We live a frugal life as a family. What does frugality mean to us? It means that we live a life below our means which allows us to live a debt and interest free life. We take control of our family finances- spending carefully on great quality necessary items and splurging on planned treats. We take care of what we use, waste less and leave fewer carbon footprints.
We chose this lifestyle when we started our life together with the intention of a debt and interest free life. It was not easy as all the information that’s at our fingertips today about personal finances or frugality was not easily available 20 years ago. I didn’t know how to do budget or stack coupons, let alone planning meals and do alterations. It was challenging at times to trek toward delayed gratification, specially when instant gratification was available with just one swipe of your credit card. But we were determined not to owe money to anyone and Allah(swt) assisted us along the way through our frugal adventures.
We don’t live on a T.A paycheck anymore but our lifestyle has remained the same. We still live well below our means. Frugality is a decision that gets renewed everyday through our actions. We strive to spend less and waste less so we can have a life with dignity, contentment and blessings from Allah(swt).
A frugal life may seem like an ascetic life, filled with limitations, fewer choices and deprivation. It may come with the stigma of being cheap and stingy But in reality it’s quite the opposite. Our frugal life is a blessed life with amazing benefits and here are some of them-
- Earning pleasure of Allah(swt)– This is the no#1 benefit of living a frugal life. When you decide to live frugally to stay away from being in debt or paying interest, your desire to please Allah(swt) comes before your desire to please yourself. This decision alone will transform your life as it calms your soul and lifts your spirit. I feel more connected to Allah(swt) since I put a concerted effort to please Him through my actions everyday.
- Debt free life– When you spend less than you earn you are more likely not to be in debt in the first place. But if are in debt, you can use the difference to pay off your debt. You will be free from worry and stress that comes with debt.
- Interest free life– A lot of us pay interest on credit cards for buying something we can’t afford. And it goes for anything we “buy” without having the money to pay for it upfront- from a big house to a name brand purse. You can live an interest free life when you cut your coat according to your cloth.
- Have an emergency fund– You can save up for an emergency fund when you live below your means. Emergency fund is a great buffer when you come across something unforeseen- health issues, job loss, unexpected travelling etc. You are less likely to be in debt or ask for charity when you have been slowly working on your emergency fund. I started by saving only a few dollars each month and ended up reaching my goal sooner than I thought I would. We were able to stave off debt when faced with a job loss and a move to a new city.
- Eat less, eat better– This may come as a surprise but frugal people do not live off of rice and beans only regimen. Frugality actually allows you to eat great local foods and mostly organic food consistently. You may eat less but you eat good quality fruits, vegetables and meat. And you actually look forward to treats or eating outs as the rarity of their occurrences make them all the more enjoyable.
- Environment friendly– This is one of the great benefits of living a frugal life. You waste a lot less or become zero waste when you use up what you have and only buy things as needed. I was able to reduce the size of my weekly trash to 1.5 gallon which can easily fit into a regular size grocery bag instead of its 13 gallon counterpart.
- More time– You have more time to pursue something as you own fewer stuff and are not in constant worry to “upgrade” your life. You spend less time buying or organizing stuff. And the possibilities are endless for what you can do with the “extra time”. You can use this time to pursue something you have always wanted to do or volunteer your time to improve other people’s lives.
- More money for yourself– You have more money for yourself to keep or invest instead of spending on things you really don’t need. You can work less or retire early or go to places you never thought you could afford.
- More charitable– The more money you save, the more you can give for zakat. How cool is that? And on top of it, you have more money to support your favorite causes or charitable organizations. We would not be able to support the charities without living a frugal life. It allowed us to extend our family by sponsoring orphan children from Syria, Palestine, Bangladesh, Africa and Burma.
- Less stress– You live a much simpler life when you’re not constantly comparing yourself with others or trying to keep up with the Joneses. You do not feel the constant need to have newer or bigger things. You let go of the urge to prove your worth through your accumulation of things. All of these bring more joy by reducing stress in your life.
- Organized home– You have a better organized home when you have fewer stuff. You spend less time organizing and cleaning and have more time for yourself. You are not surrounded by clutter and disarray anymore and this not only clears up space in your home but makes room in your heart as well. I can have my friends over anytime since it’s easier to keep my home clean with fewer stuff.
- Cultivates Creativity– Frugality fosters a lot of my creativity since I try to live this motto “Use it up, wear it, make do or do without”. Currently I’m working on making a runner using the gorgeous samples of a fabric book that I bought for a song. Instead of forking out $40 I’m using my sewing skills and creativity to make a runner that I look forward to enjoy.
- Emulating the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad(sa)- I was so moved by this excerpt, “His house was particularly bare” from the book In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad. We find numerous examples how simply our dear Prophet(sa) lived, from mending his clothes to using minimal water for doing wudu.
- Look graceful– Since you have a budget for your clothes, you are more likely to buy durable clothes with classic style to get more out of your buck. You take better care of your clothes when you own a limited number of clothes and accessories. You develop your sense of style and are not a guinea pig for fashion experiments and , as a result, you have an organized closet, a fabulous sense personal style and look consistently graceful.
It’s not easy to stop following the popular culture of looking rich even if you have to borrow or pay interest for the things you want. It becomes all the more challenging when frugality comes with the stigma of being cheap and stingy. But once you choose frugality, you will know that you had lived an intentional life that was not dictated by others. Frugality liberates you from being in debt and paying interest. You learn to make decisions that are congruent with your faith and not care about what others are thinking. You find peace knowing that you had left a better Earth for others with your frugal lifestyle. You live a life of consistent abundance.