Frugality is learning to share, to see the world as "ours.
Frugality has gotten a bad rap in certain context. People think being frugal is about being cheap, almost to a point that one cannot enjoy life. At the word "frugal", people think deprivation, but if we look back, frugal was a way to live intentionally keeping in mind the resources around us. Frugal living is sustainable living.
Let's re-think what frugal living means.
Wikipedia defines frugality as:
...sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.
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Frugal living is about community
One of the things I'm realizing as I've delved into zero waste and minimalism has been the fact that I've able to be part of this community that has similar goals as me. The community is very supportive with resources and alternative ways of doing things. I'm also in the process of getting more real-life events setup as part of Zero Waste New Jersey and the community has been very supportive of ideas, venues and suggestions. Frugal living isn't about being a one man island, we all need each other's support. I think one of the downsides of globalization is that we can readily connect with someone from another part of the world, but we don't talk to our neighbors a few feet away. Globalization has also exposed us to many things at a cheaper price without consequence of how it was made, who made it and the conditions it was made. With frugal living, when we turn towards our community, we want the best for our community and value everyone's contribution because we see it's impact immediately.
Frugal living is being creative
It's so easy to buy whatever we want. Tap a button, there it is at our front doors. This limits us though from finding solutions and being creative in solving problems. Frugal living takes the best of both worlds from wanting to save money and wanting to save the planet. It requires us to be resourceful and creative to get what we want.
Being frugal is also about DIY. It's trial and error and experiments that sometime turn out well and other times do not, but the beauty is that we can learn to do something. We can turn to our creative self to find solutions. We are all capable of doing something, we just might have forgotten and are out of practice. If you combine community and creativity, you can be a powerhouse when it comes to finding alternative solutions.
Frugal living is learning to be self-sufficient
In this day and age, we rely on many people for a lot of services. The unfortunate thing though is that we do this because we lack the time to do it ourselves. We are too busy working at jobs we may not particularly like to buy things we don't need. We are exchanging our time for stuff and we have full houses to show for it, but no time to spend and enjoy it. We outsource everything from food preparation, childcare, lawn care, laundry, shopping, etc.
Frugal living can return you to a place of self-sufficiency where we reclaim back our time. It's learning to cook. It's being there for our children at the time when they need us the most. It's turning to ourselves, our family, our community for solutions.
This is a little bit of the IKEA effect where we value it more because we had a hand at putting it all together. It had sweat equity into it.
Frugal living is refusing conventional wisdom
Conventional wisdom has us working until we are 65, doing the work, spend, sleep cycle until then. Conventional wisdom tells us we never have enough so every marketing and advertising we see tells us we need this, we need that to be happier. Frugal living is bucking against that trend. It is being open to alternative lifestyles. If we want an unconventional life, we have to start living differently. Frugal living seems like an extreme if we look at from the average person's point of view, but in reality, this is how majority of people in many parts of the world already live. Many don't have the conveniences that we have, but they are surviving by being creative, by involving the community and by being thrifty and economical.
Frugal living is going green
A part of frugal living is to really understand the resources around you and how to use them wisely. This, by definition means learning the impact of all that we consume. Things can arrive in neat little packages at our doorstep, but what was its impact. Who made, what materials is it made out of, how did it get to us, how do we dispose of it properly? There are so many parallels with frugal living and green living. The hippie imagery can sometimes put people off, but let's look deep beyond that and really find that consuming and living with the Earth in mind is one of the most sustainable and most cost-effective way to live.
Frugal living is about people and experiences.
In the end, frugal living is being intentional and focusing on people and experiences instead of things. When you shift your focus away from things, your perspective changes and you realize that what you need to be happy doesn't cost a lot at all. In fact, it's free and in front of you as long as you take the time to see it and cultivate it.
Many of the concepts in this post are discussed in Your Money or Your Life. I encourage you to pick it up. This is an important book to shift your mindset about financial independence and the relationship our spending habits have on our wallet and the planet.
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