Frugality is a dirty word

When I first heard the word "frugal" I thought it was a dirty word. It doesn't help that it sounds vaguely like "frigid" (I said vaguely...)

Has anyone ever commented that you are frugal? A friend made that comment about me. I'm sure he didn't mean it in a negative way but the word itself has more negative than positive connotations.

I don't know whether I'm misinterpreting but when I hear someone comment that someone else is "frugal" or "thrifty", sometimes what they really mean is "stingy" or "poor". I think almost nobody would boast about being frugal.

People enjoy showing off a glamorous lifestyle of excesses: buying branded goods, shopping every weekend, partying all the time and going on monthly vacations. I'm sure you've seen your friends updating everyone on what they just bought be it a new Gucci bag, Nintendo Wii or handphone. And people keep posting pictures of themselves partying [All Dressed Up, Somewhere to Go, Not Enough to Say or Do]. I, on the other hand, will post the pictures of handphone with worn out button now and am not ashamed to say that I enjoy spending Saturday nights at home [Things To Do On Saturday Nights].

I'm not saying it's right or wrong to buy branded stuff and party often. I do buy branded stuff like perfume and cosmetics because cheap perfume smell, er, cheap and cheap cosmetics oxidize faster causing the colour to change. Perhaps some people buy LV luggages because of the quality. Btw, branded luggages are more likely to get lost... but if you can afford to buy those bags, you can afford to lose them?

I do spend money on holidays and food but I try to get the best value out of every dollar:
- I won't pay extra for things like a 20 cent wet tissue or $2 peanuts in a restaurant. Although I'm tempted, I don't return the unused wet tissue on first dates to avoid any misunderstanding ("You think I cannot afford 20 cents? This is peanuts!" the guy might say).
- I share bags and magazines with my sisters. I hardly buy magazines but sometimes I cannot resist the title of an article on the front page of a magazine while standing in line at the supermarket (the content of the article is always disappointing).
- I look out for promotions and discounts. I switched from Singtel mobile broadband to M1 at a fair to save $4 per month. [What I Bought At PC Show 2009]
- I sell my things that I don't need. E.g. I sold my scuba diving manual for $40 and my free M1 USB modem for $130.
- I borrow books from the library if they are available instead of buying or renting them.
- I seek out places that sell things at lower prices. I buy toiletries at People's Park in Chinatown because it's at least 20% cheaper than in Watsons or Guardian. I buy my 100 Plus at a provision shop for $3.50 per 6-pack instead of $4.50 at supermarkets.

A dollar saved is a dollar earned. If someone is saying I'm stingy, well, ok. It's better than being broke!

I complained to my friend that my handphone is now very slow to respond when I compose sms and I couldn't charge or turn it on that day. He suggested, "Why don't you buy a new one? It's very cheap nowadays." I'm waiting to see whether I can win one in the S'pore Blog Awards. The top 5 most voted finalists will receive a HTC handphone. Voters stand to win external harddisk drives and pocket-sized video cameras. Don't you think the most frugal finalist should win a new handphone? :)

Click here to vote


De Maitre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
De Maitre said...

Hah, I thought frugal was good! I think we should spend more on some stuff but not everything. Perfumes is something that people should never stinge on. =) The world is tooooooo materialistic nowadays. New doesn't mean good and old is comfortable and familiar. People are so caught up with the blind pursuit for branded stuff that it becomes ugly. I think many Singaporeans are merely thugs masquerading as aristocrats- how many LV handbags being carried around are genuine ones anyway?

Mr Choo said...

Frugal is an art.
Wisdom is found in people who are Frugal.
We can learn from the life story of people who end up bankrupt and people who becomes successful and rich from being careful with their money..
Take a good look at the Late Mr Michael Jackson.
He was a successful and rich Pop star...Becomes a millionaire at the age of 6 years young.
Die at the age of 50 but living several remaining years in bad dept. Owns Hundreds in Millions dollars..
He was well known for his lavish spending on Posh Hotel suites and artifacts or antiques..

Many humans are driven by this spending way of life..Not just apply to Singaporeans, in general, mostly develop and modern societies..
I would rather be call a stingy bastard then having everyone shy away from me when I am near, cos they may think I need to borrow money from them..That's what happens to those who over spend and had no money left for any emergency or just seems like "money no enough".

Yu-Kym said...

Although frugality is good, not many ppl behave like it's a good thing. During recession people are still buying cars and branded goods. I agree with you about MJ. As the saying goes, a small leak can sink a big ship.

Shaun said...

Frugal is good. Big companies are cutting cost, so why you should not do it?

Yu-Kym said...

I'm definitely doing it but I know many Singaporeans aren't. If I hang out with friends who are big spenders, it would be difficult to be frugal. Fortunately, I don't have many friends like that.

Anonymous said...


I salute you for adhering to your attitudes towards thrift and expenditure. I think it's not being miserly but knowing the value of hard earned money and spending what you can afford and necessary and occasionally indulging in some extravagance. And why not?

Pls do continue to have confidence that what you practise now will benefit you years to come. I have the same attitude from young and I have benefitted immensely from it. You have to select a man with more or less the same habits or else your marriage will have another issue to contend with. keke

curious cat

Anonymous said...

If one does not have an appreciation of balance and common sense, there may come a point in time when frugality is no longer a becomes a curse!

curious cat

Yu-Kym said...

I agree that there has to be a balance. No point being miserable myself or making people who matter feel miserable over small amounts of money.