Blogs > Liberty and Power > Back to the Theme of Frugality

Oct 8, 2008 1:51 pm


Back to the Theme of Frugality



For more commentary, please visit WendyMcElroy.com

I have not sung the praises of frugality lately...but the current economy cries out for optimism and that's what I see in a frugal lifestyle and a personal philosophy of voluntary simplicity.

As always, I start by defining what I don't mean by frugality and voluntary simplicity. I don't mean denying yourself the goods, services and experiences that make your life exciting or satisfying. I love to travel; I am addicted to live theatre and that is expensive; I relax by doing ethnic cooking with costly ingredients (but less costl than eating at restaurants); Brad has every computer gismo he values and none he doesn't; we have dogs and cats which are expensive to maintain but just try taking our buddies away; our house is wired for ether net and we have satellite TV...I could go on and on about the many expenses on which we do not stint. You live once and it makes no sense to deprive yourself of what makes the go-around a joy.

Nevertheless... I drive a 17-year-old car that is meticulously maintained (I LOVE my car); I grow some of our food (in a garden that means the sun is on my face once a day); I reduce the remaining grocery budget by at least 50% through coupons, barter and price comparison (and, then, brag obnoxiously about it with sister-cheapos on a BB)... In short, I enjoy frugality. If the lifestyle has downsides, one is that I am starting to view people who engage in conspicuous spending as a bit trashy. I am wrong in this response -- they are merely people who disagree with my economic preferences -- nevertheless...

Some of the main upsides of frugality are:

when I exchange time for money, it is because I value what is purchased more than the time the purchase requires. Time is life in the most literal sense. Don't trade your life away for fripperies, like designer clothes.

being self-sufficient robs government both of its hold over you and its revenue source from you. When I barter for eggs with a neighbor, I eschew government surveillance, taxes, and attention. I am living government-free

we achieve a high quality of life by reversing the normal process. The norm is making more and MORE money -- expending ever more time and stress. The reverse is to decrease the cost of living your life as you wish to do so. And maybe extending your lifespan in the process.

re-evaluating values. Why do you need a new car that is no faster and no more efficient than your old one? Because your family values members according to a manifested income level? Isn't it time to tell your family and its values to fuck off?

So what is the frugal move I'm sharing with you today? Cancel every magazine, newspaper or periodical to which you subscribe...with 3 expections:

1) if the subscription is necessary to your work;

2) if you truly enjoy opening the newspaper over breakfast coffee; or 3) if the material you value in the periodical is available nowhere else.

Most information is available on the Internet...for FREE. Fall in love with this word: FREE. Free is not taxed. Free does not require you to trade your time/life. Free is not (yet) regulated by the government. Free is, well, free. Other than justice, does the English language contain a more beautiful word?


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