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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Does the term "making do" depress you? Does the word "frugal"?

Ah, connotations! I am so happy about my new-to-me scarves, courtesy of my mother. Since I had previously fantasized about getting another Hermes scarf, I saw this as making do--in the sense of creative, economical, ecological: frugal in the best sense.

So I was surprised when Duchesse said this in a comment: "making do" so lifeless and limp. There is room in between for *pleasing*. I am referring to a certain level of "good enough" that has not a whiff of settling.

Hmmm. What she means by pleasing, I mean by making do. My scarves are more than pleasing, however: I like them a lot. In these last days of my winter break, I am finding lots of ways to make do: with some book shelves and with some slipcovers (more about these choices later, maybe).

The word frugal has a similar effect. When I teach Ben Franklin, who has a lot to say on frugality beyond the "penny saved, penny earned" saying, I find that students are repulsed by the word frugal. EWWW, they say, that means cheap No it doesn't.

So, as to the questions in my title, what do you think of these words?


StormySooner said...

"Frugal" to me doesn't have a negative connotation, but "making do" does. Like I'm settling, which is a bit depressing. Frugal equals smart, making my money go further and do more than people would typically think. Then again, that just may have to do with upbringing. Maybe it is a bad word in some households.

Duchesse said...

"Making do" is living with what is not the first choice, maybe second, (or even further down the list). It to me is not interchangeable with receiving used goods.

However, if one does "make do" via reciept of used or repurposed goods" "economical", yes. "Creative": sometimes, and with varying success.

"Ecological": only *sometimes* met re used items. A new item that has been produced, for example, with renewable resources and by workers decently paid, may be as (or even more) "ecological". For example, I was offered a used car as a gift. Total gas hog; declined.

If one receives a gift that fills a need and releases the desire for the original object, what a delight!

By "pleasing" I *do* mean one "likes them a lot". Sometimes the "making do" object grows on you so you like it more than the original object of desire. Nice!

To respond to your question, "making do" enervates me. The underlying message is, reduce my desires, my dreams, my aesthetic standards (and sometimes that's just what I'm served by doing- and in fact do.) But I feel like a woman importuned to accept a less than deeply-loved suitor.

"Frugal" has more complex connotation for me; I admire frugality and the term also has its limits. On the whole I admire the quality.

Revanche said...

Just discovered we had free Doctor Who and I'm watching The End of Time Part 1. They just said about Donna "She's making do."

Do you know, I find something sad, good, and even a hint of noble about it. And I think I always do.

It's a good thing to be able to do what you need to do with what you have.

It could be clever, it could be simple, it could be ingenious, it could be a quick twist of the wrist. But it's about what you make of it and I think making things work is pretty great.

Anonymous said...

Hm, in my early family life and for years as a single mother I "made do." It has left an indelible mark on me. Frugality is the result, an entire philosophy of life for me/us, as I never want to have to "make do" again.

Shelley said...

'Making do' to me means that life has thrown down a gauntlet: Let's see how well you can do without X. It's a challenge to use one's brain and creative talents to improve the quality of life. One may make do temporarily until X becomes available (or is saved up) or it may be a permanent arrangement. I'm thinking that 'making do' is a reality for most people. I agree with Revanche that there is a sad, a good and a noble aspect to making do.

For me, frugality has come to just mean careful, conscious choices. Towards that end, even 'cheap' has its place in the world.

I like any of these terms a lot better than: repossessed, evicted, welfare, bankrupt, hungry, cold, dependent.

Perhaps your students have never had a wolf in their neighbourhood, never mind one sniffing at the door.

metscan said...

I think of " making do " as a temporary period in one´s life. Making do only as long as you can " do better".
Up to a certain stage, frugality is fine. If it comes the motto of one´s life, then it´s bad.
Frugality can turn into extreme frugality, and as one gets older, one can even turn stingy.
I don´t like stingy people.

Marcela said...

None of them has a negative connotation for me. When I think about them, I think about a person who is practical and creative. I admire those who live happily with what they have and make the best of it.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Stormy-Thanks for stopping by and commenting! i guess I need a synonym for making do.

@Duchesse-Great analysis of the terms! Thanks.

@Revanche--Hmmm--good, sad, and noble. That does seem to be how most see it, so-as above--maybe I need a new word. I'm definitely not noble.

@Terri--Wow--great distinction. I had extreme poverty when I was in grad school, which left an indelible mark on my character--still, nothing like being a single parent.

@Shelley--I agree! My students have the nonchalance of youth--and the general nonchalance of Louisiana culture.

@metscan--i guess I am unusual--but I think frugality enables me to be MORE generous with others--and that includes with myself.


LPC said...

Frugal is fine, but I am unable to do without concomitant extravagance. Granted, extravagance that is within my means, but I don't get sufficient joy from frugality to compensate for the endorphins gained from the occasional (affordable) luxury.