Frugality and minimalism aren’t as different as you might think but there are some distinct differences between the lifestyles too.
So, let’s take a look at each concept in depth.
Then we’ll examine how they differ.
And of course, most importantly, whether it’s possible for them to co-exist and live in harmony.
We suspect there’s a sweet spot at their intersection.
Core Identity: A Frugal Person Wants To Save Money
Someone who is undertaking a program of frugal living is all about saving money (though, technically, the frugal lifestyle could be referring to saving food too – this isn’t as common as spending less money is).
The frugal life is about ensuring they only spend money when they feel that they need to. It doesn’t mean never spending money as, of course, in our modern society this is almost impossible it just means being careful.
It is also important to note that someone with frugal tendencies is not cheap. Frugal people will make careful buying decisions that are about conserving money in the long term.
They may, for example, buy an expensive pair of shoes because those shoes will last years, rather than buying cheap things that don’t last a month.
A frugal individual can still end up with too much stuff because the pursuit of bargains in frugal living can often lead to taking up every good deal they see and accumulating a house full of great value items.
We have a list of some common habits of frugal people if you’re interested in being more frugal or even super frugal.
Core Identity: A Minimalist Lifestyle Is About Reducing Excess
Whereas a frugal person is all about ending up with more money by spending less.
A minimalist mentality leads people to see less stuff in their lives.
They want to remove unnecessary things from their environment, in fact, a true minimalist might only have enough possessions to fill a single suitcase and could move at the drop of a hat tomorrow.
See “how to become a minimalist” for an in-depth guide to minimalism.
However, you don’t need the frugal mindset in order to eliminate unnecessary stuff and many minimalists won’t.
They say that they want items in their life that spark joy and as they have fewer items, they feel they can spend more cash (even much more cash on them). (P.S. the idea of “does it spark joy?” comes from Kon Mari Kondo who is a major figure in the minimalist movement).
It would be impossible to consider somebody with a top-of-the-range iPhone, a world-beating Apple Mac, and a Prada bag to put them in as “frugal” but it is entirely possible for them to be minimal.
Though a frugal individual might buy a Prada bag in a thrift store (such as these awesome online thrift stores).
The Key Differences: Minimalism Vs Frugality
We’ve come up with a few ideas that separate the two lifestyles:
- Mostly frugal is a reactive thing, whereas minimal is often proactive.
Keeping costs down is often done in relation to events that force us to spend. Whereas keeping stuff down means focusing on opportunities to do things other than obtaining stuff. It’s subtle but an important difference.
- Minimalism isn’t a money-saving ethos and frugality is.
You may cut down your expenses by becoming minimal but it’s not usually the primary purpose – which is to declutter your life, instead.
- Frugality is about cutting expenses, but minimalism is about intentional living.
That is someone is often necessarily frugal and simply seeking to grow their bank account. But a minimalist person is looking to focus their resources on the things that matter to them most.
- Minimalism is more flexible.
Take the act of buying groceries. A frugal individual will hit up the wholesale stores looking for bargains, but a minimalist could do that but they could also visit a place that only offers quality products and look at avoiding waste rather than seeking “more value”.
- Minimalism is about more than good deals and consumable resources.
It applies to the whole of your life if you want it to. You can minimize the amount of mental baggage that you carry around, the number of responsibilities that you take on, all of which lead to “emotional clutter”.
Can You Be A Frugal Minimalist?
Yes, and many people would say that it’s a great idea to combine both frugality and minimalism.
Minimalist people don’t have to reject great deals and they often want the best quality item in their lives too.
The trick is to use the frugal side but to limit it with not just a focus on the best deal financially but the right deal for the whole of your life.
You can still buy good quality items in clearance sales as a conscious decision and find the sweet spot between your bank account’s health and your own happiness. By doing so, you will create less waste and avoid accumulating so much stuff that it makes you unhappy.
If you want to see this kind of thing in action check out these frugal minimalist tips for saving money on groceries.
Final Thoughts On Frugality And Minimalism
Well, we hope that you’ve found this to be an interesting post and that we’ve clearly set out the differences between minimal living and frugality. It is quite simple when you examine them both closely as we have here.
And if you want the best results in your life, you may find that combining both approaches is the best way forward to a more meaningful and richer life.