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Anybody who enjoys playing a sport will tell you muscles matter. And they will warn you: slack off, and muscle becomes flab.

It’s the same with frugality. Frugality, like a muscle, needs regular exercise. Use it often enough, and your finances stay in shape.

We began tracking our household expenses seven months ago (another pillar of frugality: data). Our last electricity bill was unusually high. Turning lights and fans off has now become a light-hearted game in our family.

A friend invited me for an expensive spa and lunch. Working my frugality muscle (while feeling uncertain about the reply), I suggested a long walk in a park instead. The response? “Love, love, love the idea. You’re such a genius!”

You could say, “Oh, how cheap”. But the difference between frugality and cheapness is not a fine line. It is a chasm.

Share your top money saving tips with FT readers, by tweeting us @FTthrift or comment on the FTthrift blog: FT.com/thrift.

Suchitra Shenoy is an investor and a writer. You will find her in Hyderabad, India, exercising her frugality muscle.

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