What does it mean to be truly frugal?

It’s more than just trying to save money. In many ways, being frugal is a lifestyle. It’s a virtuous one, too, if you can handle the commitment.

To embody a frugal attitude requires you to follow a philosophy based on simplicity, discipline, and an awareness of yourself and the world around you.

These are the Frugal Virtues. How many have you mastered?

1. Stifling Instant Gratification

You buy a $5.99 cappuccino because you feel like you need caffeine immediately. You buy a new car because it’s shiny and awesome and you just can’t wait to have it. You’re the first to get the next iPhone, and absolutely must see the next Star Wars sequel on the night it comes out. You’re not the type to wait for things. Unfortunately for you, when it comes to spending, patience is a virtue. New products are almost always cheaper if you wait to buy them. And when you wait to buy something, you may realize you don’t need the item after all. Spending to satisfy every immediate urge is not part of the path to financial freedom.

2. Seeking Efficiency

To be efficient is to have maximum productivity with the least effort and expense. This concept of efficiency can be applied to a number of areas of personal finance. It could mean driving a car with good fuel mileage, or finding an air conditioning system that gives you the most bang for your buck. It may mean investing your money so that you can generate income with little effort. It could mean spending a small amount of time planning meals for the week, so that you’re not wasting time and money later.

3. Looking for Free Stuff

Why pay for something if you can get it for free? One major virtue of frugal people is their ability to find a cost-free option for many items that the rest of us usually pay for. It might be using a coupon for a free meal at a restaurant, checking out books from the library,…