There are many different types of or approaches to frugal living. Environmentally-minded frugality, a simple living focus, and spiritual frugality are just a few examples. Spiritual frugality is one approach that I don’t know as much about, but I am curious to learn more.
What is Spiritual Frugality?
Spiritual frugality simply means that you choose a frugal way of life because it supports your religious or spiritual practice. Almost every different religion has aspects to it that encourage frugal living.
This is not the same as asceticism. Of course, in asceticism, you deprive yourself of any indulgence for spiritual reasons. Therefore, frugality and saving money are a natural byproduct of asceticism. However, spiritual frugality doesn’t require asceticism.
Instead, spiritual frugality is simply about approaching all financial decisions with your spiritual faith as the foundation from which you operate.
Book Recommendation: The Grace of Enough
I’m currently reading Haley Stewart’s The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture. I have to confess that I didn’t realize it was a spiritual frugality book when I got it. In fact, there have been passages that turned me off because some of the author’s Catholic beliefs don’t sit well with me personally. However, I like to learn from other perspectives, so I’ve continued reading.
The book is a memoir about how Stewart’s family was living a typical suburban life when they decided to change everything. They sold their home, downsized their stuff, and moved with their three kids to an internship on a farm. So far, this is like many other books that I’ve read. However, none of the others had a spiritual bent.
Haley’s family is Catholic, and she intersperses Catholic messages throughout the book. Switching to frugal living can be hard. She relied on her faith to remind her of why she wanted to do this. She has found that the consumerist throwaway culture of America is a tempting antithesis to her Catholic faith. In the introduction, she writes that the Gospel is the antidote. And adds:
“It calls us to the kind of happiness that is only achievable when we are in right relationship with our God, his world, and our fellow man.”
It’s a modern take on how to bring Catholicism, bible messages, a faith-based approach to living, and the words of Pope Francis into a frugal life. She frequently quotes the bible, the Pope, and a variety of other religious sources to support her frugal choices.
Would Faith Help Me Be More Frugal?
Most of the book doesn’t resonate with me personally. Some of the Catholic language turns me off. (Notably, there are similar books from other Christian perspectives as well as spiritual frugality books rooted in Buddhism, Judaism, etc.) Moreover, although I enjoy reading about a return to the land approach to frugality, it’s not the right fit for me. Nevertheless, the book offered a lot of great thoughts for me to consider.
Mostly, it had me asking whether faith would help me stick to frugal living more. The likely answer is yes. I don’t have a personal spiritual practice. I do have values, and they align well with frugal living. However, when times get tough, it’s easy to revert back to negative patterns including bad financial choices. Spiritual frugality provides a strong foundation that I imagine would allow me to weather those times better.
Perhaps it’s not about spirituality per se. Maybe it’s just about connecting to something bigger than myself. Eco-focused frugality that emphasizes the benefits of minimalism for the world rather than for myself could be a good fit, for example. It’s about taking frugal living to the next level so I more deeply understand why it’s important to me beyond just saving money.
What inspires you to live a frugal lifestyle? Where does faith fit in?
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