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She says that frugality is a form of environmentalism. I suppose that many frugal things can be good for the environment. But I find that devalues frugality. For example, thrift stores are now marketing themselves as being good for the environment. And that is true, it is like a form of recycling. But it seems that people are more comfortable saying they are doing something to help the environment than they are saying they are doing something to be frugal.

Of course on this site - and sites dedicated to frugality - people identify as being frugal. But it does not seem to be value held in high esteem in the general public. Certainly not in as high esteem as helping the environment.

I feel like there are a lot of people - myself included - who are secretly frugal. We are frugal but do not talk about it outside "safe" sites where we know people will react favorably.

Umm....okay moving on past sentence 2.

Point 1 is pretty self evident. Although to be honest, I browse online stores without buying things. Is that unusual? It is probably kind of a waste of time though.

Point 2 is pretty good. I assume they are not talking about sales on food. For example, maybe I do not need pasta since I have a couple boxes already. But I will still stock up if it is on sale.

Point 3. I have never really been into buying lots of clothes, so I can't really relate to this. As someone who makes stuff and alters stuff social media can be an influence. But not an influence to buy stuff - an influence to make my own. Although I would be more likely to look at stuff that people have made than off the rack stuff. I find a lot of off the rack stuff a little boring. I feel like products to buy are only a small part of social media. I am not that much into social media in general though.

Point 4. Get new friends? Really? How about not comparing your clothing to your friends clothing. As long as they don't make fun of my clothing, I do not see an issue. It is the same with other big purchases. For example, last year a friend of ours took a trip to Europe. It did not make me feel bad in anyway that my husband and I did not take a trip to Europe. And I never got the idea he looked down on us for not being as well traveled.

I am wondering about the bit "people who do not make you feel pressured to spend money in ways that make you uncomfortable." I don't think I have had that ever happen. But it feels like the writer may feel "pressured" to spend just because her friends have pricer clothes her.

But maybe she is talking about people going out together to places that are pricey?
 

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I guess item #1 could be better addressed as "boredom". If you're bored, you're more likely to do things you otherwise wouldn't.

Items 3 and 4 appear to be issues if you're easily influenced by others. I never got into 'fashion', probably because I have two older sisters who were/are more interested in clothing than I am. I'm not as frugal as I would like to be. I love my books and DVDs too much as well as prefer to support local vendors and artists.

Kathy, I browse online stores as well (mostly Barnes and Noble and The Great Courses) as well and don't buy anything. One thing I like about The Great Courses website is the Wish List. The courses can be expensive but there are regular as well as additional/extra sales. This also gives me the option of not buying/putting it back, so to speak, if I end up not wanting it.

One thing that struck me about this article is that it seemed to be fixated on "stuff". I think frugality is more about mindset than money.
 

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It's not just fashion. When we started camping again, I was active on at least 3 camping forums, which in turn were VERY active, loads of new posts every day, thousands of members. When people are raving about one product or another day after day, extolling its virtues, it can be hard not to be interested in at least looking into that product if it looked like something useful. I'll confess we fell for a few things, although we tended to find a cheap garage sale facsimile to test the theory first. While it was unfrugal to buy anything at all if the item turned out not to be worthwhile, it was frugal to buy cheap stuff to try out before investing in an item at retail price.

I guess I still do that, come to think of it. Our recent spate of camper mods are mostly the result of ideas found browsing online, such as the under counter storage I just added. I probably would not have thought of that on my own. In the strictest sense, it probably was not frugal in that we didn't need it to camp and in fact have camped 7 years in that camper without it, and it did cost us about $5. But OTOH, it's an extremely useful space in a camper always short of storage.

Other items I went looking for to solve a problem without really knowing what I needed. I found a homebrew swivel setup to keep dogs from being tangled and modified the original idea for our purpose for about $10. I don't know if it counts as unfrugal because it's the result of online browsing, or frugal because it's a relatively cheap solution to a problem that ruined our camping trips.

I feel like I'm frugal because I make a lot of things a lot of people would just buy so we can afford to buy things we can't make or buy secondhand.

I think I've given up trying to figure out what's covered under the strictest definition of frugal. It comes down to each person's definition in the end.
 

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I also think frugality is often defined by income. Frugality for us used to be a necessity for survival. Now it's optional. We can easily afford to spend $5 on the camper cabinet without a second thought, but there were times the idea of spending $5 required a lot of planning and deciding what else would have to be given up in order to spend that money.

I can recall going to Taco Bell for a 55 cent sandwich and splitting it because it was what we could afford then. Spending $5 on anything remotely like a luxury was definitely unfrugal at that point.
 

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I agree, SD - sometimes frugality is a survival mechanism for some one on a very limited budget/low income. Part of frugality, imo, is also about the 'make or make do' mindset, such as recognizing you have the ability to do camper modifications or projects without hiring someone else to do it for you or leaving it alone if you don't have the time, money, or ability to do the mods. And realizing a $5 item/hack can do the trick just as well as, if not better, than something that costs a lot more. If you're using social media to get DIY ideas, more power to you.

The article is good as far as it goes but it only seems to focus on not spending money as if that's all it takes to be frugal. It doesn't seem to touch on the DIY aspect of frugality unless I read it wrong. The article seems to be more for people with 'disposable' income and not people living from paycheck to paycheck.
 

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It seems like most of the articles I read on frugality are from people who are making pretty good money. No actual income is given (for most of them) but most of them seem to have an upper middle class vibe to me. I am imagining people that could put $1000 to $2000 a month in savings/retirement fund and still have more money left than most people on frugal village make.

The ones that do give incomes are people trying for FIRE - financial independence retire early. Simplified version: put a big chunk of your income into investments so you can retire early. The numbers they give are things like making $100,000, investing $40,000 living on $60,000. So "getting by" on more than most people in the US make. This could actually be pretty challenging if you live in a high cost of living area though.

I agree that most things do not mention making and repairing at all. I think part of it is time. If you work full time, you do not have a lot of spare time, especially if you work long hours or have a bad commute. Another has to do with a certain type of mindset. I hear people say - I don't know how to cook or I don't know how to sew. Umm...you can still learn. No one is born knowing how to do stuff. Many people, myself included, don't learn how to do stuff till they are adults.

I think there might be a bit of "don't want to" or "to much work" lying under all the "don't know hows."
 

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Good point, Kathy. I really do need to start looking for sewing classes. I doubt I would make my own clothing but it never hurts to learn the basics. Then again, I really want/need to learn handsewing since I have no space to put a sewing machine without doing some major decluttering. (Which I also need to do. lol)
 

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I've been thinking a lot about my mom lately, and how hard she worked. I don't know how she did it. She had polio at 25, which impacted her back, right arm, left leg, and caused pain and chronic fatigue. But she worked every waking moment, not just the housework but a huge garden, canning, baking, sewing, all the usual stuff women did. She also did things women usually didn't do, like remodeling the kitchen or building a wardrobe or digging out the dirt foundation of our basement and building forms so a concrete foundation could be poured. If she was too tired for the hard physical work, she would be sewing, knitting, or crocheting to bring in extra money. She also worked a full 40 hour week at an electronic parts factory. I never appreciated at the time how much she did for us and how hard it must have been. Most of my frugal ways and financial survival skills were learned from her.
 

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Ren, sewing does not have to take a lot of space. Most people don't get into it to the extent I do. But if you did it right, you could set yourself up with everything you would need to get started and store it all in a good sized rolling suitcase, available cheap at thrift stores. Or use a desk with large drawers. I picked up my last desk, which has 7 nice size drawers, for $20 at a garage sale. It would easily hold everything you'd need to start and allow the sewing machine to be left on top so it does not need to be set up each time.

Just some thoughts, and a little enabling. 🙂
 

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Sewing is useful for more things than making clothing. You can repair rips, unraveling hems and loose/missing buttons.

There are other useful tricks to mending clothing. You can put a (decorative) patch over a large hole. You can add trim to cover up a frayed edge.

All of these are pretty easy.

Slightly more advanced:

You can alter clothing that no longer fits you. You can alter hand me downs. If you find clothing at thrift store or deep discount that does not fit, you can tweak it to fit. Taking in is much easier than letting out. But you can sometimes a contrasting panel on each side to a too small piece.

A full skirt with a tight waistband can be enlarged by cutting off the waistband and making a new one.

A too short skirt can have a few inches added of contrasting fabric or wide trim.

A side slit that is too racy can be made more modest by sewing in a little triangle of fabric.

Just today I stumbled on something interesting called the "slow clothing movement." It has to do with making clothes, repairing them, buying from thrift stores, buying from local designers. Some interesting stuff. It gets into things like environmentalism and ethical choices (i.e. thinking about exploited factory workers). It also advocates buying clothing that is more expensive because it came from factories where people are paid better (i.e. not exploited).

This is another thing that could be (mostly) useful to people who are low income, but seems to be spearheaded by upper middle class women.

Another one of those can't do something money saving without dressing it with environmentalism and other causes.
 

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Thanks, SD. While getting a desk would be good, I'm pretty sure it would get buried under books and stuff and not used for actual sewing. It would still take quite a bit of decluttering. I also live on the 3rd floor and I'm not inclined to haul a desk up a couple of flights of stairs as we have no elevators in my building. Any of them really. But knowing how to sew is still a good skill to learn. My local Michaels offers classes, I believe. I do like hands-on learning since the teacher is there to help me recognize mistakes and basic troubleshooting. I kinda miss the concept of sewing "bees" where people got together to work on projects and share pointers. The one store I think that had something like that recently closed, although that was a yarn shop for knitters/crocheters. Meetup might have something in my area.

Your mom sounds like a strong woman, SD. Glad she passed on her knowledge. My mother taught me more office related skills. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I agree that most things do not mention making and repairing at all. I think part of it is time. If you work full time, you do not have a lot of spare time, especially if you work long hours or have a bad commute. Another has to do with a certain type of mindset. I hear people say - I don't know how to cook or I don't know how to sew. Umm...you can still learn. No one is born knowing how to do stuff. Many people, myself included, don't learn how to do stuff till they are adults.

I think there might be a bit of "don't want to" or "to much work" lying under all the "don't know hows."
Possibly, but I think there was an entire generation that was not taught how to cook or sew or do repairs because the economy was good and they thought they wouldn't need to do that. "Someone else" could be paid, if necessary. People wanted to learn computers, not sewing or car repair.

I agree with most of the points above, and think this article was aimed at younger folks who are just starting to figure out that buying restaurant dinners, new clothes, and "stuff" is not doing anything for them financially.
 

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CH - True. I think the focus for some time has been on job related skills (i.e., computers, etc.) and the more hands-on "crafty" skills weren't passed on as much. I've started to see ads and/or articles about advocating more trade schools and putting those kinds of jobs on the same par as office jobs. I remember having a conversation with someone in her early 30's who mentioned that she and a lot of her friends were now picking up quilting, crocheting and knitting.

But I think quite a number of millennials have already figured out that shopping for 'stuff' is not doing anything for them financially, given all the "millennials are destroying this brand or that brand" articles out there. Although I'm sure there's also a number of them who haven't.
 

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I think my generation was the last that was taught so-called homemaking skills. That's a direct result of the women's movement. As women started entering the work force in droves, they had less time for things like cooking and sewing. Something had to give, and in the end, people began to lose those skills or never learn them in the first place. They had more money, so could afford to throw away and replace clothing that needed repair instead of learning to repair it, or eat out or buy convenience foods instead of learning to cook. The women's revolution was absolutely necessary, but the loss of these skills by women en masse was an unintended consequence. The fact women who chose to learn stuff like sewing and cooking were often looked down on didn't help, and there were other factors like the shift in population from rural to urban areas didn't help either. Now, it's become trendy to learn crafts and cooking as hobbies, not as life skills.

When my daughter was in college, her roommate was shocked to find out our daughter knew how to bake cookies from scratch. The roommate did not know anyone else who could. I find that sad and pathetic.

Ren, it's the law of household geometry: Any horizontal surface is soon piled up! I can relate to a desktop full of books. Clutter creep is a constant problem. It sounds like suitcase storage might be a good choice for you if you decide to learn to sew. A suitcase takes much less room than a desk and then you're all packed and ready to go to sewing events.
 

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SD, I think you are right about the women's movement and traditional woman's skills. At least that has been my experience.

My husband is a much better cook than me. His mom was a feminist and thought that all her children - not just her daughter - should know how to cook. I like that attitude better. Let's stop thinking about cooking and clothing repair as women's things and start thinking about them as life skills for all humans.

I am not sure if money plays a factor. When I was in my early 20's I was very poor. I had lots of friends who were as well. They tended to be unemployed or only working part time. You would think that with lots of spare time and little money, they would be cooking most of their food from scratch. But most of them did not. One couple I knew ate hot dogs and canned beans every meal because they "could not afford anything else." We were both on food assistance - back then it was called food stamps, now I think it is called SNAP - which is a set amount per person. So we had the same amount to spend on food as them. But we were eating soups, curries, roast chicken, homemade biscuits, rice, baked potatoes, pasta, cornbread, banana bread, homemade cookies, etc.

I don't understand why the hot dogs every day couple did not make some effort to learn how to cook even a few cheap things.

I should add a disclaimer that some of my friends did actually know how to cook at least some food or learned how to cook things after a few years.
 

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I think the women's movement is only one part of it. Technology is another aspect of it. Why bother with the time and effort it takes to make something when you can just go to the store and pick up a replacement when X breaks or wears out. I know I'm guilty of that. On the other hand, I do appreciate not having to hand thread a loom to make cloth or spend all day canning during the summer and fall to make sure I have food in the pantry for winter. But I also appreciate the knowledge and skill that goes into doing those things and making sure they get passed on.

I'm part of ALHFAM (Association of Living History, Farming, and Agricultural Museums). They recently initiated a program/succession plan to pass on the skills and knowledge the current (and aging) members have to younger members who are/will replace them. One of the parts of this succession plan is to create online step-by-step videos that member museums and sites can access in case they need to and for training new hires.

Kathy, one thing my parents did was have my siblings and I alternate chores when we were kids. Each week we'd do one big chore (cooking dinner, clean the kitchen, clean out the dishwasher and set the table, etc.) and we'd alternate, including my brother. Granted, I'm not the best cook/chef out there but at least I learned the basics and I can read a basic recipe. I do know some basic sewing skills, enough to sew on a button or mend a rip on my clothing. But I'm sure I've forgotten a lot of stuff over the years because I didn't use the skills.

One thing I always got a kick out of when I was more into re-enacting than I am today is that some of the guys I knew would do some basic sewing repairs or knitting/lace making. I would enjoy watching them do their stuff and never made a big deal out of it because it was a guy doing it.
 

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I made all our kids cook and bake, too. And we made them all learn to drive in our little Cadillac, because it had a 5 speed on the floor. The girls and boys learned to use basic hand tools and were expected to help with chores and repairs around the place regardless of gender. Etc.
 

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I recently joined reddit (mostly as a lurker). They have a reddit for Frugal Female Fashion (Frugal Male Fashion is a separate reddit). Unfortunately, it is all about posting about when big sales are at various different stores. Occasionally there will be a post about where someone asks if any one is making something that looks like a specific piece of high end clothing, but at a more affordable price.

Nothing about thrift stores or consignments. Nothing about mending or alteration.

I googled frugal fashion and skimmed a few points. A few did mention thrift stores and consignment. None of them had anything that mentioned sewing of any kind. One did mention fabric tape for loose hems. There was a also some bits about fixing scuffed shoes.

The overlap between people who are sew and people who are frugal does not seem to be very big.

Most of the frugality stuff out there is just "buy less stuff" said 20 different ways. Also, how to buy stuff for less.

People who are making, repairing and buying used are seen as "too extreme" by many wanna be frugal people. It is common here, but we seem to be the exception.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Kathy, check out https://sewing.patternreview.com/ It is the best, most active group of people who sew clothing that I'm aware of. There are people there who thrift and remake garments.
 
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