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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


There’s so much in the mainstream media about frugality now. Just off the top of my head, there was Jane Brody in the New York Times on frugal food (cabbage, beans, and so forth); then there was something on CNN about frugality as the new fashion. And there’s a lot more. I’m not even going to link to these frugal-come-latelies because, honestly, you can get just as good if not better material on-line or in the library from those who have been walking the frugal path for a while.

Also, and this is strange, I find a lot of these articles boring, even though in the past, I hungrily devoured everything I could find on the topic. Perhaps it’s because frugality is only fun when it’s by choice. Reading about the newly-unemployed and how they must downsize, budget, find health insurance, etc. is a depressing exercise. Unless, of course, these are the unemployed of Lehman Brothers, at whose woes we can, if we desire, smirk. One former Lehman fellow has a column in the Wall Street Journal; the most recent post trumpets his new discovery that money isn’t everything. As one commenter noted, the formerly very wealthy are not in the pickle of the formerly middle class or working class or working poor. And no, I’m not linking to this guy either.

So what’s on the frugal menu here today? Just a little jeu d’esprit: the frugal-go-round. I was thinking about the little frugal things we share at my workplace. I realized an economist could probably quantify the money saved as our frugal practices circulate through our little economy.

SO: I have a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, which I don’t much like. The magazines are given to a very nice student who works in the Writing Center.

I don’t have a freezer, but some of our extra frozen garden produce is safe and sound in the freezer in the Writing Center!

We bring five or maybe more colleagues greens and lemons from our garden.

I just read the Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which was lent to me by Dr. Z. I’m done and the book was passed on to another colleague.

All the teachers donate books to the English Club Book Sale. Proceeds help support a yearly trip to a conference.

My colleague who teaches Italian lent my son a $150.00 textbook. Ditto for a French textbook.

My colleague George and I love grocery bargains, but realize that it is NOT frugal to make a trip for one item. So George brought me a bag of grapefruit ($2.00 for 5 pounds) from Albertsons. He also gave me some bacon he found on sale. I’m going to bring him coffee when my local store has its monthly coffee sale ($1.99 for a bag).

Last year, I requested the ham bone from the holiday party. I made some great soup with it.

I could go on, of course.

Dear readers: are you in a frugal-go-round? What is circulating in your community?


Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Food related stuff mostly, especially at work. It is all give and take, and with a pretty big office, it happens pretty often. Donuts, garden produce, candy, cookies, etc.

At home, my next door neighbors feed my dog their leftovers every night. She will look towards their back door and whine/bark if she doesn't get something. They told me one night they actually went to the store and bought hot dogs for her because they didn't have leftovers.

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

I love that is one of my favorites. I've always been for passing books around. And bartering.....I use the barter system alot. I may not have time to bake a cake, but I can trade a few of my organice tomatoes for a home baked cake. It's worth tradint time and talent's you guys. Think about it....

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Chance said...

My pet peeve in this recession: the cable-whiners (oh noooooooes, I have to give up cable TV. I'm poooooooorrrr) - when people are out of work and losing their homes. I digress. In Burlington, we have a great neighborhood based listserve, Front Porch Forum, and only people from your neighborhood can post in your neighborhoods forum - messages are sent to you email in a digest format. It leads to lots of go-arounds and sharing. People share the Sunday New York Times, left-over dog food after the dog died, tools and favorite was the person last summer who posted that their backyard cherry trees were laden with fruit, and offered a come-one-come all harvers. Left the gate open with two ladders, a harvester and a pair of work gloves out. My most comment go-arounds are sharing a costco membership card, the new york times, lots of bookswapping, the battery jumper, and I'm about to initiate a seed trade cycle -- put your extra seeds in an envelope and mail to the first person on the list, they take what they want, add some and mail to the next person and so on...

Duchesse said...

I make the distinction between frugality and neighbourliness, or taking care of others by sharing and caring. Even the wealthiest person can offer surplus from a garden or pass on a book. Your examples are generally about caring and consideration, not simply frugality.

And the ungenerous practices I have occasionally seen are also not tied to income or whether one is employed.

EEE said...

In my dorm, circulating magazines is the best thing I know. If they're old, new, Glamour, Marie Claire, Seventeen, who cares? We read them, take pages out, and throw them in the pile for another go-round. Everyone's happy.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Cubicle--Love the dog story! Thanks.

@Midlife--The person who lent me the book is a dog person. She lent it to me because I am a Hamlet person!

@Chance--Burlington sounds so neat. I once interviewed for a job there, but alas, did not get it.

@Duchesse--I am going to think about the neighborly/frugal issue. Two colleagues will be paying off student loans for many years so come, so I think there's a frugality component involved too. Once a colleague, hearing my propensity for sharing, accused me of being a socialist!

@EEE--Great job with the mags.

Duchesse said...

Is being called a socialist a BAD thing?

Chance said...

@Frugal Burlington is wicked cool but you are happy you didn't get the job - UVM is going under with 28 million annual deficit.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--It was meant as an insult (by a complete jerk). No matter one's political persuasion (and I am far to the left), I think everyone should share.

@Chance--Seems that all schools are in trouble these days.