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Join me in a quest to live comfortably and frugally on limited resources.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Frugality: What Does it Mean to You?

I’ve been thinking a lot about frugal living, as I do frequently in my attempt to find better ways to save money. The grocery bill is the area of the budget most easy to control. Buying in bulk, stockpiling, cooking from scratch and shopping sales are fairly easy ways to save cash. These money-saving strategies weigh on my conscience because they are in conflict with my desire to buy locally and eat wholesome food. The word frugal means “characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources” according to my Webster’s dictionary. It is from the Latin word frugalis which means “worthy/honest/deserving;  thrifty/frugal/simple; temperate/sober; of vegetables” according to the JM Latin-English dictionary.

Reflecting upon these definitions, I find that I can justify the greater expense of things such as locally produced milk by applying the English and Latin definitions of “frugal” and expanding the scope of the application. Milk from the small, local dairy will cost me more money, but I cannot think of a family more “worthy, honest or deserving” than the farm family that produces, bottles and sells this milk. Their milk is “simple”. It is not homogenized and comes in glass bottles that are returned to be refilled rather than going through a recycling process. The $2 deposit insures that the bottles do not end up in the landfill or recycling bin. My family has some concerns about the impact of plastic packaging on health and milk in glass bottles seems “safer” to us. Because the milk is local, there is less fossil fuel consumption in getting the product to market than there is with the milk coming from a more distant Spartan warehouse. There is also less pollution from truck exhaust. By spending more money on local milk we are preserving our health, reducing the fuel consumption and emissions, contributing to the support of our neighbor and keeping our money in our local economy. As an added bonus, we think Cream Cup Dairy milk tastes better.
We eat a lot of organic yogurt because the few ingredients it is made from are familiar ones that we can pronounce. It is quite expensive. I think I can offset the extra milk expense by making yogurt from this milk. As an additional benefit, it can be made and stored in glass containers.
Many people around us are suffering the economic woes of unemployment or underemployment, and there is no room in their budgets for expensive food. What does “frugality” mean to you?

2 comments:

  1. Frugal living to me is utilizing the things around me to the best ability, buying in bulk to save and prepare for the possibilities of disaster (we live in an earthquake/tsunami area tha is long overdue). I make homemade laundry soap which uses simple ingredients, reuses containers (thereby being "green"), I pick up old produce from local food banks for my chickens, saving on chicken feed, we now have a greenhouse for starting seeds and raising greens, etc. Frugality is using basic common sense about spending money, not necessarily buying the cheapest thing.

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  2. Exactly, Ruth! The cheapest thing isn't always the most frugal use of our resources.

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