Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Penny Pinching Popularity and the Faux Frugal

Brilliant, brilliat post from Midwest Mom (whom I follow on Twitter) regarding the town of Frugal (where I live).  Do you see yourself?  I'm there in several guises: the Halver, the Saver, the Scavenger, and the Scrimper. I am these and shamelessly so.  I might also Cluck.  Just a bit. ;)

But her closing comment about how crowded Frugal was getting is what spurred me to post - I was fixin' to post on this very subject.

How it's now Cool To Be Frugal.

Yeah ... all those folks who sniffed at our tightwad ways, looked down their noses at our dumpster diving, outright laughed at us for wearing thrift store clothing, whose children ask my children why they don't bring Pop Tarts and Lunchables and brand name individual juices every day to school, THOSE people are suddenly into thrift.

And you know what the crazy part is?  Clever marketing types who buy $1200 handbags and only eat the most expensive 'organic free range natural' eggs from happy chickens are the ones slapping up all these money saving websites and writers who aren't even aware that water comes in gallon jugs with *gasp* no flavouring or added minerals and who live off of single serving lo-cal lo-fat snack bags are rolling out articles detailing where to cut corners on your bloody grocery bill!

The old thrifty sites, and us long-time frugal bloggers - I'll bet - are not seeing so much increased traffic.

And why's that?

Well, because Americans, even Americans in a recession, want easy. Fast simple easy. And they are NOT going to give up their wasteful consumerism without a fight. They want you to tell them how to save money (lose weight! find the man of your dreams! get rich quick from home!) right now, and don't make it too complex.

They don't want to give up their triple caramel lattes or their expensive shoes or their *OMGOMGGASP* cable television.

They want to be told that all they have to do is turn off a few lights and maybe buy family packs of meat and they get to keep all the other indulgences.

All the time now I get the phrase: "Gosh, it must be really tough for you!" followed by almost eager expectation. I get the feeling folks want me to vent about how horrible our lives are in this economy what with five kids and the farm and the 10+ year old cars and my wearing the same pair of blue jeans all week.

Well it's not.  It's really no different. Us permanent residents of Frugal - the lower income ones like me, all the way up to millionaires - have trimmed all the waste from our lives already. We live more simply. We have a cupboard full of tinned goods, firewood stacked on the porch, a bit of pin money put away.  When the going gets tough, we tighten our belts a notch and keep on keepin' on in a practiced fashion.

This is not a brag, by the way, it's just how it is. Frugality is a lifestyle choice just like a diet. If you stuff your face every single year over the holidays and put on 10lbs then go on the latest Cashews-and-eggwhite-omlette diet every spring only to agonise over how you're not losing weight, well you have a problem.

To stay physically healthy you have to watch your food intake and exercise a bit all the time.  To stay financially healthy you have to watch your spending habits and curtail waste all the time. This doesn't mean that you can't have a slice of Gramma's Nut Cake Delight at Thanksgiving or that you can't buy that perfect leather bag to keep your work papers and laptop in.  It just means that you have to allow for these small things and watch the rest of your eating / spending.

I sincerely hope that a lot of people are really learning how to be thrifty.  Being thrifty doesn't mean you have to suffer - any more than eating healthy does - but it does arm you against big, bad things like recessions (and Aunt Jo's homemade baklava!)

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 10:46 am   4 comments


At 3:33 am, Blogger moonduster said...

Growing up, my family went through some very lean times when we had to be frugal. A lot of living that way has rubbed off on me. (Unfortunately, it hasn't rubbed off on my husband, but I'm working on him.)

At 5:32 am, Blogger Kathy Harrison Fuller said...

AMEN Blue! Living debt-free (or as much as possible - mortgage/students loans still ***sigh***) is a great way to be in a tough economy as well.

Keep up the good work!

At 9:00 pm, Blogger AllyMonster said...

Hi there,

While doing research I came across your blog and found it really compelling! As you note, "frugality" has become more popular during these economic times. Hopefully it's not just a fad!

I work for a Los Angeles-based unscripted television production company in development. I am basically looking for a family somewhere in America who is very focused on living frugally and even has some unusual or atypical methods to do so. I thought you might be interested or may be able to point me in the right direction. I'd love to speak with you further. Below is a little more about our company including our website. Please take a look and let me know if you're interested in chatting with me. Thank you!

A little about us...Pie Town Productions was founded in 1995 and has produced over 3,200 episodes of programming in a variety of formats from daily series to network specials to weekly reality shows. Our client list over the last thirteen years includes: TLC, Paramount, A&E, WE, Lifetime Television, Logo, CMT, Discovery Heath, the Food Network, and HGTV. We've brought 44 series, 36 special projects, including the Emmy Award winning series, “A Baby Story.” We are currently producing the new Lifetime hit, DietTribe, among other projects. You can see more of what we've produced and what we're developing by following this link: http://pietown.tv

Best Regards,

Ally Weinberg

Ally Weinberg
Manager of Development
Pie Town Productions
5433 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
N. Hollywood, CA 91607
818-255-9334 (Direct Line)
818-255-9333 Attn: Ally Weinberg (Fax)

At 7:42 pm, Blogger RM said...

I so agree - this IS a lifestyle choice - a choice to feed your family homemade because it's cheap AND healthy, a choice to bargain-hunt just because you think prices are outrageous, and a choice to NOT follow every fad that blows by. Keep it up - there are more of us like you than you think!



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