Friday, October 10, 2008

Where Do You Fit in the Frugal Universe?

As more people have begun to look for ways to save money, I've been pondering the many faces of frugality. I've even heard someone besides myself tell their kids, "no, we can't afford that." Some use coupons, some bargain hunt, and some just quietly cut down on the nonessentials. A few I've encountered are just ignoring everything and spending just like always.

Then there are those who go for pure function in their frugality. You wear what's warm regardless of how it looks, you find new uses for what you have (asthetics be damned), you eat what you grow, you get really creative with pantry staples and if you don't have it and can't afford it you do without.

I was trying to figure out where I personally fit in these categories, that exist only in my head I should mention! It seems we're closest to the pure function folk. After all, I spent a part of yesterday cutting out boxer short pattern pieces from my husband's old shirts. But then again, I'm not a fan of going out of the house looking like I'm wearing scraps from the rag bin. If that sounds as ineloquent to you as it does to me, I apologize.

Perhaps what I'm trying to express is, in addition to being vegan and frugal, I'm just a regular suburban mom and wife. I slide between both communities, because let's face it, they don't always comingle, even in a college town like the one I live in. I think I do a pretty good job blending in either community and I think, for me, that's the best way to spread the frugal veggie word, as it were.

People see me as that slightly odd, eclectic mom. You know, the one who knits and sews at swim meets and practices. I'm that one who's always making something. I'm also that one who always packs a cooler full of vegetarian food for swim meets because we don't eat hotdogs. (People are always shocked that we don't eat hotdogs. They are the armpit of meats in my opinion.) Believe me, I don't fall below the radar at all, but then again, I look very average.
No one is going to pick me out in a crowd as someone who shops in a thrift store or makes/remodels some of her own clothes.

I think that's the crux of what I'm trying to say. Too many people I meet think that being frugal and reusing everything available to you means you're going to be wearing something that looks like the scarf in this link. I guess my goal in life is to show people that's one option but it's not much harder to blend if that's your personal preference. I enjoy the challenge of making things look like their store-bought counterparts or better.

What about those times when my project is a bust? I try to look at early attempts at a particular project like the first pancakes off a griddle. They might look ugly, but they still taste good and you won't be hungry after you eat them. My first attempts at dishcloths were ghastly, but they still cleaned dishes and later dishcloths were much better. My first hats were a little too big, but they still kept my sons' heads warm. My first boxers had one panel of fabric cut out backwards but it didn't stop Kyle from wearing them proudly (he even asked me to bring them to the hospital when he was allowed to wear his own clothes.) Ask yourself honestly, are the flaws that you see in your own projects even visible to others?

I think the fear of trying something new can be debilitating. This is where the support of our internet community is such a benefit. I know if I can do this stuff, you can too. Why not share some of your goals or pictures of some of your finished projects? What are you doing or planning to do to be more frugal this winter? Do you have a great link to share? Come on and share, you might be somebody elses next great resource.

And before you leave, go visit Ruthie's blog and check out the great article she posted. Now I'm off to cut more boxers...


Anonymous said...

I have to admit that even though I am an avid reader of your blog Katie, for both ideas and inspiration, I am not such a great example of living a frugal lifestyle. Here's a list off the top of my head of ways I am trying to simplifiy and economize: I'm still wearing clothes from 20 years ago (luckily I have a pretty speedy metabolism and do exercise regularly so they still fit); using fluffy kitchen towels instead of paper towels (they don't take up any more space than usual in wash) for blotting/drying washed fruit & vegetables; keeping the house thermastat low and wearing a sweater; never buying unneccessary consumer items like air freshener/swifter mops/ etc--(have even given up shaving cream for my legs and just use soap);eating low on the food chain (not 100% vegetarian/vegan,but close to); and trying things like making your boxer shorts(I used an old flowery pillow case to make myself some pj bottoms). Thanks for your blog--it's my fav!

Ruthie said...

Katie ~

I've been thinking of this lately, too. I am obviously not a suburban momma, but more of a quirky urban vegan. But then again I'm not because of my gardening obsession, which most urbanites don't partake in, and the fact that most people who live in the city are a lot more willing to pay $20 for dinner or $300,000 for a house, while I am not.

I sometimes feel like a fit in, but not quite. I feel like the most likely place I fit in is visiting your blog. :o)

Winter plans: work with our budget to build up our savings again, recycle more yarn and crafty things from the thrift store (I loved the post on recycled wool sweaters from threadbanger), put a break on the eating out, and figure out what I want for our future. I feel like lacking a goal for the future is impairing us from making the right decisions all of the time.

Thanks for being my online bud.

Taradactyl in a Modern World said...

Gosh I don't fit in with the other suburban moms I know much at all. I get frustrated talking to women who have claimed bankrupcy a few years ago and are still running around with expensive Iphones and ordering pizza instead of cooking and driving big gas guzzlers and buying expensive halloween costumes they will wear once...etc etc etc.

Like you, I also love the internet for finding women like you Katie who I can not only relate to, but who inspire me so.

Right now I'm making my own cloth mama pads out of organic cotton batting bought with a coupon from Joanne's and cotton flannel purchased at (gasp) Walmart for $1 a yard. I'm tweeking a pattern from online with hopes that I will no longer be filling the landfill with 'sposie pads and filling the pad companies pockets with my hard earned money.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Katie said...

Thanks Susan! I think your ideas are great.

Ruthie, thanks for being my online bud as well. It's so great knowing that there's someone who gets it, instantly, even if she does live all the way across the country in Texas!

Tara (it is Tara isn't it or am I just totally losing my mind this morning??) I agree, how do those women sleep as they continue to spend more and more. I know more people like that than I care to mention.

I think your homemade 'sposies sound awesome.