I’m finding myself increasingly using phrases (in my head) like “as I think back on my life” or “20 years ago, I was…” Twenty years ago, my life was already in the young-adult phase. You know the one– it when I did all the stupid stuff that I don’t regret but would never do again. Thank goodness things like cell phones, instagram, and the internet as we know it didn’t exist then.
Ok, so here’s my point. Twenty years ago, frugality meant that I was too poor to afford much besides ramen noodles for meals. Or I couldn’t go out clubbing with my friends unless there was free food involved. Frugality meant being glad that my friends didn’t know that many of my work clothes were hand-me-downs from family.
Frugality implied weakness.
I’m finding that my perspective on the concept has changed. Living where I do now, frugality has nothing to do with weakness or being financially impoverished. It means being prepared for whatever life throws at you, whenever it comes. Around here, people preserve food not because of some pop-culture doomsday-prepper mentality, but because home-preserved food tastes better than anything store-bought. People share in community recycling of household items, not for profit but because someone else in the area can probably find a use for the thing. Around here, trash-type recycling is free of charge, but if you can’t find a way to recycle it, then it costs money to have it destroyed — so you learn to use, reuse, and recycle everything possible.
Being frugal means having the strength to use resources wisely– all resources. It has everything to do with being a responsible member of the community. Either I’ve finally grown up or I’ve succumbed to the stereotypical “granola” mindset that I’ve been told characterizes where I live, but I find it immensely enjoyable to be frugal.