October 6, 2011

WSJ Writes of "Forever Frugal" Trend - But Misses the Point That Many Choose Frugal as a Better Lifestyle

In the Wall Street Journal today, there's an article written by Ann Zimmerman entitled, "Frontier of Frugality: Retailers Face Reality That Many People Can't Trade Back Up," and it's filled with information from the American retailers' perspective.  WalMart is experiencing lots of shopping tied to when folk get their paychecks; retailers are seeing lots of shopping with coupons; people aren't jumping to buy premium labels like they used to do.

I find it interesting that there's something missing here (though they tip their hat to this at the end of the piece):  the reality that living simply is a lifestyle choice for many.  For others that have had to change their lifestyles because of unemployment, illness, or just fear that their stock prices are going to crater, it can come as a very nice surprise that living differently is not so bad.  There are people in this country who were forced into frugality by a sudden change in circumstances and are sold on not going back to their old ways, even when they can do so. 

Couponing feels good for those who do it.  It's a rush to save a buck - today on Coupon Mom's email, for example, I saw free Colgate toothpaste and free Cover Girl cosmetics at Target; 6 freebies worth $41 at RiteAid; and 5 freebies worth $52 at Walgreens (she's got lots more deals if you're interested). 

Heck, I want my free Colgate toothpaste at Target -- and it's not because I'm scrimping pennies here, it's because it's FREE.  It's like a little gift, a little treat.  To Reba, From Target.  I like this. 

I like free.  You probably do, too. 

I also like the idea of saving money on my food budget.  But I'm not doing this because of the money.  Long ago, I would spend a shocking amount of my disposable income on fast food or restaurant fare.  It was not good for my pocketbook.  More importantly, it was not good for my BODY.  Now, I shop with a list and a menu planned out -- and I save lots of dough.  Bigger deal: I know what I'm eating.  I'm eating organic, I'm not cooking in aluminum, and I'm washing my lettuce. 

If I do this near a payday, are retailers thinking that I'm cutting back because of the economy?  Maybe.  And, sure, some folk are. Times are tough, and there are lots of people in financial distress in this country.

I don't know that they are all setting around, depressed that they can't buy retail, though.  Which is part of the tone that I read in the retailers' discussion. 

I have changed the way that I spend money because I have found a higher quality of life by doing so.  I am not alone.  My grocery bill is less, not because I'm money-motivated, but because I'm eating fresh food, I'm cooking at home, and I'm not falling prey to advertising siren songs. 

Does this make me "forever frugal"?  Yes, I think so.  Does this mean that maybe Americans are sick and tired of being endoctrinated into materialism?  We'll see. 

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