the new 'frugality'

I was reading an article this morning over from MSN's Smart Spending blog, entitled 'How long will the 'new frugality' last?'  

The first part of article reflects back to the energy crisis in the mid-70's, and how folks learned how to stretch their dollars and rely on gasoline less.  And then, as we all know, things got back to 'normal' just a few years later.  

Nowadays you can't go anywhere without hearing about the painful cost of gas and food prices, and how to be more 'frugal' in light of them.  

I have been in search of ideas for more frugal living for a while now, out of necessity.  My husband isn't working right now because of academic rigors, and my current income puts my two-person family right around 60% AMI (area median income).  To put it in perspective, we meet the income qualifications for a Habitat for Humanity home.

This whole frugal living thing isn't new for me, though.  It's come somewhat naturally for me.  My mom has a degree in economics as well as a very sound understanding of personal finances, and she did her darnedest to teach my brother and me how to have a good outlook on money.

As a result of her training, a lot of today's most-touted suggestions are second nature to me.  For example, I keep reading about how a good way to save money is to combine errands.  Umm... that's not about frugality, it's about efficiency.  Was my family the only one to have an errand day?

I guess I'm more surprised and frustrated than anything else.  How can people be so mindless about their income and outgo?  Is wastefulness (because really, that's what a big part of the issue is) so second-nature that anything otherwise must be taught?  When I read about how many families are doing things like combining errands as a measure to handle the crunch, I am filled with some unidentified emotion - disgust?  incredulity?  surprise?  

How can a nation full of otherwise-capable people be so incompetent

Maybe I'm being too harsh.  Or am I?


  1. That might be a bit harsh, but then again you were brought up with a frugal parent--or so it seems. So was I. However, like most people, we tend to reject our parents values (at least some of them), only to come right back around and realize how wise they were. I mean, look at me. I'm a huge composting advocate now. Growing up, I hated having to take out the compost. Rags from clothing? Pshaw. What was my mom thinking? These days? Yeah, she was right on.

    I hope you'll check out my blog The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal) for some more ideas on green and frugal living.


  2. Thanks, Leah. I definitely see your point of 'coming around' to our parents' wisdom. Your perspective certainly changes when you're the one paying the checks! I've added your blog to my reader - I'd love to learn more about how your family does what they do.

    Side note - I haven't braved the waters of composting, but I am beginning to think about researching it!


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