Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mad Reader: Your Frugal Ways Are Silly! Too Thrifty?

Maybe somebody took the last muffin from the frig, or maybe there was not enough milk for his coffee, but one reader fired off a sharp retort about one of my recent articles about thrifty living: ( More Ways to Squeeze Savings From Home and Food Products )

Basically, the reader told me to get a life and go shopping in language that delivered a sharp rebuke to my alleged political affiliation. ("You've got to be an Obama voter," he said.) He also used the word "silly."

His arguments: Squeezing the last drop out of a bottle of hair conditioner and using smaller amounts of paper towels represented silly wastes of time. He implied that I was suffering from a recession of the mind and that my columns about thrift were only contributing to the economic woes.

And if I really wanted to save money, I should take real action and stop chatting on the cellphone, he said.

"Get a life. Really, if times are so tough that your skin-flint ways must be utilized, then get rid of your cellphone, cable TV, and start washing the dishes manually."

Hmm...There was more a bit more, but that's the main thesis.

Personally, I think the little things count. Squeezing the last drop of conditioner from a plastic bottle, conditions my mind to think about how I can get the greatest mileage from other areas of my life.

It's like playing scales on a violin. When I practise my violin, I play boring, scales -- nothing fancy. But I play small, basic notes -- over and over again -- to prepare my fingers, ears and eyes for concertos and other complicated compositions. It's an exercise in discipline.

Besides, small things count. That's what countless editors have told me during my days as a television desk assistant and, later, a newspaper reporter. When I would shrug about a small typo in a name or title, my editors would give me stern lectures. "If I can't trust you with the small facts, how can I trust you with the big facts?" -- one editor argued during a grueling editing session. (With that voice in my head, I have learned to master the art of fact-checking!)

As a writer, reporter and frugal blogger, I am far from perfect. But I've absorbed the lessons that I have learned from news directors, editors and other media professionals. I've learned to count small change in order to enhance my ability to count the big-ticket items in life.

And, Dear Reader, I already know how to shop. Trust me! I've been shopping for years. I could write a book on shopping. In fact, I have written a book about shopping. And I will continue to make purchases as needed, with a few personal treats and periodic manicures/pedicures. That's the Duchess part of my frugal gig. I don't believe in deprivation. I am so spoiled. I eat organic blueberries almost every day.

But the truth is: I have spent a lot of money during my young adult years, and I'm all shopped out.

And FYI: I have a frugal cellphone plan; I don't have cable television. I run my dishwasher about once a week, and I often wash my dishes by hand. But those frugal actions are also driven by another green -- I also believe in an eco-friendly approach to living. I've been shrinking my carbon footprint.

I'm grateful to that reader for writing. Thank You! He made me consider how the slowdown in consumer spending could further deflate the economy. He has a point! But his note prompted me to think about the shopping bags stuffed in my closets and cabinets, and he gave me something to write about on a rare cold day in Miami.

So, again, thank you sir!


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VA-Anne said...

One wonders why the reader reads your blog if he is so offended by your frugal ways!

Anonymous said...

Well, you paid as much for the last drop as you did for the first drop....why not make use of all of it? We as a nation tend to devalue older or used items. The last slice of bread costs exactly the same amount as the first piece of bread even if it is a bit stale, so toast it and eat it up! I think being conscious of using all of it is very smart and ecologically friendly!

Frugal Scholar said...

I agree, Frugal Duchess. I also think that paying attention to little things sets a good example for our children, who do as we do, not as we say.

Of course, I am an Obama voter myself!

I am a long-time lover of your writing.

Frequent Reader, First time Commenter said...

Okay, since you are a professional and obviously a nice person, I will say what needs to be said.

That guy was an jerk. Rude, unimaginative and crass.

Dawn said...

Good to know something good came out of his comment.
But he really should have worded it differently and your political affiliations are none of his business.

great post

pamela said...

I agree with you Frugal Duchess! There is no shame in not being wasteful. Why not get that last little bit of conditioner that you paid for? Why toss it? If the conomy needs fixing, it's not going come through small economies - in fact, we need to save more and generally get out of debt - so if squeezing more value out of an item helps, so be it. Who has extra $ to spend nowadays, anyway? Those who do are welcom to go to the mall!

Splash said...

I always learn more from the dissenting comments! These are people who are thinking AND speaking up, and we should never condemn that, no matter how much we might disagree.

Also, I think lots of folks do not understand that the written word has about 10x more power when read by someone else.

Shannon said...

I just found your blog and I'm going to follow it! Great stuff! This post highlights something I have found over the years: that everyone has her own definition of frugal, and what I do to save money may seem ridiculous to the next gal.

BTW the guy who said you must be an Obama voter? Why would frugality be measured along political lines anyway? To me, making sure my family is well cared for and that I am financially solvent is the most conservative principle there is! There is a "conserve" in conservative, right? I don't think people think these things through before posting.

BillyOceansEleven said...

LOL! I'm not sure why someone would think being frugal identifies you as an Obama supporter. Not to get into a political debate, but I am a proud frugal conservative (notice I don't say Republican, as the party abandoned the values I hold true long ago) and have long associated wastefulness (the opposite of frugalness) with Obama's party, as evidenced by the so-called "stimulus" package.

I guess it is all a matter of opinion. At least outside Washington, I do believe frugality can be a bipartisan issue. =)