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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is Frugality Trivial? A Welcome Back to Chance

Chance, one of my first and still one of my best blogfriends, has returned from her bout with chemotherapy and surgery. So I will now cross one of my two worry checking tasks off my list. Thankfully.

Whenever I consider all the dread and dire events, some in the big world and some in my little world, I wonder: Is frugality too too trivial?

I asked that very question in one of my first posts, which probably remains unread. As I recall, Mr. FS responded to my query with "Life is trivial." I think he got that answer from his fave writer Marcel Proust, though I'm sure Proust's version was more lengthy, roundabout, and, of course, in French.

I don't know what Chance would say. I don't know if she will be continuing her blog as it was. I think frugality is very important and NOT trivial for people mired in debt or just not getting what they want out of their financial life. I do know that it increases the quality of my life, both in material terms and in the less quantifiable but more important area of stress.

I don't really have to be frugal anymore. That's in part because it's a habit, but also because my house is paid off and my children's education taken care of. If I wanted to, I could enter the state of early retirement, IF I chose a much less costly lifestyle than I have now. I don't want to.

Still, I work away at my frugality and continue to save because it's fun and involves good stewardship of resources. I also think it's easier to be frugal than to deal with a sudden drop in income. It's a wonderful thing to be frugal by choice.

So, Readers, check out Chance's wonderful blog and tell me: do you think frugality is trival?


Duchesse said...

One person's frugal is another person's extravagant. Sometimes people tell me they are "only" going to vacation in Jamaica instead of their usual trip to Thailand, for example. It's relative to each person, though absolute skinflints do stand out.

Trivial is one of those loaded words of judgment, just like appropriate. There is rarely consensus, sometimes not even within the same family.

Duchesse said...

Wanted to add: I've found it healthier and less stressful to work less (and therefore earn less and spend less) than to work full time. Fortunately I work in a field where I can calibrate that fairly well.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--i do still worry whether I'm making the best use of my time and talents--hence the worry about engaging in trivial pursuits. I am in complete agreement w/ your second comment. That's why I've never taught in the summer, for instance. Those who can arrange their own schedules are indeed fortunate.

Shelley said...

Given that working full time often constitutes the second major use of most people's time, after sleeping and given that I know I a lot of people who would rather not work -- at least not at the current job that pays them the best, I don't see how frugality could be dismissed as trivial. It gives a person such a wider range of choices. Also, for those inclined to be environmentally minded, most frugal choices are in that direction, which can't be a bad thing.

For someone like Bill Gates, I expect frugality would be trivial. I don't happen to know him or anyone like him.

elke said...

It seems to me that frugality cannot be trivial, because it requires one to think, and to make decisions. Sometimes, other people or things are more important, so thrift takes second or third place to helping a friend, or to creating a wonderful, unique memory. Everyday frugality permits occasional lavishness.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--I agree, but I'm wondering where it fits into the life of a person who's had a brush with cancer. In other words, I'm wondering if I'm too obsessive.

@elke--I totally agree, esp with your last comment.