In comparison with most people we know, we are paupers, really. We have probably 886 square feet to live in, no central a/c (in the low desert, no less!), one used SUV (we’ve never bought a new car), and our home is quite modest. We do have computers, televisions, cell phones, video game systems and satellite tv, but even still, we don’t have the latest and greatest of anything, just enough to keep up with the rest of the world’s technology. It’s just always been this way. It’s easy to look at everyone else’s things and think, “We have so much less than everyone else, how can we scale back even more??”
I am the first person to tell you that I can’t stand to be uncomfortable, or to not have things “just so”, even if my “just so” is a little more modest than others’ “just so”. I still like to have an element of control over what my surroundings are like, what I use, etc. I’m sure this is normal for most people. However, I’m learning a lot by really thinking about what my real needs are. Do I really need to sweeten my coffee or can I stand save a little money (and pounds!) by skipping it? Do I really need to have the temperature of my home a nice 72 degrees, or can I keep it at 75 (or higher)? Do I really need the convenience of prepackaged ready-made food and other items, or can I fit it into my schedule to make most things homemade (including canning/freezing/drying my own fruits/veggies, making my own sodas, bread, tortillas, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, homemade cleaners, massage oils, aromatherapy blends, herbal remedies/tinctures/teas, etc. etc. etc.)?
Perhaps these are things you have thought about before and regularly do for your household. I have thought about for years, only with little action behind it. As I said before, I have always felt that we were much more frugal than many people needed to be so a little splurge here and there was my entitlement. I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve changed my mind. Entitlement is not an attitude for today, especially in this economy.
Please don’t read me wrong—I still want certain things (one of these days I’ll have to share the story about when we were deciding on whether to get text messaging or not—yeesh!), but all in all I think differently about my purchases. Whatever I decide to purchase must be reasonably priced (not top of the line), but I’m willing to pay a little more so I never need to buy “this item” again. I want it to last for life (scaling back my desire to consume, consume, consume with bigger and better next time I buy one of these particular items). To me, that’s frugal, and it’s going to keep a lifetime of our share of “these items” out of the landfill. I feel good about that. I also look at whether it can be operated by “man power” versus electricity (scaling back my desire for comfort). If it’s sole source of energy comes from me (or one of our family members), the sun, or some other free source of power, it’s likely that if the grid falls, we’ll still be able to accomplish our regular tasks; PLUS it will save us money on our electric bill now. To me, this is frugal, even if the item costs a little more than one that plugs in. Are you getting the idea?
I love this idea. It’s new, it’s different. However, it is one idea that when we really sit and think about it, there is a cost to count. How much extra time will I need to grind my grain by hand, versus by electric grain mill? How much more will I need to spend on something that will last forever? Lots to think about.
Since we’re pretty new at all this, I’ll try to remember to keep you posted on other little changes that we are making, but for now, suffice it to say that we are venturing on a new path, and praise God He is our guide.