What does frugality mean to you?
I used to think that being frugal meant getting it cheap, getting a bargain. I loved Kmart for it’s price tags, I had ethical issues with spending my money there but sometimes I would cave and buy some cheap clothes, kinda proud I had nabbed myself a good bargain.
But as I get older I find my purchases are more considered, maybe KonMari has had an effect, as it has on many – of being mindful, considered and forward thinking in what we buy and keep in our home.
Cloth nappies was the catalyst for me personally, my discovery of cloth saw a change in my perception of the world. I clearly remember the first time I put a cloth nappy on my daughter 12 years ago and the feeling it gave me. I can now say without a doubt – that nappy sparked joy!
Discovering the benefits of cloth nappies began a journey of learning about frugality and simplicity and why it changes how we impact our world. We started big. Mat and I quit our full time jobs and moved to Tasmania, our income was suddenly cut by two thirds and we lived in a very small house. We had to make changes.
Over the years I have moved from frugality for the sake of saving money towards frugality for the sake of the environment. I look for reusable options to anything and everything. And in doing so have learnt the importance of quality. In this fast disposable world we seem to have forgotten about quality and making things last.
This brings me to what frugal means to me. I have to need it and if the thing’s design is thoughtful and useable (extra points if it can be used for a number of different purposes) and the quality is such that it will last, I am comfortable buying it.
I bought a reusable coffee cup a few years ago, it was cheap – $3 on clearance special, a bargain. The first time I used it I spilt hot coffee on myself and then when I did manage to take a sip it spurted up the little hole in the lid. So, my bargain buy to reduce rubbish resulted in me using a handful of paper towels to mop up the mess on my face, front and the coffee shop floor! Needless to say it is still sitting in the kitchen cupboard – hasn’t been used again. Recently I bought a ceramic version from a boutique, it was $30 and felt like an indulgence. But it has already paid for itself 3 times over in comparison to the cheapie (not to mention the 50c I have discounted off my coffees when I use it).
In addition to my decision to avoid single use, I have also made a choice to buy ethically and consider where my purchases have come from. At the end of the day, my thinking is this: It’s not a bargain if someone else is paying for it.
I will never meet that someone else, but I know he or she is out there working for next to nothing to get that $3 plastic coffee cup or $5 t-shirt in front of me. Once I consider who is responsible for the ‘bargain’ it suddenly doesn’t seem something to be proud of. Frugality for me is not just watching my dollars any more; it’s become a way of life.