Sometimes I've followed a blog or a website on frugal and simple living and over time,either by content, or reader comments it moves into a direction of cheap consumerism. On the other hand, I've stopped reading a few that also have taken on a tone of arrogance and self righteousness, almost a condemnation of anyone that spends their money in ways the writer would not. I'll never dive into the comments and bash the writer with my words, but will just stop reading if I'm not finding the posts of value more. The web page is theirs to write as they wish, and the beauty of the Internet is you can just stop reading at any time.
I write a wide variety of randomness in my blog, but at the essence is my journaling about trying to reframe my life- where I spend, money, time, and energy, in order to create space and opportunity for what is more meaningful. This is part frugality in terms of where I spend time and money, and part decluttering stuff and commitments that not only don't add to my sense of well being, but detract from it. I may have a different definition of frugality and clutter than someone else, but that's OK, because I'm not trying to define it for anyone but myself.
My story yesterday illustrates my definition of frugality. I didn't need to run into Target and buy clothes then and there. I could have turned around and driven home to change. The trade off of that choice would have been spending an additional 90 minutes on the road, and burning three gallons of gas. I would have missed a 9:00 meeting, so would have had to reschedule, wasting my and a colleagues time. I would have either needed to work more hours later, or use limited vacation time for those 90 minutes that I am planning for something else.
I didn't need to buy two new sweaters and could have just sucked it up and worn the pants with my current sweater. As I had not replaced any sweaters, a Minnesota essential, in several years, I actually had been browsing options for some time. It was good timing that both of these sweaters were in the right style and price range. I saved time and energy later looking for the exact thing when it was right in front of me that morning. Sure, I could have continued to look at other stores, including second hand, or do without, but these purchases will extend the life of other pieces in my wardrobe through the winter season.
Ironically, I saw multiple posts and Tweets all day under frugal sites blasting out the Target sweater sale, with responses like, "I just bought 10 and threw out all my old." For me, that moved from frugality to cheap consumerism, buying more because it's cheap, throwing out just because a new version was found. The coupon queens and kings featured with their closets and rooms of stockpiled stuff makes me queasy, not understanding how anyone needs a years supply of anything unless you live in the Alaska bush so I ignore.
In that same vein, I love the frugal living blogs that share ideas on creating delicious and more healthy alternatives to fast and chain restaurant meals, share up-cycling ideas and ways to extend the life of things instead of just throwing out and replacing, and inspiring stories of where they saved money in order to put towards their own debt, or future dreams. I am in awe by those that for hobby can figure out the layering of store deals, and get the two for ones on products that they and their family need such as personal care items, but also as ways to stretch what they are able to donate to food shelves. Toiletries and household supplies are not part of government food support help for families in need so these items are in dire need for donations. I'm not skilled at this kind of bargain hunting, so I write a check, hopefully stretching the amount because I have spent wisely in other areas of my budget. To me, it is "smart frugal" to watch how you spend your money, not to have more stuff, but in order to support families in your community. Healthy communities are a bargain.