Living cheaply is all about prioritizing and being cagey. Living cheaply is kind of like being on a diet. If you try to restrict yourself to raw vegetables and wheat thins, sooner or later you will break down and eat the contents of your fridge, and yes that includes the condiments. Living cheaply is not the same as living frugally.
Frugality is a lifestyle choice. It is in the eye of the beholder. It is about saving the most amount of money over the long term. Frugality , as I understand it, is to make wise choices when it comes to your expenses; it is the art of efficiently using your resources; it is the art of making the best of your life by staying within the limits of what you can afford. It is spending wisely and avoiding unnecessary expenses.
Frugality is usually applied to matters of consumption, and commonly points to simplicity of style; miserliness is frugality carried to an extreme, involving meanness of spirit, and a sordid mode of living. Economy is a virtue and parsimony a vice.
Frugality is living with less of what money can buy. It is the attempt to save money when you can, rather than spending it. Frugality is a great way to save money, especially if you don’t have a great deal of money coming in. It doesn’t mean I’m cheap, it means I have priorities, and avoid impulse buying. Frugality is very freeing and fulfilling. I have gained everything worthwhile and lost nothing of true value.
Personally I think frugality is a means to an end. For me I am frugal in order to save money so I can spend it on what I really care about most. I don’t think anyone can judge another as being “not frugal”. It’s not about a contest to see who can spend the least.
Rather than aiming for absolutes and risk failing miserably, incorporate frugality in your life in small doses. The change in your mindset will help you a lot in the long run, as opposed to small prizes by taking drastic steps.
Spending money on something unnecessary is wrong, but not spending money on something necessary is equally wrong. Spend less than you make. Don’t spend more than you can afford.
Material wealth does bring some happiness, but we generally overestimate how happy it actually makes us. Material purchases are about what you have. Experiential purchases are about who you are.