If I have to make a choice of terms to identify with, I choose simple living for my life. But others who live very similarly to how I live might choose a different term to describe their lifestyle. For me, simple living means making careful and deliberate choices regarding spending money, entering into complicated arrangements or contracts and taking actions that will result in me having something else to deal with.
In my case, simple living means that I don’t sign cell phone or cable television contracts because they complicate life. I don’t join organizations that place requirements on me. And I don’t get involved with people who inconsiderately detract from my life rather than add to. I don’t eat at fancy restaurants since I actually prefer simpler food, and I don’t buy fancy furniture, towels or knickknacks that I don’t really like anyway.
Frugality or frugal living focuses more on money and on making ends meet by living on less money. My simple living lifestyle has worked for me in hard times and in better times, but frugal living seems geared toward making it through the leaner times.
Some, however, choose frugal living as an exercise or a discipline even though the have plenty of money. When done along with other actions to deliberately simplify life, this is sometimes called voluntary simplicity.
Minimal living or minimalist living is a newer way of looking at life that involves having radically few possessions and taking an extremely close and critical look at every aspect of life to pare it down to the barest essentials. It can involve living from a backpack, living with less than 100 possessions or choosing the eat out instead of eating in to save effort.
While frugality would find eating out, for example, financially wasteful, minimalist living might suggest that eating out is an intelligent alternative to preparing your own food because it’s more efficient to outsource food preparation to experts.
Whatever you call yourself, it’s essential to examine your life and try to live it well. For me, that means choosing to take the simplest approach most of the time, a process I can simple living. For others, it’s all about money or efficiency or something else, and that’s fine as long as it works for them.