Skip to Content

Live the good life, just cheaper

Have you ever heard of the term “stealth wealth”?

sunrise over a river.

at a park I recently discovered near my house

Stealth wealth is when a person has tons of money, but instead of an ostentatious lifestyle, they choose a more pared-down existence. From the outside looking in, no one would know they are rolling in money.

(We’ve all heard stories of the billionaires who drive an old pickup truck!)

Well, I was thinking that stealth frugality should be a thing too, and it should refer to a person who is managing to live a good life on a budget.

pink flowers.

my kalanchoe from Aldi, in bloom

I know people often think that frugal = deprived.

And there are definitely frugal people who live lives that are more spartan than what I’d want!

But my favorite kind of frugality is the sort where you can have lovely things and delightful experiences without paying a lot….where someone observing your life from the outside might never know that you are living on a budget.

I realize that nothing about my frugality is actually stealthy because I write about it all the time here on the internet.

And I am not at all shy when it comes to talking about it in real life either.

Kristen sitting at her Apple laptop, which has a Snoopy sticker on it.

But, if I kept my mouth shut and I stopped typing on the internet, I think my life would look pretty normal and it wouldn’t scream deprivation.

And that’s because I focus less on doing without, and more on obtaining what I want, inexpensively.

For instance….

I eat delicious meals every day (which I cook myself, largely from scratch.)

breakfast potatoes and eggs.

yogurt topped with berries.

Homemade yogurt, topped with berries (red ones are wineberries that I picked in the woods!) and chia seeds

chicken katsu on a plate.


My house is furnished nicely (mostly with free furniture that I’ve refinished, plus things from my Buy Nothing group and the abandoned house.)

living room rental.



before and after


Kristen's bedroom.

corner of a kitchen.

My Buy Nothing toaster oven on my Buy Nothing table


My free lamp from Facebook Marketplace

I have a decent wardrobe (which includes second-hand and clearance clothes, and plenty of mended items)

Kristen in a dress.

My Target clearance dress

Kristen in a pink hoodie dress.

My eBay-obtained American Giant hoodie dress

I spend time in nature nearly every day, enjoying woodland creeks or the many rivers in my area (this costs almost nothing!)

creek in the woods.

a morning view of a river.

I’ve gone to the symphony twice this year (with super cheap student tickets, wearing a dress from Target, leggings from Five Below, and clearance boots!)

Kristen smiling.

Kristen's black dress.

I went to Hawaii (flying standby with Lisey’s flight benefits.)

Kristen and Lisey.

I have a Kate Spade purse and wallet (both from a consignment store)

a pink Kate Spade purse.

I’m getting a nursing degree, but I’m doing it at a community college, and I’m paying for it with scholarships. Doesn’t matter! I’ll be an R.N. just like everyone else.

Kristen in scrub pants.

I read all the books I want, mainly from the library, or when that fails, eBay (where I inevitably sell them back when I’m done.)

books on nightstand

I could write more examples, but I’m sure you get the point, which is that a money-saving life:

  • doesn’t need to be spartan or miserable
  • doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you want

You just have to be a little more creative about how you get the things you want. 🙂

Your turn! Give me some examples of stealth frugality from your life.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Molly H

Tuesday 14th of May 2024

I love this post! I also live a life that is fairly frugal but may look more average or expensive from the outside.

I love to travel and save up for it, maximizing reward/credit points, booking through cashback sites, planning trips around what flight deals are available when I want to travel as opposed to picking a location before knowing the costs associated, cooking some meals, staying in cheap/free accommodations, walk around free museums and parks, etc.

I also own Kate Spade items, often gifted from family or bought on very deep discount/clearance. I sign up for the first discounted subscription boxes of wine, organic snacks, etc. before cancelling.

I buy some pricier food / household products I like in bulk at Costco or on clearance/sale, especially from TJ Maxx, Big Lots, or other big box discount stores.

I plan which local restaurants I go to based on deals for each day of the week (such as wine nights with half price glasses and/or bottles).

I repair items, save stuff from the curb, utilize buy nothing, borrow books, buy secondhand, and shop sales. It all adds up!

Nathan browne

Thursday 4th of April 2024

I'm debt free and I'm low income but I know how to create a good life out of nothing as I'm an artist and I design upcycled things I up cycle furniture clothing accessories jewelery I got my jobs at thrift stores as charity always hires and needs you to save the world remember that when you need a job to belong you will meet more people like you that love giving back I did it for five years I loved helping others

Nathan browne

Thursday 4th of April 2024

Hi my name is Nathan Browne I have bipolar and I have found Frugal living not just a life style it represents a new way to live and recreate a better life as people say people can be replaced things you keep can be too meaning you can recreate your life no need to live a life of bad past experiences Life also continues and people move on and find better ways to live and hope has also helped get me there I joined a church to find hope in the lock down I'm never lonely then and we make miracles happen in peoples lives we also do alot of charity work thankyou for your motivation

Becca C

Thursday 28th of March 2024

YES to this whole post! It perfectly states what we feel about living more frugally. When people think of being frugal they think of being deprived but I don’t feel deprived! We eat delicious home cooked meals, our little house is just the right size for us, we go camping in the most beautiful of places, spend lazy days at the beach (lake, not ocean but what 5 year old knows the difference? Plus no sharks or rip tides), and watch and read whatever we want from the library. To answer your question about what out stealth frugality is: I make fancy snack tray for my kiddos after school. I use the nice vintage cut glass serving trays and chop up veggies and fancy cheese and sausage and pickles and fresh fruit. We go to the beach constantly in the summer. We do a big indoor waterpark every year but we stay in a VRBO condo there during the week instead of a hotel room on the weekend for a fraction of the price. I make fancy espresso drinks at home with my $15 stovetop espresso maker. It is the most underrated kitchen gadget ever.


Thursday 28th of March 2024

We’re taking a trip to NYC for our daughter’s 10th birthday. We: -applied for an Amtrak credit card to get the 20,000 bonus points to essentially travel for free -will be visiting MOMA for free by showing our ebt card -are staying in a less-fancy district so our hotel is cheaper, and only getting a king for the 3 of us keeping our hotel cost as low as possible. -plan to share a lot of meals so we don’t end up with leftovers we can’t take with us. -will do lots of free “quintessential NYC” things like visiting Central Park, riding the Staten Island Ferry, wandering Times Square, and (maybe less quintessential) making our own Taylor Swift walking tour.

All of that will enable us to have something leftover for a nice dinner and maybe some small souvenirs at Strand Bookstore and the American Girl Store, fingers crossed!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.