanting to spend money on something we don’t need. I think they are concerned that I may not enjoy life to the fullest or I’m living a miserable life trying to save some pennies.

    After explaining to them why we are so frugal a couple of times, now I’m just doing my own thing. At the end of the day, we need to fend for ourselves and prepare for our own future.

    • It’s great that you and your partner are both frugal and enjoy doing so together.

      I’m currently trying to get my other half to reduce her spending on stuff that she doesn’t really need so we have money to spend on each other when the time is right.

      Having both partners in a relationship looking for different ways to save money is like a dream come true.

    • Wow, it’s great that you and your partner enjoy a frugal life together.

      I’m currently trying to get my other half to be more frugal like me but she really loves her shopping…lol.

      I believe that family and friends who know your frugal lifestyle should always be supportive because who doesn’t like to be a little frugal from time to time.

  4. I will usually not get into it unless someone seems interested. I’ll deflect with something like, “We’ve spent a lot this month already and need to dial back” or “We’ve got a big vacation coming up” or whatever similar statement happens to be true at the time. If people do actually seem interested I’ll talk about priorities and FI and such, but I find most people don’t really care.

  5. I tell people I’m FIREd and being frugal really helped with that. Then I tell them being frugal is like a game or hobby for me now. It’s fun!

  6. This is such an interesting topic and very relevant. I find amongst my friends to whom budgeting isn’t a priority, being frugal can easily be seen as being ‘cheap’.

    The way I defend it? Being smart and managing my money correctly allows me to make travel a lifestyle, not just a vacation. I think that speaks for itself!

  7. Hannah says:

    This is a well timed article for me. One of my biggest expenses that I want to get down to $0 is dining out. Restaurants and coffee shops bring me no joy, but all my friends looove to socialise in foodie places. It is rather difficult to see my friends in a different environment, and my suggestions of going for a walk or offers of a home cooked meal are often met with befuddled glances.

    I’m going to try some of these pearls of wisdom (I especially like the ones that say, “I don’t do X because I would rather do Y”.) Thanks Frugalwoods Nation, you are the best!!!

  8. I’ve stopped explaining my frugality a long time ago.

    At first, I was kind of ashamed I wasn’t spending as much as most of my loved ones do. I rarely talked about having money troubles (especially to my parents, I really didn’t want them to worry) and the result was I’ve often been called stingy 😀

    The past few years though, I learned to just mind my own business. If anyone insists, I just explain there are bigger goals to think about. And then point out we are debt free, able to travel every year and bought our car with cash.

    People generally don’t directly ask others about money though. Money is personal and a direct inquiry might be awkward even for the one who’s curious.

  9. Caroline Bowman says:

    I try and say something like ”that’s not in our budget” if it’s something stupidly expensive and unnecessary, then I change the subject. What I don’t do is say ”we can’t afford it” because that’s often not strictly true (if we were happy to go into debt then we often could), but also because it sets the stage for a debate ”but surely you can because you are quite well off / deserve a treat / need this gadget, it’ll help your life / whatever”. If it’s ”not in our budget at the moment” it doesn’t cast aspersions at whatever the thing is, nor does it make out that we’re poverty-stricken. It just states we have other things that are a more urgent priority.

    I don’t avoid money conversations though. It’s very easy, when kids are in the school years, to get gouged for all kinds of ”oh but it’s for the kids” sorts of things, both small and really mega. People are often somehow ashamed to not have the money to provide a new iPad for their child immediately or can’t really afford the expensive raffle ticket so the hockey team can go on tour, not without making drastic, unwarranted cuts or worse, going into credit card debt. Just keeping quiet and going along gives the impression that it’s all fine. Far better to say ”that is such a great idea, but we really cannot put something like that in our budget” quite loudly but very pleasantly. It sometimes – not always – but just sometimes makes the person doing the asking stop and think hard.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good advice, Caroline! Thank you for sharing 🙂

      • Caroline Bowman says:

        One day, when Estelle and any other future children are at school, these things will come up and when you start noticing it, it gets tiresome. There is a special pressure around ”have you bought your raffle tickets / overpriced biscuits yet” where there is often an audience and you don’t want your child to feel bad either…

        A sunny smile and a clear ”no” works well!

  10. Like one of you commenters said, I usually add after I say no that I’m trying to save money. Usually, people can’t argue with that!

  11. Courtney says:

    I work in college financial aid, so it’s easy for me to say, “I don’t want to become one of the hundreds of families I talk to who are on the verge of tears saying they have no idea how they’re going to retire and pay for their kids college.”

    We don’t get as many comments on our spending as we do on our house (it’s smaller/older/more out of date than many of my peers) and car (only having one for so long, bought 75% cash, and planning to buy future cars with cash only)… it’s more difficult to me to address those topics other than by saying “It’s what we wanted. We hated having student loans and we don’t ever want to worry about debt again”.

    Only my very closest friends know about my retiring early goals. But I can’t/won’t talk about it much with them because it immediately makes them defensive about their own spending & finances. They’re still my closest friends though!!

  12. Marcia says:

    Most of the time it’s about my 11 year old car and about how I deserve a minivan.

    Yes, but it’s still working. And it’s a Toyota. It will live forever. By the time it dies, I won’t need a minivan.

    Also, I point out that I’m still paying for preschool at $320 a week, and my big kid has his sights on Cal Tech.

    • Mrs. Cheapheart says:

      Wow. Just wow. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by how rude people can be. An “I’m sorry you don’t like my car,” followed by an uncomfortable silence should sort that right out.

      This whole post is blowing my mind a bit, the more I think about it. Discussing frugality is one thing, but ultimately there is no need to defend your financial choices to anyone (except maybe if you owe them a pile of money). If people really think they have the right to comment on another person’s lifestyle they are the ones in the wrong. Subject should be changed and friendship re-evaluated.

    • NikiJD says:

      Owner of a 10 year old Honda Accord here! Like you, Marcia, I expect it to live forever (or at least another 150,000 miles) and am so thankful every day for both the low insurance premiums that come with an “old” car and the fact that I don’t have to put the time into finding a new car to drive anytime soon. I frequently tell people how much I love my Accord (just generally, without bringing finances into it) so that probably wards off a lot of less-than-generous comments.

    • Haley says:

      I too get many comments about my 11-year-old car THAT I LOVE. My grandfather gave it to me when I was in college and it’s this interesting (some may say ugly) green/blue/silver color. It’s a 2006 Ford Fusion at 110,000 miles and I hope it keeps going! Oh and it has many a dent 🙂 I could definitely afford a new car and many of my friends like to point that out to me…all the time…but this car works great AND I don’t have to worry about dents or a car payment or high car insurance or paying a lot at the gas station or…I mean really people it’s a no brainer! It does hurt my feelings a bit when people make comments and insinuate that I’m cheap just because I don’t upgrade. I’m not cheap, I’m practical 🙂

      • Anne says:

        I was forunate to grow up in an area where cars were seen as transportation, not status symbols. Now that I live in a high-crime city, I would love to have an older car with dents – not only do you not have to worry about future dings, it’s much less likely to get broken into! My parents just got a (used) fancy car and I said I didn’t want to drive it because it would be too stressful. But they have already got the first dent and plan to drive it into the ground, so now I feel better 🙂

      • Caroline Bowman says:

        If you have a reliable and trustworthy vehicle that suits your purposes AND is essentially paid for, then you are winning. Car envy is something I do not understand. Yes. I do see there are more attractive and less attractive cars. Yes, some are more shiny and faster or whatever, but surely reliability / safety, fitness for purpose and financial considerations are at the absolute top of the list? It’s a mode of transport! You need it to be safe and reliable. That’s all.

    • Helen says:

      I don’t have a car at all which weirdly gets me fewer questions about the financial side – I think people see it as more of a lifestyle and they’re usually so blown away by the fact that I cycled 10 miles in a dress to our concert venue, or 5 miles to work in Chicago in January, they don’t stop to question the no-car thing. Helps that I’m in a big city though.

    • cathy says:

      Still driving my 2001 Subaru–the old, station wagon-style Outback–and loving it! Fortunately, a lot of people drive older model Subarus here so it’s not a big deal; either you need the AWD/4WD to get home in the snow or you’re taking it off-road in southern Utah in the summer. More often than not, people are comparing notes to see who’s driving the OLDEST one 🙂 !

  13. Mrs. Cheapheart says:

    One of my favorite things I have learned from Mrs. Frugalwoods is that a daily practice of being frugal allows for the occasional expenditure without stress. If someone asks us out for the odd drink, we go and don’t worry about it (we do comment afterward about how expensive it was) since we are on frugal autopilot 98% of the time.

    Also, we host friends so often that when they invite us out they usually pay! We use our kid as an excuse not to go out and just have friends over. We put him to bed and keep enjoying our company without incurring a huge bar/babysitter tab.

    I like to also take a Miss Manners type of approach where you don’t really need to give a reason why you are not able to attend an event, just say, “Sorry, I can’t make it, but thanks so much for inviting me.” No need to discuss money.

    • Nikki says:

      I love this (Miss Manner’s approach) and am going to borrow it. I always feel like I have to explain WHY I don’t want to do something.. This is polite but ends the topic.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Just a comment on your movie theater side note. I don’t go to the movies very often, maybe once every year or two. But in defense of sitting in a big dark room with strangers, there can be a camaraderie even among people you’ve never met. Watching The Force Awakens on opening night was a unique experience that I couldn’t get at home. How everyone cheered and applauded when the Millennium Fall appeared on screen! We were all geeking out together.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yes! I was going to say this too: we plan to go to all the Star Wars movies in theater because we feel that the experience is worth it.

    • Ashley says:

      Yes, Stephanie! I shared this exact same experience with my family, and will never forget it. It happened to be my husband’s birthday and I scored the entire family plus my parents tickets to the first show. It was so much nostalgia and brought back so many memories I was happy to share with my own kids!! Can’t imagine not seeing that one in the theatre. That is definitely a rare exception to how I feel about movies in general but a perfect example of an “experience” being worth the $.

  15. Bethany says:

    I can sympathize with the reader who said she gets more comments on “splurges” than on the brown bananas. It DRIVES ME NUTS. People think we’re rich because we spend a few thousand dollars every year on travel/eating out/etc. I guess that’s a good thing because our frugality doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

    While we do have a good income, people who think we’re just “naturally” rich seem to ignore the fact that we spend very little on consumer items. People who earn half as much as we do are spending *twice* as much on various TV services, organic food, car payments, baby gear, etc.

    It’s like some folks can’t put two and two together… living below your means- FAR below your means- will make you kind of wealthy over time. Wow, imagine that.

    • Caroline Bowman says:

      I love that, the ”naturally rich” assumption! It just fell from the sky like a magic star… hehe. Of course some of us start off with advantages and these are not to be overstated. But growing your little nest egg and prioritising in the face of relentless financial pressures, social and essential, is not always easy. It certainly doesn’t happen ”naturally”. It takes commitment!

  16. I’ve been telling people about our #yearofno and how it’s enabled us to pay off thousands of dollars in debt. Many people say “I could never get my kids on board with that.” (Which baffles me a bit… my kids don’t have access to my wallet, after all!)

    Funny thing, though. A year later at least a few of my friends have started their own yearsofno and are seeing some big changes in their life! I guess you’d say I just try to lead by example rather than justify my life choices.

  17. Anna says:

    This is such an interesting topic to me, and one that my husband and I have discussed a lot in couple’s therapy. See, I grew up in a very frugal household (product of grandparents who survived the great depression?), and my husband did not. One thing he talked about in therapy, which sort of blew my mind, was how his parents’ families (immigrants from Poland) had all of their family wealth wiped out by both WW1 and WW2. Like each time, they built up wealth, and then everything – house/land/money – all gone. So their lesson to their kids was, if you have some money, don’t save it all, enjoy your life and go on vacation as well, because the future is uncertain. We’ve now come around to identifying what it means to us to live a good life, what things we prioritize spending on, and how to cut back on areas that don’t make us happy. Sounds like the key is focusing on what you DO want from your money, and not what you can’t have. Mrs. Frugalwoods, I think you do a great job in your writing with this positive type of outlook.

  18. noa says:

    I get many comments about how I can live without makeup despite having adult acne. “But you need concealer or something! How can you just leave the house without feeling embarrassed? I would die if I didn’t have make-up!” And my response is to usually just shrug and say that after nearly fifteen years of having it, it just doesn’t bother me anymore. Plus I save big by not purchasing make-up. Nevertheless, people just don’t get it.
    I also get quite a few weird comments from people that cannot fathom how I have such an easy time cleaning up at home. “You mean you’re able to go home, get dinner ready, AND clean up in less than an hour?! How?? I didn’t get to bed until midnight last night with all the sh** I had to do!” to which I just tell them that the more meaningful the items in our house are, the less we truly need. For instance, my kid doesn’t need a second bedroom dedicated to toys, just a few that’ll spark his imagination. And my coworkers just shake their heads and say that they could never do that because their kids are asking for a new phone, a nicer car, more designer clothes, etc and they just couldn’t bring themselves to tell their kids no. What baffles me is how much they let their kids run their lives.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So true! Simplifying is a wonderful thing! Saves time, money, and stress 🙂

    • Lindsey says:

      I am blown away that anyone would even think about commenting on your acne or, really, about any woman who doesn’t wear make-up! The most I would ever comment about someone’s body is to mention that I like the color of their sweater or their shoes, never something about their physical body. How rude.

    • Caroline Bowman says:

      Wait. People comment on your skin. Excuse me? I mean, by all means, wear whatever you want or don’t, but making comments, especially negative ones, about a person’s physical appearance, especially something that none of us would want if we could choose (you have UGLY, FRIZZY HAIR, HOW CAN YOU NOT STRAIGHTEN IT AND SPEND LOTS ON PRODUCTS, imagine?), is totally unacceptable. Just ignore whoever does that and ask if they routinely say mean things to everyone.

  19. dmr says:

    Wow – this is the exact opposite problem as to what I have. My mother is cheap – she sees no problem with inconveniencing others to save money, and some of her family members share the traits. They will make comments about the $6 quart of local, in season strawberries I bought last night (I don’t buy the cheaper ones I can get year round b/c these ones are such an amazing luxury while they’re available and help support local farms). And my mom used to ask me to keep my old newspapers, and pushed me to renew when my subscription lapsed, so that she could bring them to her father weeks later. He was in a much better position to afford the subscription, and I’m not the neatest person, so asking me to add clutter to my house was the most frustrating thing ever. She also seems to only want to spend time with our son if we’ll entertain her (and make her tea) while she brings toys she found at the dump that are often not functional into our home. I don’t care if it was originally expensive and you got it for free, we have no use for a ride-in toy car that doesn’t work.

    • Melissa says:

      My dad is also super cheap, so in my family its understood that staying in is better than going out. But that frugality allowed my parents to retire and live on the beach in Rhode Island…. so who’s got the better deal? I think my parents with their ten year old car!

    • noa says:

      I wholeheartedly understand your frustration when it comes to grandparents that give nonsensical toys to the kids. My son has owned nearly every single McDonald’s toy over the past three years and every time one gets donated, here comes another five! But I’ve decided, my new rule is that almost anything that his grandma gets him will be going into a bag so he can play with it at her house. It might sound harsh but I am tired of stepping on pointless plastic toys that cause nothing more than a minute of entertainment for the kid and a headache for the parents.

  20. Andy says:

    I think for the most part, my close friends and family have just written me off as a “frugal weirdo” and don’t really question it much anymore. That said, I also approach frugality from an 80/20 (pareto) point of view. I’m going to get the most benefit by being frugal in my day-to-day (things like cheap commuting and not buying lunch at work), so that for the rare occasions (like someone’s birthday) I can spend a bit more freely and not worry about it hurting my savings rate significantly.

  21. Mrs. BITA says:

    1. We try to be the ones to initiate plans – that gives us more control. We can suggest a picnic, or a hike, or a ‘come lie in our backyard while we grill and oh yes you can use our pool’.

    2. I think it helps a little that our friends/family see us spending on _something_ – they see that we spend on travel, and maybe that helps them understand why we don’t have the latest phones or new cars etc. It helps folks to understand what is going on a little more easily than if there was absolutely no outward manifestation of wealth.

  22. The one that always gets me is when payday rolls around a friend/family member will say it’s time to treat yourself, what are you doing to do/buy? And I’m like, transfer most of paycheck into my savings. That’s a treat to me!

    The problem is everything is so immediate in today’s society, everyone wants things right. this. second. Well, I want to retire early and move to the countryside, so that’ll explain my frugality!

  23. Mr. Tako says:

    My friends make fun of my frugality all the time. Nobody likes to have their lifestyle criticized, but I don’t try to defend it. It’s who I am. If they don’t like it, they can go find other friends. Life is too short to have to constantly defend who you are.

    • Lily says:

      My peers (regular friends, not close ones) poke fun at me too! It’s light spirited and I’m sure they don’t mean anything by it but it would be nice not to be a butt of “the miser” jokes!

      Mandie responds with, ”I’m just really conscious about the trade off between time and money.”
      Exactly!! My time, my money.

  24. Heidi S says:

    I LOVE Jennifer’s comment about horse shows- I am saving up to buy my first horse this spring. It’s been my dream to have my own horse (rather than just lessons, borrowing or leasing) since I was a little kid – now that I finished grad school, have renovated most of my house (will do the kitchen before I buy the horse, 80% of my kitchen budget goal already saved!) an amazing horse came along who fits my needs.
    Riding is definitely not frugal, and not usually a hobby I see referenced in personal finance forums, so I love that it made the list!

    • Christine K says:

      We are an equestrian family as well. Glad to see another one on the Frugalwoods blog 🙂 I think a lot of horse owners are frugal people actually…it seems like horse owners embrace frugality themselves so they can give their horses the best of the best 🙂

      • Kate says:

        I am SO GLAD to see frugal equestrians! We are just in the process (if all goes well with the last steps) of buying a little 3 acre “farmette” to keep our two girls at home. Frugality – living in a 1200 sq foot house among other things – is allowing us to buy this property without worrying about selling our first home. I can’t stop running numbers in my head but this should actually be a frugal choice given how much we are currently spending on board.

  25. Melissa says:

    I love this! Luckily I don’t have a lot of people questioning my frugality because I’m a social worker. Its expected that I won’t have the money to eat out and buy lots of expensive clothes. Another bonus is that many of my friends in the area come from my running club, so we’re usually running together rather than eating out…. I’m always happy to sign up for races because it helps keep me motivated and moving forward. I’ve also found that I can volunteer for certain races and get a credit towards running another race!

    The only place I feel a little embarrassed is that I refuse to pay the “single tax” whenever its avoidable, so I tend to go in with my parents for a lot of things- we share an Amazon Prime Account, Netflix, AAA, and cell phone. Its easily a savings of $900 per year for me to share all these things with my parents. It feels a little weird to be on my parent’s cell phone plan at 38, but then, when I realize that it saves me $720 per year to just give my mom the $65 per month instead of paying $125 to Verizon. I’m fine with it. $700+ is a deposit on my long dreamed of 40th Birthday trip to Italy! 🙂

  26. Julie R. says:

    Interestingly, I think people often have a knee jerk reaction to spending as well as frugality. If I had s dollar for every time someone acted like cell phones are a big-time luxury….

    Thanks to Google Fi, we pay less for my husband and I to have cell phones than we were paying for our landline.

    So if we all hate being judged as misers for our frugal choices, let’s all pledge not to assume that everyone else is spendthrift for items that we don’t actually know the cost of.

    This way, too, we don’t launch the first attack that causes a counterattack that requires our defenses.

  27. Jen says:

    Similar to a lot of the comments here, my close friends and family tend to be pretty frugal. It’s fun to compare “saving” stories with them and getting new ideas of how to save more. I find saving money fun and really enjoy the entire process.

    Unfortunately most of my coworkers are not frugal and enjoy spending money on eating out, facials, massages, and expensive entertainment. I indulge every so often, but not to the extent they do. In order to fit in with the crowd and be a pleasant “team player”, I often keep quiet about my frugalness. In the corporate world, I feel less sharing about my personal life is the way to go. In Corporate America, Being liked = Playing the Corporate Games = Getting Promoted, and therefore you tend to go with the flow.

    I find joy in reading blogs like this and knowing there are many frugal friends in this world! Happiness!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I hear ya, back when I worked in an office, I just didn’t mention my frugality unless people specifically asked me a question about it. I found it easier/better to just keep mum 🙂

  28. Laurie says:

    The difference between “can’t afford” and “don’t want to afford that at this time” is huge.
    I’ve had a few awkward moments when a friend has said they can’t afford to do something I’ve suggested, but then turns around and spends twice as much on another activity.
    The truth would have been easier to take…”I’m saving up for this other opportunity, so that means I won’t be able to do this thing with you. Thanks for the invitation, maybe next time.”
    That would have been nice to hear.
    However, I agree that no one is actually owed an explanation about what you choose to do with your money.
    I guess it’s just my perspective that’s bothering me about that experience.

  29. Lindsey says:

    I usually say that I’d rather drink coffee in London but I can’t do that if I drink Starbucks at home. It makes people laugh. I do have a sort of sweet/sad story about frugality. We live in the country and were raising a pig. I worked at Head Start, where the rule was that once an item was dished out it had to be thrown out if the child didn’t eat it. Not just something like a piece of chicken put on the plate, which I could understand, but an apple that had been put on a child’s tray. I thought that was nuts. I asked the head cook if he would just throw that stuff, chicken and apples, into a bucket and I would take it home to feed my pig every night. Some time later we hired a new cook helper, a kid of 18 for whom this was his first real job. The pay was not great…For a few weeks he heard me come in at night to fetch the bucket and I would joke to the cook that “My kid (i.e. the pig) will love this for supper tonight!” One day the helper cook came up to me and gave me a box that turned out to be a case of Top Ramen. I asked him why he would get me that and he said that he couldn’t afford anything more expensive but that it hurt him to think my kid was eating buckets of leftover foods! It brought tears to my eyes that this young kid had that much compassion. I also wanted to laugh hysterically but managed not to because I was afraid he would think I was laughing at him when I was really laughing at frugality causing this.

    • Karen B. says:

      That was one of the sweetest stories I have lately! That young man did his parents proud!

    • Megan says:

      I absolutely LOVE this story….and his kidness! Thank you for sharing.

    • The father of my childhood best friend was the school janitor. Every fall he’d buy two baby pigs (about 50 cents each — this was a LONG time ago) and feed them all year on what the schoolkids threw away in the lunchroom. He’d have to feed them himself during Christmas and spring breaks, but at the end of the school year he had two fine, fat porkers.

      He’d take them to a guy he knew who would butcher and wrap them in exchange for a portion of the meat. They wound up with hundreds of pounds of fresh pork almost for free.

      Her dad was pretty smart.

      And what that young man did was so very, very good-hearted.

  30. Ginny says:

    I have accepted that some folks just won’t like me being frugal, some will be embarrassed by it and some will secretly be inspired to follow my lead. It is because of the last group that I keep my chin up, my confidence in place and maintain the courage to respect myself. Be confident Frugal Folks! Our numbers are growing daily!!

  31. Steve says:

    We live within an affluent neighborhood and city. Our neighbor is a plastic surgeon and others are also medical doctors owning multiple practices, and the rest are in tech.

    There’s a good deal of arrogance that is annoying at times, because I’ve accomplished a good deal in my life, though don’t choose to impress them.

    Many drive new Mercedes, Porche’s, BMW’s, Tesla, etc. We own a Kia and Honda. They do treat us differently and that kicks in my ego. At times I fight urges to “keep up with the Joneses”, then I realize my happiness and contentment isn’t tied to material things.

    We don’t want what they want and don’t go on the expensive vacations many brag about. So, we’ve found people near us who share similar values and know in many cases our finances are in better shape than others driving to the school pick up line in their ridiculously expensive and likely leases autos and attitudes.

    My family is supportive and know I’ve always managed finances well. Some people in the hood do look at me with a look of shock when I tell them spending 20K on a European vacation isn’t in my budget and we’re saving for an early retirement.

    What’s shocking to me is how financially illiterate so many people are and how few are saving for retirement. Some confide to me without my inquiry, how much debt they owe. I couldn’t sleep knowing my finances were in such disarray.

    We own our own company and do well, though my priority isn’t to keep up with Joneses.

  32. Sharon says:

    I am working towards a more frugal lifestyle. The other day at a dinner party a woman asked me what my favourite clothing stores are, and I said to her “I actually don’t shop much” and she was like WHAT?? lol

  33. I think it helps people understand our frugal choices if we frame it in terms of what we choose to buy with our money, like some of the other commenters have said (“I’d rather travel than eat out” etc). I have to say, it’s so much easier to be frugal in New England than in the Southeast. I mean, our frugal choices are questioned so much less, because New Englanders tend to be frugal by nature. That’s a Puritanical value that’s been passed down over generations. So our frugality tends to be much more accepted here. “Bringing a lunch to our play date? Of course you are. I am too!” Or, “Here are some hand-me-downs my kid outgrew. I’m sure you’d be interested because who wouldn’t be interested in free clothes with life left in them?” And driving “fancy” cars like BMWs or Mercedes is subtly frowned upon. People value practical automobiles like the ones the Frugalwoods drive–Priuses and Subarus. 🙂 It’s one of the things I really like about living here.

  34. Nancy says:

    Your fine post enriched by comments from fellow readers made my day! Thank you. When asked about my frugality or any other personal questions such as “When are you going to have a baby?” I simply respond, “I am flattered by your interest in my personal life. Thank you. I enjoy learning from others and would love to hear what decision making rationale you employ in similar circumstances.” The variety of responses, including dead silence, are too numerous to recount but always educational and good fodder for a deeper discussion.

  35. Love it! this topic really goes to the heart of the difficulties around this. I recently had a bit of an argument with a close relative about my frugal lifestyle, and there wasn’t really any backing off on my side. It can be tricky, especially when it’s relatives and family that live another way and are not particularly frugal. I think it often makes people a little uncomfortable because it can be quite a mirror on their own lives and choices. It sometimes happens that people will acknowledge that their urge to spend is a conditioned response and that they wish they had the willpower to be different or something.

    Most of the time I take the (truthful) angle that living frugally and constantly iterating my choices is just so good for me mentally, financially and ‘spatially’ that it’s a no brainer. When everyone has stuff, not having it gives you freedom

  36. Ilene says:

    When I am questioned or criticized about my frugality I sometimes smile and refuse to explain. If there is a chance I can “get through” to the person I’ll just answer that my priorities keep me safe make me very happy .

  37. M says:

    I don’t even bother defending it. My spending decisions are no one’s business but mine and the opinions of people living the “credit card debt” lifestyle are of little relevance. I wouldn’t tolerate anyone telling me where to live, how to dress, who to work for, etc. And just the same, I certainly don’t tolerate people telling me how to spend my money.

    I also don’t see it as frugal so much. Rather I see it as different spending priorities. Take the Frugalwoods for example. They have concentrated all of their spending power on moving to the country, buying rental properties, staying home with their daughter and early retirement. Others their age concentrate their spending power on dinners out, expensive clothes, new cars etc. The Frugalwoods could “afford” to buy such things but instead choose to spend on things that are more important to them. To each his own. If people find joy in what they buy, great. Priorities are highly personal and generally not transferrable. But if they are based on the influence of advertisers, keeping up with the Joneses or projecting an inflated image of yourself, then you might want to examine what is really important to you.

  38. Ks says:

    No one cares more about my (time, money, health, etc. ) than I do. That usually cuts short others trying to get me into their unnecessary spending.

  39. Thanks for sharing. I think “stuff” brings very little happiness. I think for most of us PF/FIRE people, we feel happier with the financial stability and autonomous lifestyle than the “stuff”, generally speaking. Creature comforts are nice, but fleeting as well. I’m not against getting stuff, but it’s important to be able to have enough assets to generate the cash flow to buy the stuff. So the work is done upfront, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor later. Most people who judge are actually jealous IMHO.

  40. Sherikr says:

    I actually don’t mention frugality much…we kinda just fly under the radar. When friends invite us to go out, we just invite them to our place instead. If some moms want to go to Starbucks, I go and just have a small tea or something and pay out of my monthly cash allowance. I wash my old car in my driveway and keep it looking nice, and nobody seems to notice. I like being stealthy!

  41. Mary says:

    Really enjoyed this article.Reading everyone’s frugal goals makes me want to strive even more for extreme frugality.I have a long way to go in this area but each day provides me an opportunity to do better than the day before.

  42. Laura says:

    In reading this, I realize how lucky I am to have a great circle of family and friends who really don’t care what I spend money on (as long as the mortgage and bills are paid and there’s gas in the car and food in the fridge), and prefer in-home entertainment (potlucks, game night, movies at home) over going out. Maybe it’s because we’re all old…

    But the one person who does sometimes give me a hard time for being frugal, believe it or not, is my boss when I’m spending on his work accounts. He’s from a wealthy background and is amazingly spendy, and he’s floored that I’ll spend time searching for the least expensive way to purchase items for his group when it’s not my personal money. Recently I shopped around and bought a new refrigerator for our little break room (new because it was worth the $70 fee to have it delivered, I wasn’t about to go haul one on my own to the office) and found a good deal. He was surprised at how nice it was and how little we paid for it, and I answered with a quip from a friend: “Anyone can pay full price for something. It takes talent to get the same quality for less money.” He opened his mouth, shut it, and went away looking thoughtful. P.S. – his accounts are in much better shape now than when I started working for him.

  43. ironchef says:

    Maybe it is a cultural thing, but here in Western Australia it would be considered a bit rude for any but the closest friends or family to ask a bunch of money questions. Most people know very little about our budget and I never bring it up unless asked. Even then I am deliberately vague unless the person seems genuinely interested. Perhaps people notice our small, old car, or that I am still wearing the Winter coat I got secondhand 5 years ago, but perhaps they don’t. I assume people have got more important things in their lives than pondering my spending.
    For those closer to me (parents, best friend), they understand me well enough after 38 years to know that I am simply prioritizing certain things. Due to our frugal ways, we are often able to be much more generous with our time, so those close to us appreciate that.

  44. Alexandra says:

    Weird. My mind drew a blank on this. I haven’t really felt judged by anyone. Actually, most of my friend group expresses admiring respect of our frugality. We are sometimes the targets of some gentle kidding because they know we generally don’t participate in the more spendy things they like to do. But nobody is mean or judge-y about it.

    One thing we are not frugal about is generosity–in fact our frugality in most other departments is because “radical generosity” is one of our core values. We don’t talk about it but our friend group’s various chosen charities are the recipients of a lot of our generosity. I assume our friends realize the score: that we drive old, crappy cars and live in a modest condo because we use our wealth in different ways.

    Side note: I really appreciate the fact that our friend groups isn’t as frugal as we are! Several of them have very nice houses and are very generous about entertaining us and letting us use their places to entertain others. We’ve also gotten some choice hand-me-downs from our friends! It’s nice for everyone to have different values and uses for their money. Everybody doesn’t have to be the same as us.

  45. Megan says:

    I’ve had a very positive experience with the people in my life and frugality. Most all prioritize different areas of their lives and I’ve benefitted from their advice — like finding an amazing consignment store or new recipes for bringing my lunch to the office or how to negotiate a used car purchase. My decision to simplify my home and cut my clothes in 1/2 seems to be more controversial than frugality.

  46. My longtime frugal mantra is this: “I save where I can so I can spend where I want.”

    Since I’ve been making a living writing about frugality/intentional living since my “Surviving (And Thriving) On $12,000 A Year” post on MSN Money back in January 2007, I’ve had plenty of chances to use that mantra. Sometimes people get all defensive: “Well, I couldn’t LIVE without my (whatever).” At which point I say something along the lines of, “That’s what works for you. This is what works for me.”

    And if they continue to needle? “This is what works for me, but it seems to be causing YOU some discomfort. Why is that?” The usual reaction is a spit ‘n’ sputter, or a change of subject.

  47. Linda says:

    My frugality slips out on occasion at work. The other day a coworker was asking if I was going to buy a nice RV and travel when I retire in a few yrs. Without skipping a beat I replied, “Why would I do that, my tent is paid for?” There was a pause and we both broke out in fits of laughter. I do see a trend of my new hires wanting to travel more rather than running out and making large purchases of new cars and housing. It’s refreshing.

  48. Kentuckylady717 says:

    Love your blog, but this is the first one I have received in quite awhile….and you said you send them every month, I wonder why I’m not getting mine, and I don’t get any FB msgs. either, or twitter msgs…..can you check into this on your end? I don’t get on FB every day, but I’m on it quite often, and I’m on twitter everyday….several different times a day….I seem to like twitter better than FB….They keep changing things…..

    Your place is beautiful and you have so much land, it is so gorgeous….and little Miss Frugalwood is getting so cute and really growing…

    Thanks for all the info. I too am deciding to give up my cable, I hate paying over $165.00 a month, I usually only watch Fox News Channel, but you have to pay for one tier for the local channels, then pay a lot more for the Fox channel, I don’t watch sports, or movies, seems such a waste for me, I am online more than I watch tv….I usually watch tv and online at the same time….so really not watching tv all that much… thanks for the info you sent , I will check out ROKU, I have heard about it, thanks.

    Thank you,

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been getting the posts! I publish posts on the blog once or twice every week and then the Reader Suggestions question comes up once a month in our Facebook group. It’s not a private message, but rather a post to the group. Here’s last month’s question for reference. I hope this helps!

  49. Adam Fortuna says:

    Nice rundown! One thing that seems like an undercurrent of the question is “How are you happy?” I’d answer the question be answering that – which could involve a take on money or not.

  50. We once told someone we were planning on retiring by forty, and they laughed at us. We now just let people assume we are compulsively cheap/up to our eyeballs in debt. They can think what they like – we are happy with our choices in life!

  51. Marissa says:

    I have never realy had to defend my frugality before. When my mother mentions that I am frugal, it’s never in a mean way, but just in a matter of fact way and then saying she is not frugal like me. I have never really had to defend my frugal lifestyle yet. o .o My mom alywas complains however why I am always visiting the Dollar Store for SOMETHING, but I love that store because everything in it is only a dollar and you can get a lot for your money in there. : ) I have been a bit spendy lately, but hope to dail it back next month by doing your Uber Frugal Month challenge though. C:

    • Sandi says:

      My mother once made a comment about a friend of hers being crazy because in spite of having a large retirement income, she shops at Goodwill. I was floored. I told her, “Mom, *I* shop at Goodwill. Last time I was there I found a brand new pair of jeans that fit for $4.” She didn’t say anything, but I know that she’s happy I live over 1500 miles away because this way none of her friends can ever hear that, LOL.

  52. Daniela E. says:

    My husband and I are currently buying land in a rural part of Romania, in a place where nobody but us sees potential. OMG the reactions we received! I was just shocked at how rude some can be! And how they think that there’s only one way to live a good life! And of how scared they are to pursue a dream of their own and not what Society presents them as the ideal! But in about a decade they’ll understand. I am curious to see if any of them will come Forward and apologize for some of the hurtful things they said. Probably not. That’s ok, ’cause this was a perfect opportunity to better select my company.

  53. Christian says:

    I can honestly say that i do not care much what other people think about me. It’s their business not mine. 1 month or so ago my wife and i visited her brother and his girlfriend in another city. We hang out during the day and come dinner time we agreed to go out and eat. The brother wanted to go to some fancy Italien restaurant. I was reluctant but tagged along till we got to said restaurant. Looking at the menu outside i did the math in my head and a 3 course dinner incl. wine would be about $75 pr. person.
    Then i just flat out told the brother no – i will not pay that much just to get something to eat – it’s just food after all. I suggested that we should go to a buffet-style sort of place instead. One of those places were you can also stay 2-3 hours and no one will take notice. Had we gone to the other place we would be sort of forced to leave after the food-thing was done unless of cause you want to buy more wine or expensive drinks. We were there to spend quality time with family – the meal should be second to that.
    A bit hurt on his manhood the brother told me to google a place that would be to my satisfaction because he knew of no such place. Well – google delivered 🙂 I found a very nice thai buffet place with a HUGE selection in high quality food. Prices for the four of us including a bottle of white wine and i think 4 beers and some water was around $125 with tips and all. We were the from 7 till 9.30 and had a good time – and the brother came around after a bit haha 🙂

  54. Brandy says:

    I love how Terry put it: how many hours do I need to work for a jerk to buy this? Lol! Really alters your spending habits when you ask yourself this every time.
    For me, the co-workers and expectations at work really get me. Every time someone has a birthday or something we are expected to go out for lunch, going for coffee is a big thing too. I just try to keep it to a minimum – so I’m not considered ‘anti-social’. I skip the drinks, appetizers and desserts and get whatever is reasonable on the menu. and when the bill comes- I pay cash.

  55. Aaron says:

    A lot of this is a regional thing- I used to live on the east coast and the peer pressure to spend was intense and starts at an early age. I live in the southwest now and people’s priorities are very different.

  56. Ingrid says:

    Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods,
    I agree with everything you say here about frugal living…but I have to say that going to a movie theater and watching a movie on a huge screen is a wonderful thing. I don’t go often and just for movies that really “need” the big screen and I usually buy discounted gift cards for myself and never buy any of the overpriced concessions because usually nobody perishes without food or drink in 2 hours, but I love the experience!
    When it comes to frugal living, I pretty much do it without explaining myself. I have tried to explain to people that their bad consumerism habits prevent them from quitting the job they hate, but most of the time they just won’t even listen to what I have to say, so I let them be miserable if that’s what they choose to be.

  57. Mikeymace says:

    I don’t think I’m usually in a position where I need to defend myself, but my plans do come up from time to time in conversation. One way I have always loved explaining it was by asking the person what their favorite day of the week is. In 37 years I’ve never met someone who replied Monday. So, I explain that my goal is to turn Mondays into Sundays. That almost always makes the wheels turn, because while people can’t relate as well to changes in spending or lifestyle, they can definitely relate to the freedom of their personal time.

  58. Jen Rouse says:

    I don’t defend my frugality either. It’s not for me to make judgements on other people. But something I find amusing about this whole thing is how there are loads of people in our lives who have got it into their heads that we’re in some kind of serious financial crisis and too poor to buy ourselves a latte. There’s a real lack of subtlety around that in consumer culture: the difference between not being able to afford something and having other financial priorities. Also I love how we’ve developed a reputation for being ‘bohemian’. I think that’s a nice way of saying that nothing works in our house?! Which is true. Slightly sub-optimal functionality is an opportunity to practise tolerance and gratitude. I’m looking at you, broken oven that only cooks at one temperature. As it turns out you can basically cook everything at 180…

  59. BC Kowalski says:

    I’m slightly surprised at the coffee invitation declines, because I actually think it’s one of the cheapest ways to socialize (as long as its actual coffee or tea, not expensive sugarized milk and with bakery on the side!) I have one friend who if I don’t hang out with on a regular basis thinks I’m mad at him so coffee is often a cheap way to keep him mollified, as opposed to expensive dinners or drinks out.

    Other than him, most social invites are usually casual and no one cares too much whether I accept or decline. Thus, I typically accept the occasional less expensive activity. During the winter I mostly housecat and since Wisconsin is really cold in the winter there is little social pressure to leave the house.

  60. Florence says:

    These are all really good suggestions! I wanted to add my own: I work the typical cubicle job and spend plenty of time in my Spreadsheet Cave. My work friends like to go out for lunch a lot and often invite me. I’ll go, but I won’t eat anything out – I just have water and enjoy their company, and eat my lunch from home later. When they ask why I never buy lunch, all I have to do is gesture to my cube and my spreadsheets and say, “I don’t want to do this forever…”

    It’s pretty effective! XD

  61. Oh man, this is a toughie. People really do say rude things if you live even a smidge differently. I always focus on the benefits of frugality, like being able to pay off all of my student loans ($25,000) in eight months. Usually that gets people to listen a little more, because they want those results too. 🙂

  62. Sandi says:

    I must not get out enough ; ) as no one ever questions or challenges our choices. In a house with 2 adults and 16 & 13 yo kids, we have one smartphone, and that’s only because WE don’t pay for it, hubby’s employer provides it. No one asks why. No one has any idea how much we bring in or what’s ‘in the bank.’ I think there may be prevailing belief that we’re “poor.” And if so, that’s okay. It’s not as though we’re wealthy in the conventional monetary sense though I think we have a whole lot more than most family/friends merely because they like electronic toys, BIG homes, BIG vehicles, and BIG vacations. It’s that saying, right, “it’s not what you have (or what you make) but how you use (save/invest) it.” I fear we’re on the verge of upheaval in 6-12 months, but, what can you do besides wait, see, and save. Panic? Buy something?!? LOL! I know hubby has sent many a co-worker to this site and others like it. Mostly younger tech guys who make a lot and can’t figure out what to do with it.

  63. snowcanyon says:

    This sounds terrible, but the best way to be frugal is to be a hermit! Pretty much any social activity costs more than solitude. If you really want to reach FI, it’s solitude, no kids, no pets, and a refreshingly minimal social life. All are luxuries we can live without. Plus- less explaining.

  64. Cindy in the South says:

    I have a chronically ill grown son. However, most folks do not know that, and do not know the thousands I spend each month on medical bills for him.. I do post about my frugality on my facebook page, because I have a lot of friends who are single parents with meager incomes, and I want to share tips with them, in a way that is not condescending. Only my close friends know how ill my son is, currently, and I guess everyone else just thinks I am cheap…lol. I really do not care. It is my money. I am just glad he is alive, and still able to work, as well as the rest of my kids.

  65. Eliza says:

    It seems like most of the time, when people make these types of comments it’s really about justifying their own spending decisions. The ‘you deserve it’ comment is a classic as is the live a little. With that in mind, I just usually smile and give a vague, yeah maybe.

  66. Kassandra says:

    When a friend made a snide comment about how I must be rich because I bought a new kayak, I asked her how much she spends on cigarettes. It turned out that the total she spent on smoking in a year was MORE than the cost of the kayak, and at the end of the year, she had nothing and I still had (and have, several years later) the kayak.

  67. Stephanie B. says:

    You all are right about you spend money on what matters the most to you! We love to camp in our 28′ pull-behind USED camper. We’ve had soooo many people comment that “Y’all are going camping again?!” Yes we value being able to spend a week camping at the beach for only $300! When you only have one income & a previous job that didn’t have paid vacation days then you value being able to take off work & still get paid! I grew up with a packrat/hoarder & I hate clutter! We don’t buy just for the sake of buying stuff! We’ve had the pre-paid cell phone conversation/ snide remarks made by a person who has lost 2 houses due to foreclosure & here we sit with a house that’s been paid off TWICE & we’re not fifty yet! It’s so nice to not have to ask your parents for money if something blows up or breaks! I’m the only one of 4 kids who my parents haven’t had to “rescue from a financal emergency” & I think they hold that against me & my husband for some reason! Years ago my husband had a job that he hadn’t had a raise in 8 years, we learned to live lean & mean. That place closed & he changed jobs & wow we felt like we were rolling in money then! We agreed every time he gets a raise, he ups his 401K & is past what the company matches. He really wants to retire early & travel. I’m all for that, if it means we can’t buy stuff that we don’t want anyway, then I’m all for it! People just don’t get it! 2 +2 doesn’t equal 4 in their world like it does in ours!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *