Frugality versus minimalism

Despite first appearances, frugality and minimalism aren’t always natural bedfellows.Although both are underpinned by the virtues of reining in spending and thinking carefully about purchases, considering needs versus wants, and whether an item will really make a difference in your life, in practice, they can be annoyingly opposing ideals.

If you want to be frugal then quite often that entails keeping items for re-use that someone who is ‘ultra-minimalist’ would discard. For example, take our hair cutting kit which basically consists of clippers, scissors and a huge bag of different clipper attachments to cut hair to different lengths. It also includes a beach towel that has seen better days which is used to catch hair.

Frank and I cut our hair at home. He does his own and my sister trims mine when I see her and Frank takes the razor to my head when I haven’t seen my sister and my hair is all over the place (he’s a brave man!).

Cutting our hair ourselves saves a fortune, which the frugal me can’t help but love (plus my no spend year has zero budget for hair maintenance). However, the part of me that wants to reduce our possession gets frustrated with the amount of hair care paraphernalia we have to keep in order to be frugal.

Another example would be the enormous amount of tools we have in our back bedroom, just waiting for us to finish renovating our house. We’d rather save the money and do the work ourselves than pay someone to do it for us (and again, I can’t spend any money employing someone anyway this year) but it does mean we have a shed’s worth of tools in our home.

When we’ve finished the house (whenever that may be!) we’ll donate or sell the tools we have but until then I have to put up with them. Some of them I’ll have to put up with forever because we need a tool box for repairs.

While I’ve got rid of the ‘just in case’ items like spare wrapping paper and a drawer full of pens, my frugal nature means I hold on to things that will save me money in the long-term.

I think we’ve found the balance but sometimes it’s hard not to want to get rid of the clippers and tools – I just have to keep reminding myself how much these items save me, and realise they’ve bought themselves a place in my home.


Let me know which items your frugal side makes you keep hold of!


20 thoughts on “Frugality versus minimalism

  1. I’ve got tools coming out of my…. And looking at my tool shed you wouldn’t ever think there was a “minimalist in training” owning it 🙂 But I for one have NO problems with that, as I use a lot (and I mean a LOT) of the stuff I have there… And if I don’t use it.. My friends and neighbors are really happy I have all these tools.. It sure saves them a bundle (yeah, I’m the designated tools person in my neighborhood 😉 ) I get where you are coming from though, because there are moments I really, really want to downsize the tools/garden stuff (and I do chip away at it) but it’s useful stuff, and it’s mostly in use.. And it would cost a fortune to buy new if I needed it later, and being a handy”man” have saved me (and a bunch of others) a lot of money in not needing to hire anyone 🙂

    I think having a bit of both frugal and minimalist in us, is a perfect combination 🙂

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    1. Hi Anne! I’m glad we’re not the only ones with loads of tools. Good point about lending them to friends and family too – we have loaned people lots of stuff and saved them money too which is great. It’s frustrating in a way to have the stuff but I suppose I’d rather have it and have extra cash in the bank! M

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  2. I think a balance between the two is great; I know that I will never be a true minimalist in all areas of my life – neither will I always be frugal – we have once in a lifetime family holiday this year costing the price of a new car!! – we usually go camping for a week in Devon – but I am able to pay for it without credit by generally being frugal (which includes hand me downs for the boys – meaning my loft is not minimalistic with its labelled boxes of clothes in there)

    At the moment our eldest is getting ready to take her A levels – so will be off to uni later this year. I am hanging onto some items which she may need – as I don’t want to spend on them in a few months. However, if she doesn’t want/ need them at uni I must remember to actually then get rid of the things! 🙂

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  3. I think as minimalism is all about balance, there is a balance too to be found in frugality versus necessities. Just having what you need, and sometimes that may mean spending a bit extra on things because you get the most value from an item that has purpose in your life.

    Like for me, similar to what you’ve spoken about, a decent beard trimmer goes a long way so I wouldn’t mind paying extra for it particularly if it makes the daily trim easier because the immense value you might get is easy to see when you use it every single day and it makes it a breeze.

    In my experience when you act too frugally, you get less value in the long run.

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    1. Agreed Joe. We used to be all about finding the cheapest item which we’d then have to buy multiple times, now we live by the mantra of ‘buy it once, buy it right’. Usually a higher initial outlay but more frugal in the long run. M

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  4. It can be a daily battle sometimes with objects around the house. I do my bf’s hair so we have his stuff, along with mine when I’m retouching in between salon visits. But there are also a few things, like dining room table covers or extra sewing equipment. It seems superfluous at the time, but at the moment of need, it’s exactly the thing to finish the project. I’m slowly learning to accept what’s needed on the journey of life.

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  5. There’s definitely a balance. I also trim my own hair at home, but since my hair is probably quite a bit longer than yours I only have one pair of scissors, a comb, and I use a bath towel to keep the hair off of my clothes. For me there are definitely things I would like to get rid of, but simply cannot because of their practicality. I would love to be able to get rid of certain tools and such but find that I need them often enough to warrant keeping them. I also keep extra blankets in my room, which takes up an entire drawer and a shelf in the hall closet…but it helps save money on the heating bill in the winter. But I look at all of them in the summer and debate getting rid of a few 🙂

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  6. If you don’t have the hair trimming tools (or for those who want to get rid of them) get students to cut your hair. At my local college I pay £6 or £7 for a shampoo & trim (depending on whether I get a level 2 or 3 student) and on Tuesdays they have ‘barber’ day and men can get haircuts for £1. You can also get cheap beauty treatments through the college and students too.

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  7. Trying to downsize in every area of life here. I admire what you have set out to achieve this year.
    I have my hair cut three times a year, at my local college, it helps the students plus i get a wash, with head massage, cut and blow dry for a tenner….they get to add to their portfolio and practice. Win win! 🙂

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