Frugal Substitutes: The Master Chart

The idea of finding frugal substitutes for expensive wants turned from a comment, courtesy of reader and commenter Debbie M, to a full-fledged post at grumpy rumblings.

Here’s the excerpt from that comment, and I’m called out to name my list of frugal substitutes, an idea inspired by the book “Your Money or Your Life.”

Debbie M says:

“And then there’s also strategizing about what makes you happy. If you want to feel pampered, do you need to visit a tropical island? Or would you be just as happy with an in-town spa or fancy hotel, a massage, a facial, or, in my case, fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and a good book?”

…And maybe oilandgarlic can share a list of Frugal Substitutes! We can always use more of those!”

And I said:

“I’ve been meaning to respond with my frugal substitutes but I could probably do a whole post. The gist of it is that I try to figure out WHY I want the big indulgence. Am I stressed? Do I want to try something new? In the past, I would assume that the best way to satisfy my want is a spa day or travel. Now I realize that I can satisfy that need for pampering in multiple and often cheaper ways. I could do a at-home facial. I could buy flowers and put a slice of lemon in my water. I can put on relaxing music. I could convince my husband to give me a massage.”

So without further ado, here’s my handy dandy chart (sort of tongue-in-cheek), and please feel free to share your own frugal substitutes:


13 responses to “Frugal Substitutes: The Master Chart

    • Glad you like it! I’m planning to follow up with a more serious post but had fun with creating a chart!

      • oilandgarlic

        Just realized I misspelled scenery, but it’s too hard for me to go back to update this chart!

  1. I agree- awesome!

  2. This is awesome! I think you hit all the likely scenarios! (though “meet new people” would not be on mine)

  3. I like that chart. That basically sums up what I want to do with my time too.

    Except that I am not that frugal. 😐 I end up just spending money, although the spa day has been crossing my mind lately.

    • I”m not that frugal either, as I do spend on spa days and as I mentioned recently, on a nice purse. However, I think just exploring the reason for my want has helped me spend less overall. Example: Sometimes when you want a spa day constantly to de-stress, it could be a sign about being overworked and a conversation with your boss / learning to delegate, etc.. could benefit someone more than mindlessly booking getaways and escapes.

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  5. Ooh, thanks! Awesome chart!

    Hmm, I never really want any of those things in the far left column, except big vacations, which I want when my friends move to exotic locations temporarily and invite me to visit, so I go ahead and indulge.

    I do like some things from the middle column.

    Health – every winter break, I check out the latest exercise videos from the library. One year I found a good one and bought it, so now I always have something I can do in my air conditioned house. (I live somewhere hot.)

    Good food – keep trying new recipes. I have finally found good recipes for cheesecake, pancakes, chili, and enchilada sauce. And even an acceptable one for chocolate chips cookies (mine usually come out cakey, even when I use recipes that come out crunchy/gooey for other people). Now on the lookout for a halfway healthy brownie recipe. I still eat out, though.

    Investment clothing – urg. Who knows what’s going to last? I go with thrift shops a lot, but it’s hard to find pants that fit, so I look for sales at LLBean.

  6. Very nice chart! re: designer clothing “It’s an investment” – reminds me of an expression I once heard about “designer denim” (to me, that’s an oxymoron): “Just because it is on your ass, that does not make it an asset.”

  7. @Debbie and @Hush – I hate the term investment clothing or shoes/purses that fashion magazine keep throwing around. You really don’t know what will last, if your taste changes, size change, etc.. And it could be a good buy but please don’t equate it with an investment in one’s future/retirement.

    • Heh, true. Also: moths.

      Rarely will a clothing purchase improve your income. Maybe interview outfits qualify, plus clothes that help your clients/employers take you seriously if you don’t already have clothes like that. Well, if you’re a stripper, being taken seriously isn’t probably what would improve your income, but you get the picture.

      And I suppose there could be clothing that reduces health care costs. Perhaps those tight-fitting socks that help diabetics? Or good-fitting running shoes that keep you from having to visit a physical therapist for shin splints?

      But of course those aren’t what we were talking about.

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