Frugality And Minimalism, Is There Common Ground?

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Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

When it comes to how individuals live their lives, there are many methods in play. However, two methods that often become conflated or used interchangeably are frugality and minimalism.

Yet, minimalism and frugality are quite different principles. One term essentially relates to how to spend money while the other term centers around how people can live their lives. At their core, minimalism and frugality are different terms, however, there is room for them to coexist.

Frugality vs. Minimalism

Defining frugality


Often used in association with negative connotations, frugality is about being thrifty with resources. While people generally consider being frugal as a monetary means, there are instances where frugality refers to being thrifty with elements of time and resources.

As such, being frugal doesn’t mean that the person never spends any money. Rather, a frugal person is known to make conscious and careful decisions surrounding when to spend and importantly, how much to spend. In essence, they tend to conserve resources.

A frugal person will also give careful thought and consideration when it comes to expanding other important resources as well. It’s important to note that, at the end of the day, frugality is a mindset.

Understanding minimalism


With studies finding a connection between materialism and feeling depressed, as well as antisocial, it’s not surprising that elements of minimalism are quite a trend at the moment. As such, the term minimalism can refer to both lifestyle choices and interior design.

Put simply, minimalism is about simplifying your existence. This simplification doesn’t come from a need to spend less money. Rather, individuals are seeking simplicity in order to have more focus, gain increased satisfaction, or improve productivity levels.

At the core of minimalism is the need to not feel weighed down by the existence of physical belongings. This feeling might also extend to not wanting to feel tied down to a specific address.

Exploring the difference between minimalism and frugality


While it might seem that frugality and minimalism are bound because of their need to minimize things, they are fundamentally different at their crux. This is because oftentimes, frugality is a reactive choice while minimalism is a proactive choice.

This is because minimalism is a mindset that encourages individuals to rid themselves of things that no longer serve a purpose. On the other hand, frugality is a mindset often caused by a need to tighten up finances. Frugality means minimizing spending, minimalism is about minimizing wants.

As such, elements of minimalism inspire individuals to live a more intentional life where they are clutter free and highly present. In comparison, a frugal individual is all about living a life of reduction.

There are also other differences to consider. For example, there is a level of inflexibility about frugality. By living a frugal life, you always have to be careful when allocating resources. With minimalism, individuals can be guided by instincts and needs- two things that aren’t static.

It’s also worth noting that frugal individuals are always searching for solutions with the lowest attached cost. This may mean that rather than buying one great product for a high price, they may buy multiple low-cost but inferior products to make up the difference.

On the other hand, the minimalist lifestyle leads individuals towards making purchases that can serve dual purposes. Firstly, they are needed. Secondly, they can subscribe to the clutter-free ethos.

How they can coexist


While there are some fundamental differences between frugal and minimalist living, there is a middle ground. In fact, if they choose, individuals can be frugal minimalists. Enjoy a more intentional life while also watching how much time and money they spend on things.

This middle ground will involve trying to balance the need to appreciate the inherent value of a dollar with wanting to spend that dollar in order to subscribe to the elements of living intentionally. 

Finding this middle ground will be important during the golden or retirement years. This is especially true when you consider the responses outlined in an Australian Seniors report on the quality of life.

When asked the top three requirements for a quality life in retirement, respondents referenced having enough money to live comfortably. Additionally, when asked to share retirement tips, respondents ranked learning how to save and spend money wisely in the top three.

The frugal minimalist


When it comes to living and working, individuals can choose to filter these activities through different lenses. One such lens is operating in a frugal manner. As such, purchases will be well thought out and limited.

Another approach is to live based on elements of minimalism. This could mean removing clutter and excess possessions from a home. It could mean not being tied down to a certain area through home ownership.

While these two ways of life seem to operate in contrast to each other, they can coexist. In fact, later in life, specifically in retirement, individuals can reap the benefits of living life as a frugal minimalist.

Common questions about frugality and minimalism

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What is the difference between minimalism and frugality?

Frugality and minimalism can go hand in hand, but they don’t mean the same. A minimalist will strive for less stuff, while a frugalist will try to spend less money. This means that you could see a frugalist on a yard sale with a bag of cheap stuff, and you could spot a minimalist in an expensive designer store, but not the other way around.

What is a frugal minimalist?

A frugal minimalist is someone who combines frugality with minimalism. This means that the frugal minimalist will spend his money based on value. This allows him to spend less by buying less stuff. Discipline is the key to success in living a frugal minimalist lifestyle.

How do you live a simple and frugal life?

  • Work from home, and leave the city
  • Cancel your credit card
  • Declutter your home
  • Sell your car
  • Focus on family and friends
  • Grow your food
  • Go back to slow food and home cooking

How do you live like a frugal millionaire?

  • Educate yourself, and become the best version of yourself
  • Live below your means, and avoid debt
  • Always save, and invest your money
  • Buy wisely, and sell what you don’t need
  • Ignore the Joneses, and live your life
  • Get expert advice, and get things done
  • Forget the get quick rich myth, and plan your future

What’s the Difference Between Frugality and Minimalism?

Minimalism vs Frugality – 5 Key Differences

Minimalism and Frugality – A Perfect Combination

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