Why I’m Not Sad That I’m Frugal – Frugal Doesn’t Mean Boring

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. -Elise Boulding After…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 27, 2023

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Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. -Elise Boulding

After I wrote this article, I found the above quote, which perfectly explains how I feel about money and spending.

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. #frugal #moneysavingtipsMany people think that happiness comes only from spending money. However, that is a sad way to think about money. Yes, money can help improve your life, but it is not everything. And, if not managed well, it can lead to debt, stress, and more.

Being frugal isn’t always what happens when you are out of options.

Sure, there are times when people must buckle down and spend less than they usually do, like if you are living paycheck to paycheck. However, living a frugal life can go beyond cutting things from your budget. It can be something that isn’t just a short-term solution– it’s one that you can benefit from for the long-term.

What I’m talking about is just living your own life and learning how to save money by not engaging in needless spending just to keep up with others, going into debt, spending beyond your means, and so on. And, don’t confuse this with being so frugal that you may actually be stealing (read Frugal, Cheap, or Thief? Are You Smart With Money Or Actually A Thief? to learn more).

Saying that you are frugal can lead to a lot of negative assumptions. People may think you are cheap, boring, and even a bad person. Many assume that frugal people only eat rice and beans (and nothing else ever), that they just sit at home all day and do nothing, that they have no hobbies, and more.

If you don’t believe me, I recommend you read through the comments on the next frugal-living related article on a major website such as Forbes, Yahoo Finance, or something similar. You may be surprised to see how many negative comments there are from readers.

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Despite all of the negativity that comes from saying you’re frugal, it’s still how I’ve chosen to live my life. Sure, I still have my splurges, but I am very conscious about how I spend my money.

I don’t feel like I’m missing out on what life has to offer. My life isn’t boring (I travel full-time in an RV!), I have great relationships, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a bad person!

I know a lot of people that are choosing to live a more simple life by being frugal, and they are some of the best people I know.

Sadly, those negative assumptions and myths about frugality cause many people to avoid it all together.

And, for many people, it isn’t until they are much older that they realize how much money they wasted when they were younger. They realize that they could have been more thoughtful about their purchases, saved more, and spent more time focusing on finding happiness through simplifying their lives.

However, by that age, it can often feel impossible to try to make up for all of that lost time when it comes to saving, earning money, and investing.

There are many reasons to save money, and it’s never too late to start. So, here is why I choose to be frugal in many areas of my life.


I live an enjoyable life, and I’m frugal.

Bigger isn’t always better. More isn’t always better either. I know this firsthand, and, as many of you know by now, I live and travel full-time in an RV. When we made this decision, we downsized a lot. Our home is much smaller now, and we have much less stuff.

Sure, I could go out and spend more of my income, but I don’t feel the need to spend any more of my money than I already do. I purchase what I want and need, and I am very happy with the life I live. Being frugal is not forced upon me, and it’s become a natural part of my day-to-day life.

By living a frugal life, you are most likely making do with what you have, buying and using quality items that will last, and so on.

By having less stuff and less clutter in your life, you will live a simpler life that you can truly enjoy. Material items do not always equal happiness. Sometimes they just add stress, debt, and more. Think about it – the more stuff you have, the more likely that something will break, something will get lost or tossed to the side, and so on.

When we were spending more due to lifestyle inflation, we realized we weren’t really appreciating the things we were spending our money on.

We were buying things, not enjoying them, and we were being a little lazy because we weren’t in the right mindset. I didn’t like feeling that way because I felt wasteful and even guilty about how I was spending my money and time.

By living frugally, as in being thoughtful about your purchases, you will find that you enjoy what you have even more. Wouldn’t you rather enjoying each meal you eat, each item you buy, and more? Appreciating the little things can be a great feeling.

Hiking is one of the frugal activities that I LOVE.


I’d rather save my money than waste it.

There is no reason to spend all of your money just because you are able to. In my opinion, finding ways to save money will bring you greater security and peace of mind.

Even if you are only able to save a small amount, that is much better than not saving anything.

Time and compound interest are both on your side, and this can turn the small amount of money you have saved into a much larger amount.


I don’t have any regrets about being frugal.

Some people believe that if you live a frugal life, that you will end up regretting it. However, I definitely disagree with that.

I’ve heard:

  • “Wow, that person must lead a very boring life if they save that much money.”
  • “I can’t save money because that means I’ll just be eating Ramen and sitting on my couch all day long.”

There is a myth that only very sad and boring people save money. I’ve heard it over and over again.

As you can probably guess, I really dislike this myth. It’s just not true at all.

There is absolutely no reason to go broke by spending all of your money in order to have a good time. I believe that you can balance living a good life while saving money.

The power of frugality means that you can still live a great life while on a budget. Money doesn’t have to dictate how much fun you have.

There are plenty of ways to live an awesome life while saving money. Yes, you can still see your friends, have fun with your loved ones, go on vacations, and more, all while staying on a realistic budget.

We spend less money than ever and travel full-time, so I know this is true!


RVing for us isn’t super frugal, but it has led to us being frugal in other areas of our lives.

Not everyone has to live the same life.

One of the most amazing things about life is that everyone is different. If everyone lived the exact same life – well, that would be really boring.

People can be so judgmental at times. People say crazy things about my life all the time, like I’m crazy to live in an RV even though I make $100,000 a month (hint: I don’t live in an RV to save money) and even that I shouldn’t be allowed to save money. Judging someone for the choices they make, ones that aren’t negatively affecting others, is just crazy to me. Let people do whatever they want, and if they want to save money, then who cares?

Just because someone is frugal, it doesn’t mean that they hate their life. If you think that, then you probably have some misconceptions about life and personal finance.

Perhaps, you don’t know how to enjoy life without spending a lot of money?

Just because that’s true for you, doesn’t mean that it’s true for everyone.


I don’t need a ton of stuff.

This is a big misunderstanding when people find out how much I make. Sure, we could be spending our money on new clothes, shoes, home decor, whatever, but having a high income doesn’t mean that I have to spend every last penny on material things.

In fact, that’s not what I want at all.

To me, more stuff does not equal happiness.

I’m not alone on this either, Why You Should Spend Like A Millionaire- The Frugal and Smart Money Habits of Millionaires.

Like I said, living in an RV means that you’ll have to downsize. While some people dread this, getting rid of nearly all of your stuff is extremely liberating.

When we sold our house and decided to live in an RV, we donated and got rid of a lot of our belongings. At first, it was difficult to get rid of so much, but it became easier as time went on.

These days, all we have is what we have with us. We have a small amount of everything, and we like it best this way.

We are much more mindful of what we buy, we hardly waste anything, and this is allowing us to save money as well.

Plus, when you live in an RV, you no longer have a need to buy as much stuff because the outdoors take up all of your time. We used to waste time and money going to the mall, Target, and other stores- but we hardly ever do that now. Instead, we spend a lot of our time exploring new places.

Read more at Downsizing Your Home? Here’s How I Went From A 2,000 Square Foot House To An RV.


It can be environmentally responsible to be frugal.

I don’t like waste. I think about every item I buy and how a new purchase may be wasteful. This is me just naturally being frugal. But, by choosing not to buy something and contribute to a landfill, I am also saving money.

By not purchasing something, I am potentially keeping one more item out of a landfill.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was produced in 2013, with around 85% of that going to landfills.

And, according to the Huffington Post, Americans, on average, throw away 70 pounds of clothing each year.

According to Down To Earth Materials, the estimated decomposition time for clothing and other items are:

  • Leather shoes: 25-40 years
  • Nylon clothes: 30-40 years
  • Cotton: 1-5 months
  • Tin cans: around 50 years
  • Plastic bottles: 70-450 years

As you can see, the clothing we wear and household items we use can have a big environmental impact.


I can retire whenever I want.

Okay, I saved the best for last!

Starting this blog and earning a high income from it has been a huge turning point in my life. It’s allowed me financial freedom, and even though I could be spending much more than I do, I have chosen to be thoughtful about where my money goes.

Because I have chosen to save more of my money rather than spending it, I have put myself on track to retire whenever I want. I have the choice to retire, which is a great thing, and it’s because I’m not carelessly spending the income I am earning.

I have made the choice to save a high percentage of my income so that I can choose to retire whenever I want. Instead of working for 40+ more years, being frugal has given me the option of choosing my retirement date and cutting down my working years so that I can have more time to enjoy life.

Why are you frugal? Do you think that people who are frugal are sad and/or are missing out on life?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I don’t think I do anything extreme with my frugality. Still, since I started my blog, I’ve gotten some underhanded remarks from friends and family. They don’t get it. There is nothing in my life that I feel I’m sacrificing by being frugle. I’m fact, the only “thing” I really want right now is to have enough savings to do whatever I want with my time. If you look at it that way, I really am buying something when I make my bi-weekly savings deposit.

    1. Yeah, some people will judge regardless!

    2. Kristine

      Ignore the naysayers. We all go through it. My first house in Michigan was small, low cost in taxes, purchased with cash, and meant to give me a strategic location next to my work (5 minute commute). My family didn’t get it and actually commented “I’d never buy something like this, why is she doing that?” behind my back. I gutted it myself and improved it over the two years I lived there and sold it for three times what I paid for it. Then I used that as a down payment on a gorgeous 4 bed 3 bath house in Florida, and I’ve been renting out most of it via AirBNB so that it’s paying for itself. I have so much extra cash for trips and other stuff I want to do. No one wants to put the work or face the inconvenience now to make life easy later, but I am glad I went against the norm.

      1. Totally amazing and very inspiring. It’s awesome what you can put your mind to and acheieve

  2. FIbythecommonguy

    Like Jason from WPF says above, I also don’t think I do anything extreme with my frugality,but by far not a minimalist. That said, I have habits and end goals in mind. These are more important than yearly expansive vacations some people take. Instead, we would spent our summers camping in our travel trailer. I also don’t feel like I am sacrificing or missing out on anything. In my mind I am so much further ahead in life.

  3. We love being frugal! It’s almost a game sometimes. But mostly, it’s about getting the best *value* for your money when you purchase something.

  4. I consider myself somewhat frugal — I choose the areas where I want to spend. And where I don’t, i.e. clothing, cars, electronics, dining out (yes we dine out but when planned, not regularly). I find the more my net worth grows the less I need to be happy. The best part of this way of life to me, Michelle, is the peace it brings.

  5. I love your last reason! You get to retire whenever you want…what a concept!

    I am frugal because I am trying to get out of debt and have much more financial security than I do now. Before starting on this journey I, too, had a negative connotation with the word “frugal”. When someone is negative about this concept, I think it’s just a lack of understanding on their part of what it really means to live a frugal lifestyle. So to answer your question, I definitely don’t think people who are frugal are sad or missing out on anything in life. In fact, just the opposite! Those who live a frugal lifestyle get to view this world through the lenses of someone who has BALANCE in this life and that is pretty amazing if you ask me!

  6. Saving money is always good and here’s why. First, you want to always keep in mind your retirement. There might be a time that comes when you just don’t want to do anything. You may not want to blog anymore, though I highly doubt you’ll ever stop blogging. You may want to go into real estate or another business and need large sums of money on deck so you can finance yourself. These are some of many reasons why people need to save money when they accumulate large sums of cash on a monthly or quarterly basis. And I commend you for saving your money Michelle. You could be out here driving the new $1million Ferrari Batmobile with the 12 cylinder engine in it looking like catwoman chasing Batman, but you’re taking low in an RV and not showcasing your riches. I commend you for that. SO yeah, save those dollars and look to the future for a financially healthy retirement. 🙂

  7. Michelle, I really love that you write this stuff. I think its powerful to people to see someone who is wealthy choosing a lifestyle that’s about frugality, minimalism, living smaller, not trying to keep up with the Joneses. Consumerism really is ruining the environment, and you are an inspiration to many. I hope people understand they don’t have to buy and consume to be happy. Great post!

  8. People have always confused my frugality with being tight, but I’ve never really minded.

    I think it’s just important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with wanting get get the most from the money that you’ve worked hard for.

    Spending to impress or not wanting to be thought of as frugal is only going to lead to bad financial decisions.

  9. I’m frugal by nature, I treat myself in some areas that are important to me, but can’t bring myself to pay the highest price for an item even if I have the money. Always checking the prices for what I’m buying.
    I love how you bring up frugality as a lifestyle, not a temporary way to budget and achieve one goal.
    Living this way has such potential to improve our lives in more than just finances.

  10. Precious @ LoveNancials

    I’m just like YOU!

    I Love being frugal and it’s fun!

    I I’m pained when I fail with my frugal habit and with frugality I’ve been able to save money and live like a minimalist!

  11. Dave

    Being frugal is required by most people if their goal is to be financially independent. To free up money for investing, we have to cut costs and get the most value for our money. If you are not in the club, it is hard to understand. If you are in the club, you cannot imagine living any other way.

  12. We don’t think your boring Michelle, we envy you 🙂

    I joke with my friends that I love rice & beans (which I do of course) and that there’s about a bajillion ways to make them with all sorts of extras. They laugh but I’m not sure if they really get the joke.

    1. Hahaha I love rice and beans!

  13. Oof, those comments by others about frugalism are rough. Seems like the same comments people make about retirement (“But I love my job and want to work forever”). Lot of focus by some people on justifying their decisions rather than being curious and interested in what others are doing.

    1. Yes, I agree. People who justify why they don’t save are just odd to me!

  14. BusyMom

    I didn’t realize that I am frugal- it was just the way I lived – until I compared our expenses with that of others 🙂

  15. I’ve been very frugal all my life and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m boring. 🙂

  16. Incredible post Michelle, thank you for sharing. I almost feel bad for the people writing nasty comments on every frugal story that gets published in Yahoo Finance. I made the mistake of once commenting on a friends FB post about being able to save 50% of his income, knowing he was griping about work and was a well paid software engineer. Fire and venom started coming out, then eventually he claimed he just liked nice stuff. Money buys freedom, money is capital, and people exchange their time for money. Merry Christmas and cheers to a prosperous 2017

  17. Sean

    You nailed it right on the head when it comes to why it can be so hard to be frugal, “People may think you are cheap, boring, and even a bad person.” It can be difficult at times to say no to your friends or family because of financial reasons, and it can even lead to you being left out of future invites (which will hurt a little on the inside). The important part is understanding your goals, and what is best for your families situation. I look forward to your future posts, and keep up the great work!

  18. I am frugal because it is wise. Living this way not only benefits me but so many others as well, Like you say, my impact on the environment is minimal and this will definitely benefit generations to come. If more people lived a frugal lifestyle there could be less wastage, starvation, and poverty across the world!

    I now embrace the idea of enjoying the outdoor and other experiences like spending time with family rather than buying stuff to win their love and approval. Kids need to grow up this way too. Would you consider going to schools to talk to kids about living a frugal lifestyle and the benefits associated? I would, but I don’t know of any such opportunities here in the United Kingdom.

    Let the cycle continue

  19. Bruce

    Me and my family really don’t even realize we are frugal, we do something every weekend hiking, biking, swimming in creeks or waterfalls all free. Joined our local zoo with a coupon, got an annual pass for family of 5 for 17 dollars, spend some time there. Shop at resale shops. It just becomes natural. We own our home free and clear no car payments no debt. It’s so natural to live this way. We don’t have anything fancy, if something breaks me and the kids fix it. I wish everyone could live a life like this.

  20. Vincent

    I enjoy reading about people getting their finances in order to get to a point of freedom .
    I don’t earn much but I could get it together to start this.
    At the moment I have my basic outgoings which are a fair chunk of monthly wages but I have the problem of friends wanting to go to events, go out for dinner , go out to the pub in general. I don’t often partake but I feel pressured into it when I say no for the reasons that others here have outlined. My life might be boring in their eyes but it suits me and I want to see my money grow I’ve started an investment account with my bank where they invest in your choice of low, medium and high risk shares, or you can use this account and research yourself and invest it. Beats poor interest savings account.
    I have been trying to find a hobby that gives me outdoor fresh air, calms the mind of anxiety and stress, I can do alone if needs be, and doesn’t cost a lot to do, I have been thinking of going fishing. Another friend has invited me for Saturday next week, will pick me up and drive me home and its only £50 costs for rod, tackle, bait and boat costs as we’re going to the coast, I’ll bring packed lunch too and save money on food. But on a regular basis I could go with a rod locally to streams and rivers and lakes. permit for the day only a few £ and I could afford one or two times a month