Minimalism (2015)

Chapter V: Minimalism versus Frugal Living


Extreme minimalism is akin to extreme frugality: It works for some people, but robs others of life’s dear enjoyments.” ~ J.D. Roth


Being frugal is not the same as being a minimalist. Frugality is being careful with your money. Minimalism is decluttering and getting rid of stuff. The two concepts do intersect, you save money and de-clutter at the same time, but they are not the same thing.


Minimalism is not living like a monk; it is simple living with less. You have thrown away the stuff in our home and in your mind to make room for values and experiences. Minimalism is not about being thrifty; it is a tool to help you change your lifestyle. The entire idea of minimalism and frugality joined together is to live a more intentional life. Focus less on the material things of life, save money, and do not own more than you need and can use (The Everyday Minimalist, 2010).


There are similarities and differences between frugality and minimalism. Decluttering and minimizing possessions are philosophies used in both lifestyles, but how does a minimalist justify the frugal practice of purchasing in bulk and storing for a rainy day?


Frugality is thriftiness and moderate or even slightly pious living. A frugal person will cut corners to save money, make adjustments, and understand the cost-per-use and the longevity of purchase. They do have possessions and value what they have. Possessions contribute to their frugality and may be sparce and minimal.


Minimalism is about embracing and maximizing the important things of life and distancing yourself from the less important things around you. “Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what is important so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom (Millburn & Nicodemus, 2015). Minimalism is designed to add value to lives by clearing the clutter out of your life to make room for health, relationships, passion, contribution, and growth.


A minimalist would not purchase an expensive pair of shoes just because they are well made and last longer, as would a frugal shopper. A minimalist would not even purchase an additional pair of shoes.




Frugality is living a lifestyle where luxury is rare and hedonism, or pleasure-seeking, is completely unheard of and discouraged. Socks are darned rather than replaced, holes in jeans are patched up and hand me downs were in everyone’s closet. Meals are basic and everything is saved. Definitely a truly frugal lifestyle can be closed and uncomfortable, but it is not minimalist.


Being frugal is all about saving money and spending less than you make. Frugal living means being prudent or economical in the consumption of resources and avoiding waste, lavishness and extravagance. Reduce waste, curb costly habits and suppress instant gratification by means of self-restraint. Frugal living seeks to find efficiency and stays well informed about local circumstances. A frugal life is one that avoid products that are “for the moment”. The premise is to gain the most from money.


Learning to live on a modest income, shop at yard sales and thrift stores, and being adept at stretching out dollars are the keys to frugal living. Living frugal does not mean getting rid of possessions. In fact, every possession is important. Thrift is important, and low cost entertainment is a way of life.





Frugal people are not necessarily minimalists. Many thrifty people have no desire to be minimalists. They believe that holding onto things “just in case” is being frugal. Holding on to stuff in order to avoid purchasing the same item is smart. Shopping bargains is a way of life with a frugal lifestyle, and shopping thrift stores and estates sales is a hobby.


Choosing Your Lifestyle


Minimalism is getting rid of excess, decluttering, and living a simple life. The philosophy of minimalism stresses having less to deal with in the way of possessions and living a less complicated life.


Minimalism and frugal living are similar in the viewpoint that buying less reduces the amount of items that are overproduced. Thinking about excess stuff causes you to repurpose and re-use what you already own.


Minimalism is similar to frugality by emphasizing savings through having less. Buying less frequently means spending less and having fewer possessions to take maintain. As you pick and choose what is important to you, you also have less wasted time.


You can live simpler in a modern world by utilizing frugalism and minimalism. It is also possible to live a happy and simple life by being a consumer and finding ways to increase those things that make you happy. If you want to live a simple life and sit on a lake enjoying nature, that is an awesome dream. So is sailing on a lake in a sailboat or running through waves on a water ski.  A neighbor recently said, “I live a minimalist life in my cabin by the lake. Only the bare essentials are there and I am supremely happy. I can also choose to stay at home in my suburban home that is full of all the amenities that I love, the television, my hot tub, and my hobbies.” How awesome to change lifestyle whenever you need a change of pace.


There are things you can do to simplify your life, be frugal and minimalistic, and still enjoy possessions.


Get a basic cell phone. Just use it for emergencies. However if you need one to take pictures, text, and search for places to go, you smartphone is your frugal investment.


Cut the cable cord. You can save a ton of money without cable or satellite. Instead use free sites and add a steaming service. Not only is his frugal and minimalist, it is smart – you can control what your children watch.


Get rid of credit cards if you are seeking a simpler life. However, if you have an emergency it is a good idea to have a credit card on standby. That is smart and frugal living.


Declutter your home. Okay, you don’t need three brooms and having a multitude of the same tools is a bit overdone. You could get rid of duplicates and find space on shelves and in drawers.


If you don’t use your gym membership, mobile internet service, or milk delivery service, it is smart to get rid of them. This is the hallmark of a frugal life – getting rid of excess to save money.


Track your expenses and time. See where you are wasting money and time. This is a concept that can make life simpler and still give you the opportunity to be a consumer.


Living a smarter life is not necessarily becoming a minimalist or adopting a frugal lifestyle, it is keeping the things you love, purchasing the things you need, and living a sensible life.