There’s supposed to be a balance between frugality and enjoying quality of life. If not, that’s when frugality becomes a problem. Refusing to go to Paris because you don’t want to spend the money can be considered obsessive frugality. Going to Paris utilizing low cost airfare, staying in a budget hotel just outside the city and taking the metro vs a taxi is frugality at its best. Frugalistas want experiences. But NOT at a price.

To be frugal is to know the value of things. To be frugal is to know when to hold them. When to fold them. When you are getting true value for your dollar. When to just walk away. I’ve been a frugalista since the 1987 Stock Market Crash. Going broke can be a life changing wake-up call. Up until that point I didn’t understand the value of money. But after careful research, trial and error, constant reading and learning over the years, I think I’ve mastered the fine art of frugalism to the point where I don’t need to even think about it anymore. It’s second nature to me now.

When my daughter and I went to Paris back in 2006, the entire trip, for the both of us, including airfare, hotel, meals and sightseeing came to a whopping $1849. I had seen an advertisement for a trip to Paris on the back of the travel page in The New York Times for $545 per person (that included air fare and a hotel for a week!) The bargain was only good for 3 days. I had the money in the bank and so I was able to jump at the vacation chance and go! My daughter told me it was the cheapest vacation she had ever taken. I told her it was not a cheap vacation. It was a cost-effective vacation. We did everything “rich” vacationers do but at more reasonable prices. Most importantly, my daughter learned a valuable frugal lesson. You can enjoy life and all its experiences without wasting a lot of money foolishly. My daughter later went on to travel to London and Hong Kong without breaking her own bank!

Two weeks ago, I bought a luxury pick-up truck for my husband’s birthday. ( I know the term ‘luxury pick-up truck’ is an oxymoron). I paid cash for his truck, just like I have always paid cash for all of my other vehicles since 1986. I could sit there and write out a check for $27,000 (and change) without blinking an eyelash or worrying about how this amount might negatively affect my savings balance. How is that possible? The sales rep told me almost never does anyone come in to the dealership and pay cash for anything. 80% of their business is leased. The rest is financed. That’s because people today have no money. They are living their lives in low-cost borrowing. They fear taking any cash out of their non-existant savings accounts might get them caught short. In other words, they don’t have enough in savings to cover anything truthfully.

I knew it was time to buy a more powerful vehicle because hubby and I want to utilize our RV and finally go see America. This time, however, we are going to stay in either state or federal parks and save a ton of money (vs commercial RV parks). I’ve booked a week in the Adirondack mountains at only $24 a night. The snows are starting to melt now in upstate New York which means the waterfalls will be in full flow. The park we are staying at boasts 41 waterfalls on one main trail!. I booked a full month this summer at a beach state resort in Rhode Island that is only $32 a night. And I booked three months at a beach in Florida this winter at only $22 a night. I’m frugal when it came time to book the trips but we’re staying in said parks in luxury. That’s how I balance out my own quality of life standards. I know when to hold them and I know when to fold them.

Our newish truck. To find out how we bought a $52,000 vehicle for only $27,000 out-of-pocket cash, click here.

The other day I asked my husband to get a package of chicken tenders out of our second freezer for that night’s dinner. He came back up with two packs of chicken tenders (which represented the whole original package I bought at the grocery store). “No,” I told him. “We only need one package. I’m utilizing portion control now. We don’t need to cook more than what we need anymore. We’re saving money by divvying up dinner based on our culinary requirements.” This is a new frugal trick I just recently learned. Rather than cooking up everything all at once, I’m portion controlling out our meals. I’m saving money while watching our waistlines. I balance out our meals now with veggies, salads and either rice or a baked potato.

Both of these used to represent one meal to us. Now? I’ve divided the tenders into two meals.

Being frugal is a lifetime profession. I’m always learning new tricks to the trade. I will not, however, give up my desire to enjoy life, sometimes wallow in precious luxuries or miss a life experience simply because I don’t want to spend the money. That’s just plain foolish.

I’ve found the balance of frugality in my life. Here’s hoping and wishing you find yours.