“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” The American statesman Benjamin Franklin viewed frugality as a path to wealth and contentment. For Americans today, saddled with debt, recovering from job losses brought by economic downturn, and immersed in a culture of excess, frugality may be a path of necessity.
The benefits of frugality are myriad and range from the obvious – the eventual wealth Franklin spoke of – to the unexpected. Not only does a frugal lifestyle provide a lifeline out of debt and a slow path to financial stability, it also brings the quiet joys of discipline and contented simplicity.
Why take the frugal path? The average American household with credit card debt carries a debt of over $15,000.00.
For graduating college student with loans, the average debt burden is over $25,000.00. We are a nation of debtors, and living frugally offers a route to financial freedom.
Frugal living is a way to overcome (or even better, avoid) debt. And it allows people to make long term, positive choices with their money. Exercising fiscal responsibility and restraint allows people to direct money towards savings, retirement accounts, and college funds for children – big rewards rather than daily indulgences.
But the pay-off of frugality isn’t simply financial. The benefits of frugality extend far beyond the bank.
1. Frugal lifestyles are often healthier. In an effort to cut daily costs, many people rethink the way they eat. They plan weekly menus for budgeted grocery trips and stick to those menus. No more last-minute pizza delivery, fast-food lunches, or convenient but expensive ready-to-eat (and heavily processed) foods. Home cooked meals and packed lunches aren’t simply part of a savings-oriented financial plan, they also tend to be more intentional and healthier. Frugality can also close the doors to expensive habits like smoking and excess drinking.
2. Frugal living builds stronger families. Part of having a household budget is working together to build common financial goals. And less money to spend on entertainment can mean more creative and cooperative activities.
3. Frugality nourishes your spirit. Learning to live with less can enrich your mind and spirit and lead to true contentment. Doing without monetary resources can lead people to tap personal resources and rely on imagination, innovation, and creativity. And frugality exercises the virtues of discipline, patience, and self-control.
4. Frugal living is green living. Withdrawing from the consumer culture not only protects your money, it also protects our planet. Wasted money is often tied to wasted resources; frugality can spur choices to re-use and recycle, to opt for public transportation, and to reduce waste.