Ask the Readers: Frugality versus Minimalism

I had this conversation with Mrs. 1500 on Saturday:

  • Me: Why do we have a million boxes of cereal?
  • Mrs. 1500: When I see it on sale, I stock up.
  • Me: But we don’t have a huge kitchen. We should just buy what we need for the next couple of weeks. I don’t care if it costs more.
  • Mrs. 1500:

Mrs. 1500 note [after she saw this image]: “You’re sleeping on the couch tonight!”

Mr. 1500 note: Great! The couch is right next to the kitchen and the 108,000 boxes of Cap’n Crunch! How is the milk supply?

We don’t have thousands of boxes of cereal, but we have a lot:

And this debate reminded me of a conversation I had with the Physician on FIRE (PoF) when I visited him recently. PoF has the same sentiment; he’s striving for minimalism, but thinks that it’s at odds with frugality. For a sophisticated discussion on the topic (although it doesn’t contain masterful artwork), see PoF’s post.

I want to know what you think, but first, we must get to the question from two weeks ago:

What are your favorite places on earth?

Jim’s wonderful spot on the beach

High Income Parents painted a pretty picture:

We love Yellowstone. Standing in the Firehole river with a flyrod in one hand as the steam from the hot springs rises around you and the sound of the water makes it feel like I’ve gone back in time.

Dividend Growth Investor mentioned my hometown:

I really liked Chicago, which I have visited a few times. It is a large diverse city, which has a Midwestern feel to it. Meaning people are actually nice. It has reliable public transportation, which is something most US cities lack. The only things I do not like is their O’Hare airport. But there is so much to see (love the museums)..

Mr. 1500 note: Here are some gratuitous pictures of my hometown:

Reader Adam mentioned Prague:

After visiting for a long weekend during a Europe trip last year, I’m a huge fan of Prague. The people are straightforward, the city is absolutely loaded with history and character, and it’s remarkably affordable.

DividendSolutions, I know what you mean about Tennessee. Beautiful country there:

If i could choose a place to live it would be a small ranch in Tennessee (nearby Nashville).

Mr. PIE mentioned Scotland. I’ll be there next month:

There is a beautiful little village (Portpatrick) in the southwest of Scotland where standing next to the old lighthouse, looking out to the Irish Sea, brings back so many very happy memories of childhood.

Reader Mies likes big trees:

I would say Sequoia National Park. I went there about 4 years ago on day when there was still snow on the ground. The park was practically empty. We got to hike through the sequoia groves in silence. It was beautiful. The scenery was incredible and made me feel insignificant.

LadyFIRE makes me want to go to the Land down Under:

There’s a place called Blowhole bay where I love to go fishing. It’s a horseshoe shaped cove that’s teeming with Salmon so you always catch a delicious dinner. If you get bored of fishing the sides of the coves are great to free climb, the winds and the tides have worn down the cliffs so they have great handholds and heaps of ledges so you’re never going to fall more than a few feet.

Primal Prosperity is also a fan of Australia:

I’ve been all over the world… 5 continents… but my favorite was definitely Australia. I actually took a solo 3 week backpacking trip there the year I turned 40, and it was the best trip I had ever taken. I suggest everyone do a solo trip at least once… it is awesome! When I was there, two distinct places were really magical… one was Magnetic Island. I stayed at a koala campground in a tiny little A-frame structure with a mattress on the floor and not much else, but the sounds of the animals at night were incredible against the rural silence. The second place was Phillips Island, where I saw penguins. And since it was a few hours away from the largest metro area, the sky was amazing at night. Being an astronomy/astrophysics buff, I loved being able to star gaze in the southern hemisphere!

I think a solo trip sounds awesome.

Finally, Mr. Tako had a great comment:

I try to always love the place I’m already in, instead of dreaming about “someplace better”. Every town, city, or state has something that can be appreciated and enjoyed.

It’s a philosophy I think a lot of people could take to heart — Learn to love what you have, not what you don’t have.

Frugality versus Minimalism

Now, I want to hear from you! What do you think frugality and minimalism:

  • Can they coexist?
  • If frugality and minimalism cannot coexist, which side do you choose?
  • Is it worth buying 98 boxes of Cap’n Crunch because it’s $1.98 instead of $2.98?


One more thing: In news unrelated to Cap’n Crunch, frugality or minimalism, I’ll be at Camp Mustache in Florida January of 2018. If you come, I’ll buy you a beer. And maybe even some Cap’n Crunch. Or maybe both:

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.

*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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63 Responses to Ask the Readers: Frugality versus Minimalism

  1. Ms. Montana says:

    I go minimalism on our hard goods for sure, but on consumable products we stock up when they are on sale. And I probably have you beat on the cereal stockpile. =)

    My general rule for hard goods is this: if I didn’t already own the item and I saw it for sale at a garage sale for $5, would I happily, excitedly buy it?

    If it’s not adding $5 of value to my life, I’m not keeping it in my house! That has helped me purge hundreds of “useful”, “maybe I’ll use it/need it” items from our home. And saved me the cost of buying a storage shed. Um…they are $5,000! So Mr. Montana bought a lovely classic car instead. Win-Win!
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Summer Reading Party: The Power of HabitMy Profile

    • “If it’s not adding $5 of value to my life, I’m not keeping it in my house!”

      How do you measure though? The cereal saves money, but the incredibly cluttered cabinets aren’t good for my well being. Having to dig for 5 minutes to find something drives me nuts. And I didn’t even show you what the freezer looks like!

      Mrs. 1500 has packed the freezer so tightly with food, I refuse to deal with it. It would take me 20 minutes to take everything out, find the item and repack it. It’s incredibly frustrating.

      Is anyone else out there a food hoarder?

    • Mies says:

      I’m the same way with consumables. If I see a good deal on soap, paper goods, or non-perishable foods, I stock up on them. I probably have a 3 year supply of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner. I’ve been know to have 4 bottles of laundry soap on hand at any one time because there was a coupon AND a $5 Target gift card. I’m not made of stone! Part of the reason we stock up on this kind of stuff, is I don’t want to pay any more than absolutely necessary for lame stuff. I’m willing to sacrifice some space if there is a good deal.

      Other than food, paper goods, cleaning supplies, and clothes, I try to bring as few material goods in to my life as possible. I’ve been on a major purge since the beginning of the year and I’d like to keep my house as clean as possible. I still have a a few things I’d like to sell, but they will be harder to sell since they are either low value or very specialized.

      I think a truly minimalist life style is a luxury. If you only buy what you need as you need it, you are probably always paying full price. You also might be paying more for something that comes packaged in a smaller quantity.

      Thanks for including my last post in this blog article too 😀

      • Mies, I think that I’m using you next week too! 🙂 This is interesting:

        “I think a truly minimalist life style is a luxury.”

        This is counterintuitive to the McMansion loaded with crap idea of luxury. I like the minimalist idea myself!
        Mr. 1500 Days recently posted…Ask the Readers: Frugality versus MinimalismMy Profile

        • Mies says:

          I am truly flattered! 🙂 Thank you.

          You got me thinking and refining my thoughts. You could also argue the other side that being able to stock up on consumables is a luxury too.

          I can’t remember where I read it, but I heard a lot of poor people buy things in small quantities even though buying in a larger quantity would be less expensive in the long run. For example, they might buy a single roll of toilet paper for a dollar even though a 20 pack only costs $15 (I’m making these numbers up. I don’t know how much toilet paper costs off the top of my head). All they can afford at the moment is that $1 for toilet paper they need to make the rest of their money cover food and bills. So being able to buy the larger package might be condsidered a luxury too.

          If you make a good living or are financially independent already, I think that’s why I see being a minimalist with consumables as a luxury. You can afford to ignore a sale or better value in the name of keeping your space uncluttered.

  2. Ohhh man, this is my jam. We started buying bulk bags of cereal because it’s way cheaper and lasts longer. Maybe take that approach for some space-saving?

    As far as frugality vs. minimalism, I was just talking to Mr. Picky Pincher about this last night. I don’t identify as a minimalist. I think it’s a passing fad that, for the most part, people aren’t able to adhere to and find benefit from. In some ways I see it as forced deprivation.

    I was all about minimalism for a while, until I realized I purged stuff I ended up needing later down the line. For example, a year ago I wanted to purge my espresso machine, but forgot to do it. I’m thankful I didn’t, because now we use our espresso machine daily. If I’d gone with the minimalist route, I would have spent SO much more money buying the stuff that I tossed out.

    It’s better to be frugal and know what you need to keep around and what needs to go out. I think minimalism is trying to give a simple answer to a complicated issue.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend! July 9My Profile

      • RocDoc says:

        Agree with Mrs Picky Pincher above. I am not a minimalist and have no ambition to become one. We have a friend who is a minimalist and he tries to be frugal as well. But he is always having to rebuy stuff that he threw out. Minimalism just doesn’t seem to be a very efficient lifestyle, in my opinion. Even if he manages to rebuy the stuff he needs again for a good price on Craig’s list, it’s still time wasted finding and obtaining the item again. I’d rather have a well organized stash of stuff and not waste time (and money) rebuying stuff. Plus I hate shopping-even on Craig’s list.

  3. Miss Mazuma says:

    Well this is something I definitely struggle with. When it comes to clothes, decorations, furniture, and chotchkys I hate excess. When it comes to food, I can be a maximist (unofficial opposite of minimalist) hoarder. I get it, Mrs. 1500! Cereal is expensive so I can appreciate taking advantage of a good sale. Frugality at it’s finest. Now, if you happen to have an Aldi nearby the same cereal (though generic) will only cost $1.29 per box and they use no artificial colors. No need to hoard at those prices. 😉 I am fond of their version of Lucky Charms and the boys have gotten used to eating off brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Check em out if you get the chance!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…Why I Travel Despite It Delaying FIMy Profile

  4. The tradeoff is a little tricky because it depends on your specific circumstances.

    Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I used to belong to BJs. We had plenty of space in our house so we could stockpile when something was a good deal. We were frugal but not minimalists.

    Once we downsized into a smallish apartment, we no longer had room to stockpile much so we dropped our BJs membership. Now we shop at a combination of Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Walmart.

    But we save much more by living in a small apartment than if we paid for a bigger apartment and then stockpiled stuff. So now we are minimalists and frugal.
    Mr. Freaky Frugal recently posted…Instant savings with discounted Gift CardsMy Profile

    • “But we save much more by living in a small apartment…”

      I like this! You may spend a little more on food, but you’re saving hundreds on living.

  5. Church says:

    A few points from my end:

    1. I admit, I am new to the Frugality/Minimalism world and would consider myself leaning more Frugal than Minimalist, but I’d have to imagine there is some in-between compromise. My wife and I pack up items we believe we can live without and store away. If after a certain period of time, we don’t miss those items, off to the donation bin they go. This keeps us with the minimum we believe we need. As we go about our lives, those essential purchases in life (food, personal care, Grandpa’s cough syrup etc) are evaluated for quality and price (frugal).

    2. Let me know if you need me to come over and eat down your inventory of cereal. Golden Grahams, Captain Crunch, Frosted Krispies and Frosted Flakes Marshmallow edition can all be taken care of immediately. I typically travel with my own milk in case I run across a situation such as this!

    3. That Cap’n Crunch Berry beer sounds delicious. Chicago has been producing some of the most amazing beers over the years.
    Church recently posted…Net Worth June ’17My Profile

  6. Mr. TYMP says:

    Thanks, now I need to go buy some Cap’n Crunch – on sale or not.

    In this specific example, I go with frugality. You have the space right? Your will eat the cereal right? The stuff is consumable, it’s not like those super couponing shows where they buy 1800 sponges or bottles of shampoo. Although, if you have a contant flow of on-sale-cereal, then I guess it’s the same. I feel like minimalism tends to care more about things and not so much foodstuffs.
    Mr. TYMP recently posted…High School Personal Finance Lessons You Should Be GettingMy Profile

    • So our issue is that we don’t have the space. Our kitchen is small and our house lacks a lot of storage. I don’t regret downsizing, but it hasn’t been an easy adjustment. Four years after moving, we’re still fighting the battle…

  7. I am going to steal my own comment I wrote to the PoF’s post

    I feel like I am a frugal minimalist. Every thing in our house has to have a purpose, we don’t buy something just in case, even if it’s cheap and good.
    But at the same time, I don’t mind to pay $$ if I know the quality is great and I will use for more and more, and even more.

    I don’t buy book and ebooks, I borrow them (OMG I used this B word) from a local library or friends.
    Friendly Russian recently posted…It is the time for ESPPMy Profile

  8. We are definitely frugal with some things and minimalists with others. When it comes to food we are very frugal. Shopping deals (on the things we need and know we use) to save money.

    …we bought !4! double packs of honey nut cheerios from Costco because they were sick on sale. *blush*

    However, we have cleared out the majority of our storage in the house because it was filled with things not bringing us any value. i went from 2 big storage tubs filled with trinkets, computer equipment, and childhood junk to a small box with a few old video games i wanted to keep around.

    Our family does like to differ on values and that is ok. I for one hate buying/having books and movies around. If there is something i want to watch/read i get on the waiting list at the library. I have donated all but a handful of each while Ms Blue Ribbon has a bookshelf filled with her old books and another with movies she refuses to get rid of.

    She is still pretty good about going through occasionally and seeing if there are any she wants to donate. For the record she does like to re-read books too.
    Budget On a Stick recently posted…2017 Q2 Networth and Goals UpdateMy Profile

  9. I definitely have a similar issue, my former work would give me expired stuff to take home. The best was when we stopped carrying a line of organic dry goods (rice, lentils, barley, beans, quinoa et.c). I came home with at least two big box fulls. I also had a friend in our old town that worked at a deli warehouse and sent me home with past best before date deli stuff (pastas, olives, beans, jams.. stuff that’s still fine). I call that friends with benefits.

    This food saves us crazy amounts of money, we can spend just $50 a month on groceries for 2 people when we need to, but it also takes up EVERY. SINGLE. KITCHEN. CUPBOARD. I’m slowly working through it but I’d love for some more space. It’s really clashing with my minimalist dreams.

    When things are on sale, I’ll buy one or two more than I need. Now I don’t eat cereal, and I don’t know how often this sale comes on.. but anything more than 2 extra would make me feel a bit hoarder-ish.
    Vanessa @ Achieving Freedom recently posted…La Vita è BellaMy Profile

  10. Kyle says:

    I stopped eating cereal probably 7 years ago, once I realized how bad sugar and too much grains can be. Assuming it’s for the girls. Today I eat even less grains, lots of veggies, fats and proteins.
    I definitely agree with PoF, my family was very frugal out of necessity when I was little, I can’t eat tomato soup or spaghettio’s to this day. I’m sure my parents had an even more frugal upbringing than I did. Today people my age or younger seem oblivious to what people used to do to get by. They only remember the good times when money was plentiful.
    Being Frugal and Minimalist can indeed be done, it means never getting used to certain foods for example, you buy what’s on sale, or don’t buy it at all. Buy what’s in season. My fridge changes a lot through the year. Can’t wait for fall… food wise lol.
    Kyle recently posted…Losing 30 Pounds and Building WealthMy Profile

    • And that is the thing, we don’t eat much cereal either. The crappy sugar stuff is for Saturdays only. At this rate, it will take us 338 years to plow through it all.

  11. I think it depends on your definition of each. Minimalism can be argued to be buying one box of captain crunch. It also could be argued that the house you bought defines your minimalism and what you put in that space is kind of unimportant. After all you already paid for the space. Meanwhile frugality can mean being cheap. But it also can mean being efficient. Choosing what you purchase based on values. If you value the space for other things in your home less then the savings on the cereal then buy the cereal.

    • “If you value the space for other things in your home less then the savings on the cereal then buy the cereal.”

      Yeah! And one thing I value is a lack of clutter. I can’t open our freezer without an avalanche of stuff spilling out. This drives me nuts. Besides the obvious hassle, it clutters my mind. I find that I’m happier and more creative in a minimalist environment.

  12. Minimalism and Frugality can definitely coexist. In many ways, Minimalism is a constraint placed upon Frugality. You only keep/have what makes you happy and replace it in Frugal ways.

    For example: If you only have room in your kitchen for 97 boxes of “Sale Price” cereal, buying the 98th one might be Frugal but isn’t Minimalistic.

  13. I error on the side of frugal, as much as I want to be a minimalist it’s just not part of my DNA completely so I struggle with it. I’d rather not get the things I need/want when I do need them than try to struggle without or make things work in ways they aren’t 100% supposed to. That being said the frugal side of me is on track to save over 40% of their take home pay which it pretty darn good, maybe not to the minimalist out there, but to the normal American it is. I do stock up a bit when things are on sale, but I don’t go crazy on it.

  14. Mr. Tako says:

    Frugality and minimalism are definitely two different things. In some ways they intersect…there’s no reason to own 6 sports cars, when one is enough. That’s both frugal and minimalist (sortof).

    But as you correctly point out, there’s many ways in which they DON’T intersect. For example, people who create (like myself) have TONs of tools. I can build or repair practically anything. A minimalist wouldn’t own these tools, they would probably just buy a product or service instead. In my mind, that’s just a consumer.
    Mr. Tako recently posted…The Best Reason For Financial IndependenceMy Profile

  15. SharonW says:

    If you define frugal as the efficient use of resources, and minimalist as keeping only those things that add value to your life, you can find balance within any category. For food, buy only enough sale items to get to the next sale. Stores generally have a routine sale schedule, so keep track of sales in a price book/spreadsheet and only buy at the lowest price. The trick for me is to monitor and plan consumption based on my food storage. We buy enough fresh green chilies in season to roast and freeze and have them last until next season (same with Dungeness crab – except we catch it), but I only have 2 boxes of cereal or granola at a time, because there is always another sale on when I need to replace. I know how much inventory I have, and plan our menu to use it up evenly until the next opportunity for low prices. We have 2 dinners using green chilies each month, for example, plus occasionally use chopped chilies as a condiment (on eggs!). This method keeps our freezer and pantry from becoming an archeology dig and prevents food waste.

  16. Mrs. BITA says:

    I think minimalism is a luxury item, while frugality is more, well, prosaic. As long as you need the frugality to meet your financial goals, Minimalism should be polite and wait its turn. Once you have enough Frugality should politely move to the back seat and let Minimalism do most of the driving.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…The Things I Won’t Miss About Corporate LifeMy Profile

  17. Billie Jean says:

    I’m finding that when I stock up on things because they are on sale or in bulk, we tend to go through them faster. For instance, we buy paper towels at Costco, and I’ve noticed I tend to use them very liberally right after we buy them. I’m thinking it’s because I know we have 15 other rolls in the closet, so we’re good for a while. However, when I’m down to the last roll, I make that sucker last for weeks!

    So lately I’ve been wondering if this is neither frugal nor minimalistic.

    Or maybe we need to develop some more self-control.

    Or make a ration card system haha!!

  18. I’m definitely an aspiring minimalist myself, I’d much rather pay a small premium when I need something rather than stock up every time it goes on sale. This goes for everything from food to tennis shoes, but we’re not perfect.

    Anyway, which weekend of Camp Mustache SE are you attending? I’ll be at the second week (Jan 12-15).


  19. I think I definitely side on minimalism, especially when it comes to food. But I also spend a little more than most people do on groceries. I try to buy mostly fresh food, which would go bad if I stockpiled. I also have a small apartment, so I like to keep things very minimal so it doesn’t get too junky. I am frugal in many other areas of my life though. Balance!

  20. Meow says:

    My frugality feeds into my minimalism… after all, if you don’t buy something, you saved 100% on it. 😉

    I’m not a couponer and I don’t really go for sales. It makes it easy to fall into the anchoring fallacy, price wise. Cereal, even at a dollar off, is still more expensive than fresh veggies and rice at regular price. Funny how sales and coupons tend to almost always be for processed and sugary foods- with a high mark up!

    I do weekly meal prep, usually a soup or a stir fry, and storing a week’s worth of meals in the freezer doesn’t really seem to interfere with my minimalism. Quite the opposite: I enjoy the simplicity of cooking only once per week.

    So when you first mentioned that frugality and minimalism could be at odds, I had to really think about it for a minute. I always thought that they couldn’t exist without each other.
    Meow recently posted…Should You Cosign for a Family Member?My Profile

    • The Roamer says:

      That was my initial thought too.

      But I think they can 100% coexist. After all frugality is not miserliness. Frugality isn’t about paying the cheapest price. I thought Jacob from ERE is frugal an he clearly states he pays for quality because it saves more money in the long run.

      I am a minimalist not because my house is devoid of stuff but because that is the thought process I use now. Space and easy access is of high priority. Minimalism isn’t deprivation or a fad it’s purposeful simplicity.

      Minimalism vs. frugality? I really don’t believe are at odds but I guess it depends what your talking about.

      For me my lean manufacturing background doesn’t encourage stockpiling. Because there is this assumption that you are investing money for something you are sure to use. But the bigger your stock pile of something the bigger the chance it will go bad. I know that is not the expectation but it can happen and if it does all those saving go down the drain.

      For example one time ants invade our kitchen overnight and we had to throw away 3 bags of cereal.

      Also like someone else mentioned when you have more you might go through it faster so are you really saving money. Buy 1 candy bar a week. Or buy the pack that saves you money per candy bar and end up eating the whole box in 2 weeks. Well stocking up cost more money then just paying full price for 1/week.

      I think most just need to have an established upper limit. If it’s on sale you’ll buy this many extra but not more. For cereal our Max is 4 boxes or 2 double boxes.

      But you know it all depends how fast you go through stuff too. Those quantity will last us a whole month because our kids have to alternate with oatmeal. Oatmeal is less expensive so more frugal, so I only buy a weeks worth. 4 boxes of cereal and 1 weeks worth of oatmeal don’t take up much space. Minimalism and frugality working together. I rest my case.

  21. Wade says:

    This is an interesting topic. You can never “save” money by spending money on extra stuff. You can however pre-pay for items.

    Costco is a good example. We have 4 females in the house. We go through TP. I buy the 30 roll packs at Costco. It is kind of ridiculous to buy that much TP, but we use it and you are rewarded (a little) by buying in bulk.

    Keeping expenses low and selectively pre-buying certain things seems to make sense. But, they are at odds.

  22. Mrs.Wow says:

    I definitely think that the two can be friends up until the point that one becomes a frugal hoarder. Hopefully you don’t have to wade through cereal boxes in order to walk through your home. But look on the bright side, if you ever get lost, you can just follow the cereal trail!

  23. The only proper way to evaluate frugality versus minimalism is with a Venn diagram. There is some overlap between the two circles, but I postulate the part of the circles with no overlap is substantially greater in area. If they were spheres, we’d be talking volume, but thinking in 3D makes my head hurt.

    Planet Hollywood did a mean Cap’n Crunch Chicken Strip basket. Maybe they still do. And I would totally eat that Cap’n Crunch beer.


  24. I should also point out that Brad & Jonathan of ChooseFI devoted an entire hour to this subject. Except for the part about the Cap’n. No mention of the Cap’n. Or Tenille.


  25. Buying in bulk is a great way to safe. I think the main issue here is: why are you buying breakfast cereals in the first place? They are not healthy at all, and I seem to remember a certain person having a weight goal!
    Buy the ingredients to make your own granola and buy those in bulk. Those ingredients comes in big bags so takes up a lot less room than all those boxes and it is a lot more cheaper than –sugar rich- cereals!
    financialfreedomsloth recently posted…Get yourself a will!My Profile

    • We’ve been getting away from them (especially the sugary ones) which makes the situation that much more ridiculous. And yeah, we make granola all the time. Love to eat it with yogurt in the mornings.

  26. Comtnadventure says:

    I think it is a trade-off ultimately. I don’t want to live a minimalist life, yet at the same time I don’t want a McMansion or everything that goes with it. I recently downsized from 2500 sf to 1800 sf and it wasn’t easy getting rid of the stuff that Ms Montana pointed out that I had eagerly bought for $5 at a garage sale. Yet I had to admit to myself that the ping pong table which for the better part of its existence lived folded in the corner, had to go. Getting rid of stuff that occupies 1/3 of your space is harder than it seems. But I am much happier now, not minimalist, but I don’t miss the food processor that saw the light of day once a year (maybe)
    But I am with Mrs 1500 on the buying of cereal in bulk when it is 1.98 vs 2.98. BUT it really has to do with available space, KNOWING your consumption rate, AND having a replenishment system. I recently built a little carts for cat food and kitty litter which I buy ONLY when it goes on sale (which happens roughly every 90 days) So my stockpile lasts (you guessed it) about 90 days. The new stuff goes in the back and slowly gets pulled forward. I do these kinds of calculations and planning for a living so I decided to apply it to my life but there are YouTube videos on how to do this stuff to make it easy to get your house 5Sed and install a kanban system so you minimize your cost and your waste without necessarily being minimalist.

  27. Jacq says:

    It’s tricky. One of my former coworkers was vegetarian and stopped at the store almost daily to pick stuff up. Others with large families grocery shop multiple times a week! I prefer to grocery shop 1x a week if that…I definitely managed to not go last week with the extra food mom sent me home with. 🙂 I’m saving $ on gas, not running out for each thing. I’m saving my time and decision making energy by going 1x a week.
    I have limited kitchen storage, so paper towels live in the garage & seltzer on the floor of the coat closet. But I just bought 2 cans each of black beans & refried last night. I will likely not eat both cans in the next week, or even few weeks. But I have them, and I get creative with the items in my cub-board. I make sure between the cabinets & the freezer I can make a few meals.
    Part of my dream tiny house, is not having a mini fridge, at least an apartment size. I need space for a half gallon of milk. I cook for the week and will need space for left overs. I know I may have to get creative about where to store the paper towels then. 🙂

  28. Dora says:

    I look at it this way: If it’s something I’m eventually going to use, it’s best to buy it when it’s on sale. I still stay within my budget and use common sense. If some of that cereal might go stale, then it’s a waste. If you can keep it all fresh, then it’s worth it. Be careful not to open too many boxes at the same time.

    I apply this to toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, Q-tips, and tissues, but NOT shoes.
    Dora recently posted…Mid-Year Financial ChecklistMy Profile

  29. spiffi says:

    This weekend I was at my favourite discount grocery store – and I noticed they had Newman’s Own salad dressing on sale. Now – they make my FAVOURITE dressings – but I’ve stopped buying them, as the “regular” price at my (discount!) grocery store is $4.59 a bottle. Sometimes, you can find it for $3.69 but that’s a good deal!

    The sale price that day? $2.50 a bottle.

    Not only did I stock up, buying 3 bottles (I would have bought more, but I actually have a good amount of salad dressing right now), but I called my friend, who also buys it regularly – she had me buy her EIGHT bottles.

    One time I was at WalMart and they had a clearance aisle – they had 3 packs of Lysol cleaning wipes – I heard someone mention they were 10 cents each! I grabbed the 3 packages that were left on the shelf and price checked – yes, 10 cents each.

    I will always jump on a sale and stock up IF it’s something I know I will use and normally buy at a higher prices AND it won’t go bad by the time I use it.

    The person in the comments above who said that minimalism is luxury is bang on – I’m not RICH enough to pay full price and spend the time buying exactly what I need at the exact time that I need it – I can’t afford that premium!

  30. Divnomics says:

    We are definitely more into the minimalism side of things. We only buy what we need, and with the big items we look high quality and low(er) prices. With our furniture we bought design items, but for more than half the price off. We can last a decade with those items.

    For me it’s not only about saving money, but to not own more than you need. We do make some exceptions for the things that add true value of makes us happy, like vacations.

    We might be spending more on some items, but we have more of enough to live off. So we feel no need to decrease our spending more, or saving money.

    Besides, I work in a commercial environment and just can’t get past the fact that the sale items are designed to make you buy more. I just don’t let that influence my spending too much.

  31. Justin says:

    I think minimalism and frugality go hand in hand. They complement each other. Does having 100 boxes of cereal because they were on sale not make it minimalist? You are being minimalist with your spending and frugal with your spending. You just need to define minimalist as more than just material possessions, but also include your money.

    When you consider it in this way, then all your frugal decisions are minimalist and all of your minimalist decisions are frugal.

  32. cathinottawa says:

    Because I like to minimize those areas of our food budget that matter less to me (i.e. I’d rather pay less for cereal and get a slightly-pricier-but-oh-so-lovely farm box every 2-3 weeks), I definitely stock up on groceries we know we’ll use. That being said, I then sometimes struggle with either remembering I have it or being able to find things again (sounds like your freezer!). Partly because I take the kids out to my parents for a month each summer, I try to do an annual use-it-up challenge. In the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve spent about a third what I normally spend on groceries, and my family has been presented with all manner of unusual combinations and permutations for dinner! So my vote is go for the stock up if you can store it, but then do a purge/deliberate eat down regularly so it doesn’t make you nuts!

  33. Chrissy says:

    Balance. I have gone the path of stocking cans of diced tomatoes and I have gone the path of what I need when I need it. Both can be wasteful of time and money.

    Frugality sometimes results in buying things because they are on sale and you THINK you will use it and you never do and the money you spent and the deal-finding time is wasted. Not to mention the wasted resources. I think it dislike that most of all. Ugh.

    Minimalism sometimes results in not having tomatoes when you are making chili and you have to run to the store, which wastes gas, the tomatoes are almost always regular price in this annoying scenario and dinner is now late. Grr.

    So, I keep a moderately stocked and well-organized pantry/toiletry closet/shelf of toilet paper and laundry detergent/etc. but never more than one or two extra of anything. And NEVER anything that will spoil or is not a confirmed favorite.

    I am not prepared for the end of days, but I could make chili right now without going to the store.

  34. LadyFIRE says:

    I’m definitely on the frugal side of the spectrum. Mainly because I can’t bring myself to throw anything away. I’m all about decluttering but whenever I find old books and games I get a rush of childhood joy.

    Minimalism seems anti-frugal to me. Every time you need something, you have to go buy it fresh because you sold it in the last de-cluttering spree.
    LadyFIRE recently posted…Pay less tax in Australia – the legal wayMy Profile

  35. Mrs. S says:

    We have gone from storing a huge amount to getting only the required food and not buying till we run out. A lot of it was forced by the climate we live in. humidity not just helps the bugs along it gives those shitty crawling thieves an exponential breeding ability (purely my hypothesis but humidity sucks is true).
    We have been trying to find a balance between our worldly cravings of nice shiny things and a real lack of space in barely 500 sft apartment we live in and the hard earned cash we will be spending over that pretty thing. I would say it has reached a weird extent now, whenever I see something I automatically imagine it covered in dust and me wiping it off. Usually nothing gets bought. If I feel fancy I call it minimalism and in my eyes it sort of is. We have managed to purge a lot of stuff, re gift it or simply sell it off and there is a immense sense of relief every time a box of stuff moves out from our house. We have reduced stuff we keep in freezer and that makes me feel amazing, so I understand where you are coming from.

  36. Nicholas Snyder says:

    You could just buy a milk cow and leave it in the garage. Then your wife could milk it morning and night and buy all the cereal she wants!

  37. K. McGarrett says:

    I stock up on items when it is an exceptionally good sale; regular sales come around . . . regularly. Not on items that would tempt excess consumption – chips, cookies, etc. Although now that the kids are grown we rarely buy those items. Speaking of which, box cereal’s ingredients are worth about 25 cents so either way the mark up is excessive and nutritionally all that wheat and various forms of sugar doesn’t really help. I know kids love them and I bought them once, managing to avoid the most flagrant cookie cereals like Count Chocula.
    K. McGarrett recently posted…MAKE IT DOMy Profile

  38. I’m very much a minimalist and not very frugal. We intentionally spend more money to support local, organic, humanely raised, etc… This is an interesting topic, because being minimalist is easy, since we evolved without coffee tables, power drills, bicycles, wardrobes, mason jars, scotch tape…. and while these things are convenient, we don’t need them to not perish, unlike food. Here are some interesting books you might like on food vs frugality:

    “Blessing the Hands that Feed Us”, by Vicki Robin – as you know, she is very frugal, and this is an interesting read about our food system.

    “American Wasteland”, by Jonathan Bloom – All about food waste. It has been awhile since I read it, but I think he talks about how buying in bulk creates more food waste… better to have less in the kitchen so that you can see everything and use it…. wasted food is wasted money.

    “Omnivore’s Dilemma”, by Michael Pollan – Makes the case for paying more for food by supporting local growers.

    “Movement Matters”, by Katy Bowman – She is a big proponent of foraging, and at a minimum, she says that by walking to the store, we somewhat ‘exercise’ our primal instincts to hunt and gather. My husband and I notice that when we walk to the store with our backpacks, we tend to focus on the essentials and don’t spend too much money on things we really don’t need…. saves money, for sure.

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