Many years ago now, I bought and read The Complete Tightwad Gazette. It was an interesting read, and although many of her specific articles did not apply to my family, the overall philosophy was both intriguing and helpful. These days, I find much of the book outdated. For one thing, technology has made huge advancements, especially when it relates to money saving and making. Also, as I’ve said before, most of these kinds of books are meant for families with children at home and so their use and advice for retirees and adult singles is limited.
One of the articles I truly appreciated at the time was a comparison of passive and active frugality, if you will. I would also add a third category, “investment frugality” for lack of a better term. This would include the short term investments we make for long term financial gain or savings. Replacing windows, getting an energy saver appliance, or switching out all the light bulbs come to mind. It does seem to me that so called active frugality is the one that scares people away from anything approaching a frugal lifestyle the most.
I personally tend to talk and write the most about active frugality, or things that can be done. This is partly because I have already invested in most of those money saving things or else I simply don’t need them at this point in my life. Also, I tend to assume that passive frugality is understood. Making my own gifts, cooking from scratch, looking for deals are all things I actively do in order to save money. I do these things because for the most part I enjoy them, and because the results apply to things and people I care about. Therefore, I’m willing to expend the effort.
On the other hand, I certainly could not live on my income were it not for the things I simply don’t do. These are the things I don’t expect financial resources for. Just as I simplify my life in terms of possessions and commitments, I simplify in terms of financial expenditures. I declutter my possessions in order to free up time and effort for the things I enjoy. I declutter my finances in order to free up cash for the same reason.
Some of the things I don’t do are because of my lifestyle. Some of them are things I might have done in another life (working,with kids at home) but don’t have to do now. A few of my “don’t dos” are things that I consciously stopped doing in order to be able to do other things. I don’t eat fast food, ever, even when I’m out and about. As a matter of fact I never eat out lunch (unlike when I was working). I don’t shop at the mall. I don’t buy fiction. I don’t go to the dry cleaner’s. I don’t make small trips to the store (this is an energy and time saver as well). I don’t replace something unless its broken (unless its my sewing machine!!). Since I’m not technologically gifted, I don’t buy new technology, ever, no matter what.
In order to live richly and enjoy my retirement life on a pension, it’s necessary for me to have a balance between the various kinds of frugality. The same is probably true for you as well.