Frugal

The word “frugal” would be the very last term I’d use to describe myself. It fits me worse even than such adjectives as “patient,” “soft-spoken,” and “tolerant.” After reading this article, however, I discovered that I’m a queen of frugality because I have been doing all these things for ages.

I hate the word “frugal”, though, and I hate cheap people who always pinch pennies. What is life for, if not to be enjoyed?

I now need to go buy something to convince myself I’m not really frugal.

P.S. Bought two jars of mulberry preserves, one jar of young walnut preserves, and one jar of white cherry preserves. Can’t think of anything more to buy at the moment.

About these ads

41 comments on “Frugal

  1. Looking over that list, it looks like I’m quite frugal (hah!) as well!
    I feel you and I should have a shopping day together some day, Clarissa. I’m going to go to Sephora tomorrow myself, just to shake the frugal funk off of me. :)

  2. I’m gobsmacked that that list equates to being frugal. For me, apart from online banking which I don’t do, it’s just normal.

    Frugal for me would be buying less wine, fewer non-essential foods (crisps, peanuts, biscuits), growing food, taking sandwiches to work to save petrol (I hate staying at work all day), cancelling 2 out of the 3 mobile phones we have (me and my 2 boys), renting a flat instead of a house and so on.

    I want to enjoy life though, so extreme frugality can get stuffed.

      • I ran out of room some time ago. My house is small, I have several bookshelves and they are all heaving. If I owned my house I’d probably invest in a floor to ceiling library, but I don’t want to spend money in a place that isn’t mine.

        Hurrah for the Kindle!

  3. I like it! Now I can say I’m a frugal person (rather than just some cheap bastard).

    I do have cable but it’s a combined -with-internet thing (and I don’t have a car at all).

  4. Hi Clarissa! Thanks for linking to my post. My definition of frugal is spending less in areas of your life that you don’t value as much so you can spend more in areas you do – as opposed to cheap when you just spend less everywhere. We cut cable so that we could buy season tickets to a Broadway series of musicals, for example, and cut back on eating out so we can travel more frequently. I think that it’s great that you naturally gravitate to less expensive practices in some areas – as long as they aren’t areas that you would value spending more in.

    • I thought most people could not afford everything and did choose to spend money on what they were most interested in! Even the rich do this, unless their intention is to burn through all their capital.

      “Frugal” connotes actual austerity, scantiness, etc. although I realize that now it is being repurposed in some quarters to connote thrift.

  5. Side comment — I do not understand this concept of “date night”. Cooking dinner and watching a movie, isn’t that just a normal night? Going out, isn’t that a normal thing to do? What distinguishes regular nights from “date nights”? Yes, I understand that some nights one or both is working or something like that but I find this whole “date night” concept icky somehow.

      • Oh — I see, an American thing. When you have to feel very Puritanical and controlling and also chaotic and infantile if children are present, and you only very rarely take any time alone together, and it is so hard to do that you have to classify it under this icky, artificial, teenaged structure “date night.” I have never been in a relationship that worked like that, thank you sweet Jesus.

        • “Oh — I see, an American thing. When you have to feel very Puritanical and controlling and also chaotic and infantile if children are present, and you only very rarely take any time alone together, and it is so hard to do that you have to classify it under this icky, artificial, teenaged structure “date night.” I have never been in a relationship that worked like that, thank you sweet Jesus.”

          – Yes, this is one of those very American things that really scare me. I want nothing of this in my life.

      • I am not an American, but can understand the desire to have some couple time together, without paying attention to children.

        • If we have a baby, I want a nanny who will come over on Saturdays, so that we can continue our tradition of going out every Saturday. I believe that nothing is sadder than those couples who stop being romantic partners and become only parents and nothing else. They look especially sad when the children begin to have lives of their own.

    • “Side comment — I do not understand this concept of “date night”. Cooking dinner and watching a movie, isn’t that just a normal night? Going out, isn’t that a normal thing to do?”

      – It’s right there with “play date.” Yeeeew.

  6. I always thought of you (Clarissa) as frugal because of your commitment to debt avoidance. Perhaps you also don’t want to go the other extreme with Silas Marner Syndrome. I refer to this as a “Net Zero” mentality. I practice it too, but combined with my serial launch failures and general lack of money-motivatedness, the combination of career mediocity and Net Zero attitude results in an extreme frugality sometimes referred to as “Ramen Profitability.”

    • “I always thought of you (Clarissa) as frugal because of your commitment to debt avoidance.”

      – That’s a fairly new thing with me. I’ve been positively influenced by N. I will write about this one day, just not yet.

      ” an extreme frugality sometimes referred to as “Ramen Profitability.””
      :-) :-) :-)

  7. “I am not an American, but can understand the desire to have some couple time together, without paying attention to children.”

    –And you intend to do that so rarely that you have to call it a “date night” … ??? And I repeat, the word is icky.

    • Of course, it’s crucial to spend time together with your partner but it shouldn’t be some sort of an ultra-special thing or some sort of a crazy indulgence. It should be just normal.

      • My parents used to do things without us all the time. They’d meet for lunch during the week … go shopping or something together Saturdays … go to the movies … go out to dinner … go to parties … etc. I don’t mean they were out hobnobbing and neglecting the kids or that there were not family activities, but they did things on their own a lot and would also declare themselves off duty as parents sometimes, go in their room and say do not follow us. And my grandparents would go out dancing!!!

        Now I know all these couples who are 100% childcare robots except on their “date night” once a week where they have a very mechanistic routine. It seems so impoverished, compared to how things used to be.

        • “I don’t mean they were out hobnobbing and neglecting the kids or that there were not family activities, but they did things on their own a lot and would also declare themselves off duty as parents sometimes, go in their room and say do not follow us.”

          – That’s exactly what I just wrote in my comment. This should be normal.

          “Now I know all these couples who are 100% childcare robots except on their “date night” once a week where they have a very mechanistic routine. It seems so impoverished, compared to how things used to be.”

          – This kind of thing just scares me.

    • // –And you intend to do that so rarely that you have to call it a “date night”

      Date Night can mean “once a week”, which is actually often, if both have full-time jobs and not big kids.

      // It should be just normal.

      The idea is that with two 9-to-5/6/more jobs and small children, people don’t have that much time for themselves. Date Night can help some couples not to sink into work-work-work mode, and NOT turn into parents-not-lovers.

      //If we have a baby, I want a nanny who will come over on Saturdays, so that we can continue our tradition of going out every Saturday

      That’s precisely what some people call “Date Night”. Whether the word is “icky” is less important than that you describe intending to do the same thing.

      • Are you in US and do you understand the different levels of connotation of the word dating? Plus, aren’t you the one who didn’t think sexual attraction was important for relationships?

      • I think we are all basically in agreement here, and the only point of contention here is the use of terminology. It’s just like with “play date”. Everybody agrees that children need to play with other children and adults need to spend time with each other. However, the word “date” has this very adolescent connotations, like we are talking about something out of the ordinary, or like you are back to the uncomfortable, clumsy stage of the relationship.

        When I was growing up, we always knew that in the evenings our parents watch TV together, or sit alone talking, or discuss their adult stuff, or go somewhere together, and we just need to stay in our room and play. They didn’t need a special date night because this was every night for them, it was normal. And another thing that they did really really REALLY right was having a bedroom that was a place where the children never hung out. I don;t even remember being in that bedroom more than a handful of times. I think this is really crucial. I credit that bedroom with about 30% of my own personal happiness in adulthood.

      • “Whether the word is “icky” is less important than that you describe intending to do the same thing.”

        – I’m a philologist. :-) I think that words matter as much as the reality they describe because words form reality.

  8. Haha, the cooking one made me laugh. When I want to indulge myself I buy a duck, wild mushrooms, or king salmon. Those things are not cheap!

  9. Pingback: Weekly Update 47 | Evolving Personal Finance

  10. It’s really weird that in America a lifestyle where you waste money on luxuries (like going out to eat all the time) is considered “normal” and what used to be considered a normal life (like, staying home and making your own dinner) is now considered odd enough to merit an article about “frugality.”

    • Many people can’t cook anything at all. For them, cooking is mixing stuff from several cans together and heating it up in a microwave. It is really sad beause they are depriving themselves of creative possibilities that are open to anybody.

      • In a number of cases, this is due to more people working longer for less. They have neither the time nor the funds to get real food, and are therefore slowly killing themselves due to an unhealthy diet.

        • Housewives are the biggest purchasers of TV dinners and canned food while professional, highly educated people are much more likely to be good cooks. This is really not about time. It is about how worthy one considers oneself of good things. Cooking is not only a creative but also a sensual experience.

      • I don’t see why you think it “is not really about time”. Surely some sort of overworked housewife/soccer mom would have less time to cook than either partner would in a marriage with more equitable division of labour?

        And in addition, the (often) lower price of unhealthy foods (such as those high in sugar, empty calories, and saturated or trans fats) makes it easier for lower income people to afford them. To get healthier foods they must either work longer (which takes time) or expend more time to commute to where healthier foods are available (because most food deserts are in low-income areas). OTOH, this last bit about unhealthy foods and food deserts has less to do with cooking per se.

        • Overworked housewife? That’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one. :-) :-) It is somehow always the people who don’t work who feel the most overworked. :-)

          Whenever people say they don’t have the time for [insert any activity that enhances well-being], they are not talking about time. They are talking about lack of self-worth.

          I agree that food in the US is extremely unhealthy and it matters very little where you buy it, what exactly you buy, and how you cook it or whether you cook it. Even extremely expensive restaurants serve hugely oversalted food. Of course, Americans tend to get extremely upset when you tell them that no other developed country has such unhealthy food as they do.

      • I lived in Dallas, TX for a year back in 1998 and was amazed to discover that ‘cooking’ involved opening tins and packets of pie base, while ‘cooking from scratch’ was using fresh ingredients. I had a look at many recipe books where the dishes consisted of opening tins.

        If you grow up with parents who cook real food, it’s just normal to carry on doing the same. My mother didn’t teach me to cook but I used to hang about in the kitchen watching her cook and chatting, and just picked it up. Her cooking developed my obsession with tasty food.

        Food is not just fuel. It’s a shame that so many people waste years of their life eating muck when, with little effort, they could eat healthily and tastily.

        I came across a blog recently where a single mother living with two kids spends less than £10 per week on food. Now that is frugal living (she aims to be mortgage free in 3 years). She also eats as healthily as possible.

        http://mortgagefreeinthree.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s