Minimalism vs. Frugal Living: Similarities and Differences

Minimalism is not the same thing as frugal living. However, the two lifestyles have a lot of similarities. Understanding those similarities, along with the differences, can help you choose what is right for your own life.

When you examine the two lifestyles, what you’ll discover is that they overlap in so many ways. However, where they differ is what is important. That’s because looking at those differences can help you figure out your own values. Knowing your values helps you make the best decisions.

Minimalism vs. Frugal Living: The Biggest Difference

If you look closely at the definitions of these two lifestyles, you can see the major difference between the two.

Minimalism is all about having less stuff. In contrast, frugal living is about spending less money.

The two concepts overlap. Often, if you spend less money, then you naturally have fewer things. Similarly, if you focus on having less stuff, you might find yourself spending less.

However, they don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. A minimalist might fall in love with the perfect low-profile furniture. Even if it costs a fortune, it could be the right purchase, because it allows for the maximum benefits with the least added stuff in the home. In contrast, someone living frugally would look for secondhand, used, or discounted furniture. They would choose what costs least, even if it adds more bulk to the home.

Minimalism is for People who Dislike Clutter

As a result of this key difference – less stuff vs. less money – people who live frugally are more likely than minimalists to have clutter in their home. Of course, that’s not always the case. However, it tends to hold true.

For example, one key to frugal living is shopping for bulk items using coupons. For example, a frugalist might use Costco coupons to fill an entire pantry with affordable non-perishable goods. Likewise, they might fill their closets with cheap clothing. This can lead to a lot of clutter.

A minimalist doesn’t want clutter. They want the least stuff possible. They want the most efficient things. Therefore, they don’t stock up on a bunch of stuff. It’s all about having what you need, but only what you need, right now.

Frugal Living is for Folks on a Budget

There are many reasons that people embrace frugal living. It isn’t just about money. After all, spending less can often mean buying less. More than that, frugal living celebrates less waste. Therefore, frugal living can be great for people who are eco-conscious.

That said, the money part is the key foundation of frugal living. It is all about spending less. This can mean spending less overall. Alternatively, it can mean getting great deals to spend less on each individual item. In either case, money matters.

Therefore, frugal living is really for people who are concerned about finances. Minimalism doesn’t necessarily look at that aspect. For example, a minimalist might choose to spend more on groceries if it simplifies their life. In contrast, frugal living focuses on getting the best food at the lowest price.

Minimalism vs. Frugal Living

These two lifestyles can and do overlap. However, it really helps your decision-making if you know which camp you tend to fall into.

In summary, you prefer minimalism to frugality if:

  • You are more concerned about right now than the future.
  • It’s important to you to keep paring down to the bare essentials.
  • The idea of being able to put everything you own into a backpack sounds appealing.
  • You care more about quality than cost.

Frugal living is more right for you than minimalism if:

  • You get excited about getting the best deal.
  • It doesn’t bother you to have a lot of stuff around the home.
  • You like to think about ways to save now as well as in the future.
  • It is important that you stick to a strict budget.

Combining Minimalism with Frugal Living

Once you know which camp you’re in, you’re well on your way to making the best decisions for your home. However, you might also want to take some cues from the other camp. After all, there are benefits to both options. There are many ways to combine minimalism with frugal living.

To combine the two, remember the following:

  • Focus most on what you need in your life right now. Some stockpiles are fine if you get a really great deal, but be selective.
  • Purchase items that are necessary and efficient. However, wait to make those purchases until you see a good deal on them.
  • Use the “one in, one out” rule to keep clutter to a minimum. Buy those “one in” items on sale.
  • Aim for a balance between saving money and living with less stuff.
  • Look around the home for items that no longer enhance your quality of life. Sell them to get extra money.

Do you lean more towards minimalism or frugal living? Why?

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