The Path To Frugality & Beyond
First, you buy stuff and spend money. You do not care how much oatmeal costs, you just buy the kind you want. There are no sacrifices. Choice dictates purchases.
Then, you start to care about the price but still only buy what you want. You start using coupons and look for discounts/sales on your favorite oatmeal. You sacrifice your time. You still buy your favorite kind and save some money in the process. Choice still dictates purchases.
Then, you learn that the generic oatmeal is even cheaper than the brand-name even after coupons. Price is beginning to dictate your purchases. You sacrifice some quality/preference to save money.
Then, you learn how to make your own oatmeal! This is much cheaper than even the generic stuff and you can make it just how you like it. Choice & price dictates the purchase of ingredients. You sacrifice some convenience, as you now have to plan ahead to have time to make it. This is frugality.
However, you do not stop there. You begin creating everything from scratch, re-using everything possible. Choice dictates what little purchases you make. You sacrifice time and money. Re-using items does not always save money but does reduce your dependence on store-bought goods.
Frugality Is A Balance
Frugality is the perfect balance of saving money and decreasing consumerism in your life. Going beyond this leads to a life of extreme anti-consumerism that no longer revolves around saving money. Being frugal allows for choice and money savings with the least amount of inconvenience.
One example of crossing the frugality line is walking instead of driving. It would cost me $20 more a day to walk the four miles to the train station than drive. This includes the maintenance, gas and car insurance I pay on my car. The main factor is time. Spending two extra hours walking severely cuts into my already limited free time. While it is eco-friendly, it certainly is not frugal.
The best example of going beyond frugality is using Family Cloth (AKA Re-Usable Toilet Paper) Yes, people do this. The benefits are less items to buy; less trash we are producing. The disadvantages are the extra time and money it costs. Re-using toilet paper hardly saves money (when factoring in time and washing).
Living a lifestyle of fringe anti-consumerism is an intriguing one as the inconveniences are many. However, choices such as these have more to do with living a minimalist (and/or ecologically sound) lifestyle than saving money.
Do you partake in any minimalist habits even though they do not save you money?