The Characteristics of Frugal People

Many define frugal people as "stingy". However, this kind of person leads a lifestyle that goes beyond saving money. They define themselves by their simplicity, minimalism, and other equally interesting dimensions. 
The Characteristics of Frugal People
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Have you heard the term “Frugal Four” recently? It mainly refers to certain countries such as Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands. These countries have healthy economies and seem to be the leaders in many of the decisions that pertain to economic matters. There’s such a thing as “frugal people” as well. What exactly do these terms mean and why are they so popular?

Some people misunderstand these people as stingy and even selfish. However, applying this pejorative approach completely clouds the opportunity to consider an interesting behavioral profile.

Being frugal is fashionable. However, as curious as it may be, it’s a set of approaches, dynamics, beliefs, and values ​​that have always existed. It’s true that some countries practice them because they’re part of their culture and traditions. The thing is, frugality isn’t exclusive to the northernmost regions of Europe. Even so, these dimensions may be very familiar to more than one of us.

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”

-Lao Tzu-

A seemingly suspicious woman.

Traits of frugal people – are they stingy or mere stewards of their quality of life?

If you look up “frugality” in a dictionary, you’ll get a clue to what it really is. The word defines the qualities of being prudent, passive, thrifty, and good at optimizing the use of time and money. When you see it like this, in broad strokes, you may once again envision a restrained and even stingy person.

However, it’s best to avoid these types of labels. This is because they’re not accurate and only limit the philosophy behind frugal people. Continue reading to learn more about their characteristics.

Their time is important and they use it well

Time isn’t money; time is life. Frugal people know this and, therefore, one of their main goals is to make the most of every day. What does this mean? Well, it implies, for example, that there’s no point in spending all day working. The idea behind making a living is about investing only what’s necessary to get a salary to live well but without excesses.

Frugal people make the most of every moment, either through leisure, rest, or being productive at work. Planning is the key here.

They’re efficient in everything they do

Efficiency is the ability to perform certain functions properly. This doesn’t apply exclusively to the workplace for frugal people. Instead, they integrate it into every vital area of their lives, such as:

  • They only spend and consume when they have to because they’re aware of their financial limits and, therefore, adjust to their budget at all times.
  • Also, they don’t buy things they don’t really need, such as clothes, appliances, and cars. In other words, they don’t replace things just for the sake of pleasure and not for the mere need of having the latest model of a given product.

They keep their priorities straight

Priorities are clear in the happy life of a frugal person. They make efforts, work for what they want, and mobilize all of their energy towards those specific dimensions. Their thrifty mentality is the thing that defines them.

Note that they don’t limit themselves to looking only at the present and immediate moment. In fact, they’re focused on long-term goals. Thus, taking this into account is also a priority. This means they save as much as they can every time they get a paycheck.

Frugal people avoid debt

This may be the greatest advantage of frugal countries that, on average, maintain a good standard of living. Salaries are good and, thus, they’re savings oriented. In fact, their efficiency makes it possible for them not to end up with a large mortgage. As you can see, avoiding debt is a top priority of this type of person.

They’ll always prefer to save and buy as soon as they can rather than get a mortgage.

They recycle, take care of their environment, and seldom waste resources

Why use a car when you can move around in a bicycle? Frugal people don’t only save money by doing this, but they also take care of their environment. This doesn’t mean you have to do without a vehicle altogether. Mainly that you can keep the same one for many years because it still works.

The same is true of any other field. For example, why have several telephone and Internet contracts when a single company can cover all the needs of every family member?

A woman riding a bike.

Frugal people focus on needs, not wants

These people are seldom guided by their impulses. This doesn’t mean they’re cold or square. It’s quite the opposite, actually. The philosophy of frugality seeks, above all, to aspire to an authentic quality of life. This implies being clear about your own needs and not chained to your desires. After all, the latter are ever-changing and fickle and can lead you down the wrong path at any given time.

Spending money and acquiring debt seldom leads to happiness. It can satisfy a momentary desire but, ideally, you must be clear about your true needs and invest time and effort in reaching them.

Frugal people and the search for inspiration

An interesting factor defines frugal people: the constant search for inspiration, knowledge, and connection with the environment. Their goal is clear: to keep learning in order to improve and advance. We must look for new mechanisms in order to continue to be more efficient and to create more productive work teams. Thus, continue to invest in your quality of life, as well as in social progress.

In short, this behavior isn’t only inspiring but also realistic and worth imitating. It’s true that frugal countries have a context that facilitates these approaches. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t follow any of the axioms of their dynamics, to the best of your abilities.

This is just something to keep in mind.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.