Have you ever noticed how frugal people are all frugal in their own specific way? I’m not talking about the extreme frugalists who use the same toothbrush for twenty years and peel apart each square of toilet paper before use. I mean those people who like to tell others that they are good with money and don’t make spur-of-the-moment purchases ever.
People like me. Ok, I actually don’t tell people about my excellent money habits very much, but I think about telling them. I don’t, though. I swear. Hardly ever. I may be obnoxious in my thoughts, but rarely am in person.
So this morning I was thinking about the examples I’d give people of my own frugality if the topic were ever to come up in conversation, and I had a moment of self-reflection. Am I really that frugal? Do I really have the qualifications necessary to announce to others that I am a frugal person?
Let’s examine the evidence. Whenever I experience a situation where money could be spent, I have a conversation with myself. Do I really need the-thing-that-costs-money, or is just a case of wanting it? Here are some recent examples:
1. Every single pair of jeans I own has holes at the top corners of the back pockets.
Me: Do you really need new jeans?
Me: No. I can wear my one pair of black underwear with the jeans and the long T-shirts that I usually save for sleeping.
2. My central heat is broken and this is the coldest winter in north Florida in years.
Me: Do you really need to get the heat fixed?
Me: No. This is Florida for chrissake. Grow some balls and bundle up.
Hmm…seems like I’m pretty frugal. But wait, there is more evidence that should come to light:
3. I was at Fresh Market and saw a tiny container of cheese for $12.
Me: Do you really need that cheese?
Me: Yes. It has cow, goat, and sheep milk in it.
4. I pass the wine section at Publix.
Me: Do you really nee —
Me: Yes. Yes I do.
Well. The picture looks a little different now.
I am not necessarily frugal. What I am is a person who likes to spend money on luxuries. I will go without heat in order to be able to afford wine and cheese.
And so when my sister sent me an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday, did I spend that money on shampoo? Books for school? New pants to wear when I teach?
No. No I did not.
I spent it on a set of colorful pens and a 2lb bag of soy wax. Now I can make candles and write about it in twelve pretty colors. That’s luxury.