Think frugal thoughts

By Jeff Bagdigian

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I used to think that the people who attempted to live frugally were mildly masochistic. However, the more I read about the movement, the more I begin to realize that these people aren’t deprived; they are actually living a lifestyle that in many ways surpasses my own. Somebody who lives frugally isn’t some sad individual wearing a burlap sack jacket in a house with the lights off, they are just people who live within their means, which is admirable in every regard.

MCT

MCT

Living a frugal life is not about denying yourself the food you love, the company of friends or the enjoyment of music, movies or literature; it is a lifestyle that emphasizes being realistic with one’s spending, which I feel is the key to living a sustainable lifestyle.

Think about it. Instead of entertaining yourself with something expensive, try delegating some of your free time to learning something new and useful. How about cooking? Instead of going out to eat, learn how to cook and make a restaurant-quality meal at home. Invite people over and you can duplicate the experience you would have had without duplicating the bill. And while you’re at it, live off of those leftovers for the week, assuming your friends left any.

For those of you that read extensively, go to the library instead of buying a new book. Using the library was a radical concept for me at first, but I ended up saving a few hundred bucks this summer as a result. I also enjoyed the Blu-ray selection they had. All of that content is free and of the highest quality.

Living frugally highlights the things in life that really matter. When the power outages of “Snowtober” were upon us, and my original Halloween plans were compromised, I still managed to have a fantastic time just talking to my friends in the pitch-black dorms. No Internet, no TV, no radio — it really doesn’t get more frugal than that. It was just like being a kid again and running outside, when fun was a backyard full of snow and a sled. Living frugally can teach that the things that matter aren’t the things you can buy (of course food and clothes still matter, but you get where I’m coming from). I feel that living a frugal life will make people focus not on what they own, but more on their relationships with those around them. New stuff is entertaining for a while, but people are always a lot of fun. Spend more time focusing on them.

It’ll be tough to make the switch. I, like everyone else, am addicted to spending and consuming. I mean, who doesn’t like buying a new TV or the latest video game (Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Nov. 11, anyone excited? I am!) or new clothes? New stuff is awesome! But often we spend too much of our paycheck before we even deposit it, which leads to other problems. For example, what happens when something comes up requiring funds that we don’t have? Here is where living frugally pays off. You’ll have the money. It’s possible to have fun on a budget, and with budgeting, finances don’t have to be scary.

By living a frugal way of life, a life that is every bit as enjoyable as the one you live now (if not more so), people can maintain a sustainable lifestyle. With the ever-present threat of climate change looming, as well as rising energy costs, people will need to alter their lifestyle to one that can be maintained without dire environmental consequences. Living a frugal life can be a solution. Instead of buying produce from the supermarket, try growing your own fruits and vegetables when possible. If not, buy produce from a local farmers’ market. These are both excellent ways to get cheaper produce that tastes great and lowers your environmental footprint.

I understand the trepidation people feel when they contemplate radically altering the way they live. I too think about what the future will be like and how I will fit into it. Life will be different, but that change can be a positive one. It is possible to live within your means and still have a fulfilling lifestyle; it’ll just take a bit of work.

Jeffrey Bagdigian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]