What is ‘monetary resourcefulness’?
I was going to title this post “The Benefits of Frugality”, but frugal is a word that carries negative connotations, with synonyms like stingy, tightwad, parsimonious, meager, and abstemious…words associated with puritanism, coldness, self-denial, and abstinence…not words you’d want to link to a new life of freedom and exploration. True, it also has synonyms like canny, unwasteful, careful, and discreet, but the negative ones seem heavier. Merriam-Webster is a bit kinder, defining frugal as “careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to” or “using money and resources carefully and not wastefully.” These definitions at least don’t imply some flaw in a person’s character for shopping for bargains and using money wisely. When you look at the antonyms for frugal, you start to feel better about the word: careless, wasteful, incautious, spendthrift. We definitely don’t want to be any of those things.
So, I titled the article with ‘monetary resourcefulness’, which is “being resourceful with money”, even though it is not really as accurate a phrase. Resourcefulness is defined as “having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.” Not really a perfect fit, when what we really mean is being frugal. In any case, hopefully by talking about it, maybe I have defused the negative connotations of frugality and thriftiness enough to launch into the topic.
Saving money is the goal
Most of what this website is about is how to live a fun, interesting, exciting life on the income that is available to you, or will be available to you. For some of you this may not be an issue…you have invested and saved diligently and have a good nest egg heading toward your retirement years. But for many of you, perhaps most of you, you are not in a financial situation where you are ready to retire…maybe not for quite a few years. For some of you, it might not be possible for you to retire at all in the U.S. on the funds you will have available at your normal retirement age. But you still want it to happen. There are only two ways to make that happen or happen quicker…either earn more money, or lower your cost of living. One way you can lower your cost of living is by being more resourceful and learning to obtain all the things you need for less money. The other way to lower your cost of living is to move to a place where things cost less. Perhaps you are several years away from being able to start a semi-retirement lifestyle; you need to pay off debts or build up savings before you can begin. If that’s the case, you can benefit from the posts on this site about how to buy goods and services and do things for less money, so you have more money to pay off debts or put more money into savings. If you are at retirement age and you want to explore moving to a lower cost country to accomplish a lower cost retirement lifestyle, there are other posts on this site to help you as well.
Just as good…or better
Ger is the frugality expert in our house. She is not into scrimping. She likes good quality food, good quality clothes, and she likes not overpaying for things. The phrase you will often hear her saying is “just as good as, or better”. When saving money, you should still strive to have food, clothing, products, services, “just as good as, or better” than the more expensive alternatives. Sometimes it pays to pay more for some things, but most times it doesn’t. You don’t always get what you pay for, and quality and price do not always track together.
Adopting a frugal mindset
One of the biggest obstacles to adopting frugality in your daily life is shame. Many people equate buying second-hand or used items or shopping with coupons or in discount stores to save money with “being less”. They do this because they have been conditioned to think this way. In our society, particularly in the U.S. where self-worth is often tied to how much you earn and how much you have, this attitude is prevalent. Having an expensive new car or a house too big for your needs is a measure of your success, regardless whether you need or can afford them. The antidote to this mindset is to start practicing frugality and discover that usually the clothes, or food, or other items you bought cheaply are “just as good, or better” than those you could have spent a lot more to buy. When Ger arrived at her job wearing a designer outfit she bought for $10 in a thrift store she would get just as many compliments as if she’d spent the hundreds of dollars that the outfit would have cost retail.
Frugality takes time
The other big obstacle to frugality is laziness. It almost always takes more time and effort to find bargains and take advantage of them. I often encounter people who shop at the same high priced grocery store near their home and pay much more than we do for the same products at the cheaper grocery store which is a bit farther to drive to, or to take the effort to check out the weekly ads and pull out the discount coupons before they go to the store, or to go online and do price comparisons before going out shopping to find the best deals on the items they are shopping for.
On this site, Ger will be posting a lot of articles on ways she has found to save money on everything we purchase to live our lives. We hope you find these posts entertaining and useful. These posts will be titled “Money Saving Tip: <whatever it’s about>”.