Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The New Frugality, Part 1

tripsandfalls--"Breaking Up With My Mormon Missionaries" (mp3)
Twiggy Frostbite--"Messy Star (acoustic)" (mp3)

It would appear that as part of the "New Frugality" I'm going to have to give up my maid, my various pet services, my hair maintenance, and my lavish restaurant dinners. I may even have to make my own cupcakes. Damn.

Welcome to the New Frugality, wherein people are tightening their belts by giving up things that I never did in the first place.

It's got me thinking that Billy is right, there are two kinds of people in the world: 1) the rest of America, and 2) teachers. Heck, I'm even a teacher married to a lawyer, and I still don't do any of those things.

Who knew that trimming the fat out of the budget involves little more than taking a hard look at frivolousness? I thought I was doing my part by turning down the thermostat, putting off the expense of bifocals, and throwing the leftover chicken bones and carcass in a pot full of water and vegetables to make my own chicken stock.

That's not really what the New Frugality is about. According to the International Herald Tribune, 'As family incomes rose over the past 50 years, more and more members of the middle class could afford to outsource their household chores. No longer was it just the very rich who had "servants," said Jan de Vries, an economic historian at the University of California at Berkeley.' You can read all about it here.

That means my wife and I need to dehire the person who never came to clean our house each week.
Even worse, who knew that those unintended consequences were harming real people like me and you? Who knew that my baking cakes from scratch for every occasion was destroying someone's career.

Look, I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I even know a former student who opened a business where people could come and bathe their pets without the mess and hassle of doing it at home in the bathtub. Kind of like a car wash for dogs. And I wish him well. But let's face it, that's a level of convenience that borders on the silly and inconvenient and the un-"green."

I think I wanted something more from my frugality, I guess you might say. I wanted to defer key purchases and pay off my credit cards little by little over the course of the year and skip a trip to Gatlinburg and feel a sense of pride driving my 1995 Camry around the city and eventually into the ground.

Now, instead, I feel like an idiot. Nobody's talking about pinching pennies, and, apparently, few are talking about clipping coupons. Instead, they're talking about going an extra two weeks with their roots showing or forcing their pet to cope with its life sans its "canine life coach." Come morning, when I spray starch on my dress shirt before ironing it, I'll have to face myself in the mirror and acknowledge the guilt that will come from not having paid someone else to do it for me.

1 comment:

Billy said...

We could go to Fort O instead of New O... that would save money. And then, after we killed ourselves from the misery, that would save LOTS of money...