What's Your Frugal Style?

4 years ago


  1.   Quick!  It’s the holidays and you have to bring something for the Secret Santa at your office party!  Do you:

A             Browse TJ Maxx, Goodwill, and the dollar store for the cheapest but cutest *something*, with plenty of sparkle and ribbons to distract from the fact that it’s “just” a candle?

B             Get a sort of ok thingy from one of those stores, or your basement, then head to AC Moore or your local craft outlet to jazz it up with paint, pinecones, and  raffia?

C             Say the hell with it all, you opted out of that months ago.  You’ll bring a plate of cookies for everyone to share.

D             Look at that novelty santa mail mug collection a relative gave you last year and think “this is the perfect opportunity to get this out of my house and fulfill a silly obligation!”


2.  Oh look, fashion has changed yet again.  But this time, you do feel like following a trend.  As a frugalista, you’re not going to outright buy New Thing #73, but you want to try it.  What do you do?

A             Notice that today’s blazer/boots/scarf isn’t quite so different that one from last year.  Time to hit Burlington Coat Factory!

B             Didn’t I wear something like this in the 80s?  The 90s?  The 00s?  Let’s see if I can update it for 2013!

C             Oh, please.  This will be out of fashion in 6 months or less.  I’m going to stay with my tried and trues!

D             Hmm, I wonder if I can retrofit anything in the consignment store, or (better yet) Mom’s attic!



3.  You’re in the checkout lane at your favorite supermarket when you spy a copy of “Impossibly Perfect Decorating Magazine”.  What pops in your head?

A             Would you just look at those prices?  Why does anything covered in twine cost $200? How can you possibly have artisanal goose feathers in your throw pillows?  Why is everything white, that’ll cost a fortune in cleaning!

B             Some of this stuff is too precious by far, but I have a set of plain glass canisters that almost look like the super-stylish ones.  I just need to decoupage a little, or etch the glass…you know, I need to hit Joann’s after this!

C             What is this?  Who has time to hang all those mason jars? I don’t care how many fairy lights are in them, and how charming they are, that’s insane!  I have perfectly lovely lamps and fixtures already in my home.  Back to the rack with this rag!

D             You know, some of Aunt Suzy’s old suitcases are in pretty good shape.  If she let me have them in exchange for some yard work, I could mimic that absolutely adorable vintage luggage storage idea.  Hmm, where’d I put my phone, let me give her a call!



4.  You’re up early, sipping coffee, perusing blogs.  You see some comments that heavily criticize the frugal lifestyle, calling it privileged, classist, and generally unattainable for most of the population.  How would you respond?

A             Frugality is a state of mind, which anyone can get into.  Sure, you can still buy things when you need them, but it’s about questioning the way in which you buy.  You don’t have to accept a set price, you can wait for a sale, use coupons, go in on purchases with friends, and so on.  You don’t have to spend money to save money!

B             To be frugal, you need to look with fresh eyes and creativity at what you already have, not what you’re going to acquire.  The skills needed to cook, alter clothing, or freshen up your home are, at their heart, not expensive at all.  If you learn to alter the items you have instead of buying bells and whistles (no matter how much they save in the long run!) you’re just as frugal as anyone.

C             This person has a point.  A lot of frugal advice out there does ask you to “just” buy this coffee grinder or this composter, or this new washer/dryer.   Even if it’s going to save you money in 6 months, a year, and so on, you may not have the money for the initial cash outlay.  Frugal writers really need to start adding “how to do without” to their conversations – not just how to cheaply keep up with the Joneses -because many of us simply have to forgo things.

D             There’s two schools of thought here.  One is how to intelligently acquire new goods and services (because you have to, sooner or later).  The other revolves around “making it do”, which is a much more universal concept.  Many people (not all but many) acquire “stuff” all the time, and it’s in the frugalista’s best interest to investigate how to use this quiet accumulation.  This can be using, gifting, or altering physical objects that have “followed” us for years, instead of acquiring new.  It can also mean “crowdsourcing” things like help moving, cleaning, repairing, and more.  Frugal is about looking at the resources already in your grasp, which are always more than you think.




5.  Tip time!  What are your favorite frugal moves?  What advice can you give to the newly thrifty?

A             Keep your browser’s bookmark list stocked with coupon sites like RetailmeNot and others.  Google is your friend for finding discounts you may not have heard of.  Also, make sure that you always mail in rebates –it’s worth it!

B             Alter it!  Hack your stuff, seriously.  That jar may be just a jar right now, but with a candle in it and some pretty ribbon and dried flowers tied to the outside, you have an instant centerpiece that will wow your guests.  Those dollar store photo frames will be a showpiece with your photos and some printouts from The Graphics Fairy!  Get used to seeing potential in your stuff!

C             Be honest with yourself!  Do you really need that, or is it a temporary want?  If you can’t give yourself a straight answer, sleep on it.  It’s ok to take your time with purchases.  Make lists to save for later, when you’ve cooled your heels, or if it’s a big investment you’re looking at, make pro and con lists.  Remember: you’re a person not a consumer!

D             Wear, use, and display old stuff with pride!  It’s true, “they” certainly don’t make things like they used to.  Maintaining older appliances, vehicles, and so on as long as you can (safely) is far more frugal than rushing out to buy new, even if it’s got frugal qualities.  Waiting to replace an item (especially big ones) will also give you time to save money for your new one, so you’re not stuck just buying what’s left over.




Answer time!

Were your answers mostly A?  You’re Discount  Danielle!

What’s a “full price”?  What is that funny term?  You have no problems acquiring stuff, as long as it’s accompanied by ample coupons, or already marked down.  You are thrifty and multitask very well, which you need to do to keep up on all the good sales!  You don’t get up in the morning for anything less than 40% off!

Did you stick to B choices? You’re Cycle it Charlene!

Recycle, Upcycle, whatever – as long as stuff goes around and around!  You are inventive and crafty, which you need to be in order to re-imagine an item as something grand.  You probably have quite the decorative stash, or even a full-fledged workroom, where you alter everything from clothes to candles to handbags.  No stone unturned, no object unaltered!

Was C your thing?  You’re Forgoing it Fran!

You have made your decision and you’re going to stick to it!  Not every occasion necessitates buying or gifting!  You’re practical and analytical, capable of dealing with the immediate situation and thinking of the big picture.  You opt for the intangibles over the flashy, and you’re proud of it!

Did you favor D?  You’re Handmedown Hannah!

You’re a pretty close cousin to Cycle it Charlene, but you’re more apt to use hand-me-down items in your personal life.  You make the most with what you’re given: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”.  You’ve probably got a motley collection of vintage and inherited items in your home, but that’s what gives your style pizzazz!



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