October 17, 2009

Extreme Frugal Living: The Ultimate Household Budget

Most people hate budgeting. It forces us to limit ourselves and we have been programmed to believe and act as if everything exists in infinite abundance, and we ought to have it now, if not sooner.  But look at where that has gotten us.

I propose a very simple, easy to implement budget.

The Ultimate Household Budget has two categories:

  1. What you need to survive, and
  2. Everything else.

Category 1 consists of the basics, things every human ought to have. Healthy food, safe, secure, affordable shelter, clothing adequate for the climate, clean drinking water, systems to deal with waste, and access to learning experiences.

Without these basics, many die every day. Every human ought to have them, and in a sane world every one would. If you have them, you are doing better than about one billion people on the planet.

Category 2 consists of extras. Wants. Desires. Luxury. Extra. Expendable. Can live without. Contrary to popular belief, we will not die without the things in this category.

This budget has one step: give up everything in category 2.

Don't worry. You can start slowly. You can take months or years, if you have that luxury. But category 2 spending has to go if you have a shortage of cash, or wish to help the ailing planet. Everything you take out of category 2 helps you get out of debt, and stay out of debt, if that is your goal.

And it lowers your ecological footprint dramatically.

But won't it be boring? How can I live without (fill in the blank)? Humans are amazingly adaptable creatures. "Have much, be confused," Lao Tzu said, and if he is correct, then having less is the way to go. Couldn't we all benefit from less confusion in our lives?

Is eliminating all category 2 spending unrealistic for you? Start by taking one thing off your list. Then remove a couple more items. When you realize you don't miss them, you will be motivated to cut more. Give the ultimate household budget and extreme frugal living a try. You will be amazed at what you can live happily without. Good luck.


  1. Anonymous2/05/2013

    Very similar to what has become, over the past few years, my adopted philosophy:

    "Simplicity boils down to two steps: 1. Identify the essential 2. Eliminate the rest." ~ Leo Babauta

    1. Anonymous12/12/2013

      This quote has been printed, framed and hangs over my desk.


  2. Thanks for sharing!! I don't really like budgeting, but I know I need to start. I think you have some great ideas. I am trying to start saving money because I got into an accident and am going through the structured settlement process. Thanks again for sharing!

  3. OldWoman9/08/2013

    Thank you! Finally, someone who know what real frugality is. I have what I need to survive, plus a computer and internet access, entertainment from the library, and occasionally a can of tuna and a box of generic tuna helper. The tuna helper is my luxury food. It's my "eating out" food since it's so simple and fast. People I've known think that I'm poor, but compared to most of the people on this planet I'm rich. I own my home and the land it's on. I don't go hungry. Compared to me, most of the people I've known are incredibly wealthy. The downside to frugality (and maybe it's not such a downside) is that you will not have many, if any, friends. When you don't have tv you can't keep up in conversations. When you don't eat out they think you're extreme and fanatical. When the big excitement of your day is coming across a new kind of dried bean, to add to your diet of many beans, they think you're bonkers. And stupid. You will be thought of as stupid. But you're not stupid. Your mind is not where their minds are. Their minds are on what to buy next. Your mind is on what else can I stop buying?

    1. OldWoman, I like where your mind is - in the right place. Why would anyone choose the rat race over a simple, content and less harmful way of life is a conundrum that we must solve if we are to save ourselves.

      Linda and I enjoy being less dependent on buying and more reliant on being creative. It does set one apart from the mainstream (for now), so it is great to hear from others that are choosing smaller footprint lifestyles, and loving it.

      We love it too. And we love beans.

  4. Some great tips I am working on saving a deposit for my first house at the moment I accept that I will be renting rather than buying but I still need to make sure I am saving to be able to afford any emergencies after I do find somewhere.

    1. Thomas,

      Good luck on your savings - it is a good goal that will increase you ability to respond to what ever comes along... like a trip to the dentist. We are renting for the next year and are quite happy with that. At the same time we are also seeing if perhaps buying makes sense for us.

  5. Gregg, this is my goal for 2018. I am giving up buying things I do not need. The 'Old Woman' sounds like a very wise person. I have good friends, a roof over my head, food in my cupboards, wood in my log store and a small safety net of money. I need nothing else.


Comments will be printed after moderation to eliminate spam. We are proudly a no buying, no selling website.

We enjoy reading all comments, and respond when time permits.

If you put a name to your comment we can all recognize you for your contribution.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.