WSJ: The Super Frugal Are Made for the Moment

WSJ headline: What Inflation? The Super Frugal Say They Were Made for This Moment
For families with strong habits to curb spending, sticking to their strict household budget is the plan

By Clare AnsberryFollow
June 17, 2022 8:30 am ET

Extremely frugal families are coping with record-high inflation by doing what they’ve always done: not spending money.

“It doesn’t affect us as much because of the way we shop,” says Art Shillito, who along with his wife, Janelle, forgo shopping lists and mostly buy marked-down items. The Burnt Hills, N.Y., couple say they’ve spent an average $364.74 a month this year to feed their family of 11, which is below last year’s monthly average of $500.


Extreme money-saving measures are gaining interest as more than 80% of American consumers say they plan to cut back spending by buying cheaper or fewer products, according to a May survey of 1,014 people by market research firm NPD Group.

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Emma Welford, of England, where inflation is also at a 40-year high, learned thrift out of necessity as a teenage mom, joining savings forums and picking up tips from other frugal families, like decanting cheap ketchup into a Heinz bottle to fool her “Heinz man” husband, and putting store-brand cornflakes into Kellogg’s boxes to fool her daughter.

“It’s a little sneaky but it definitely works,” says Ms. Welford, who eventually confessed to the ruse but continued buying cheaper brands.

She and her husband paid off their mortgage 10 years early and retired 15 years ahead of schedule by putting every penny saved from getting cheaper insurance and clipping coupons into a mortgage overpayment fund and additional income from a promotion and overtime into retirement savings.