Custom Search

Monday, April 13, 2009

Things I Don't Do Because I 'm Frugal

No, this is not an essay on all the things you must give up to pay off your credit cards, or--worse--because your job has evaporated. So, no, this is not about giving up Starbucks, especially the dreaded latte, meals out, vacations, nice clothes, whatever. It is about how, if you are frugal, you can give up lots of things you don't like to do.

The main one for us is summer teaching. Because we are frugal, we do not have to teach in the summer. As fairly senior people in the departmental hierarchy, we are "entitled" to summer courses, at least now and then. Summer classes have been cut in past years, and may be cut more in the new economic climate. Colleagues who depend on that money get a panicky look when they learn that they cannot count on summer employment.

My mother-in-law, who taught in a junior college, once pointed out that the greatest luxury for teachers was time. She was right. Yes, we could make a good hourly wage for summer teaching, especially on-line, where classes are limited in size and many students drop. But I don't have to justify anything. I don't feel like teaching in the summer.

On the trivial end, I have been saving money and participating in a fun community by swapping books on But sometimes I just dread packing up books to send. I need to amass credits because Mr. FS has been stealing--err, transferring--book credits to CD credits on Then we discovered that you can BUY credits, either from the site, or, a little cheaper, from swappers. We patronize a fellow who calls himself Crabby Doctor. Usually, I'll mail books, but sometimes I just don't feel like it.

Similarly, I have a bunch of stuff I could sell on eBay. I used to find that fun. No more. I hate it, in fact. So I gathered up all the stuff and will take it, first, to Buffalo Exchange. This is mainly to put some exchange credits in Miss Em's little hands. Also, it's fun to see what they will take.

Other things I hate doing include using grocery coupons (overrated as far as saving money goes, not to mention messy) and having yard sales (overrated as a way of making money). So I don't.

I guess that means that much of what I do is because I like it: I like cooking at home; I like nosing around thrift stores, and so forth.

To my mind, frugality is as much about NOT doing things you don't want to do as it is about deprivation, giving up things you want.

So here's to my summer, which will be spent visiting family on each coast and reading some of the books amassed through swapping and thrift stores.

Frugal Readers: what don't you do because you don't feel like it? And Frugal-in-the-Future Readers: what do you look forward to giving up?


Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Nice post, and I couldn't agree more. Rather than hassle with selling things on Ebay, or Craigslist, or, I love the fact that I can just up and decide to give something to someone who needs or just wants it when I no longer do. Or, I can just take a bunch of stuff down to the Goodwill and de-clutter en-mass. I never thought of it that way, but being frugal in other areas allows this.

sallymandy said...

I don't live in a big house because I don't want to furnish/clean it. I requested a small diamond engagement ring because I didn't want to worry about losing it. I don't have a new car because I don't want to figure out all the electronic gadgets on it. Ditto DVD player. Oh, gee. I could go on and on.

I'm basically lazy, I guess. Laziness + frugality = bliss.

Duchesse said...

Isn't this the insightful premise of the book "Your Money or Your Life?" I have always been fascinated by what people think they 'have' to do (or have): "We have to own three cars, because the kids really don't like to take transit." On the other hand, I really resent when other people tell me what I need, or don't need.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Cubicle--You are a lot better at de-cluttering than I am. I read your blog for inspiration.

@sallymandy--I will remember that motto--great!

@Duchesse--Re your last sentence. You are so right about that. "Your Money or Your Life" does tend a bit to the hair shirt side of things. I love that book though.

Imogen Lamport said...

I think not wasting money on things you don't need or don't work for you is a great way of being frugal.

I've sold things on ebay and the like, now I just give them to a friend who sells them for me and takes a percentage.

Funny about Money said...

Good essay!

IMHO, those summer courses should be reserved for adjunct faculty, who really need the money! Given my adoration for teaching freshman comp, I'm figuring every $2,400 I make on side income is a section I won't have to teach. :-D

What I don't buy is tchochkies. Partly that's a matter of taste: I don't care for stuff laying around the tabletops and bookcases. Partly it's convenience: who needs to dust all that junk? I limit the decorator items to a few pieces of relatively affordable nice stuff (three tiny Hopi pots, for example) or to things that perform a real function (lamps). Makes it a lot easier to clean house!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Imogen--Great idea! My stuff isn't nice enough to merit that treatment.

@Funny--So true. I don't think many people know how absolutely vertical a hierarchy academics is--matched only by the military, I suppose.