There are a few different reasons to live frugally but most of these can be categorised under two main headings which can then branch infinitely into the distance depending on your taste and or beliefs!
1) You have to because you don't have much money.
2) You need to, because you want to keep as much as you can of whatever money you have.
Any of us who have experienced both of these situations will attest that number 2 is far and away the most comfortable of the positions to be in. We also know that in actual fact coping with number 1 is far more likely to lead to number 2!
There are so many people out there toughing out the hardest situations they have ever been in financially but then again so much of this feeling of panic and poverty is actually relative isn't it? An example of this was a recent article on a TV news magazine program where a US family who were (and I totally sympathise with the rotten position they found themselves in, due to no fault of their own) outlining to the interviewer just how bad thing had become for them.
They had been reduced to 'drying their laundry outdoors' and 'growing their own tomatoes' Over in Europe we stifled our giggles of incredulity and went off to meet our lift sharing buddies on the way to work. There had been a point when the fuel prices hit the ceiling of nearly Â£2 when we had realised that if we weren't sharing a lift to work we would have been struggling to get here at all!
And I do realise that I was born to this kind of thing; my mother was so frugal that the dogs wouldn't eat some of the things she kept in her fridge and she was once caught trying to give one of the grandchildren a can of coke that was five years out of date. I also feel the hand of middle age upon my shoulder, sometimes I long to walk past the rack of reduced clothes in the shops and just buy something I want rather than something I need. But as the urge to splurge seems to be waning rather than waxing and even my even more stingy other half has suggested I just might need some new shoes. (the last pair I bought in a 90% off sale squeak when I walk) I have come to realise that the only thing it is really worth spending money on is a reliable car and good (the best you can afford) food.
My versionof living frugally means that I actually eat bettter than most people I know. I spent the summer growing everything I needed vegetable and salad wise and the autumn preserving and pickling as much as I could. People are now asking for such items as my Cherry Jam and Pear and Walnut Chutney to be given to them as Christmas gifts. This is a double whammy as I got most of the ingredients either from my own garden or off loaded as surplus from desperate friends.
Living frugally doesn't have to mean living mean and some people (ME) need to save up while we are in positon 2 so we don't spend our twilight years in position 1!