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There’s been a lot of talk about being frugal and being thrifty.  Ever since the US economy took a downturn it’s been a popular topic in media and around the web. Living frugally has also become a necessity for many of us. Let’s talk about what it means to be frugal, dispel some myths and misinformation and look at what it means to live frugally.

Being Frugal Doesn’t Mean You’re Poor or Cheap

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There are two common misconceptions about frugality. The first is that people who live frugally are poor. It’s actually the opposite. People who live frugally are smart with their money and use it wisely. As a result they aren’t drowning in debt and their bills get paid on time. Yes, you can live frugally on a small income, but many frugal people earn a decent living. They chose to live well below their means and spend money on what’s important to them.

Being frugal also doesn’t mean you’re cheap. Not having the biggest house on the block or the fanciest car in the neighborhood doesn’t make you cheap, it makes you smart. Yes, it can be a fine line between being frugal and being cheap, but there is an important difference. Being cheap often involves hurting someone else, while being frugal means you decide to forgo something so you can spend your money elsewhere or save it for a rainy day.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re going to your favorite fast food place and grab a burger and some fries. A cheap person will grab a big handful of ketchup packets to use at home later. A frugal person will save any leftover ketchup packets and use them later so they don’t go to waste. It’s a fine line, but there’s a difference.

Being Frugal Means You’re Smart About Spending

The main thing I want you to understand about being frugal is that it means you’re smart about how and where you spend your money. It’s a conscious decision and often requires a bit of planning. Instead of giving in to impulse buys (be it groceries you don’t really need or a new pair of pretty shoes), a frugal person decides she doesn’t need those items and saves the money instead. As a result she can then turn around and enjoy a fun vacation or make a down payment on a home. Or it may mean she can stay at home with the kids. Being frugal means you have options and that’s a beautiful thing to have.

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