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Dare To Be Frugal
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Living frugally and being thrifty are my new obsessions. There are a few reasons why an individual would embark on the frugal life. Some individuals choose to renounce their attachment to material goods in order to lead a more spiritual life. At this time, that is not my goal. There are individuals who are concerned about the environment and want to reduce their carbon footprints. Recycling becomes a lifestyle. Well, that is not my goal either. Then, of course, there are those individuals who out of necessity have decided to become frugal. That is where I am today.

According to the dictionary, the words ‘frugal’ and ‘thrifty’ are synonyms. However, I did some research and found that the terms have been also been used to describe different types of budgeting. For example, frugal has been used in connection with discount shopping and thrifty has been used when referring to activities solely related to money such as saving, hence ‘penny-pincher’ or spending hence the term ‘spendthrift’.

We have established the different reasons living frugally. How does one go from the shop until you drop attitude to being a penny pincher? Well, not so easily! (Please note I am not using penny pincher in the negative. It is another way of watching the money!) It is not an easy task. If you are a religious or spiritual person, you may want to go to your Higher Power and seek guidance and help. If you are a non-denominational sort, an atheist, or a freethinker, you may want to seek assistance from your friends and family. Of course, if you are self-reliant well then you rely on yourself. The point is this – you work hard all day and then you cannot party hearty because if you do you may not be able to meet the rent or other obligations. Personally, that is the crux of the dilemma. I cannot even spend a cent on me and that is the why the choice to live frugally had been so difficult to embrace.

Living on the cheap does not have a cultural allure. All you have to do is read a newspaper, browse the Internet or watch the T.V. It rarely gets any press and at times frugality and thriftiness appear to be portrayed in the negative. Why? Being wise about finances did not always have such a poor reputation. I assume everyone knows who Benjamin Franklin is - aside from the face on the $100.00 bill. Correct? He was one of the Founding Fathers of our country. Mr. Franklin was also a classic type ‘A’ personality. He wore many hats. He was a writer, an inventor, an ambassador, a politician, a postmaster, a meteorologist to mention a few careers. Although he was born of devout Puritan parents, he did not practice but he did adhere to many virtues attributed to the faith - prudence and frugality. There are many popular sayings extoling the virtue of saving money attributed to Mr. Ben Franklin and housed in Poor Richard’s Almanac. Even though today frugality may not have the mass appeal in the States, it once held a place in the American culture.

Benjamin Franklin’s wrote in his almanac ‘Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship.’ We know the payments of our fixed costs such as our mortgages, utilities and car payments to mention a few.

It is those little expenses that concern me. They can get nasty. These are those necessities that may not be exactly a real necessity. For the ladies, maybe you don’t have to pay for a manicure-pedicure this week, so do your own grooming this week or you could ask a pal to do yours and then you offer to do hers and schedule the ‘mani-pedi’ for the following week. These days I know of many men who have their nails and toes professionally done. I am not sure if one of your buddies would be amenable to doing your ‘mani-pedis’ but you could ask your sister or girlfriend to help out.

We all know about that the Crash of ’29 was preceded by the Roaring ‘20s, the age of opulence, decadence and revelry. Then the bottom just fell out. For seven long years, the country was on an upswing and then boom, Black Tuesday. What happened in the U.S.A.? Being thrifty was a lifestyle for generations and then fast forward to the Roaring ‘20s which was followed by the Great Depression of 1929. The ’29 crash was the most devastating economic disaster to hit the U.S. in modern times. Since I am neither an economist nor a time traveler, I am uncertain as to how the crashes. However, I do know one thing and that is that the economy came to a screeching halt after 9/11 and then it started to quickly rebound. My arithmetic tells me that it took about 7 years for another bubble to burst and it did in October, except for the year was 2008 and not 1929. There seems to be a growing need for prudent money management and an intentional lifestyle. Its’ time may be long overdue.

Based on my observation of current events it appears that in the first decade of the 21st century that better money management will become the responsibility of the individual. The time for living frugally is now!


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