Thrifty Defined

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The word Thrifty can mean different things to different people. Here is what it means to me:
Being thrifty means living within your means. Some people associate the word thrifty with cheap and frugal. I associate it with the word smart. I believe in working smarter not harder. Why work hard for your money and just throw it away? That is what we are doing when we are paying more for something than we need to. Major corporations and companies do everything they can to be economical. They don’t make money and thrive unless they cut costs where they can and are economical about where they spend their money. I believe successful households are the same way.
Here are just a few of my thoughts on the subject of being thrifty:

Be Smart
Being thrifty doesn’t mean that my kids wear clothes from the thrift store, but actually the opposite. I am smart with my money and hit the sales at the right time at stores like Gap, Old Navy, Gymboree, and more. My kids wear really cute name brand clothes and I pay less than I would at the thrift store. I love thrift stores, but don’t usually buy clothes there. Not everything at a thrift store is a good deal, but sometimes you can find some great deals. It’s all about being smart!

Be Patient
Being thrifty means being patient and planning things out. Instead of just going to the store and buying what I want at the moment I want it, I wait until it is on sale or find another way to get it. To get great deals on clothes I wait until the end of the season when everything is 50% off the clearance price, and then I store the clothes away for a few months. It means doing my homework and knowing what a good deal is. So many times I see CLEARANCE marked on items and then when I look at the original price I laugh because it is only marked down a few cents and was on sale earlier that month for a lot less than the so called clearance price.

Be Aware
Being thrifty means to always be aware and on the look-out for a good deal. When I am out shopping and I see a $30 toy on clearance for $5 I buy it and store it for when one of my kids is invited to a birthday party. As a result we are giving a really nice toy and are being the opposite of cheap. If I were to wait until last minute to buy a birthday present, I would buy a $5-$10 present and it would look like a cheap present. Be aware of what a good price is.

Be Thrifty With Your Time
Now you might think that being thrifty takes a lot of time and energy. I am also thrifty with my time and hardly spend any time shopping. I just can’t go shopping with 3 kids, even with the older ones in school. Anyone who has tried to go shopping with a toddler will understand. I find that I can get most of my thrifty shopping done online. The stores e-mail me their sales, I don’t have to wait in line, there are more items and sizes available, and shipping is usually free or $5 for everything.
“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” Jim Rohn quotes

Don’t Fall For Marketing Tricks
For grocery shopping I choose one store and stick with it. Like I said, my time is valuable! I don’t clip coupons either. I find that most of the coupons are for items that I would not normally buy. If you are buying something that is normally $2.50 because you have a coupon for 50¢ off, you are not saving 50¢, but spending $2.00. If it is an item that you were already planning on buying, then you are saving 50¢. I find that most of the coupon items are very heavily processed, unhealthy foods that I don’t want my kids eating. I was at an enrichment meeting once where the “Grocery Guru” shared how we can save money. This man is on TV and I was excited to hear what he had to say. When I arrived at the meeting he had an entire table full of all of his coupon deals he bought that week. He paid a fraction of the price for everything, but I couldn’t see one thing on the table that was healthy or that I needed. I buy in bulk where I can to prevent more shopping trips than I need. I don’t buy the cheapest items in the grocery store either. I read the labels and buy the healthiest options, even if it means paying a little more. I don’t want MSG and other chemicals and preservatives in my food and am willing to pay more for my health. By being aware of what is in the food I am buying, I am saving money in the long run by saving my health. I also don’t want to spend money on a newspaper with coupons only to throw it away. News is available online for free and doesn’t kill any trees in the process.

Am I Spending Money or Saving Money?
When I see a really great deal I ask myself if I need it first. When I was younger I used to go to the Provo Craft sidewalk sales and buy tons of crafts just because they were so cheap. I would also buy clothes and other items this way until my closets just couldn’t take it anymore. I read the book, Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston and it changed my life. I stopped buying things just because they were a good deal and now only buy things that I need. Things drain your energy! I am so much happier knowing that I don’t have any crafts waiting for me to finish!

I was at the store with my oldest son last month when we saw Nintendo Wii games on sale. He said, “Look mom, we can save $20 on these games!” I said, “No, we would be spending $30 on these games.” He thought about it and had a lightbulb moment. He said, “Your right, we wouldn’t be saving any money, but spending instead.” Stores want us to think we are saving money and market things so that we are brainwashed into thinking we are.

I could go on another 1000 pages with all of my thoughts about what being thrifty means. I just want people to see being thrifty as a good thing. When I was first married, my DH and I had a combined income of $11,000 for the whole first year of our marriage. I had to be thrifty in every sense of the word! My in-laws saw me as cheap because I wasn’t willing to go into debt to live more “comfortably”. My DH and I were happy and became very creative at things. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions.” We lived without a TV (I’m not talking about cable but an actual TV set) for the first year and without a lot of things, because we didn’t rely on things to make us happy. Now that we have more money and can afford lots of things, I look back at those simpler times with happiness. I laugh at all of the creative things we did for entertainment and at how much more time we had. Things really do take our time away from us. The TV, computer, internet, wii, and everything else all take our time and money. I am not saying that I want to get rid of these things, but I do want to simplify my life. I think that being thrifty is being simple. It is living within your means and not wanting what you can’t have. It is being creative and having fun. Being thrifty is is a wonderful thing that you can do at any age and any income. I have known millionaires who shop at thrift stores and own small simple houses. They have money because they are thrifty and they are happy because they live a simple life. Being thrifty is a good thing and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.


  1. Amen! I still have a lot to learn about being "thrifty." I'm getting much better about passing up a good deal if I really don't need it. It's hard, though.

  2. Hey, I LOVE this post! I'm totally with you on the patience thing, and the coupons thing. I live by those as well. I think we would be good friends if we lived near each other, we seem to have a lot in common.