I am certainly not the first frugality blogger (frogger? flogger?) to meet the interwebs, nor the first to try to define a concept that is in many ways a highly personal one. My frugal philosophy entails (1) not spending money on things that don’t matter and (2) not being cheap. Frugality also enables generosity, it’s important cousin that I’ll cover in a later post.
The first part — what matters — can be highly subjective and personal to your individual values. I know, for example, that it matters to me that I keep my (unusually expensive) Cheddar Pup around and well cared for; others would be appalled what I spend on this creature’s comfort. On the other hand, though, it doesn’t matter to me whether I drive a shiny new car, buy most of my clothes secondhand, or eat out at the hippest new restaurants. Much of the “spend less” portion of this blog will cover where I define the line between what matters and what doesn’t.
The second part — not being cheap — is a more objective standard requiring an empathetic viewpoint. I define the difference between being frugal and being cheap as what matters to me versus what matters to other people. For example, you might not mind living with a “if it’s yellow let it mellow” bathroom policy to save money on your water bill every month, but step into the shoes of your good friend CP who’s coming over for your weekly potluck dinner: ew, gross, no. This rule isn’t just for friends: failing to tip well at a restaurant isn’t being frugal, it’s being a jerk. If you can’t afford to pay someone fairly for a service they give you, take a close look at whether you really need that service. Saving a few dollars at the expense of others’ comfort, wellbeing, or friendship is never worth it. Make your own compromises, but don’t force them on the unwilling.
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