Being Frugal Means Losing Your Cool

Oct 29

Frugality.  A word that, not so long ago, was only uttered in hushed tones, under the guise of night between panicked spouses who dared peer into their trench of credit.  At a time when spending with carefree abandon was de rigueur and credit was the perfect friend – handing out favours, no strings attached.  Who knew that relationship could turn so sour?  With the financial markets bottoming out (hopefully, soon) and employment security an oxymoron, frugality is enjoying a resurgence not seen since the emergence of Dollar Stores.  Even the word itself (froogalitee) personifies a pencil-thin man in wire-rimmed glasses, sporting a red bow tie.  Nerdy, but level-headed – the kind of fellow with whom no hoodie-wearing, video-game-playing, cool kid would befriend. 

In fact, the more a family invites frugality into their home, the lower the cool-factor descends.  I’ve noticed that my tactics to cut spending and bring financial Zen to our household, are diametrically opposed to the coolness factor.  In other words, when frugality goes up, coolness goes down.  Here are a few effective, yet humbling, suggestions to ready yourselves for tough times ahead.

Clip coupons.  Okay, the act of cutting along the dashed lines is not going to hurt the coolness factor because this part can be done in solitude.  However, the key to success is actually using the coupons.  I recommend you store your stash in a zip-lock bag and discreetly review its contents as you push your cart along the grocery store aisles (it helps to be familiar with your clippings beforehand.)  At the check out counter, I like to surreptitiously place each coupon on the product as it glides prostrate upon the conveyor belt.  Be alert!  The cashier often does not notice them.  Do not be intimidated by the line of sighing mothers and crying kids behind you.  Loudly point out the cashier’s delinquent behaviour and demand your entitled discount.  With thorough flyer research and eagle-eye diligence, you can save up to $5.00 each time you shop (certain limitations and exclusions apply.)  To avoid embarrassment, your son or daughter may walk several paces ahead of you as you exit the store.


Buy cheap food.  It’s better than it sounds, actually.  The least expensive food is often the healthiest.  The more packaging there is, the higher the price, and ditto for the amount of ingredients and level of preparation already completed on your behalf (does anyone really need to buy pre-cooked noodles?)  Among the cheapest produce available are: rutabaga, cabbage, carrots, and .  What do I do with a rutabaga, you ask?  Well, when it’s $1.49, you figure something out – just like I did.  My head of cabbage, however, is still rolling around the refrigerator’s crisper.  Let’s not forget beans.  A bag of green lentils for $1.59 – and these are organic – will provide for at least three meals.  The coolness factor takes two hits for this tactic.  One – when the kids invite friends over they’ll be stuck snacking on Premium Plus crackers and left over rutabaga, rather than chips and fruit roll-ups.  Expect to hear exclaims of ‘Ew, what’s that?’  Two – the fiber intake will create a flatulence situation that may be hard to contain.  However, if you have boys, like me, this may actually increase the cool factor, and thus, cancel out the other coolness setback.


Buy second-hand.  Or, even better… go trash-hunting.  Thanks to CraigsList and eBay, buying used has grown quite acceptable among the masses (cool kids, excepted.)  When my son asked for a BMX bike this summer, we searched online and found a “perfectly good” bike for $35.  A new BMX at CyclePath was priced at about $350 and rather than wait until they went on sale to get 10 percent off, we chose to buy a bike at 10 percent the price.  My son was not, however, content with getting a bike that only fulfilled 10 percent his dream.  He was pleased when a short time later, our neighbour gave him an old BMX  that they’d planned to toss out with the garbage.  It was the perfect size, the perfect brand (too expensive to buy new) and the price unbeatable.  A few days later, when his buddy guffawed that he had a “used” bike, my son shrugged it off with nonchalance.  And I swelled with pride.


Scale down your fashionista ways.  Do blondes really have more fun?  Well, it’s time for you to find out.  Let the dark roots grow in, quit the manicures and pedicures, and stop buying clothes that cost more than your weekly grocery allowance.  No one is saying it’s easy to bend over and paint your own toenails, but if you keep your tummy muscles tight, you’ll be working your abs and thus, eliminating the need for a personal trainer, too.  I gave up my golden tresses a year ago, and despite moments of winter blahs when I’m tempted to book highlights, I’ve come to like (read: accept) my new, natural look.  And women aren’t the only ones making sacrifices.  In the U.K., for example, supermarket Aldi, can barely keep up with demand for its two-piece pinstripe suits that sell for $50.  This suggestion for frugality will not likely deflate your kids’ sense of coolness, unless you start wearing muu muus or jean overalls (please don’t.)  It may, I should caution, affect your own. 


Being in vogue is for mannequins.  In real life, we need to be sensible and entrust our ways to our bowtie-wearing friend, frugality.  Because coolness be damned, I’ll take nerdy over bankruptcy any day.


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One comment

  1. megan gruner /

    hilarious cause it’s true!

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