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Friday, August 15, 2008

Why Me?: A Pathologically Frugal Professor Starts Her Blog

Why me indeed! Because I LOVE being frugal! Because I’ve always wanted to do this, first when I read The Tightwad Gazette and thought “I should do something like that!” Now when I read the zillions of personal finance/frugality blogs, I still think “I should do that!”

As my dear spouse says, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty." In other words, do it.

Still, why me. Well, I am a teacher, and teachers--in addition to their credentials--are bossy and advice-giving.

Sometimes, to see what’s been going on in my life, I read the letters my dear husband writes his father. In one he described how we ate dinner in the cafeteria with my son and his college friends, who seem to like our visits. He described me as “giving advice and powerful exhortations” to the students. Really? Is that me?

The great Emily Toth, a professor at LSU best known for her work on Kate Chopin who told me years ago that she was interested in women advice givers from Dear Abby, Ann Landers, to herself, writes the Ms. Mentor column for the Chronicle of Higher Education. I was lucky enough to encounter Ms. Mentor in person in my early years at my present job; because of her advice and powerful exhortations I am still here.

On the job, in addition to teaching the likes of Shakespeare and company, I find myself advising spendthrift/debt-ridden colleagues on the existence of flex plans and Roth IRAs. Sometimes my students lament their accumulating debt and I pass on tips to them too. I also am often called on to deliver frugal tips to my children’s friends, who seem amazingly interested in the topic.

So yes, I guess I am a scholar. But in addition to reading the latest thoughts of various theorists and to adding my own tiny contributions to the scholarship in my field, I enjoy reading—and re-reading—the great classics of frugality: Your Money or Your Life, The Millionaire Next Door, etc. I used to be embarrassed about this—that I was devoting a good bit of time to what seemed to me trivia in comparison to the great works of Homer. Then my dear spouse opined “Proust says that life is trivia.” I’m not sure where Proust said that, but since my dear spouse has read ALL of the master NUMEROUS times (en français as well as in translation), I must say that I believe it’s in there somewhere.

Therefore, onto some trivia. I am a great reader and know all sorts of things about, for instance, cooking and children’s books. What these (and other things) have to do with frugality, I hope to show….


Ryan said...

This is very helpful and inspiring.

This is the link to a local grocery store. Perhaps you could guide me in preparing cheap meals with their weekly ads for a student budget (i.e. very poor)

Frugal Scholar said...

Hi Ryan! I got sidetracked by school and the hurricanes. Ask me some more.

Anonymous said...

How prescient that you started this blog in August!

Ryan said...

Concerning a school meal plan, would it be better to use the alotted money on my meal plan on over priced items in the on-campus convenience store or should I just buy generic items at the local grocery and use the meal plan moneys on meals?

Frugal Scholar said...

@Terri--I'd been meaning to do this for years. Strangely, a lot of the frugal advice in mainstream media is by the nouveau frugal and not very good.

@Ryan--I think it would be better to eat the meals (which would cost as much off campus) and buy the groceries at the grocery store. BTW, that local store you provided the link for is REALLY cheap. I wish we had one here.