Creative Frugality means the practice of being creative while coming up with ways to be more sustainable and spending less at the same time. While practising Creative Frugality you stop for a moment and start thinking creatively before solving your “problems” with money.

Simple frugal living is about appreciating and using what you already own instead of always looking for the next new gadget. It’s about carefully managing what you purchase, looking for the most environmentally friendly option. However with Creative Frugality, you come up with novel solutions or new ways of fulfilling your needs.


What does frugal mean? Avoiding unnecessary expenditure of money or of anything else which is to be used or consumed; avoiding waste. You break the cycle of perceiving a need and then immediately spending money to meet it. Instead, you pause and think first, asking yourself if there’s another way to meet this need besides spending money. You look for alternatives, and if there are none, you look for ways to spend less. An example is developing the skill of decorating your home without walking into retail stores and buying what you see on the shelves. Instead, you find alternatives, like repurposed items, yard sales, antique or thrift store finds can add beautiful touches to your home. Using your creative skills uses less resources, and it creates less waste. 

What does creativ mean? Being creative means solving a problem in a new way. It means changing your perspective and breaking with routine and doing something different. Creative frugality can become a big part of your life, repurposing or upcycling what you already have, providing mental exercise, and allowing you to have fun in the process.

How does Frugality develop creativity? Frugality is a constraint on what you spend, and that constraint is what promotes creativity. For example, let’s take “clothes”. Having that constraint on buying new clothes means you need to get creative if you want to find new trendy clothes. A humble and inexpensive way to get branded clothes is to go to second hand shops or online platforms! Or participate in Clothing-Swap parties. These are excellent ways to meet your need for new clothes, protecting the environment and not overspending. By putting constraints on what you can spend, you may find your own creativity expanding, finding ways to spend less while still meeting your needs.

What is the difference between being frugal and being cheap? Being cheap has a different focus than being frugal. The purpose is to simply spend less and try to find the cheapest solution. Environmental aspects are not a focus. Being frugal involves looking for the best value for your money. Being cheap can cost more money in the long run. High-quality items may cost more upfront, but they tend to last longer and perform better. 

Some sustainable &  frugal living ideas, to help you shift your mindset:

  • Avoid recreational shopping. If you catch yourself aimlessly wandering retail stores or clicking around online because you are bored—stop! Otherwise, you will most likely waste money and resources. Ask yourself first, “Do I really need this?” if the answer is yes, “Can I borrow it from a friend or a sharing platform?”, if not, “Can I buy it pre-loved”? 
  • Borrow or rent instead of purchasing if it is something you’ll only use a couple of times. There are some great platforms like to rent items.
  • Wait before buying something to ensure you really want it. Even just 24 hours later, you may find that the desire has disappeared. Setting this rule helps to avoid impulse purchases.
  • Beware of “sales.” Remember that you only save money when you get a great deal on something you need. You don’t save any money buying something you don’t need, even if it is on sale. 
  • Plan ahead for your purchases: Research large purchases and buy quality items that will last longer. Take the time to read product reviews.
  • Try using less. Use only what you need to get the job done.
  • Take care of what you own. Maintenance is less expensive than repair.
  • Attempt to Do-It-Yourself whenever it makes sense. Before you buy something, consider if you could make it or do it yourself, or even upcycle another product you no longer need.

Here are some additional tips from a time where being frugal was necessary for survival:

  • Buy used. Avoid buying new whenever possible! Use what is already on our planet. It is incredible how many bargains you can get at yard sales, estate sales, or thrift stores. You can also search online for used items at sites like Ricardo, Tutti and Facebook Marketplace. Remember though, to purchase only what you really need.
  • Avoid waste. Try to eat everything you buy. Look through your fridge for those items that get shoved to the back before they become inedible.
  • Grow an urban garden. Growing your own food, especially with organic methods, can produce healthy vegetables. And at the same time you avoid all the plastic packaging that you would otherwise get from the supermarket.
  • Make your own cleaners. The basic ingredients of vinegar and baking soda can be used for many cleaning jobs. 
  • Make homemade gifts. These can be fun to make and may mean more to the recipient than a store-bought item.
  • Learn how to sew. Making simple repairs or alterations can save a lot of fabric-waste. Sewing a button back on a shirt saves that shirt, so you don’t need to buy a new one.

Frugal living and beyond

Define why you want to spend less so you can stay motivated. Frugal living will help you live on a smaller income, take time off from working, retire early, reduce your personal carbon footprint, or spend more time with your family.

Stretch the money you have using frugal living tips and principles. Be creative and resourceful in getting what you need for less.

Every time you put your hand on your wallet, use this as a cue to think about your financial goals and environmental impact.  It is a matter of putting dreams before things, especially things you don’t need. You can earn more money, but without a frugal lifestyle, the risk is that you only spend more. The gap between earning and spending is what makes your financial dreams possible.