Frugal vs. Austere

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Walking The Fine Line Between Frugality And Austerity

frugal vs. austere

Every year as the New Year rolls around, the news media are rife with bleak stories about millions of families being forced to cut back on essentials such as heating and clothing in order to pay their rent or mortgage. The beginning of 2016 was no different, with a report by the housing charity Shelter that found one in 10 parents were worried about being able to afford their housing payments for the month of January. As well, separate research from the National Debtline around the same time showed that more than five and a half million Britons reported falling behind in their finances as a result of Christmas spending.

Though the problem seems especially poignant in the dead of winter, not having enough for essentials is a perennial problem for millions, and those so-called New Year’s “financial hangovers” can last well into the spring, summer and fall. For many, life is a continual struggle for the basics of survival – food, clothing and shelter – that so many other people take for granted. But even many who are not constantly struggling to afford the basics can easily find themselves in financial difficulties because of overspending on some of the “essentials.” It’s not a problem without a solution, however. A more mindful approach to shopping for some of those essentials can save hundreds of pounds a year. And you don’t have to live a completely austere life in order to save significant money.

Forget Being a Fashionista

Take clothing, for instance. There are many ways to save on clothing purchases and to be reasonably fashionable and well dressed without breaking your budget. The first thing you need to do, of course, is to be clear with yourself about your preferences in style. Do you prefer traditional dress, or are you more inclined to adopt the latest trends? While you can find some relative bargains as the latter, your choices – and potential savings – will be far greater if you opt for the traditional. And by traditional, we don’t mean just wearing three-piece worsted suits unless that is what your professional image requires. As a man, you might fit better into your professional and social circles garbed in khakis and button-down collared shirts. As a woman, you might opt for classical pants suits or skirt and blouse, rather than a typical business suit.

Whatever your style preference, look for quality materials and workmanship, even if the purchase price is a bit higher. Such items will retain their appearance and last longer than cheaper items that show their age pretty quickly and have to be replaced. This is particularly applicable where shoes are concerned. Cheap shoes not only deteriorate quickly, they tend to be less comfortable than quality shoes. And if shoes aren’t comfortable, you will be more prone to find excuses not to wear them, and the money you spent on them, no matter how little, will have been wasted.

Buy for your actual body type, rather than the body you wish you had. If you purchase a great looking ensemble that will be flattering once you’ve lost 20 pounds, it will likely look great on the hanger in your closet, but never see the light of day otherwise. In short, buy for function, not fantasy. Buy what will please you now, rather than sometime in an elusive future.

Don’t Be Such a Foodie

Food is another area in which you can really save significant money whilst eating healthier to boot. Especially in the last few years, what (and where) we eat has become every bit as trendy as what we wear, if not more so.

Natural is the new wholesome – It seems that we are deluged with new food pressures on a daily basis. Words like natural, cage-free, hormone-free, organic, and sustainable have flooded the common lexicon, but at the same time, lost much of their meaning, thanks to the absence of commonly-applied definitions and readily applied loopholes. It has gotten to the point where such definitions differentiate in the marketing and price of the products, rather than in accurate descriptions of the products themselves. If you want to feed your family nutritious meals and save money at the same time, you need to look beyond the marketing hype and pay for quality rather than trendiness.

Frozen is the new fresh – We would all prefer to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, but unless you live close to a true farmer’s market, it is likely that frozen fruits and vegetables will actually taste fresher than the “fresh” items in the produce section of your supermarket. Contrary to what many shoppers believe, there will likely be weeks or even months separating the harvest of “fresh” produce and their appearance in the store. Many frozen products, on the other hand, are quick frozen within hours after being picked, the result being that not only are they more economical, but they will likely offer better flavour and nutrition as well. This is particularly true about out-of-season produce, since the “fresh” products probably had to be shipped a great distance.

Cook it yourself – As our lives grow busier and busier, the temptation to buy pre-made, heavily processed foods is great. But you should realise that the additional effort required to prepare those foods often adds more to the final cost than do the ingredients themselves. By simply bypassing the”middle man” and preparing your own meals, you can improve the nutrition and enjoyment of the meals you serve, in addition to saving a lot of money. And there are ways to make preparing your own meals almost as easy as buying the prepackaged foods. Slow cookers and pressure cookers can turn even inexpensive foods – especially meats and poultry – into delicious dishes, while cutting preparation time significantly.

Taking a more budget-conscious approach to clothing and food purchases can leave more money to take care of that other big essential – shelter (along with the means to heat it in winter of course) – and possibly even leave enough left over for the occasional luxury. Life is all about tradeoffs, and sometimes there is a fine line between frugality and austerity. But with careful planning you’ll find that you don’t have to live a life of deprivation in order to save money.

The content and opinions in this sponsored post were provided by Readies

How frugal are you? Let me know in the comments below!

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20 Comments

  1. SO TRUE.

    When it comes to clothes, I’m definitely not a snob – a few years ago, a friend taught me how much more cost-effective it is to have style versus fashion. Now, I basically wear the same thing every day, which has made buying clothes a lot easier and cheaper. If it isn’t quality or it doesn’t fit my style, it ain’t coming home with me!

    Food on the other hand… *sigh* I love my organic and uber-local produce. I know I can save a lot more in the long-run financially, but I definitely think my health is a lot better for it.

    Another area I like to save money is books. Whenever possible, I will go to the library and borrow, if not, I’ll buy it, donate to the library, and save the receipt for tax deduction.

    Great post!

    • Thanks for reading Katasha! Your idea of buying a book and then donating it to your library is brilliant, I love it! 🙂

  2. I agree that having a more classic look helps save on clothing and there is a big push on capsule wardrobes to not buy as many items.
    Julie S recently posted…Gratitude and Goals March 11, 2016 #GratitudeGoalsMy Profile

  3. I am extremely frugal – I am currently on a three year spending ban. The reason I take frugality to an extreme is so that my husband and I can pay off six figures of student loan debt in just three years. We are currently living with my parents and I feel we owe it to them to be as frugal as possible so we can move out in three years.

    This extreme approach wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for us!
    Jen @ Frugal Millennial recently posted…How to Stop Fighting with Your Spouse About MoneyMy Profile

  4. We’re very frugal (me even more so than my husband) we both work part-time and by not being excessive in our spending, we live very comfortably. It’s a matter of choice and how important it is to you whether you have designer goods or just normal stuff. I think buying something nice occasionally helps as well.

  5. I’ve changed as I’ve matured Erin. I find that I don’t need to spend a lot of money on clothes to look and feel good. Same for my beauty products. My husband and I love to cook so we only dine out occasionally. This gives us the opportunity to travel each year which is far more exciting and enlightening than a $500 handbag. It is all about prioritizing and keeping a budget. Thanks for sharing with us at #Overthemoon and have a lovely day.
    sue recently posted…Over the Moon Link Up #14My Profile

  6. I’m a pretty frugal person. I try to help cost where ever I can! I must admit I’m guilty of splurging on yummy food! Still trying to get that under control.
    Healing Mama recently posted…The Stay At Home Mom Life- Living On One IncomeMy Profile

  7. I completely agree. It amazes me how many people are ‘broke’ and then spend money on new clothes and things like takeaway. We save a lot of money by only buying what we need and cooking from scratch. When you cook from scratch you not only save money but you are making better food. I know exactly what’s gone into my dish.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie
    Life Loving recently posted…Belly Dancing ClassesMy Profile

  8. Learning a few basic sewing skills can make your clothes last much longer too. And if you learn even more about alterations, you can really raid thrift stores.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #134My Profile

  9. Good for you! Happy birthday and congratulations on allowing your husband to spoil you a bit. At this point in our lives, we are taking for frugality way too far, but we don’t have another choice, at the moment. We try to make sure that our kids have what they need, so that means there have been no new clothes for my husband and I for years. I am still wearing items I have had for over 20 years, thankfully they are still in good condition. Soon, I am hoping that we will be able to go out and splurge a bit. Nothing big, but it sure makes you feel better about paying down the bills and attempting to get ahead. I hope that you really enjoyed your time out, you sure deserve it!

    • Thanks Nikki! I totally understand being frugal for the kids. I always make sure mine have what they need before I ever think of myself. Makes me appreciate my own parents more, because I know they did the same 🙂

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