If you heard my One Million Apples podcast interview, you heard me talk about what it means to be unfrugal. I got a lot of questions about this– so I decided to dedicate a post to it for clarification. Please comment below if any questions remain.
I’ve been touting the adjective “unfrugal” as a descriptor of myself for a few months now, as my goals and values with money have shifted. Maybe it’s debt freedom, or listening to too much Ramit Sethi, or seeing what lifestyle inflation means in my life, or something else. But I want to be unfrugal, which means changing a lot of the blueprint for money that I’ve always had.
Frugality was taught to me as a virtue, and I didn’t question it. Of course saving money is a good thing. Of course you want to find the best deal.
This was the culture of my family, and it makes sense. It’s not inherently wrong, but I noticed the side effects in my life, and in the lives of the frugal folk around me, were not always healthy. I also noticed that my brand of frugality stemmed from a deprivation mindset that came with being insecure about money– and that living frugally treated the symptoms, not the cause, of this problem.
Living an unfrugal life means…
You prioritize the costs that matter most to you & question everything else. One aspect of the frugality mindset I grew up with was that spending more money was always bad. The cheapest option was the option you chose, regardless of considering quality or value. This left no room for considering the most appropriate option, and I believe it led to me undervalue things. In a world where everything was always breaking, items had less value. It’s part of why I never batted an eye over spending $3 on a shirt from a fast fashion store, not even thinking about the impact of my consumer choices. Now, I truly consider every one of my consumer choices– and sometimes I spend more money to purchase the best option for myself. Of course cost always weighs into my considerations, but I no longer default to the cheapest option.
You don’t fret about your money because you control exactly where it goes. This certainly doesn’t hold true for all frugal folk, but I know that frugality in my family was often a mask for money insecurity. They wouldn’t budget, but they felt like they didn’t need to because they were always living as inexpensively as possible, and that’s all you can do, right? Nope. Being frugal won’t work as a scapegoat for actually knowing where all your money is going each month. Scrimping and saving won’t give you the real peace of mind that having a full picture of your money will.
You invest in yourself. This is one aspect of my ideal unfrugal life that I’m still growing accustomed to. As always, I am working on combating my own deprivation mindset, and one of the ways I am actively taking action is through investing in myself. That means putting money into my own education, business, and personal growth. I used to be willing to put time and effort into all of these things, but I drew the line at money.
Workout at home without investing in a fruitful gym membership? Sure.
Spend hours on my business while refusing to spend a cent? You bet.
Take every affordable educational opportunity, but rule out every one that would cost too much, no matter how meaningful? Of course.
This was really how I thought about things– and I know I’m not alone. I have to actively work against it and realize that money is a tool, meant to be spent according to values. So if I truly value these things, they’re exactly what I should be spending money on.
I’ve identified myself with the term frugal pretty much my whole life. I know countless people in my life, as well as online money bloggers, who still identify that way. I’m not attempting to be totally divisive, because I think frugality done correctly can be a virtue. I think frugality and unfrugality are more complimentary than they are opposing. But do I want to challenge your thinking here– how might your life be better if you worked to live unfrugally instead?