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Be thrifty and frugal, not scungy and stingy!

I am accused of being tight by people because I don’t waste money in the same way they do – this doesn’t worry me but actually being stingy, scungy, whatever is not good for anyone.

I am talking about little or big things you can do which may impact negatively on other people’s lives or your own, involves fraud, setting a bad example for your children or is just plain stealing.

You often see streaks of this behaviour in the newly frugal, filling up their pockets with sugar sachets beyond their needs, filling rooms with egg cartons for reuse (but they somehow never are used for anything- great for lighting wood heaters though!) and signing up for as many samples of everything they can knowing full well the samples will go to waste and they were never interested in the product in the first place.

It’s easy to fall into when you start trying to save money with zeal! This doesn’t sit well with my ideology. I am frugal and thrifty but I believe in the essential abundance of the universe (bear with me here – not going too hippy on you I promise), these actions come from a different place. One of believing that you have to grab everything you can or someone else will get it and that there isn’t enough for everyone. Your thrift and frugality should sit well in your life. It should fulfill a genuine want or need you have and when done it should enhance your life and not detract from other people’s (except when those other people want you to spend money in an unwise way and they directly benefit from it!).

Example: Taking lots of samples of products you will never buy and don’t even want because they are free! The result: company stops giving samples for those genuinely interested as it costs too much money and does not result in an increase if sales. This is bad for other people who are genuinely interested in the product and would like a sample and bad for the company who loses money and doesn’t make any extra. It is also bad for the environment when you just throw the pointless samples away.

Example: Taking the TV guide from the office newspaper after checking with the administration manager. Result: You get a TV guide which no one else was going to use and was just going to be recycled, you save money on not buying the paper you weren’t interested in and there is one less paper to deal with waste wise. No obvious negative effect.

There are lots of other examples but I just wanted to get you thinking, being stingy is a negative thing but being frugal can be a life-enhancing one, growing your own vegies is frugal and life enhancing, stealing your neighbour’s paper first thing in the morning (or their Meals on Wheels which I have heard of!) is not – it is stingy and wrong … I’d bet you can think of some more pertinent and subtle examples (that don’t involve newspapers?).

Updated May 2014

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