Frugality is something that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention these days. In a society that tends to focus on consuming goods, being frugal is sometimes frowned upon. However, some of the great minds in literature, politics, and more, have a few good words to say about it.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition of frugality:
“The quality or state of being frugal: careful management of material resources and especially money: THRIFT”
Being frugal means carefully managing your resources. It means managing your money so that you always have enough to meet your needs.
1. “I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.” (John Stuart Mills)
John Stuart Mills’ thoughts on limiting his desires rather than satisfying them shows a strong insight into human behavior. Mills knew that happiness did not come from possessions. Furthermore, he knew that living his life in an ongoing attempt to fulfill his desires only led to unhappiness.
2. “There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.” (Calvin Coolidge)
As the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge had a tough job during his six years in office. In addition to having to restore Washington’s reputation after years of scandal, he also had to deal with the post-World War I economy. He knew a thing or two about frugality. For Coolidge, living within your means meant having independence to take care of yourself without relying on the credit of others.
3. “He who will not economize will have to agonize.” (Confucius)
The Chinese philosopher Confucius was widely respected as one of the wisest men of his time. He had the ability to make the complicated seem simple. A case in point is this quote about economizing. Confucius essentially believed that the key to living a more peaceful life came from learning to live simply.
4. “Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich.” (Benjamin Franklin)
Like Confucius, founding father Benjamin Franklin had a knack for making the complicated easy-to-understand. As demonstrated by this quote, Franklin understood the correlation between frugality and riches.
Franklin believed that the first step to being rich was to learn to be frugal. He knew not to spend money on unnecessary things. He also knew to be industrious, which is to say he knew the value of hard work. Combining frugality with industriousness helps pave the way to wealth.
5. “We really never, never threw anything away. You think you know about recycling? We invented it. We had to.” (Clara Cannucciari)
The late Clara Cannucciari was an accomplished author and speaker who brought her personal experiences from the Great Depression into the modern era. Through this quote, Cannucciari explained that people had to be frugal during the Depression because they had no money.
If you dig a bit deeper into Cannucciari’s writings, you quickly understand that people of her generation saw frugality differently. They viewed it as a normal part of life, continuing to be frugal even after the Depression ended. The advantage of living this way is that you are better able to cope when financial troubles come.
6. “Unite liberality with a just frugality; always reserve something for the hand of charity; and never let your door be closed to the voice of suffering humanity.” (Patrick Henry)
Founding father Patrick Henry knew it was wise to combine frugality with charity. Moreover, he understood that liberal charity is a good thing. When you are frugal with your own resources, you stand a greater chance of having a little left over to give to someone in need. That is a good way to live.
7. “I’m a practitioner of elegant frugality. I don’t feel comfortable telling other people what to do, so I just try and lead by example.” (Amory Lovins)”
Writer and Physicist Amory Lovins has a bit of a different take on frugality. This quote explains how he uses his own frugal lifestyle as a means of encouraging others to do the same. However, he doesn’t evangelize. Rather, he leads by example. Lovins calls this ‘elegant frugality’. He makes a good point. You can do a lot to help others embrace frugality by showing them how it’s done.
8. “I’m frugal. I’m not a very acquisitive woman. I never waste food. If you prepare your own food, you engage with the world, it tastes alive. It tastes good.” (Vivienne Westwood)
Vivienne Westwood’s take on frugality is a little bit different as well. In this quote, she specifically talks about frugality and food preparation. She sees preparing her own food as a way to engage with the world. She also recognizes that food she prepares herself tastes best.
The point of this quote is to say that frugality has a way of making you feel good about yourself and the world around you. When you are frugal, you spend less time as a consumer and more time as a participant in life.
9. “Industry is fortune’s right hand, and frugality its left.” (John Ray)
John Ray was a 17th century scientist who is widely regarded as England’s first naturalist. He wrote and said many great things, including this quote on frugality. When you consider the advantage we human beings have with hands, fingers and opposable thumbs, the comment is even more powerful.
You can do a lot more with two hands than one. Ray believed that when industry and frugality are used in the same way of hands being put to work, great things can happen. Frugality and industry complement one another like the left and right hands do.
10. “I’m old enough to remember in the 1930s and the 1940s when thrift, frugality, was considered an important virtue.” (Edmund Phelps)
American economist Edmund Phelps is a Nobel Prize winner in economic sciences. Much of what he knows about economics is rooted in his experience as a young person. Those experiences include growing up in a time when frugality was considered a virtue.
The entire concept of frugality is based on the idea of not spending money on things you don’t need. It’s about choosing less expensive brands rather than paying more for a name. It’s about learning to live within your means instead of constantly borrowing to satisfy your desires. Frugality is not a bad thing. It’s the foundation of good financial health.
Remember this: your financial health depends mainly on the choices you make. Make a habit of never spending more than you earn and the rest of your finances will take care of themselves.