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Before we dive in, let’s get one thing straight: Frugal does not mean cheap. Cheapskates hate spending money, and when they do spend, it’s often on the wrong things or inferior products.

Frugality is different. It’s less about a reluctance to spend and more about being intentional with money. 

Do you know why frugal people often seem flush with cash? It’s because they know their hard-earned money is one of their most powerful and valuable resources, and they refuse to waste it. 

If you want to reap the same benefits, you need to adopt the same behaviors. Sometimes that’s about what you do, but other times it’s just as much about what you don’t do. 

You already know frugal people don’t spend money lightly. In fact, they’re downright discerning. These are five things frugal people never buy, and neither should you. 

1. Debt 

You probably don’t think of debt as something you buy, but that’s a very costly misconception. 

When you borrow money, you pay a fee for that convenience. We call the fee interest, and it adds up quickly. Credit card interest is one of the worst, because rates typically come in near 20%. If you carried a $5,000 balance on a credit card with an annual interest rate of 20%, after a year do you know how much interest you would have paid? Did you say $1,000 in interest? That’s what it would be, and it’s huge! 

Interest drains your bank account balance, but there’s also a psychological cost. As mounting financial obligations limit your freedom, it’s easy to feel helpless. 

Probably the worst thing about debt is that we often rely on it to buy things we don’t need. Almost without exception, the thrill associated with the purchase fades quickly. However, the debt lingers for months or years. On top of that, we often end up second-guessing the purchase and regretting it.

Frugal people don’t use their money to buy debt. Instead, they save their money so that when they want or need to buy something, they have the cash on hand. That way, they never pay more than something is really worth, and they’re never tied down because of debt payments. 

Imagine what else you could be doing with your money if you carried no debt.

2. Unbudgeted Items

Frugal people invest the effort in building a budget and then they stick to it. This plan for their money allows them to prioritize their spending on what matters most. 

That means that if the clothing budget this month is $30, they aren’t seduced by $100 shoes on sale for $60. If they needed new shoes, then it would be in the budget. Because they are not in the budget, they take a pass on the sale. It’s as simple as that. Remember, if you purchased those shoes, you didn’t save $40, you spent $60.

Of course, unexpected expenses do come up. But the thing is, when you’re used to budgeting and tracking your spending, they’re not really unexpected. Frugal people know that life happens, and they have emergency savings built into their budgets to cover those surprises. 

Give budgeting a try — you’ll be surprised how much easier managing your money becomes! 

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3. Single-Use Plastics

Frugal people don’t waste money, and single-use anything is a major waste. Two of the most expensive and common culprits? Zipper-lock bags and plastic wrap.

When you tap into a frugal lifestyle, that often means embracing the art of meal prep. Batch cooking and meal prep saves a ton of time and is a great way to eat healthy on a budget. It usually means freezing individual or family-sized portions of your favorite meals so they’re ready to go when  you need them — awesome! The only downside is the wasteful and expensive freezer bags you go through and eventually toss out in the process. 

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4. Low-Quality Products

Frugal people know that when it comes to quality, you often get what you pay for. That’s why they skip cheap, low-quality junk in favor of products that are built to last. 

Though it costs more up front, abstaining from inferior products will cost you less over time because high-quality products don’t need to be replaced nearly as often. 

This also means saving time and effort — otherwise known as a win-win-win.

Bottom line: When you compromise on quality to save a few bucks in the short term, you often create for yourself more hassle in the long term. Look for quality products at a good price, and remember to budget for them.

5. Clutter

Clutter is a problem for a couple of reasons. The first is practical: When there’s too much in your space, you can’t find what you are looking for when you need it. That causes frustration and leads to inefficiency.

The second is psychological: When your home is in disarray, you can’t relax. A calm environment promotes a calm mind, and a chaotic environment does the opposite. 

The good news is that avoiding low quality usually means less clutter. When you buy high-quality products that add value to your life, you don’t accumulate hoards of useless stuff because it happens to be on sale. 

But, even when you stick to well-made products, it can be tempting to overbuy. Expert marketing tactics we encounter at every turn see to that. But frugal people resist that urge by purchasing with intention. That means only buying things that serve a purpose.

If this sounds overly utilitarian, hear me out. When something serves a purpose, it makes your life better, easier, or more efficient — or it simply brings you joy. Those are all outcomes worth your investment of time and money. 

So the next time you’re about to drop some hard-earned cash, ask yourself, what is this purpose of this purchase? How will it enhance my life? 

If you struggle to find an answer, then that’s a cue to put on the brakes. Remove the item from your cart and see how you feel in a week. Chances are you won’t really want it anymore. 

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Wrapping Up

There you have it, five things frugal people never buy. Now it’s time for some self-reflection: Have you spent money on any of these five things in the past month? If you could curb that spending in the month ahead, how would you use that money more intentionally?

Change your financial future by making small, but significant, decisions today.

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