Frugal Hound engaged in her hobby of being the Easter Bunny (she did not approve of this message/costume)
Frugal Hound engaged in her hobby of being the Easter Bunny (she did not approve of this message/costume)

I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to amp up my frugality. It’s easy to get lulled into thinking Mr. Frugalwoods and I have achieved peak frugality, but no sooner do I make that assumption than I’m confronted with a means to save even more!

True confessions: I enjoy the challenge of not spending money. It’s legitimately fun for me to uncover innovative methods of circumventing our consumer-focused society. Frugality, in fact, is a hobby of mine. Oh yes, I do frugality for sport. The nerdy competitive side of me relishes this opportunity to continually one-up myself.

I’ve never been even remotely decent at any traditional sports (supporting evidence: me being hit in the face with a softball, tripping over a soccer ball, spraining my ankle in a ballet class, and falling off a horse… need I go on?), but frugality is a sport I can handle.

Plus, it tends to have fewer injuries (although, no lie, I’ve gotten paper cuts from sorting through grocery store receipts… if there’s a way to injure oneself while doing an activity, 9 times out of 10, I’ll manage it).

Double Benefits = Double Happiness

The auxiliary benefits of having frugality as a hobby are fabulous and very real. When Mr. FW and I first commenced our foray into extreme frugality in April 2014, I thought the main outcome would be the money we’d save and the subsequent financial independence it would enable. And hey, that’s not too shabby a result.

Frugality has simultaneously brought us closer and decreased our stress
Frugality has simultaneously brought us closer and decreased our stress

Although this was reason enough for us to undertake cost-cutting measures, I’ve been preposterously thrilled with the additional pros of frugal living we’ve discovered. I waxed about these perks at length in the aptly titled “11 Benefits of Frugality That Have Nothing To Do With Money,” but it’s a topic I’m so passionate about that I can’t help but wax some more! Wax, wax, wax! Weird word, wax.

To indulge my desire to wax, here’s a quick rundown of a few hidden bonuses of frugality:

  • Community-building. Frugality brings friends and neighbors closer because it encourages bartering and sharing.
  • Environmentally friendly. Consuming less in all facets of life is advantageous for the planet.
  • Leads to less waste. Not wasting food or material goods is awesome.
  • Creates closer family connections. Frugality necessitates collaborating with your partner and involves spending more time with your family and less time on expensive toys that distract you from what matters most.
  • Happier, less stressed out lives. Having fewer consumer choices = happiness. Without the pressure to conform to societal norms and lifestyle inflation, we’re free to instead pursue our passions.
  • Fosters creativity. Not spending money makes us inherently creative problem solvers. How can we fix/resolve/create and otherwise hack our lives without taking the easy way out of buying something?
  • Provides options. When you don’t use a lot of money, you don’t need a lot of money. And when you don’t need a lot of money, your life is suddenly open to tremendous possibilities. Frugality frees people from working jobs they don’t like to support lifestyles they don’t need.

Virtuous Hobbies

Me cutting Mr. FW's hair
Me cutting Mr. FW’s hair

We all have virtuous and non-virtuous hobbies. At least I do. My hobby of eating baked treats (sometimes in their entirety by myself)… not so virtuous. But my hobby of yoga? More virtuous! I try to balance myself out in this regard (not always successfully) and having hobbies that yield dividends beyond pure enjoyment is central to how I structure my life. We all like to do things that are fun.

And so I posit this to you: make everything fun! Ok that’s a tad ridiculous I realize (some necessary things are just sort of not fun, like taking out the trash… blerg).

But, I do find that by viewing frugality through the lens of a hobby, Mr. FW and I are able to derive more pleasure from our daily lives. Take, for example, the fact that we cut each other’s hair. In so doing we get to hang out together, chat during the barbering session, spend $0, and it takes far less time than it would to trek to a salon. Hence, a totally fun and rewarding undertaking! Now, I’ll admit it wasn’t fun the first few times we did it: I used to get super stressed over buzzing Mr. FW’s hair because I was freaked out about shaving bald spots or making an uneven line across his neck (both of which I’ve done and both of which he survived).

As time wore on, it became easier for me to give him a haircut and now, I actually find it gratifying. Additionally, I’m a slooooooooowly recovering perfectionist and am now better able to embrace the whimsy of imperfection that inevitably comes to bear in our DIY efforts.

I’m proud of myself that I’ve learned how to give Mr. FW a stellar haircut (strange as that may sound). This pride is counter to the fact that our society can be very de-empowering. We’re told we need to pay other people to do just about everything for us–from cooking our food to walking our dogs to cleaning our homes–the underlying message is that we’re incapable of doing stuff for ourselves. However, there’s great enfranchisement and accomplishment to be had when we do in fact prove we’re able to manage our own stuff. I defy you to not feel proud of yourself when you master how to do something new (say, for example, how to fix your plumbing!).

Same goes for Mr. FW cutting my hair. The first time I suggested it, I’m pretty sure he thought our marriage was going to end (to be fair, I wondered the same). But, being up for trying anything, he gamely went along with my request and he now cuts my hair like a pro without breaking a sweat (we were both pretty sweaty the first time).

Frugality = Skill Building Extraordinaire

Baking fail!
Baking fail!

The ability to fail and try again enhances our skills as productive human beings. Just last week I produced an epic baking fail via several loaves of cranberry walnut bread. See photo at right. Need I say more? But this week, I was back at it with a different recipe and a glorious result. Of course we still ate the crumbly bread (I mean it is bread after all), but I typically bake several loaves so that we can give some away to friends/church/etc and I was bummed that the crumbly loaves couldn’t pass muster as gifts. Although I did take half a loaf over to my new friend M, who very kindly said it was delicious. But still… sad crumbly bread.

This learning curve is present in nearly everything in life, so why not embrace it as a natural course of frugality? At its core, frugality is the art of learning because the true crux of not spending money is learning to do things yourself. Frugality has very little to do with deprivation or austerity–it’s all about skill building, which is largely why we view our lives as frugally luxurious. I 100% did not know this before becoming a frugal weirdo, so I’m happy I can now share this so you don’t have to panic about it like I did (although if you’re anything like me, you’ll panic anyway because why be calm when you can panic!).

By framing frugality as a hobby, I find that our efforts become an appealing challenge and not drudgery. In many ways, it’s all about how we choose to view the activities of our lives. While I don’t exactly prance around super excited to do the laundry, I do derive a certain amount of satisfaction from keeping my family’s clothes clean. Maybe laundry isn’t a hobby per se, but it’s elevated far above mere chore. Maybe I’m delusional, but I like knowing at the end of the day that I’ve done concrete things to care for my home and my family. And if I can be content with that, then perhaps I can find peace and fulfillment in everything I do.

What is frugality for you beyond a means to save money? What hobbies do you have that bring auxiliary benefits into your life?

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  1. What I like about many of your posts is how they boil things down to a simple theme. I think the “hobby” aspect is probably true for a lot of us in the FI community. I have ALWAYS enjoyed frugality. Even as a little girl, I used to devour the Little House books, awed by the Ingalls’ self-reliance, and I would beg my mom to tell me stories about the frugal things she did growing up in the Depression.

    I have so many frugal hobbies;l making natural products, like DIY cleaning products, facial scrubs, etc; cooking; baking; sewing (when I have time); reading frugal blogs….

    BTW: You can always make cake balls out of bread that’s too dry 😉 Look here and you’ll get the idea:

  2. I really enjoy reading your posts. I want to start living without money from Sept-Dec 2017. We are also looking to buy some land and live of the land. Only difference is we will be completely off the grid. Looking at solar and wind power. I have been growing my own produce for at least 5 years and I know that I can grow everything to sustain ourselfs, including coffee. I also have chickens, laying hens who pay for their own feed and supply me with free eggs. I have previously raised chickens for meat with great success. So I’m looking forward to get out of the rat race into a simple way of living. How do I get use to using goats milk, cheese and butter, as that will be my main sorce of dairy?

    1. I agree! I love the challenge and innovation that comes from living below your means and thinking about everything an opportunity to do more with less. And also like to think of our journey towards FI as an adventure! I hope in a few years we are able to add chickens and bees to our urban lot, but since this is a side hobby after work, I am trying to take it one project at a time. So for now I am focused on growing and preserving our produce! It would be great if in 5 years I was contemplating how we can live mostly off of our homesteading activities!

  3. I’ve had “de-cluttering” on my hobby list for awhile now. Whenever someone asks me how my weekend was or what I plan to do this evening – I get all excited and yell “de-cluttering!” or tell them how many books I got rid of or socks I cleaned out of my drawer. I have come to realize this is not really on the social acceptable end of the spectrum, so I am trying to tone it down. But your post helps me re-embrace my current favorite activity! Someday I’ll be done de-cluttering and move on to other frugal hobbies (I am also a big hair-cutter and groom our schnoodle myself), but for now I just really have a great time de-cluttering…

    1. Haha, de-cluttering is a hobby of mine too! I think it’s perfectly socially acceptable… at least it is among us frugal weirdos 😉

    2. I LOVE decluttering! Of course, my husband does not, nor do my kids. So I have opposition. Makes it more difficult.

  4. Make bread-and-butter pudding out of bread fails! Seriously, let it get a bit ”stale” (not rock hard, but just a bit past it’s softest and nicest), then look up any one of a myriad of recipes and the pudding you get out is GLORIOUS!! Fact.

    I love frugality with food in particular too. I can’t stand waste, and the laziness of ”let’s eat out” or not bothering to use up / work in what is already sitting in the fridge / pantry because hey, let’s just not use our brains! My crock pot is my best friend and this very weekend I took all the accumulated random bits of pork products (left over eisbein, a chop that got cooked but not eaten, some left over bacon etcetera) that I had carefully wrapped, labelled and frozen in what my husband calls my freezer-museum, and put them, some chicken stock (also excavated), a bag of dried split peas and a handful of, quite frankly, a bit past their best veg / onion / herbs and so on in the crockpot… and 6 hours later we had about 12 big portions of gorgeous, gorgeous pea and ham soup, DELICIOUS. I got an actual virtuous thrill from the fact that all the items in the soup were the sort of item that might easily just get chucked out. I mean, who keeps 2 old leeks? Who saves 1/4 of an onion? ME!! I DO! I’M THE WINNER. It’s sad really, but it’s my thing.

    1. Ha! I do that all the time! I hate waste, not only that it means throwing money out the window, but with all the hardships others encounter, it kills me not to use my resources wisely. I am very lucky that my husband loves home cooked meals no matter what’s on the plate.

      1. That’s awesome, Caroline. And “freezer-museum” is a perfect term for it. I think there’s much to be commended in not wasting food.

    2. I do the same thing without the meat. We call it freezer soup because that’s where I keep all my leftover veg bits.

  5. Yes, yes! Amy Dacyczyn, of the Tightwad Gazette and Maine’s queen of frugality, once wrote that frugality without creativity is deprivation. Or something like that. Another way of putting it is the joy of being resourceful.

  6. I play a frugality game: every week I set myself the challenge to save $100. Every time I avoid an expense (biking to work rather than taking the subway, bringing a bag lunch, foregoing coffee out), I tally it up. If I cave in to a superfluous expense, I deduct it from my challenge savings. At the end of the month, I take the sum of the 4 weeks of challenges and funnel the money into a bucket of our Betterment account earmarked for travel. It’s actually a lot of fun!

  7. For me, frugality goes hand in hand with simplicity. Since I’ve tried to declutter my life (physically, emotionally, and mentally), frugality helps bring my priorities into focus. My husband and I are all about weaving friendly competitions into personal finance and frugality, too. The things I love (hikes, walks, being out in nature, yoga, drinking tea, reading, etc.) are frugal, but they’re my hobbies first.

  8. Hobby. That’s a nice name for it, Mrs. FW. A way for other, non-weirdos, to possibly understand. But a more truthful collection of terms, in my case, might be: addiction; compulsion; driving force bred into the core of my being; guilty pleasure; source of great rushes of endorphins.

    Bargains feel GOOD, man. Especially living in a state where we pay a LOT of taxes (Illinois). Getting more than what you pay for, getting more for less than other people pay, getting a luxurious and comfortable life for pennies on the dollar. Sometimes for NOTHING on the dollar. (Shudders of happiness). And then turning around and sharing that bounty with others feels awfully dang good too. Passing on the stuff we got for free ($400 baby crib) three years later to someone else for free, even through we could have gotten 50 or 100 bucks for it.

    But yeah, hobby sounds a lot better and probably will help keep me at the weirdo level socially rather than the nutjob level I probably deserve.

    1. That last point is also one I subscribe to; the idea of passing on, either for a simple swap or just free, stuff I got either very inexpensively or free. I know that one probably could get a bit of cash and if finances were truly dire, I would have to at least try, but I do think a sharing community (I’m fortunate to live in one), without going all communist and hippy about it, is a great thing. If you have and you don’t need and it’s sitting there, doing nothing, taking up space, then give it to someone who genuinely does need it. I’ve passed on various things along the way, and hope that one day, should I really need something and lack the means, someone might do the same for me. It’s a toss-up of course, but generosity, done thoughtfully and carefully, breeds further kindness… or at least that’s my hope!

  9. Perhaps I get gratification out of “beating” the marketers at their game. Do I need the $14 bottle of laundry soap becasue their commercials are little feats of film wonder, with perfect actors, playing perfect domestic roles? No-the $5,99 bottle with an added scoop of baking soda from a $1 box yields exceptionally good results in my hard water, saving me $84 a year, plus the smugness that I beat my opponent.

  10. Great post Mrs. FW! I love being creative over merely consuming. I like the sense of awareness and self-reliance that comes from making my own bread, facial exfoliant, mailer boxes and gift cards. Doing these things often saves time, money and comes with a gratifying sense of accomplishment. It becomes a simple pleasure.

  11. I’ve noticed changes in the way I consume now. We are going on vacation and normally, I would have made my way to the stores to get a whole new wardrobe just for that week. Not this time…we will just have to do with what we have! Also, my mother (whom we are visiting) lives in a country in which a pound of coffee is $6 and my husband can’t live without a cup of Joe. I decided to buy a pound of coffee for $2 here and take it with us. The same thing goes for milk, over $6 a gallon, coffee creamer will just have to do!

  12. Yes! Competition. It’s all a game. It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep!
    Thank you for your wonderful posts. They are a lot of fun and have inspired me to take out my magnifying glass on expenses.
    I have been able to trim at least $300.00 per month. And, I’m still looking at areas to cut. Win!!! Thanks again!

  13. Great post. The simple pleasures and the fringe benefits are things I didn’t expect from frugality, either. I’m with you on the bread. I haven’t made any in a while, but I used to make it all the time, and there were several times when I’d show up with my PBJ “sandwich” in a plastic container, eating it with a spoon, because the bread came out way too crumbly. 🙂 (Having just watched “Cooked” on Netflix, I’m thinking it would be fun to make bread with just the yeast it can gather from the air. Free yeast! And DIY satisfaction!)

  14. I agree that frugality is my hobby. And also…I think it helps that I’m a jill-of-all-trades, master of none.

    On one hand, I get good at things, but I’m rarely a “master”.

    On the other hand, because I’m good at many things, people ask me to do many things. Flattering at work, but tiring.

  15. I recently decided – despite my utter lack of any carpentry skills what so ever- that I would rip out all the kitchen cabinets and attempt a remodel. All. By. Myself. It has definitely come with some challenges but overall I feel super empowered. Plus, I have friends that are actually excited to help me! Learning new skills. Community building. Living in a conduction zone. It’s all good.

    1. I’ve had mixed results on this, sometimes it’s worked out well other times it would have been not only cheaper but way better quality to hire someone. Case in point, put in an Ikea kitchen, what a F-ing nightmare, 65 flat packed boxes, missing stuff. Trying to fit in a countertop took 4 trips to back to the lumber yard to get it cut right. Even worse for the same money a company would have installed the whole thing in a day! We’re looking at re-doing our bathroom and there is no way in God’s green earth I will do this myself, unless of course your style is homeless shelter.

      1. On the other hand my nephew re-did his kitchen and it looks like something out of home and gardens, but he works in contruction and so does his dad so he has the skills and the tools

  16. Totally agree. I tell people all the time, being frugal is like a game for me, it’s fun to see how much I can save. Yesterday, I made an unnecessary phone call to a car dealership to find out how much they’d charge me for a repair just so I could relish the idea of how much I was saving by taking it to a small local mechanic. They did not want to tell me over the phone, at all, but I finally got them to. The answer? I’m going to save over $300!! HA!!

  17. My frugality beyond saving cash , would be a better cook. I experiment at home with dinner more often now then I did last year. I discuss my receipe with my fiancé before starting, sometimes he gives me some tips and sometimes he helps me cook. It has brought us closer.

    We also love grocery shopping together.

    One other hobbing we have picked up together living and loving in Brooklyn, NY is visiting museums every two weeks, it means we’re not home hiding behind our phone, laptops, tv, games.

  18. I hear you growing more excited about homemaking as time goes on in your frugal adventures. I can’t wait to see how happy you will be when you actually quit your job and move to your homestead in the woods and explore the joys of actually being able to do such pursuits full time! Nomatter what careers I have worked over the years, none can compare with what I do at home. Let me know if you would like a (free of course) copy of my book Home for Good: Homemaking Simplicity & Contentment. Thanks for sharing your happy family with us.

  19. I have a favorite pair of black pants I bought for a few dollars about 3 years ago & wear them about 3 times a week. I recently made a great buy on a pair of white Capris @ Goodwill for $2.00. They were dingy & had a pin tiny hole in the left thigh leg. I put an iron on patch on the capris & monogrammed a flower over with my embroidery machine. Lovely. So hub washed them with a splash of bleach & they were great. Fast forward to the next time I wore my black slacks, hub came behind me & said I had a concern with my slacks. I’m thinking, “hole or rip.” No, it was a bleach splatter on the back of my back knee. How did that happen? I wore them anyway & when we got home, hub colored (covered) the bleach spot with a black permanent marker. It’s all good.

    1. Love it! I once had a light patch on the rear of some nice gray slacks. I carefully shaded it in with a black eyeliner – it looked perfect! My favourite frugal hobby is cooking. I used to go to Korean or Thai restaurants when I was craving it, always for the same dishes. So I learned to make pad Thai and kimchi pancake 🙂

      1. I used to like eating out too. Cooking is a hobby of mine now. I found a Korean cookbook on sale at the library book sale table for $2. My Korean friends take me out shopping for ingredients. They know the best deals in town. We have great fun. Sometimes I am given homemade kimchi as well, to make kimchi pancake. :).

        Another way I solve my desire to eat out is to host potlucks at our home. Everyone brings a dish to share. For the cost of one meal I get fun and games.

    2. I fixed a bleach spot on the sleeve of a favorite dark red/charcoal gray striped shirt with red lipstick and a fine-point black permanent marker. Both of the fixes stained the bleached spot appropriately and now I have a hard time seeing where it was fixed.

  20. I love ready your articles!! Im not very good at being frugal but I’m getting better at it. I think it takes time to go from one style of life to another. I love your pictures of your doggie and your baby. Keep the articles coming and maybe one day I will be as good at being frugal as you. Happy Easter

  21. I’ve recently found your blog and I’m enjoying it very much! I could say that being frugal is my hobby, I genuinely enjoy saving money and finding creative ways to save more (I do cut my partner’s hair too). I like a good challenge, so I could also say that challenging myself is my hobby too, in respect of personal finance and other aspects of life (my job, clean eating, working out, for example). It’s fun and makes my life so much more interesting!

    Also, congratulations on a baby! I had my baby boy at the end of last year too.

  22. Every time I do something frugal I reflect on the end result and marvel at how much some people pay for what I produced. A $5 meal for the family that would have cost $60 at a restaurant? Score! An $85 car repair that I completed in 7 minutes (including 2 minutes of youtubing) for the cost of a $10 part? Genius!

    I get that feeling of accomplishment out of learning something new and figuring out how to do something for myself. Hiring out the help is rarely as rewarding.

    1. I think Justin nailed my feelings about how YouTube Video’s empower us mere mortals to do god-like things armed with just in time tutorials. These are empowering times. Whenever you can define the problem there is likely a YouTube video with solutions.

      Probably worth a whole article in and of itself. This is my favorite empowerment blog – you write such inspiring articles!

  23. Yup, I totally see it as a hobby. Also as some sort of Super power, something I mentioned recently in my own blog. Somehow, not everyone is able to be frugal.

  24. I enjoy cooking our family meals, including baby food! I wouldn’t say I enjoy cutting my own hair but I prefer to do it myself vs going to a salon. I found that I don’t enjoy doing my own yard work so we moved to an apartment. No yard, no problem haha!

  25. Frugality is not a sacrifice in life. Frugality is a means to gain more freedom in life.

    My girlfriend also cuts my hair, but I’m pretty sure our relationship would burn down if I tried to cut her hair. Maybe one day.

    I’ve also taken up amateur photography. To me, that means going on walks or runs and looking for cool shots to take that I can use for my blog.

    You’re summary of frugality is so true. At its core its about seeking the good internally or from those closest to you. This goes against the common approach of seeking entertainment from outside, often purchased, sources.

  26. A bit off topic, but I wonder if you can write about your frugal weirdness (your term not mine!!) in relation to work and specifally lunches. Maybe its just our office, but every week or two at the most, we got out for lunch. Good for bonding, nice to get out of the office, etc, but adds to the bills. How do you avoid this? How do you recommend avoiding it but not being isolated?

  27. My boyfriend and I are pretty frugal in most areas of our life, however, we still haven’t given up professional haircuts. He’s asked me to cut his hair, but I’m scared I’ll mess it up. Ugh. I know it’s just hair and it’ll grow back, but he almost always complains about how the hairdresser messed up. What if he complains about the haircut I give him? I’d feel horrible. Maybe someday I’ll work up the courage…

    1. Just cut a little bit at a time, and look up videos online first. It will take longer than the hairdresser, but you’ve got the added benefit of being able to provide touch ups the next day if you missed a spot! 🙂

  28. Community-building: so true! We have a neighborhood garden that all of us share tending, and share in reaping the benefits! I think in the end we *might* be saving money on fresh, organic food, but we are also building friendships and (I think) improving our community in the process.

  29. Mrs. Frugalwoods, I enjoy your blog a lot and am amazed that you and Mr. F. are so wise at such a young age. I am 57 and am finally reaching the place where you already seem to be. I have made and blown a lot of money over my life. I wish I had understood more of this much earlier. In addition to frugality I am also striving for zero waste but have a long way to go there. You are such a good writer and reading your blog seems to help,crystallize and support my thoughts. I wish the best to you and your family.

  30. I love frugality! If I could, I would paint my entire room by myself and put up curtain rods in it! C: But since my mother and I plan on moving, I don’t want to waste money doing any of that or I totally would!

    I like to play the game see how much money you can save when buying things for pennies on the dollar! All you do is go to the Dollar Tree for everything you need and save and win, lol! xD But the point of that game is to not buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need at the Dollar Tree, just only things you need. I also like to keep as much money in my wallet as possible by spending less! It’s exciting to see you still have a lot of money left from all of your purchases at the end of the day!

    Also, to save even more money, start a change jar and collect all of your change and when you have too much of it, instead of going to those change machines, roll your change yourself for maximum profit! 8D I just started this 2 months ago and I have nearly $40.00 in change already! I”m going to put it toward something eventually, lol!

    I hope your family has a wonderful Easter! C:

  31. I’m so content to live out my cheap, uh, frugal life. I really don’t mind that most of my winter wardrobe came from a $1 fill a bag clothing sale at a church rummage sale last summer. Or that my Easter dress was $6 at Goodwill. Or that we buy yellow tag meat. Or that we don’t have TV. Or that we repair our own car dents when deer run into it (truly). Or that I cook at home much more than we eat out. Or that I buy from the scratch and dent shelves at the grocery. The last time I went to the grocery I spent $13 and saved $19. How did that happen lol. Having to live a frugal life isn’t a failure. It’s thought and purpose driven. And a hobby!

      1. I suppose where I get a little weird is when I realize I’m waaay too excited to find bread for 49 cents instead of 99 cents and name brand Q-tips 500 for 90 cents at scratch and dent. Or that when the flea market offers 30 VHS tapes for a dollar (true!) we walk away because we can’t find 30 good ones–but we spend the half hour looking just in case. I like ‘curating’ instead of consuming. The odd thing is, living as we do, we actually have opportunities to give and share.

  32. I love mending and saving things! Big Brother’s pants have patches on top of patches and I really stretched out the life of my jeans with inner-thigh patches. (Eventually I spilled vegetable oil all over them and the knee ripped–then it was time to say goodbye.)

    Mmmm, baking. The 100 Days of Real Food blog and cookbook have some yummy real-food baking recipes. I made their whole wheat blueberry scones. I was afraid whole wheat scones would be, well, rock-like, but they were not at all! Also these cookies, made with whole wheat and sweetened with maple syrup:

    They are much wholesomer than traditional cookies, but the children will eat just as many veggies in order to get one. Also good for grown-ups drinking tea.

  33. Frugality is focus. Focusing on what’s important. It’s why l like backpacking or canoe camping. It’s elemental. You only have what you can carry. You learn what is essential

  34. Frugality is focus. Focusing on what is important.
    I like backpacking and canoe camping because you only have what you can carry.
    You learn what is essential.

  35. Before buying anything, I always pause and ask “Do I want this or do I need this?” Taking this second to think has probably saved us many thousands over the years. That extra moment of thinking stops almost all impulse buying and keeps us focused on paying for things we need and not useless things we see.

  36. I too find frugality an exciting hobby. I’m not as far into it as you are, but it’s exciting to figure out how to go without or to make something myself for cheaper. I think we lose a lot as a society by jumping so easily to buying something or using disposable things.

  37. I notice that as I earn more money I am less likely to do things for myself. Sometimes it is actually cheaper to hire something done than to take me away rom my own earning endeavors.

  38. This post reminds me that I have 1.5 bags of cranberries in my freezer that I should make into bread. Care to share the link to the recipe that you did like?

  39. Ha! “Collecting frequent flyer miles” has been my hobby for a while. Are there any auxiliary benefits other than getting to travel cheaply? Not really. Although we do have higher credit scores now.

    I suppose frugality is my hobby too. I get out more often on my bicycle, breath the fresh air and get fit. I’m better at baking by making all kinds of things for people.

  40. I never thought of outsourcing everything as “disempowering” before but by golly, it’s true!!! I had a true eureka moment reading that. I’ve spent so much time leaving things to “experts” (even though I’m confronted with subpar service/work allllll the darn time!) because I’ve been told messages that I’ll never do it as well myself, that things are best left to pros. I don’t even give myself a chance – or enough chances – to give something a proper go myself, practice it until I’ve made progress, and then feel darn good about it! I’m going to work on the empowering side of insourcing from here on in 🙂

  41. I love the term “peak frugality” – very fun. Frugality is a hobby for our family as well, but we still have a lot to learn before we can make it to the same level of frugality as you guys :-).

  42. I really like your common sense approach, and you’re right about the perspective of viewing frugality as a hobby-it makes it more challenging and even fun. I have rejected the marketer’s and media’s focus on consumerism as well, it is only meant as a means to keep us feeling unsatisfied with ourselves. I am saving for retirement so I have been focused on frugality, but have become even more so because I would like to give to others and church as well without affecting the retirement savings so much. Now if I could only find someone to give me a haircut!

  43. Hi Mrs.Frugalwoods,
    As a MA resident, we share a lot in common. I go to Market Basket regularly. Before I moved in with my boyfriend, I was able to live on a budget of $50/week for grocery in addition to occasional dine-out. My boyfriend cut his own hair as well. I haven’t let him done my haircut yet cuz I don’t have confidence in his techniques..(and my go-to hair stylist looks cute)
    However, after we moved in together, I found it’s hard to prepare food for two people than me alone. It takes more time, and he has all kinds of preferences into food. So, as a compromise, we have to dine out/eat at companies’ cafe 3/4 days of a week. Your blog certainly prompts me to cook more for a fatter savings account!

    I was wondering how you cope with work & cook at home? I have a 40 mins+ one way commute everyday, and usually when I get home it’s around 7PM. If I cook, eat, and clean the dishes by hand, (dishwasher is not so handy for our two-person household), it will be at around 9pm..I’m sure you have less time to cook as you have a baby, but how exactly can you time manage all the “insourced” chores? Do you have these moments like ” I worked so hard today and I feel tired so let’s dine out and enjoy the evening? “

    1. Hi Yolanda! So our best solution to the weekday after-work dinner grind is to make really easy meals Monday-Thursday. We rotate just a few super simple recipes and we don’t try to do anything too fancy. Another option we like is to make meals ahead of time and freeze them–this works best with chilis, soups, and stews. Then we just defrost and voila, dinner! This post has more details: Why We Don’t Meal Plan
      . Good luck!!

  44. What I exceptionally like about living the frugal life is this community I discovered because of it. People just as daft as I am who are trying to beat the consumer system to live a life much more valuable, based on their own dreams and ambitions. I read about things that I never considered possible and they inspire me greatly.

    But also in daily life, things and relationships seem more ‘real’ when you reconsider your spending habits. You’re constantly evaluating what’s important to you, and make choices based on that.

  45. Frugal history is repeating its of in my life! Fifty years ago I cut my Father’s hair, did this for many years. Thirty years ago I started cutting our son’s hair. Now, I cut my husbands hair! I wouldn’t actually call cutting hair my hobby, but, we love the savings!
    My real hobby is sewing. Not so much mending, although, I can do repairs. Creating from the beginning is what I really enjoy! All our grandsons have curtains in their rooms that I’ve made. Recovered dining room chairs, made lots of clothes and quilts for family members and myself.
    We’re in the process of having our dream, green home built. We’ll have gardens and orchards wi h an outdoor kitchen to can the harvest. Planning this home has been our hobby for the last 10 years. Something we enjoy doing together has been really fun, and seeing it in real life is thrilling.
    We plan to pursue our next hobby together, too. We want to learn to weld!

  46. Stumbled across this a few days ago – am loving reading about your independence!! So proud to see my age group with some damn sense 😉

    I derive the most insane joy from hanging my laundry – i did it as a child when we were BROKE and couldn’t afford the electric to run the dryer. My parents were insanely frugal – and i tend to be as well.

    We were renting but two years ago i asked my husband a question: would you live in a camper? He said yes and it has been a blessing for us – less expenses means less stresses!!

  47. Good to know that you can bake Frugalwoods. I think it’s one best way to save money. You know what I made it as a side hustle and can earn some money during special occasions.

  48. The part that really hit home for me is where you mentioned, “frugality is the art of learning because the true crux of not spending money is learning to do things yourself.” I used to only consider frugality to be a discipline, but after reading your post it really makes sense how saving, along with the various ways to get around paying for things, really is a skill that can be learned. It also made me sit back and think about some of the instances where I took the easy way out and opted to pay for something versus learn how to do it on my own. What a great new perspective I have 😉

  49. Hey, that cranberry walnut bread still looks delicious! I did the exact same thing with chocolate Bundt cakes this week. Oops! Yes, I think for frugality to work (and for you to enjoy it), it needs to be a hobby. I personally find it fascinating to learn how to make products we buy at the store ourselves. We just started making our own pickles, so that saves us $4 at the store already!

  50. Thank you for this article! I never thought about it, but it is a hobby of mine.

    When I had a demanding career, and 2 kids under 2, we outsourced more. Now that I am a SAHM to my 4 and 2 yr old, I am constantly looking for ways to sell items on Craiglist, eBay, or if I want (not need) anything, I see if I have something else first.

    I have been cutting my hair for 9 months now. I wear it up all the time anyway (always kind of have). I love being able to pull out my scissors and get going. No one to call, make appointments, planning with spouse to make appointment, wait, forced small talk, etc.

    As my kids get older, I look forward to DYING even more things – canning, growing food and herbs, back into sewing. I already can do many repairs on our house, including fixing some leaky tiles in our hallway bath.

  51. I am not sure how to reply to someone’s specific comment – but a couple of comments touched on the subject of “decluttering”. This is one of my favorite things. I think it is a necessary component of being frugal, along with organization. IF you know what you own, and where it is – you don’t need to go buy an extra “hammer” or whatever.
    The other day, when I was organizing my closet and putting my shirts in color order – I discovered, I have two almost identical shirts (same color, same style) – the only difference was one was from Old Navy, the other from Gap. I wish I could say I bought them both at thrift stores – I didn’t. But that has since been my first “go-to” for clothing.

  52. I love the idea of having frugality as a hobby. It’s certainly less expensive than hobbies that require equipment and supplies. My latest attempt to one-up myself in the frugality game was to adopt Zero-Waste movement ideas. Talk about a game changer! It adds more layers to the reasons for not buying anything.

    Imagine not having any trash to throw out because you don’t bring it in the house in the first place. It seems extreme at first, but once you get going it’s very freeing. We DIY cleaning products and toiletries, and I already had mason jars for storing the condiments I make myself, plus I have access to a store that has a bulk item section where I can get the tare weight of my receptacle and just fill them. If I do buy items in packaging, I try to make sure the packaging is reusable or recyclable. Between composting and recycling, there is literally no trash to take to the curb. I think this saves a lot of money because we aren’t paying for packaging and we’re definitely not paying for processing food and supplies that we can do ourselves.

  53. My husband did all the cooking and grocery shopping for over 35+ years when I worked outside the home while we raised 3 daughters. He got off work earlier than I did. Now I’m retired and I am starting to cook and actually enjoy it. DH still loves to cook but is able to do things he enjoys like last weekend he made hot dogs, from scratch! My youngest daughter and family are moving in with us in 6 months, when school is out. They lived with us when my legally blind son-in-law was medically retired from the Marine Corps. I worked when they lived with us before, so I am excited about spending more time with my granddaughters and cooking with them. I have already taught my 8 year old to sew and she is excited to learn to sew clothes!

  54. Your blog rocks ! So beneficial in so many ways. Thank you sincerely to Mr and Mrs Frugalwoods. I admit I am a frugal weirdo also and I love it. I’ve wasted my share of money because spending was a bandaid for my high pressures (but well paying) jobs I hated. Now I work at a job I love but make very little, so frugality is required- I love the frugal non wasteful lifestyle. 💗 Yay for the frugality movement! I was wondering how you keep your house clean? Scheduled cleaning days? Homemade cleaning products? Thanks-

    1. Thank you, Beth! We pick up the house every day so that it’s (almost) always tidy and then we have rotation of when the bigger stuff gets cleaned. I mostly use a homemade solution of water and vinegar. Hope this helps :)!

  55. To the Frugalwoods Thank you so much for your inspirations-this is my second Uber Frugal challenge this year- we have trimmed 200.00 per month from our food/household budget-that is a LOT of money – from 600.00 a month to 400.00- (use to be even more) Reduced the internet by 20.00 a month with no change in service and as soon as my phone contract is up in December will be saving about 30.00 a month down to 20,00 with TIng-(I am an oil landscape artist) – Gifts are NEXT! I make soy candles and note cards from my paintings-. I found that always anticipating for gifts ahead of time keeps me from spending too much! The CREATIVITY OF FRUGALITY is life changing! Thank you!

  56. I absolutely love this piece – i have struggled with sticking to the UFM challenge over last couple of days, so am now a few days behind with the different challenges – but reading this blog and its comments, has re-ignited my enthusiasm. I can’t believe that I never picked-up on the ‘frugality-as-a-hobby’ approach before now – duh! This has reminded me that the creativity side of things can/should be enjoyable rather than just a necessary slog. Thanks!

  57. This is my first UFM challenge – in the last two days I’ve discovered I love using our chainsaw and the weed whacker! LOL! Who knew, I have hidden mad skills. Taking down small beach pine trees = fun and weed whacking my way towards a very old & wild pear tree = priceless. My dad and I made our way in and gave the pear tree a good pruning. It immediately looked happier – now the test will be to see if it continues to bear fruit. We also saw several others – but we’ll have to weed whack into them as well. Also – made bagels for the first time this morning! Super huge hit at home. Using ingredients I always have on hand. Thank you for this challenge and your posts – making our way happily in this challenge/lifestyle

  58. I was very happy today, because I was unexpectedly able to put a skill to use that I learned almost 40 years ago! It saved me $482.00! It has to do with an orthodontic device that I suddenly (and unexpectedly) needed for myself, and which I was able to make out of an over-the-counter product! (I don’t want to go into any more details than that here, because I wouldn’t want anybody to try it, and inadvertently end up harming themselves or others.)

  59. I enjoyed this post a lot. I consider being frugal a hobby of mine also. I am 80 years old and live alone so my life is different from a lot of you. Today I had to fill my car with gas. It was the first time in 34 days! Next fill will be shorter because of some out of town trips that I need to make. I went to the library today and spent an hour or so looking at some magazines and checking out books. I bought some cookies that were on sale a while back. They were so hard that I didn’t want to eat them so I put them in my blender and ground them up. I have had them for breakfast with milk. I accidentally bought some roasted cashews that were not salted, so tomorrow I am going to grind them in the blender with a little peanut oil. I will use it like peanut butter for a spread. I eat lunch five days a week at the Senior Center for $3.00 a meal. I bought a really pretty printed top sheet at Goodwill for 75 cents and will make myself a dress out of it this winter. I don’t need a lot of $. I am having fun at this point in my life!

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