This essay discusses how frugality is suddenly coming back into fashion in our culture, and how we can do our society a favor by helping it along.
As representatives of the small but growing minority of Americans who take pride and pleasure in spending less money rather than more, I believe we have an obligation to society to spread the ideas of The New Frugality--especially now.
What exactly is the new frugality? Well, it's really just the same as the old frugality. It just seems new to lots of people of this generation. But thanks to a stiff credit crisis, 10% unemployment and a good old-fashioned recession, being frugal is coming into vogue once again.
It may seem counterintuitive, but recessions are actually good for society. They help us put things back into their proper perspective, and they remind us that life is about much more than our stuff and our status.
Therefore, if there was ever a time for the frugal lifestyle to go viral, with all of the cultural, financial and environmental side benefits that accrue with it, it's right now.
Let's face it, humans tend to act in herds. That's why the stuff-and-status mindset became so contagious during the boom. Today, however, more and more members of society are casting off the old stuff-and-status lifestyle and they're trying out this newfangled frugality thing.
And they are finding that being frugal doesn't have to mean wearing tie-dyed shirts, cutting your own hair and being cheap. Not any more.
Instead, they are finding the real truth of the new frugality: that you can save money, be a better steward of the environment and live a higher quality life by thinking a bit more about what you buy and how you spend your money.
That snotty comment I made a few sentences ago about humans acting in herds? Well, watch what happens as the current recession progresses and as these heretofore heretical ideas about saving money rather than spending it begin to spread. More and more people will find it easier and easier to follow along.
So, to all my readers, and to all of the food bloggers, debt bloggers and frugal bloggers out there: our obligation begins now. We owe it to our economy and to our society to spread the culture of the new frugality. Now is the time, because there's never been a more receptive audience to our ideas.
If you've already taught yourself to cook and you've mastered some inexpensive recipes, share your skills by inviting your less-frugal friends over and cooking for them. You won't even need to say a word about the savings of cooking at home, just show them. The delicious food and the great times will make the idea an easy sell.
If you're a regular Casual Kitchen reader, then you've successfully escaped the clutches of the culinary-industrial complex and its overpriced second-order foods. Well, now it's time to help your friends escape too. Write about your ideas and insights on this subject in your own blog.
Do you usually meet your friends out for dinner and drinks? How about hosting a dinner party at home instead? Or instead of dropping $70 in a loud bar, shouting over your appletinis, why not learn to mix great drinks yourself and invite your friends to your home? You'll save money (not to mention your vocal chords), and your popularity will increase in direct proportion to your mixology skills.
Pretty soon, your other friends will want to host their own dinners at their homes. Guess what? Suddenly your entire social circle will be spending a fraction of what it used to spend, and you'll be having more fun than ever.
And if you don't yet know how to cook, team up with a friend and learn together. Scale your spice costs and your cooking gear purchases across two households. You'll eat healthier food, you'll learn some great skills--and you'll both save a ton of money.
These may be modest ideas, but they can have meaningful results. If each of us helped a friend save some extra money, spread just a little bit of our cooking knowledge, shared our ideas on frugality, or shared our time enjoying experiences that really matter, we could collectively make an enormous difference across the whole of our society.
Readers, what's your take?
Photo credit: Tracy O
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Applying the 80/20 Rule to Diet, Food and Cooking
Seven Ways to Get Faster at Cooking
How to Team Up in the Kitchen
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