It is nice to be able to buy nice things. And in today’s society, it seems there is plenty to buy – far beyond the essentials of living. There are so many nice, shiny, appealing things marketed to us that we can feel as if we are in a perpetual state of wanting.

Sometimes it is good to treat ourselves to something that is not essential to our lives. However, let’s focus on the word “sometimes.” By sometimes I mean once in a while. And by once in a while I mean once in a blue moon. And by once in a blue moon, I mean that you might buy some unneeded thing for yourself once every few months to once every few years – it could be more or less – depending on your financial circumstances and the cost of the item in question. By now, you get the picture.

Treating ourselves only occasionally to unneeded things is called being frugal. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap. Being frugal means being financially disciplined. Being frugal means that if you buy a car, you buy a car that meets your needs, not a car that is way above your budget, putting you into debt, even though you could have purchased a good vehicle for far less money.

Being frugal means that if you need a computer, you buy a good computer that meets your needs. You do not, in contrast, buy a computer that has every innovation in the marketplace, is very expensive and provides you with many features you do not need. Being frugal means not being wasteful. Being frugal means being cautious with your money.

A person can be generous and treat themselves well and still be frugal. In fact, I would argue that being frugal makes it possible to have money available to use for what you do, in fact, need. Being frugal means having money available so that you can be generous.

Frugality is a good trait. It can help you build wealth, helping you to help yourself and others.

Image courtesy of [sixninepixels] /

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

You can reach me with your questions and comments at Like today’s column? Check back frequently.