It is my honor to host this week's Festival of Frugality. As I stated in my last post, the “Festival of Frugality” is a “blog carnival” in which various Internet authors volunteer to host a page consisting of blog posts and articles addressing a particular topic related to frugal living. (Their link is also on my sidebar, under the title “Other Wells.”) Many bloggers submitted articles for this week's Festival, and I have selected a few of these to be showcased on this week's installment of The Well Run Dry.
But I thought I'd begin first with a general discussion of frugality, which is defined in Merriam-Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary as “economy in the use of resources.” In other words, being frugal is using resources wisely, without waste. Frugality is especially relevant to people living in an environment in which resources are scarce or becoming scarce, in an economy in which average people have less and less access to those resources.
I suppose there are two views of frugality. One view sees frugality as part of a strategy of building earthly wealth so that those who are frugal now may one day no longer need frugality, because they have become rich. Those who follow this way save their money so that they can “invest” it in strategies which promise riches later. But those who have the other view see the problems now being faced by our present world – declining availability of resources and resource wars, climate change, environmental degradation, and enslavement and exploitation of poor people in order to support economic growth. Those who see these things also see how greed and consumerism are at the root of these problems, and this is what moves them to a frugal lifestyle. For them, frugality consists of a readjustment to a righteous and proper view of the world, a reality-based view, a determination to live lightly on the earth while building a meaningful existence on a foundation other than constantly getting “stuff.”
I hold the second view of frugality. To me, consumerism is evil and enslaving – and a dead end. The well's run dry and it's time for thirsty plants to learn to thrive on much less water. The best and most truthful voices in the blogosphere are saying the same thing, and are speaking with great clarity of the breakdown of our present consumerist system. Below I have highlighted some posts from a few of these bloggers:
Polly Poorhouse presents Economic
Crunch: Wrapping for Less posted at Economic Crunch, dedicated to wrapping gifts inexpensively and ecologically. (Also, while you're at it, please read the post titled, “Clergy and Town Officials Help Homeowners At Risk” from the same blog. Although Polly did not submit this article for the present Festival of Frugality, it is a good example of community and neighborhood responses to hard times. Way to go, Polly! )
Miss M presents K.I.S.S. – Keep it Simple, Small posted at M is for Money. (Miss M's submission is especially interesting to me because her house is about the same size as mine. People don't need McMansions to be happy. As an example, in the book “Education of a Wandering Man” by Louis L'Amour, there is a picture of the house in which he grew up – along with six siblings!)
Lisa Spinelli presents Eating Healthy Without Being Wealthy: Sweet Potatoes and Yams posted at Greener Pastures. (Lisa is another blogger who seems to really “get” the brokenness of our present system. Her post on healthy eating on a budget is timely.)
Jim presents Please Don’t Give High Upkeep Gifts posted at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. (Jim takes a well-deserved poke at the high maintenance “gifts” marketed so often nowadays – gifts which frequently require expensive periodic upgrades.)
Super Saver presents Pre-Paid Phones Save Money posted at My Wealth Builder. (Super Saver brings up an important point. We have been conditioned to think that we “need” cell phones. Cellular providers use this “need” to keep us on a treadmill of constant and ever-more-expensive upgrades. But there are cheaper ways to stay connected for those who actually need a cell phone.)
mbhunter presents Tips for the coming decade of frugality posted at Mighty Bargain Hunter. (Mighty Bargain Hunter is another person who “gets” the difficulty of the times we are now facing. Check out his “tips” and feel free to come up with some of your own also!)
Again, I want to praise these bloggers and the offerings they have posted this week. They are a welcome slice of reality.
Other blogs deserve honorable mention, among which are these:
Jeff Rose presents 3 Ways To Become Recession Proof posted at Good Financial Cents. (Disclosure: Jeff is a certified financial planner and writes his blog as a means of generating income, yet this post is a bit of good free advice – especially the part about developing a diverse skill set.)
Curt presents 6 Things To Consider Before Refinancing posted at PennyJobs.com. (The Federal Reserve is trying to “stimulate” the American economy by attempting to get people to start taking on debt again. One strategy used by the Fed is lowering interest rates on borrowing. For those thinking of refinancing their mortgages, Curt's article lists some potential pitfalls of refinancing.)
Tristan presents Christmas Consumerism posted at Find Financial Freedom. (Tristan rightfully questions the sanity or wisdom of indulging in a holiday spending binge at this shaky time in our economy.)
Credit Card Assist presents How to Tell Your Credit Card Company You Can't Pay posted at Credit Cards Blog. (Here's some advice for those who are finding that their own personal wells have run dry.)
David presents The cost of carelessness - it’s the little things that kill posted at Pimp Your Finances. (Be careful in your financial dealings with large, powerful creditors. They are carefully trying to get every last penny from you.)
Carson Brackney presents Shhhh...It's Really a Bankruptcy; Misleading Sales Pitches Gain Traction in a Weak Economy posted at Personal Finance Analyst. (A timely warning against falling for scams during our present economic difficulty.)
Lastly, here's a post that contains general insights on the people who caused our present economic mess: