Frugality and poverty are two distinct concepts. Poverty is a state of being, while frugality is a decision.

A user asked the forum, “What is the difference between being frugal and being poor?”. Let’s look at the top comments.


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“You can be frugal and rich. You can be spend thrifty and poor. Frugal is a behavior. Poor is how much money you have.”


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“They are two different things. Poor is a state of being, while frugality is simply a conscious choice to spend less money. They really shouldn’t be listed together as though they were in the same situation.

The assumption that one needs to be impoverished in order to choose to be frugal is the kind of thing that sends people back into poverty as soon as they get a few dollars ahead.”


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“Poverty basically is a situation of very low resources relative to the standard of living in one’s area. More or less. People can and will quibble around the edges of the definition.

Being frugal is, as you say, about choice. Frugal might mean buying a 5-series BMW rather than a 7-series. Or it might mean not running the AC at night because it’s not worth the extra expense or whatever.”


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“Being frugal means maximizing the value of your money spent, and that value depends on each individual; it could be measured by the convenience or happiness that spending brings you. It has nothing to do with wealth.

I splurge on things I love (provided I can comfortably afford them) but will walk an extra 5 minutes to buy cola at another store that’s 20 cents cheaper—no point paying more for the exact same product.

And yes, frugal is a habit that aids wealth accumulation. By being frugal over time, you’ll be able to afford many conveniences this world has to offer.

Poverty is just poor.”


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“Frugality and poverty are completely different concepts. Frugality is making choices to live below your means. With poverty, that “means” is low. You could be living below at or above.”


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“Being frugal means you can save; being poor means you can’t.

Frugal people are often low on environmental impact in comparison to people in general in a consumer society.

Frugality is middle-class poverty. :D”


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“Frugality: The ability and decision to budget for a $100 purchase by putting away $25 each paycheck after all obligations are met.

Poverty: The paycheck doesn’t leave room to budget for anything after all obligations are met. That $100 purchase might only happen if friends and family pool what little they have together. It might happen after-tax returns (if there aren’t bills that are behind). It might never happen at all unless a line of credit is involved.”


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“I was poor when I couldn’t afford better. I’m frugal now that I can, but I still keep my expenses low to save money instead. Everything I do is to maximize the value of what I get.

When I was poor, I got the cheapest option; now I can spend more upfront to save in the long run.”


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“Being frugal means knowing how to handle your money; being poor means you don’t have money.”


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“Poor: “I only have $150 for groceries this month.” Frugal: “I’m not spending more than $150 on groceries this month”. Being frugal is a choice you make, whether rich or poor.”


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“Frugal is just spending less. If you’re rich, being frugal is a choice. If you’re poor, it’s a way of life.”


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“People who are frugal have money and spend it thoughtfully. They make plans for their financial future. They’re not cheap, but they’re not wasteful either.

People who are poor don’t make enough money to plan their financial future. They’re lucky if the paycheck carries them through the month.”


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“Being frugal is choosing how to save $ and how to spend it. Being poor is having no or very little money.”


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“I’ll never forget this experience. I had a friend growing up whose family was VERY wealthy. They had an elevator that took them down to their wine cellar. It was a beautiful mansion.

One night, my friend’s parents invited us to stay for dinner. His mom was making burgers and fries. One of my friends asked for ketchup, and his mom brought ketchup packets from various fast-food places! I would say that is frugal. I asked my friend why they didn’t buy ketchup in the bottle, and his response was, why would I do that if we can get them for free.”


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“I think frugal is just conserving resources. I do it for the environmental factor more so than to save money. But there was a time I did it to be prudent with money. Now, it’s about not draining the world. I wish everybody was like us.”


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“We are frugal now and use our frugality to fund our retirements, vacations, and hopefully soon a rental property.

When I was poor and even homeless for two years, I didn’t have the opportunity to save for anything; it was literally survival day to day.”

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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.

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