Here at Casual Kitchen we don't think of frugality as a rigid way of life. Rather, we view it as a tool--the kind of tool that we can pick up or put down as we need to.
And oddly enough, our efforts at saving money on healthy food have never really been a function of our income. Back when I was making medium-sized bucks during my Wall Street career, we still ate out infrequently, carefully managed our food spending, and regularly cooked the easy and low-cost recipes readers can find in CK's recipe index.
It's pure fun to come up with counterintuitive (and sometimes downright unusual) ideas on how to optimize effort, time, money and food, and it's a privilege to be able to share these ideas with readers. And hey, saving some serious dough ain't such a bad thing either.
Hypocrisy and orthodoxy
However, I've also written posts you'd never expect to see in a frugal food blog. Many people would make the case that articles on Kona coffee and champagne, or posts about our extended visits to Chile, Hawaii and New Zealand have absolutely no place here. Some readers have pushed back hard against these posts, saying essentially that it's misleading, even hypocritical, to write with one hand about lentil soup at 60c a serving, and then turn around and write with the other hand about $29-a-pound coffee.
Does the world of frugality require this degree of rigid orthodoxy? And if you don't adhere at all times to an impossibly high frugality standard, are you, like, some kind of a cheater?
Some of us even internalize this frugality standard to the point where it becomes a source of guilt. I've seen talented bloggers beat themselves up on their own blogs because they weren't always following all of the frugal ideas and recommendations they offer their readers.
Winners, losers and lentils
And then there's an exact opposite reaction I often see: people will react with inappropriately magnified revulsion to a certain frugal tip or practice, as if a certain tip, like eating lentils, psychologically pushes them over the edge into a place where they feel like a cheap loser.
Look, this is all ankle-biting. It misses the point.
So what is the point? It's this: frugality is all about making thoughtful choices about how and where you spend your money. It's about allocating your money to things that are most important. And when I say "most important" I mean most important to you. Not what meets some imagined and impossibly high frugality standard.
You are not on this earth to make spending choices to meet some imagined social construct. And you are most definitely not on this earth to impress your neighbors or social peers, either by what you save or by what you spend. Frugality is not some kind of a contest with winners and losers.
The right to break your own rules
Here's the ultimate truth and the real advantage to regularly using your frugality muscles. If you make conscious and intelligent choices with how you spend the bulk of your income, you'll have extra money around to break your frugality rules if and when you want to. You'll have the resources available to splurge on the good stuff from time to time. That's the real reward of a life of conscious spending decisions.
In my view, the rules of frugality are made to be broken. And the more you use frugality as a tool, the more often you'll earn the right to put that tool down when you want to.
Readers! What frugality rules do you break? And do you think a blogger can break his or her own rules without being hypocritical?
I'd like to thank Marcia at Frugal Healthy Simple for inspiring this post.
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