Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Many Faces of Frugal

Seems each of us has different takes on what it means to be frugal. One day, Sis-in-law3 jawed about the money people waste on pre-cut "baby" carrots (guilty) before she reached for the Minute-Rice, something I wouldn't waste my money on, since long grain rice is che-e-eap, takes only minutes to cook and comes out perfect every time. Because of this conversation, I try to remember that what works for one doesn't for another. And I am ever thankful for all my frugal mentors who have helped to shape the frugality that works for me:
  • Thanks to my yard-sale-lovin' Mom, who grossed younger-me out by doing things like washing used aluminum foil and adding water to near-empty ketchup bottles to shake into soups. Tho' not a hoarder, Mom saves EVERYTHING that might have future value. Pictured here is a picnic quilt she made recently. See the swatch on which she practiced machine-embroidery back in 2003?
  • Thanks to Dad, who made me taste EVERYTHING he cooked, even weird stuff like hot Chinese mustard ("here, tell me what this needs") and thus nurtured my own home-cooking from the broad spectrum of ethnic cuisines. By guarding his $$ wisely, Dad retired at 55, paving the way for my hubby to make the same choice a week shy of 49.
  • Thanks to my in-laws who raised Hubby to be a can-do kinda guy. With all the great food options available at the state fair, this frugal couple chose hotdogs for lunch, cheapest thing available. Caused me to rethink spending when eating-out. I love trying new foods, but now when I have to eat somewhere crummy, like fast food or a joint where the food isn't site-cooked, I'll choose the very cheapest option, often soup, sometimes a hotdog. To this day, Mother in law shamelessly hangs her undies on the clothesline for all the world to see. (Following in her footsteps, I hang-dry laundry, but our skivvies get hidden on inside lines between other laundry.)
  • Thanks to Grandmother & Granddad, who talked to little-girl-me about baking salt-risin' bread and frying chicken, as if I could actually one day do those things myself.
  • Thanks to Mamaw & Papaw. When Papaw died, his grown children dug up the $10,000 dollars he had buried in mason jars down in their dirt cellar. When I visited these folks as a child, I bathed in a mere two inches of water in their clawfoot tub, was awed by their collection of 30 or so packages of toilet paper bought on sale, and slept on a pillow Mamaw made and stuffed with dry-cleaner bags. Mamaw once crocheted a doily out of tangled kite-string scavenged from the top of a neighbors' trashcan. Nuff said!
  • Thanks to my two great aunts; both lived to be 96. Great Aunt M sat on an inexpensive, padded lawn chair every morn' to read her newspaper, preventing her beautifully preserved rosewood furniture from getting dirty. Great Aunt Sr. T took a vow of poverty at age 17, as an Ursuline religious sister. When Sr. T gave us one set of twin sheets for a wedding gift, everyone laughed, but I knew she had chosen the very BEST thing she had to give.
  • Thanks to my Uncle J, another early retiree, who clipped coupons and scouted all the BEST deals. He was a real scratch-my-back/I'll scratch yours kinda guy. His widow, beloved Aunt K, is holding off buying a new furnace unit until someone can find her a good used one.
  • Thanks to Amy Dacyzyn, author of Tightwad Gazette, for helping me to verbalize to Hubby just WHY I must fill every hidey-space we own with bulk buys.
  • Thanks to the sites/blogs that educate me, nudge me toward greener, more organic options and keep me from feeling alone in this quest for a more frugal, sustainable lifestyle: Sites like TreeHugger (mish-mash of all things green) and David Suzuki (great, non-toxic recipes), and blogs like Frugal Girl, The Non-Consumer Advocate, and The Frugal Ima, who let me look over their shoulders as they make conscientious choices about daily living, and others I'm only just discovering that espouse extreme frugality humorously: Life After Money and Frugal Queen.
What is FRUGAL so often turns out to be green. And of the EVER SO MANY frugally green influences on my life, these are just a few of my influences, the Many Faces of Frugal.


Lea White said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog :-).

What an interesting post. My grandmother used to wash out used plastic bags and hang them on the line to dry and my grandfather never wasted anything. When he married his second wife she found a tin of coffee that he bought 30 years before. He refused to throw it out because you don't waste. On the sly she bought new coffee and each time she would put 1 spoon of the new coffee in the cup and throw out 1 spoon of the old coffee - he never knew ;-). I guess after 30 years the flavour of the coffee just wasn't all that great anymore

Dmarie said...

what a great memory, Lea. So nice to hear someone else's faces of frugal. I may be frugal, but even I would put 30-yr-old coffee on our compost heap, not in Hubby's coffeepot! (incidentally, Hubby gets up before me and makes his own coffee. I never learned to like it.)

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