Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Frugality backlash?

with 6 comments

I’ve come late to frugality and still struggle with it, but I do endorse the idea. And it’s especially important given the condition of the US economy and the somewhat bleak future prospects. As with shaving, the idea (it seems to me) is to turn a necessity into a pleasure and find ways to enjoy being frugal—which shouldn’t be difficult, since rather quickly frugality begins to return benefits in terms of psychological comfort, financial reserves, and the like.

At any rate, I was surprised to read this post in The Simple Dollar. Some of the comments seem to come from those who have embraced consumerism beyond what even a marketing manager could dream: people who have the idea that they have a “right” to buy whatever they want.

The issue is not one of rights, of course, but one of consequences.

Written by Leisureguy

28 September 2007 at 8:46 am

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Frugality is only a consequence of a much more fundamental shift….from having and doing…to being. Carl Jung believed that having and doing are very normal and psychologically age-appropriate in youth as we transition from the dependence on parents to our own independence. As we age, and death becomes a closer prospect, Jung believed that the Psyche subconsciously pushes us towards more “being” oriented pursuits (if we are attentive and listen to it). The biggest danger for modern humans is that it is possible to perpetually distract ourselves with more having and doing, ultimately neglecting the increasingly shrill demands of the Psyche for reconciliation with Death. Jung felt that ignoring the Psyche’s pleas and efforts to get our attention as we pass into late adulthood, is the foundation for most late-stage mental disorders, most notably depression and anxiety. I would suggest that it is no coincidence that legal psychotropic drugs are the second largest category of pharmaceuticals after cardiovasculars…and closing fast on the #1 spot.

    The rebellion against frugality is very likely driven by younger people, and frankly at their age and stage it is probably an appropriate response. When I hear and see older people stuck in that mode however, that’s when I really worry. In the end though, frugality is the result, not of an enforced “cure” to some perceived ill, but a result of genuinely wanting less because it leaves you more time and space for what really matters.



    28 September 2007 at 9:12 am

  2. Just a quick post script to my comment above:

    I would be equally troubled if I met a 20-something who wasn’t materially and activity driven. To quote the line from a Seinfeld episode: “Serenity now…insanity later!”



    28 September 2007 at 9:44 am

  3. Isn’t what you’re saying the other way around? That is: “Insanity now, serenity later”?



    28 September 2007 at 10:03 am

  4. And, BTW, I can readily understand that during the exploratory phase of our lives (up to, say, the mid-to-late 20’s), frugality is probably a mistake: one must take risks, try things, etc. But then when one settles into the life chosen, and certainly (I would think) by the mid-30’s, frugality becomes desirable. Just my opinion, of course.



    28 September 2007 at 10:05 am

  5. Its a very good question. Many people adopt frugality, as well as other “good” initiatives such as spirituality, compassion, etc., as some type of “pill” which they are taking to cure themselves of some perceived ethical or behavioral “ill”. This rarely works because either one is miserable because one isn’t really psychologically ready for the cure, or because the Ego co-opts such activities and makes them into a form of “spiritual materialism”, i.e. “See I’m better than you because I’m frugal and you are just a wasteful spendthrift”. It’s interesting that you also posted about the role of the unconscious as a principle “driver” of behavior. If what that posting says is true then a lot of behavior is not as intentional as we think, but driven by other levels of the Psyche. That’s why I say that genuine frugality (or compassion, or spirituality) flows from within, and is a symptom of the changes one is undergoing. That doesn’t mean that exploring such initiatives consciously in order to see if they fit and make you feel good is a waste of time and effort. To the contrary. But we must always be aware of the “payoff” we are getting from these pursuits…no point trading one “uniform” for another. This BTW, is a principle preoccupation of all monastics and spiritual pursuers…the constant self-monitoring of one’s behaviors, motivations, and “rewards”…always wary of the Ego!



    28 September 2007 at 10:52 am

  6. P.S.

    Mid-thirties is probably a bit early, although it will vary by individual. I began my own evolution around that age but I had also become more aware of death earlies as my father died at age 46 of an MI, when I was just 7. Very often, illness or personal tragedy will drive us into grafting Being onto Having/Doing sooner….but I wouldn’t normally expect to see it until the mid-to late forties. BTW, Jung makes for great reading on this topic.



    28 September 2007 at 10:56 am

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