With the recession reported in all the newspapers and all around us, many of us are looking at ways we can economize. These days the word frugal no longer has the negative connotations it once held – that of being a cheapskate or tightwad. It means we are living without waste, a saver. Being thrifty and frugal was something that our parents and grandparents used to do but we are now listening to them with a different frame of mind – an understanding. We are changing our perception.
Many studies have shown that when jobs are harder to find or less well-paid, people spend more time on self-improvement and reasonably inexpensive pastimes. Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University in his article “Recession Can Change a Way of Life”, 31Jan 09 commented that during the Depression of the 1930s, this meant “listening to the radio and playing parlor and board games” and that these stay-at-home tendencies continued through to the 1950s.
Good News Alert! The death rate falls as unemployment rises. In this same article he comments on a 2003 paper, “Healthy Living in Hard Times,” by Christopher J. Ruhm, an economist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who found that the death rate falls as unemployment rises.
While recessions and depressions are not so good for mental health it is less widely known that in the United States and other well heeled countries, physical health seems to improve during a downturn. This may be due to the fact that we tend to drive less with the effect of lowering the risk of accidents. Spending on alcohol and tobacco reduces. There is more time for exercise and sleep and there is a tendency to choose a home cooked meal rather than fast food.
So what can we do to be frugal, thrifty and live without waste?
Anticipate your Failures by Planning – Always start with a budget so you can avoid impulsive buying and be aware of your financial limitations
Eating Out – Make this a once in a while treat for special occasions.
Shopping for Groceries – Where possible go with non-branded items. Look for items on the highest or lowest shelves for best prices. Grab the opportunity and shop for specials and use coupons
Family Time – There are many inexpensive ways to bond with your family and be entertained like going to libraries, local parks, having a picnic, visiting friends and attending local church activities. Dust off the board games and turn off the TV.
Clothing – Buy items that can easily be mixed and matched with your other clothes giving you different looks. Be imaginative.
I’m sure you will think of many things yourself to add to this list. Just think of all the good things you can do to be frugal and to economize. And think how much stronger and learned you will be when we come out the other side of this recession.