Waste not, want not. We've heard it a billion times. It's one of the contributions to literature of my native county, which also coined the phrase "Where there's muck, there's brass" - brass being slang for money. A common insult in the UK is to say someone has Yorkshire pockets. Pockets too deep to easily get money out of.
Yet frugal is not miserly, a common mistake among the newer to the prepper community. It's an unwillingness to spend money on what you don't need. If you do need it, you buy the best. I have pots and pans that were my grandmother's. Screwdrivers, rasps, planes, and hammers from my great grandfather. They understood. Saved to buy the good stuff, and I'll be able to pass them on to my own grandkids. 6 generations for a single outlay is what anyone would consider frugal.
Which brings us to the vexed problem of prepping supplies. For none food, there are two considerations. Build quality and can you actually fix it when it inevitably breaks? For example, my favorite camping / work tool is a dry wall hammer. Hammer on one side, axe on the other, with a nail pulling notch that can be easily sharpened to do everything from opening cans to stripping wire. I went for a wooden handle. Not because I have a wood fetish, but because when it breaks I can quite easily replace it with half an hour's knife work on a green hardwood branch. Easy to fix, and the head will last out several life times.
That emergency flashlight you picked up from the 99 cent impulse buy bin? Dump it and go out and get a maglight. Cops carry them for a reason - they are pretty much indestructible (and apparently make pretty good clubs in a pinch, so I been told. Not that I would know
). Lighters - one of the blessings of the Lord, as long as they have fuel. Even stale gas works in a Zippo style lighter, so all you need do is make sure you have enough flints and wicks to see you through.
Batteries can be a problem though. Rechargeable ones are good. A little on the pricey side, but you are paying 3 times the price up front for batteries that last 20 times as long. My definition of frugal. Buy a few extra - and vacuum pack them at once. Preferably on a dry day with low humidity, otherwise throw a silica gel packet in before you seal to stop them rotting.
The vacuum sealer is another frugal purchase. While there are as many ways of storing food as there are people, I prefer to bulk dry food in the drier when there are special offers (or bulk buy in the case of dried milk and potatoes) and vacuum pack them in double portions. It means I'm wasting less in the long run. Opening a 5 gallon container of wheat means you better use it fast. Opening a 5 gallon container of wheat and taking out a vacuum packed amount for one loaf of bread means the rest of your stock stays nice and fresh. Tins of food? Seal them. If the moisture's at bay, rust can't play.
Just some thoughts on how being frugal can sometimes mean shelling out a little cash.