What is a Frugalist?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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A frugalist is someone who tries to spend as little as possible, often focusing on reducing overall consumption and rethinking ways to shop in order to do so. Frugalism could be considered a form of anti-consumerism, although technically a frugalist need not necessarily be opposed to consumerism, as his or her main goal is frugality.

There are a variety of reasons to become a frugalist, along with an assortment of types of frugalist. Many people do so simply to save money, especially during periods of economic hardship, when being aware of a need to reduce spending can help people to save money or pay off debts. Some frugalists also adopt a frugal lifestyle because they wish to reject a consumer lifestyle, preferring to focus on keeping their lives simple and uncluttered. Some people are simply frugalists by nature, such as people who have lived through extended periods of economic hardship.


Frugalists accomplish their goals in a number of ways. For example, instead of buying things new, frugalists scan thrift shops, used stores, classifieds, and other sources for used goods, some of which may be excellent condition and quite cheap. For some, the quest is part of the purchase experience; anyone can walk into a department store and buy a kitchen table, for example, but a frugalist can quest through a series of used stores for the perfect used kitchen table. A frugalist will also choose to repair before replacing, getting the most mileage out of every belonging. Some bold frugalists might dumpster dive or pore over discarded goods in search of perfectly usable free items.

Frugalists also keep their eyes out for sales, discounts, and other ways to save money on new items or goods which cannot logistically be purchased used. A frugalist may join a discount club or grocery co-op in the hopes of saving money on staple foods, produce, and similar goods. Coupon clipping and canny use of mail-in rebates are often an important aspect of frugalism.

Someone who identifies as a frugalist may also promote trade, barter, and other methods of acquisition which do not require money. In the process, the frugalist may also reap the secondary benefit of more interaction with members of the community, networking with like-minded people and establishing a support base which could later be useful. A frugalist might also knit, sew garments, garden, make foods from scratch as much as possible, and use other homemade skills to save money on consumer goods.

In urban areas, it is not uncommon for frugalists to network and form groups to exchange information, goods, and companionship. Joining such an organization can be beneficial for a new frugalist, as it's a great way to get information and tips.


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