Frugality and minimalism aren’t deprivation

By | 26th February 2017


A common misconception is that those who follow frugality and minimalism are somehow depriving themselves.

As I discussed in ‘what is minimalism‘, there are no minimalism/frugality rules that you must adhere to – it’s different for everyone as they will have their own interpretation. Just as retirement doesn’t mean not working ever again.

It is not that you don’t buy things, but rather you weigh up the value of them before purchase – perhaps using something similar to the ‘fun vs cost scale‘ I talked about.

Being frugal doesn’t mean that you always buy the cheapest thing – but rather that you buy things that give the greatest value for their cost.

A chap online confused frugality and minimalism with a monastic lifestyle, but that is not the case.


Work out if the extra cost is worth it to you.

The value you obtain from spending more decreases the more you spend.

While an £8,000 car is certainly better than an £800 one, is it ten times better? Probably.

But is an £80,000 car one hundred times better than an £800 one? Unlikely.

Is a £35,000 watch one thousand times better than a £35 one? Nope.

It is a calculation that you need to make personally for every purchase – but it shouldn’t be a restriction if there is something you have always wanted or if it is a particular pursuit of yours.

As long as you are making the choice yourself, and not being swayed be unrealistic advertising, then you are free to choose as you wish.

Perhaps you are into photography as your main hobby, in that case a £3,000 camera may indeed be better for you personally than a £300 one. But you would spend time making sure the extra cost was justified.

If cars are your bag, then you could indeed be a frugal minimalist driving a sports car perhaps. You would have spent a long time picking the particular model and would know full well all the costs you were getting into beforehand.

Whatever you choose, frugality and minimalism are just taking the time to value precisely what you are spending and the benefits it will bring, to make sure they measure up.

In some cases you might be seen as ‘cheap’ by those who always have to have the latest shiny thing, but if the item you choose meets all your requirements, why would you spend more for minimal extra benefit?

James McBrearty started his own business from scratch in 2006, to help the self-employed.

He helps people to escape from the corporate world and shares his thoughts here on the changing world of work, technology and personal finances; as well as the occasional travel post.

Over the next 10 years things are going to change significantly. James is a follower of frugality and minimalism; and an advocate of F.I.R.E. to minimise the coming disruption.

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