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.