Eight Things Frugality Taught Me

Frugality taught me:

To feign polite interest in peoples' latest gadgets.

To ignore the open-mouthed stares when I tell people I hardly ever watch TV.

To judge value based on my wants and needs, not society's.

To give many of my things away. The things collecting dust in your home could be useful to someone else.

That most people live in a state of constant fear of being different, and one result of that fear is our culture's voracious consumerism.

That many people will perceive your lifestyle choices to be a threat to their lifestyle choices, and they will project their insecurities onto you.

To accept that most people carry heavy psychological baggage about money.

That you can live on a lot less than you think--and you will actually be happier as a result.

What has frugality taught you?

This post is gratefully dedicated to Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar.

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Emmy said...

Great list, Daniel. I sat here nodding through the whole thing.

What has frugality taught me? To be fearless about trying to do something myself, rather than run to the store to fix/buy a new one. That creativity is beautiful. That the internet is a wonderland, filled with ideas and free resources.

And you think people project their insecurities onto you about frugality? Well, they do, true. But I find that to be pretty easy compared to the projections about homeschooling. When did America become so closed-minded? (head shaking)

KitschenBitsch said...

...that retail therapy and the STUFF it brings home do not make me happy or solve any problems.

...that my previously-held belief that value is based on permanence is untrue... in fact, my belief has shifted to put higher value on the fleeting, vanishing experiences that can be purchased -- the delicious meal, the higher-quality groceries, the exceptional cup of coffee, admission to an attraction.

...that frugality is not about cheapness, and sometimes you have to drop back and punt, or say, buy the $400 blender with the seven-year warranty instead of spending $50-$90 on mediocre blenders every year.

...that I don't even need half of what I already own, let alone more STUFF.

Sally said...

"That you can live on a lot less than you think--and you will actually be happier as a result."

I agree, but I think it depends somewhat on how you got there. It's a lot easier to be happy about it when it's by choice than it is when it's the result of bad circumstances. Even then it's possible to be happy about it, though it may take longer.

I also agree with what KitschenBitsch says: "...that I don't even need half of what I already own, let alone more STUFF."

Late in the summer I moved to a smaller place. Obviously I was going to have to get rid of STUFF. I realized that I didn't use, need or want more than half of the stuff I had -- it was just "there." I got rid of it and I don't miss it. I do have some things in storage, and I've realized that there are very few things that I miss/need. I am afraid that I'll see things and think I need them!

Liz T. said...

As I pass the 50 year mark (gulp!) I am delighted to find that the emotional attachment I had to things I've carted around for decades is rapidly fading away. Even (most of) my beloved science fiction paperbacks are finding new homes.

So my lessons learned are that age can indeed sometimes bring wisdom, and STUFF isn't memories. In fact, it's been so long that I can't even remember why some of that STUFF used to be important to me!

Marcia said...

great list!

frugality has taught me how to step back from the consumer machine. I hate shopping.

It's taught me to appreciate what I have. If only I could do the same for my 4 year old. I think they are wired to want new stuff all the time.

Jenna said...

Frugality has taught me a lot of things - similar lists to yours and the others... but the biggest thing I've learned?

I (and my family) are gonna be okay. No matter what happens, I/We've got the skills to figure it out, and work through anything. From home improvements, health issues, job loss, whatever. We'll be fine.

And that... well. That pretty much makes EVERYTHING okay!

Barbara l Vino Luci Style said...

I think I have frugal in my blood. I had five siblings and though my Dad had a good job, with an 8 person family you live frugally with the occasional luxury.

When I was married and my husband had an exceptional salary; I was still frugal but in ways I always thought beneficial to family and friends; I was Martha before there was a Martha, making everything homemade and not because I was cheap but because I thought it signified a greater value in my giving to those I loved...both in home and outside.

When I divorced, my frugal ways were important to the well being of my family and I was glad I was already so in touch with those practices. Eating at home, making Halloween costumes, making cookies, candies and candles for Christmas gifts and of huge importance, sacrificing some of our comfort to not only save money but to save resources.

I am proud of my frugal nature and in the past two years some of the folks that might have thought me a bit over the top have come calling.

How can they reconfigure their yard to save water; what would I suggest to help with energy expenses, did I have tips on how to save money when shopping (even the neighbor who poo pooed it a couple of years ago now has a Costco membership!).

Like many other comments, sometimes frugality walks hand in hand with realizing we we can do with less and I'm so grateful that I've never felt inclined to keep up with the Jones' - seems now in a more difficult economy they are more inclined to want to get down with me!

When I do buy something...a lot of thought goes into the process and sometimes a fair amount of money. So no, I am not feeling the least bit guilty about my new Canon DSLR; I treat myself so seldom that I'm as excited as a little girl at Christmas to have my new toy that I will treasure forever!

Daniel said...

These are some great insights and some excellent examples.

Several of you write compellingly about stepping back from retail therapy, stuff and the consumer machine. And Barbara talks about how neighbors are coming to her--now--for help on how to get the most value for their spending.

I wrote a post on these very concepts back in mid 2009 called Spreading The New Frugality and it contained this quote, which I thought I'd share here:

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.

I think this statement is true now more than ever.


Diane said...

I agree with all your list.

I'm pretty darn frugal, but a work slowdown caused me to amp it up this past year. Since then I've learned how to make many things from scratch I never would have tried before (pita bread, yogurt, etc).

Brittany said...

I've learned how many delicious things can be made for under 50 cents a serving!

I've also learned how great it is to not have to worry about money when something goes wrong because I have two months worth of salary in an emergency fund to draw from.