Frugality and minimalism – Is there a difference?

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Frugality and minimalism - Is there a difference and can they work together?
Frugality and minimalism – Is there a difference and can they work together?

Today we take a look at frugality and minimalism. What is the difference between these two lifestyles and can you combine them?

You might have read on my website about minimalism, but also frugal living, and might ask yourself what the differences are.

I admit that it can be a little bit confusing, since both include less stuff and trying to spend on more meaningful items. However, focus and motivation are the key difference.

Differences between frugality and minimalism

The definition

Let’s start with a short description of both lifestyles:

Minimalism is a choice where you pursue a meaning in your life. To get there, you try to declutter as much as you can in your life – objects and people -. The goal is to live a life with your items which make you happy and add value to your life. You are happy with less.

Frugality on the other hand focuses more on saving money or time. Every person has its own things and by being frugal you think about your resource allocations. Therefore, you try to be mindful about your possessions and use them purposefully. 

Actio Reactio – Action Reaction is the difference

The other difference doesn’t have to do with physics, but how you meet these two lifestyles.

Based on my personal experience, minimalism is something you thought about or maybe have heard on the web. It is a choice and you like the idea to find more purpose, live with less clutter and buy much less. A minimalist is in my opinion someone who tries to restructure his life to a better one. 

Being frugal is often tied to money and the need to live below your means. This can be for a student or someone who has to consider every cent. It is therefore sort of a reaction, like me who needed to be a lot more mindful about spending. In addition, it is probably not something you really wanted to be, but you rather had to.

To summarise, in minimalism the path is the goal and where you get to meet yourself better to finally live a life with less stuff but more fulfilled. Frugality is more focused on money saving.

Cheap vs valuable

Someone frugal might be concerned to reduce cost. I know this feeling and I tried to get the cheapest items available. However, if something is cheap, it might be made poorly and break faster. 

My frugal part: In my experience, it isn’t always the case. For instance, I often buy the cheapest basic food, like rice, pasta, noodles, fruit, milk etc, since I taste almost the same as the more expensive products. Interestingly, the cheapest products are still cheaper than a more expensive product on sale. This helps because I don’t have to buy in bulk. 

On the other hand, my minimalist side intervenes and tries to get high quality clothes and especially shoes. As you can see, both parts need to make compromises. 

Is minimalism privilege?

I wanted to quickly cite a publication from Jenn Sutherland-Miller who writes about minimalism:

“Minimalism might be the best, most ecologically and economically correct expression of extreme privilege, where global impacts are concerned, but it’s still privilege.”

It’s really interesting and thought provoking.

Frugality and minimalism can go hand in hand

Yes, in my opinion, these two can work together as a team. Even though I have outlined the differences, action or reaction, I think that both benefit from each other.

While minimalism is a mindset, a mentality, something you want, frugality can be the other part. Living frugally means to save money and not living with waste and extravagance. 

So, on the one hand you have an excellent mindset to use things longer and consume less, on the other hand you try also to give your lasting items purpose. While the frugal side of you would value items for a longer time and try to keep a lot of things, the minimalist side leads you to the items you need and want. In addition, you might want to buy a lot of things that are really cheap, but minimalism helps to remind yourself that in the long term less things with better material pays off.

In fact, you can read here How I became a minimalist, and then an extreme minimalist,  but it is also combined with frugality. 

Finally, there are differences between these two, but I think that both can benefit from each other. I don’t see frugality to be as cheap as possible, but as a reminder to spend money and time wisely. That’s how you can combine minimalism. 

Well, until next time and happy decluttering