April 20, 2010

Why are you frugal, or semi-frugal, or resourceful?

The following is a reprint of a previously published post.

After I wrote yesterday's post "What do you splurge on?" it occurred to me that maybe I should have started with the question "Why are you frugal?" Because there's no point in being frugal for the sake of being frugal. There needs to be a reason, which ranges from sheer necessity (for example, you live on a fixed income or you're trying to support a family on minimum wage or you've been laid off from your job) to all manner of lifestyle goals and ideals.

One of my readers suggested that if I was uncomfortable with the term "frugal," perhaps I should substitute "resourceful." I like that. It brings to mind a sensible person, cheerfully making do with their circumstances. Creating a gourmet meal out of forgotten pantry items, making a cozy home in the wilderness, sewing stylish clothing out of burlap bags. Sort of a cross between Marmie from Little Women and MacGyver (ingenious uses for everyday items).

So WHY am I resourceful? There are many reasons, but they mostly revolve around wanting to create a lifestyle that meshes with my values and goals. The values have to do with non-consumerism and protecting the environment and trying not to use more than my fair share of the earth's resources. The goals involve wanting to work less, while at the same time doing work I enjoy and having control over my own schedule.

It all comes down to priorities. Mine have just never been to have a big house, an expensive car, lots of jewelry, or STUFF. They've always had more of an experiential element, and include doing work and activities I love, having time for my husband and friends, and not being tied down to a schedule. Also, living on less lets me feel more in control and less panicked if my husband or I get less work or if the economy takes a turn for the worse. Having money for an emergency and not living on credit means that we're not so dependent on jobs or the economy.

If I gave the impression yesterday that I was frugal just so I could spend money on travel, boots, and spas, that's not the case. I do splurge on some things, but they're not the overall point of a frugal or resourceful lifestyle. Joining The Compact was an extension of the way I was already living rather than a radical experiment, and I've realized that even more because nearly five months later, I've had hardly any challenges or temptations to wrestle with.

I'm not trying to recruit members for The Compact, but I guess in a way I AM trying to relate how simple it is to live on less. Maybe give a little hope to people who are doing it by necessity. How it can actually be creative, invigorating, and yes... fun! Because believe me, if you saw our lifestyle, I don't think anyone would call it deprived. Except for maybe someone like Donald Trump, who I would consider the exact opposite of me. It's hard to believe we're the same species, really. The only thing I can think of that we have in common is a thick head of hair. But then again, his is probably fake.

Why are you frugal, or semi-frugal, or resourceful? Or do you prefer another label entirely? Please tell us your thoughts in the Comments section.

6 comments:

Kaylen said...

I'm frugal because I'd like to work for money for as little of my life as possible.

Carol Ashworth said...

I'm trying to become more frugal for a multitude of reasons. The first is that I am a Christian, and God asks us to be good stewards of the resources he provides us. The second reason is related to that - if I live on less, then I have more to give to those who have less. The third reason is that I want the freedom in the not-too-distant future to pursue other callings that require an investment and may or may not be lucrative. The fourth is that I have too much stuff as it is!

Anonymous said...

I try to be frugal because i think it is better for my body and my mind, because we should be able to feed and shelter and care every human on earth.
I think my life is much nicer now because i enjoy every moment.

Jenni said...

Resourceful, now that's a fine and perfectly suitable word :) I am resourceful for many of the same reasons you posted. I want to be responsible with money, have savings, teach my children non-consumer values and to appreciate the little things. I want to be a good steward of the land and not be wasteful. I desire to turn my values into actions consistently.

Gina said...

I'm only just learning to be frugal... And I FAR prefer the term resourceful, that's it exactly! I have always disliked tightness for the sake if it and know far too many folk who think being cheap is almost the most virtuous thing to do. Instead I'm trying to learn to have simpler desires and to achieve things without money. For lots of the same reasons as Carol, actually. My family likes to celebrate life by being generous-almost lavish- towards others, whether in giving towards practical need, to organisations, or for fun! As we become less owned by stuff and money, we give it away more freely and it's truly a joyous thing.

Forest Parks said...

I guess I am frugal so that I exert less pressure on my life.

By spending less money, I can earn less money so have a generally less stressful job or less hours working.

By having less stuff there is less to go wrong and less to be worried about.

Pretty simple really... the good side effect of all of this is I use less resources and it's better for the earth :)

Thanks,
Forest.
http://frugalzeitgeist.com