Are you frugal or a spender?

Are you frugal or a spender?

Are you frugal or a spender? And do you accidentally or deliberately spend and save?

You hear all the time about how consumer driven our society is. And with £77bn spent on Christmas in the UK alone, it is hard to deny. Being frugal can feel like something we have to try really damn hard at. Spending, on the other hand? Easy peasy!

When you’re balancing a tight budget, trying to save for a deposit on a house or towards retirement, or just trying not to add to the amount of crap you already own, it feels like hard work to be frugal and stop spending. We pay for convenience, so it’s no wonder.

It’s quite possible that you’re already accidentally frugal in lots of ways. I’ve been racking my brains over the last week to work out where I’m accidentally frugal, accidentally spendy, deliberately frugal and deliberately spendy. Here’s what I came up with…

Accidentally frugal

I rarely wear make up or have manicures. It’s not a deliberate choice, it just never seemed important.

I enjoy getting my cost per wear or use down on the things I own, it’s like a fun game. Why and how could I feel happy about spending £100 on a dress worn once, especially since when I spend that amount of money, it is on something that makes me feel a million dollars?

Water in a bottle. I love this naturally frugal way because it used to be something I did to be deliberately frugal. Several years of doing something deliberate and I’d nearly forgot I do it. Pretty much wherever I go, I’ll throw a sports bottle of water into my bag. Handy if I ever need to take a tablet too!

I don’t like clutter. Clutter is something that I’ve probably put up with whilst having the space to hide it away. But when you’ve used all your hiding places, it becomes all to obvious. I admit I have a long way to go with decluttering. However, I can’t help but think ‘where will I put this’ whenever I’m purchasing something. It’s a great way to spend less!

I assume things will last a long time. When I was growing up, things lasted a long time. I have no desire to buy a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine and be repurchasing 2 years down the line. My sofa was allegedley built to last 5 years. Well, we’re in year 6 and, as any normal person might expect, it still works as a sofa. I don’t see what could change anytime soon.

Deliberately Frugal

Batch cooking. I know this will save time and money in the long run. However, in the moment you are doing it, it takes more time and generally creates more mess to clean up. Which is a pain when you just want to cook and eat something. I do batch cook now and then, but it’s a deliberate effort.

Wrapping in a blanket when it’s cold. Now this bit isn’t deliberate… But keeping the heating off definitely is!

Food shopping with a list. Although it doesn’t take much effort to write the list, it only takes a couple of weeks without a list to get out of the habit and wing a load of random stuff in the trolley. If you don’t already, you definitely need to. Which brings me on to…

Meal planning. Again, it’s quite quick and easy when you’re in the habit. But it’s even easier to be lazy and just jump in the car on your way to the shops. I’m stupid enough to go shopping without a meal plan or shopping list but come home feeling chuffed that I saved 30p taking my own bags. A good example of being penny wise and pound foolish

Insurance renewal. It always amazes me how much we save every year just by shopping around for insurance. I’m happy to spend a boring hour to save £50 personally!


Accidentally spendy

Food shopping without a list or when I’m hungry. Sometimes circumstances mean that you find yourself needing to shop without a list or when you’re hungry. In my experience, better planning would have prevented it. When you don’t have a list or shop when you’re hungry, it’s very easy to keep piling food in the trolley that you don’t really need.

Gifts. We have a category in our budget to cover Christmas and Birthday gifts, but sometimes I see something that I can’t help but buy, especially for my nieces!

I’m lazy where it comes to taking action to get better offers, like interest rates on my savings accounts, which amounts to being accidentally spendy.

Deliberately spendy

Board games. We often buy board games for one another at Christmas and Birthdays, but will occassionally buy them during the year too. Whilst they often cost £30 to £40, we play as often as we can as a couple, with friends and with family. We find it a really cost effective hobby; once the game is bought, it provides hours of replay time and we do this rather than eating out or meeting friends in the pub!

High value items. If I’m buying something new, I don’t want to replace it every 12 months. We research any home items that we buy, such as the vacuum cleaner, camera and even our latest saucepan because we want to be happy with our purchase and not have to purchase again for as long as possible.

Travel. I love travel, I think most people do. I would much rather not have a single day trip, cinema visit, or meal out for a whole year if it means I have the money to travel instead. When I do so, I research thoroughly and plan where we want to spend our money and what’s important to us.


What have you learned about yourself?

Has this list made you realise you are more or less naturally frugal than you thought? I realised I am naturally more frugal than I’d given myself credit for in the past!

8 thoughts on “Are you frugal or a spender?

  1. Love your ideas here and it is a great thing to focus on to see how and why we are spending money on certain things.
    Some of my own:
    Deliberately spendy: Golf, Running gear, booze (yes seriously, I know it’s bad for you but what the hell I love it!).
    Accidentally spendy: Friends and family stuff much like yourself. Please don’t stop spending on your nieces! I mean don’t spoil them of course but if there is something you are allowed to splurge on, IMO it is your nearest and dearest.

    Accidentally frugal: I find it VERY easy to spend practically nothing on clothes, I nearly went 2 years without buying any new clothes between 2014-2016. I am a bloke though which probably makes this easier 🙂

    Deliberately frugal: With you on the bulk cooking, but to be honest I love doing it so maybe it is in the accidentally column! More deliberate efforts are probably in the home DIY and car DIY stuff which although are “enjoyable” after the fact, when you are doing them are a bit tedious.

    Again love this post! Thanks! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment- it’s made my day! And it’s great to hear about other’s habits. I forgot to add wine on there myself! I would prefer to drink less often but have a nice bottle that I really enjoy.

      DIY is another I hadn’t thought of. I dislike it so much that I push all thought out of my head unless I’m actually doing it at the time! :O

      Sounds like you’ve got a good grip on your habits, that’s a great place to be!! Don’t worry, nothing is going to change on the treating me nieces front. The eldest has recently put in a request for more ‘white vinegar’ as she calls it as she’s run out in the homemade science kit I put together for her at Christmas 🙂

  2. Ooh this is a good article. It’s really making me have a think about my spending habits! The ‘accidentally spendy’ category is what gets us into trouble, especially when we’re not aware of it. Books used to be a big one for me. I read a lot and used to spend a LOT on books, but I didn’t really see it as an expense because, you know, reading’s a good habit, books are important etc. Then I rediscovered the local library and became deliberately frugal. I’ll only let myself buy a book now if I can’t get it at the library or order it in. It does take self control though!

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it! Books is a tricky one, I agree. There are definitely worse things to be accidentally spendy on but it’s a place where you can save relatively easily. I bought my husband a kindle 4 years ago which we share and you can get loads of free classics on there which is useful for holidays (I don’t like taking library books away). I do buy books now and then, either for myself or gifts. We have a lovely independent bookstore that’s like an Aladdin’s cave- I’d be gutted if it closed! It takes an immense amount of self control not to be too spendy in there!

  3. This really strikes a chord with me. I’m accidentally frugal in soooo many ways that I just take for granted, but accidentally spendy in other ways that undoes some of my work! But we’re all different in the things we enjoy spending on, so I’m happy to keep trying to improve 🙂

    1. It’s good to realise some of those accidental frugal ways and try to incorporate more. It is better to undo good work than to only do bad work and if we were perfect already, I think life would be a bit dull! Thanks for commenting 🙂

    1. We’re only human! I try to keep accidental spending as low as possible and learn new ways to be frugal too 🙂

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