sarahmichigan: (Default)
I mentioned frugality as a value when I was talking to a friend recently, and it reminded me of the fact that while there's a lot of info out there about how to be frugal, there's not as much about why. Sure, there are some bloggers out there who discuss the "why"of it, but that info is buried under mountains of info about how to coupon, save money, etc.

For me, the answer to, "Why do you value frugality?" is simple: Debt is slavery. And, related: Stuff is slavery.

I value freedom, and therefore, I value frugality.

For some people, I think frugality is an end in and of itself. Because of some religious or ethical principals, they believe in keeping finances tight, no impulse buying, saving as much as possible, etc.

For me, frugality is not the end but a means to an end. I'm very frugal (not cheap- there's a difference) on things that I don't care about so that I have the money to splurge on things I DO care about.

So, I don't buy books, I get them from the library. I have a lot of used furniture that was picked up from a curb or gotten cheaply at a rummage sale. I buy many of my clothes from thrift shops. I try to cook at home as much as possible and feel guilty if I eat out or order food in two days in a row.

You might see some of my other decisions and wonder if I'm really frugal. For instance, we have a projector and a big screen. I pay pretty big money for bras and some athletic clothing. I purchased a $300 bike (on sale) from a high-end bike store instead of a $90 Huffy.

This is the whole "means to an end" thing. I save on things I don't care about (I'll take the store brand facial tissues, thanks!) so that I have money to spend on things I do care about (good quality bras from Lane Bryant, thanks!).

I also am frugal because the more debt you have, the more enslaved you are. You can get tied down to jobs, to locations, to relationships you despise because you don't have the money to make the changes you want. When you're debt-free, or nearly so, you have more options. You can leave the bastard who's abusing you because you have a nest egg to start over. You can leave the high-paying job you hate and try that home business you've been thinking about if you're not drowning in debt.

Also, more things make you more enslaved. You must work to get stuff, and then you have to work to buy stuff to store your stuff. And if you've really accumulated a lot of stuff, you can't travel unless you pay to have someone watch your stuff while you're gone. You can't quit your job, because you still have five years of payments until you own "your" stuff outright. And so on.

One person that I think does a good job of articulating some of the "whys" behind frugality is Trent from The Simple Dollar blog. If you aren't already reading him, I think you'd find his "Road to Financial Armageddon" posts pretty interesting. He talks about how he got to the point that, even with a good salary, he was stuck in debt and living paycheck to paycheck. He also explains some of his thinking behind why he wanted to get out of debt and why he embarked on a more frugal lifestyle.

One of the biggest barriers to adopting frugality, I think, is this sense that, "I've been scrimping and saving all along. Now that I'm making more money, I deserve to splurge on whatever I want." I understand that mindset, and we did some of that after we got our first professional jobs and didn't have to live like students any more. But quickly, we returned to a mostly frugal lifestyle because we realized that sense of entitlement - "I deserve to have nice things" - is really a trap. After your basic needs are met, stuff usually doesn't make your quality of life better- it just limits your options.

Also, along the same lines, [ profile] popfiend just posted a great link over the weekend:

25 Inspiring Blogs To Help You Sell Your Crap, Pay Off Your Debt, and Do What You Love…

sarahmichigan: (Default)
1. For those of you who make mashed potatoes- what's your process? I don't mean a recipe, but I mean things like: Do you peel first, then boil, or vice versa? Do you use a hand masher or a food processor? Etc.

2.  For those of you who are interested in frugality, simplicity and/or environmental living, tell me one or two things you know are in line with those values but which you just can't bring yourself to do. For instance, some people who are super frugal just can't give up going out to lunch during the work day because they need to get away from the office. Or maybe you're really environmentally conscious but you just can't live with your thermostat turned any lower than 70 degrees. Mine? I hate throwing away lots of paper facial tissues, but I just cannot bring myself to use a handkerchief. With my allergies, I'd be going through three or four a day, and having snotty rags in my pockets would just totally gross me out. (To compensate, I AM thinking of starting to bring a cloth napkin with me to work in place of the two or three paper towels I typically go through each day at lunch.)

3. Dammit, I had a third question, but it has escaped me...

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