Frugal Encouragement


If you’re trying to live a frugal lifestyle, it helps to have frugal friends who share your goals and values. Adults are not immune to peer pressure. Friends who go out to eat often (and worse, invite you along Dutch Treat and are surprised when you never come) can make you feel a bit grubby and mean about your lifestyle- or worse, can influence you to break your frugal goals. We’ve certainly found ourselves at a restaurant, dismayed with ourselves and mentally figuring out what we were going to have to cut from our budget to pay for this just because friends had pushed us to join them often and hard enough that we finally caved in to peer pressure.

People can be, well, less than supportive at times, can’t they? This can range from those friendly urgings to spend money you really shouldn’t be spending on stuff you really do not need to buy, to outright criticism. In one place we lived we kept a ‘compost bucket’ under the kitchen sink. Whenever we had compostable scraps we put them in the bucket, and when it was full we took it out to our compost pile to dump it. At one informal gathering of gals from church one of the young wives started complaining about how overboard her mother-in-law went on frugality, and she ended with something like, “I mean, I can see the point of saving money, but when it comes to keeping your food trash in a bucket in your kitchen, that’s just gross.” I blinked a bit- she’d been at my house more than a few times, and pointed out, “We do that, it’s for compost.” She wrinkled her delicate little nose and said pointedly, “Yes. I know.”

Oh.  So it wasn’t a faux pas. It was a deliberate rebuke.

There was a time when her criticism would have embarrassed me and made me ashamed, but happily for me, at this point in my life I was old enough and she was young enough that the only embarrassment I felt was for her own rudeness, and I must admit, I felt more irritation with than embarrassment for her. I have to wonder how negatively she might have influenced anybody else in that room listening to her act as though keeping a compost bucket was akin to letting pet mice romp on the kitchen counters, and spitting on the griddle to see if it was hot enough.

If you need some frugal encouragement, here are some links that might help (you’ll find good tips there, too):


You could try to take your real life friendships to a more mutually encouraging level.  Here are a couple of ideas for how this could work:

1. When you find a post on frugality or with a good frugal recipe or a fun activity that you think your unfrugal friends would enjoy, share it with them- either print it out, or email it to them.  Be careful with this- the idea is NOT to preach- just to share a post you genuinely think they will enjoy on its own merits that also happens to be frugal.

2. Cook one of the meals you find from one of these frugal sources and invite your friends over for dinner.

3. If they are real friends, they just want to spend time with you.  Find frugal activities that your friends will enjoy and be proactive about substituting them for the unfrugal activities they keep inviting you to do.  If they ask you out a lot, invite them to  brown bag -it with you for a picnic lunch at the park or your own backyard.  Or have them over for a baked potato bar or a a soup and salad bar (you make a frugal soup and home-made bread, offer a basic lettuce salad, and invite friends to bring other salad components or soup toppings).  If they invite you to a gym that isn’t in your budget, invite them to go walking with you once a week or a couple of times a month.  If they invite you to go shopping with them, ask them if you can have them over for tea when they are done shopping instead, or say you’ll come if they will go to your favorite store- and take them to  a thrift shop or consignment store.

4.  Be honest with them.  If you have a particular bill you’re trying to pay off- a student loan, a car payment, explain to them that you’ve decided you really need to pay down this particular bill as fast as possible and the best way to do this is to avoid hanging at the mall, going out to eat, ski trips, or whatever outside-your-current-budget idea that your friends long for you to do with them. Don’t be a Debbie-Downer, just laugh and say, “You know what guys, that sounds like fun, you go and have a blast and I’ll be with you in spirit.  But for us,  right now, I really want to push hard and save everything I can to pay off our car so we’re not giving extra money in interest payments to the bank instead of using it for treats for us.  I’m in for stuff that doesn’t cost money for a while.”  And then try and come up with a couple of things that do not cost money, or help you meet your goals frugally- game night at your house, go garage saling together looking for clothes for the kids,  invite a neighbor to go walk with you every morning, volunteer to clean the clothing room at a local pregnancy center and ask if a friend or two want to do that with you, invite a couple families to join you for a park day.

5. Don’t be preachy, boring, or moralizing- be the sort of friends you want to have- don’t guilt trip your friends, don’t be the kind of friend who only talks about one hobby horse, don’t make them feel like you think they are inferior to you because they of how you save money.  That would be as rude and annoying as my young friend of the anti-compost bucket.  Find other subjects to talk about than how you saved money this week if that is not an interesting topic to your friends- presuming these are friends you want to keep- but every once in a while when you do see a great deal on something you know they like, pass it on.

What are some of the ways you maintain friendships with friends who don’t share your frugal goals and inadvertently encourage you to break them?

Where do you find frugal encouragement?

What are some frugal ways you have found to have fun with friends?


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One Comment

  1. Chrissy
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    We have been married for 18 years this fall and have never made quite enough to avoid frugality entirely, nor does it seem advisable to do so, anyway. Much of my frugal encouragement comes from your blog, Dave Ramsey podcasts or The Frugal Girl blog. I also love The Tightwad Gazette and have read it cover to cover multiple times

    We have our indulgences, but we attend to our grocery budget, we limit eating out, we choose cheaper ways of doing nearly everything, we buy used whenever possible (finding secondhand khakis to fit our very slim 6 ft. tall son is close to impossible) and save every week for things that won’t come due for months. Very few of our friends see the world this way. Long ago we learned to just be who we need and want to be unapologetically and with a sense of humor. Anyone rude enough to comment negatively on our frugalities is given little heed, I have to say.

    Some friends dropped by unexpectedly once and I was wearing my “at home” jeans that were riddled with holes. One of them mocked me out loud for dressing like a “homeless person”. My furst thought was how he drones on and on about his concern for the needy and here he was, using that same subset as an insult. Hmm. I laughed at him and let him know that I have more important things to do than worry about whether he thinks I have nice clothing. He had no idea that he sounded like a pompous fool.

    As we have all gotten older, most of us have children and it is more fun for everyone to get together at each other’s homes, to bring a favorite dish and sit around and talk and laugh while the children play. Most of us have known each other 25+ years and we are just 40. The years of sitting in backyards drinking wine and laughing while the kids build their own lifelong friendships are incredibly important to each of us. I love these people as dearly as family and none of them care that we show up in thrifted jeans or that I usually make potato salad because it is cheap. Why should they? The guy that made fun of me moved away and doesn’t get any of my potato salad or homemade brownies, which is exactly what he deserves. Lol! 😉

    Good friends that love you for yourself are priceless.

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