Why I Still Embrace Frugal Living

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Like many other people, as I’ve grown older, my income has increased. Think of it as climbing the corporate ladder. Making more money is great, but I still embrace a frugal lifestyle. It’s not like I’m the cheapest person out there, I just like being smart with my money.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t hesitate to spend money on a nice meal or buy a game for my Nintendo Switch because those things bring me joy. That being said, I also won’t spend money on things even though I can afford it. Being frugal is a lifestyle I’ll likely never give up no matter how much money I make, here’s why.

FOMO is not my thing

Okay, I admit, there was ONE time I had some serious FOMO. In high school, there were these guys I knew who had nice cars. One had a Toyota Celica and the other a Mercedes Kompressor. I couldn’t help but feel envy. When you’re 17, those cars are serious babe magnets and here I was driving my parents’ Toyota Camry which my friends and I had dubbed “sexy car” because it was anything but sexy.

The funny thing is, when I was finally able to afford a car, I was practical about it. I bought a Mazda 3 (which my parents helped me with) because it was much more affordable compared to other vehicles. Heck, after I got married, my wife and I went years without a car because we didn’t need that added expense. When we did finally agree to buy a car, we bought a three-year-old Subaru because it was a good $15-20K cheaper than a new car.

Some of our friends and family like to brag about their home and experiences, but my wife and I just don’t care. We’re not concerned about what others have or what they’re doing, we’re focused on what matters to us. In our case, we love to travel so we never hesitate to spend on adventures (as long as it falls within our travel budget)

I like getting a deal

I’m not sure if this has anything to do with my upbringing, but nothing excites me more than getting a deal. I enjoy going through the grocery store flyers to see what’s on sale so I can plan my meals for the week accordingly. I also love finding cheap airfare or accommodations that will help bring down our vacation costs. And really, who doesn’t like using coupons when buying food?

Of course, I’m also not crazy. I won’t spend 10 hours searching for airfare to save $100. My time is worth more than $10 an hour. I also won’t drive to multiple grocery stores to get everything on sale. That’s what price matching is for. I know what my time is worth. Although I used to spend hours in my younger days trying to negotiate the best cellphone contract possible.

I should also mention that saving money isn’t always the smartest move. I believe in using quality contractors when renovating your home. I’m always a bit hesitant when someone is offering a cash deal up front for services.

My wife and I have also upgraded our furniture in recent years. IKEA stuff is cheap and practical, but I get a weird thrill when I buy furniture that I don’t have to assemble. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m buying a $15K table (I can’t believe some cost that much). I just recognize that there are times when I should spend, but I’ll still try to get a deal e.g. waiting for a sale!

Lifestyle creep never stops

Without a doubt, my lack of lifestyle creep is probably why I continue to live frugally. Generally speaking, when people make more money, they spend more. Sure, my expenses have gone up over the years (especially with a child), but I don’t tend to spend that much more on myself.

I rarely buy things that I don’t need. The weird thing is, I enjoy shopping, but I don’t buy anything unless I need it or I REALLY want it. Maybe I just enjoy going to the mall because that’s what I did during high school, but rarely do I come home with purchases.

It would definitely be nice to get a bigger home since we could easily afford the increase in mortgage payments, but with the cost of real estate in Canada these days, I don’t think that would be a good idea.

Since I’m rarely tempted to spend any additional money, I’ve been able to save quite a bit. That’s why I was able to have a huge down payment on my home and why I’ve been able to max out my RRSP and TFSA every year. Not spending beyond my means has given me a ton of options.

Final thoughts

From using coupons to looking for the best deal, frugal living will always be a part of me. Okay, if I win the lottery, I would totally buy a new house, but I’d probably still wait three years before I upgrade my phone.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Christina on April 1, 2019 at 11:05 AM

    I loved everything about this article!! My husband and I have always been frugal. I’m so thankful for it now, as we are down to one very part-time job while we work on some personal projects.

    But living frugally all those years (and paying off debt) means that when our circumstances changed – we were just fine. Actually, we’re happier than ever!

    • Barry Choi on April 1, 2019 at 7:02 PM


      I totally agree. By being frugal, I was able to make a career change to spend more time with my family.

  2. Chrissy on April 8, 2019 at 11:13 PM

    I could’ve written this article! My husband and I are frugal in many of the same ways, and it’s contributed hugely to our financial well-being.

    Frugality is such a simple but powerful tactic! It not only gets you ahead financially, but also trains you to be disciplined and self-sufficient.

    The time freedom you’ve gained is proof that frugality works! I hope more people look to your story as inspiration to want less and save more.

    • Barry Choi on April 9, 2019 at 6:23 PM


      Being naturally frugal is great, but I also had to teach myself to spend. Most of my “play” money goes towards travel.

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