Frugality (Everyone is doing it!)
Frugality (also known as thrift or thriftiness) is the practice of restraint or creativity in the acquisition of goods and services at minimum cost, as well as the conservative use thereof.
Common strategies of frugality include the reduction of waste, curbing costly habits, suppressing instant gratification by means of fiscal self-restraint, seeking efficiency, avoiding traps, defying expensive social norms, embracing free (as in gratis) options, using barter, and staying well-informed about local circumstances and both market and product/service realities
Well I think us thrifties have always been used to being thought a bit strange but the times are a changing & the world seems to be coming around to our way of thinking at last. Even governments are talking about sustainability and green issues & encouraging financial literacy and planning and we all know goverments are always the last to jump aboard.
I saw this superb article today. One more person who has started to realise that previous generations did know a thing or two.
Thou shalt not waste
Thrift is fashionable again. But what is it like to grow up in a home where nothing is thrown away - and even toilet paper is strictly rationed? Mary Horsley remembers ...
Monday February 4 2008
This article appeared in the Guardian on Monday February 04 2008 on p16 of the G2 features section.
It lay coiled like a small pink tapeworm, slightly frilly along the edges, in the dust at the bottom of the box. A homemade elastic band. I pulled it taut, and was amazed to find that it stretched and snapped back into place. And there my mother was again, sitting at the Formica-topped kitchen table, carefully cutting up pink Marigolds, fingers first and then the palms and wrist. Fifty years on, I could again hear the sound the scissors made as they crunched through the rubber; see her satisfied smile as each little pile of bands was completed.
No matter that the little finger bands were useful for practically zilch and would congeal into a sticky mess that stuck to the packets of powdered egg in the dresser drawer. Nothing was wasted. Long after the end of the war and rationing, we children teased her that she was stuck in a time warp, laughed at her austerity and flicked the bands around the room or used them to launch spitballs at each other. Undaunted, she stuck religiously to her thrifty ways.
Summer nights in the 1950s and 60s would find her in her trademark dungarees digging for Britain, by the light of a lamp hung in the apple tree. Her "compost-grown" vegetables kept all seven of us in rude good health. Our Morris Traveller often stank of manure she had gleefully scored from somewhere. And she wasn't the only one in dungarees. Uncle Fred, MD of Jesco Clean Overalls in Newcastle, had the firm run up a pair for all of us. Dungarees are still my garment of choice.
She was anything but mean: when my children were young, I had to teach them to discreetly return to her purse the £10 notes she pressed on them. But she was the most frugal person I ever knew. When I was a child, she would stand outside the lavatory door, listening to how many sheets I pulled from the Izal box (the soft variety was not yet invented). "Only two pieces now - that's quite enough," she'd whisper through the keyhole. "Scrunch them up - they work better."
Food was almost never thrown away. Mould was scraped off jars of jam, sliced off the edges of a loaf. Her version of a use-by date was: "Smells all right to me." Leftovers were ingeniously recycled. As members of a "Christian fellowship" called the Order of the Cross, we were vegetarians; my brothers and I became used to playing "spot the macaroni" in our nut roasts, and kept an eye out for the remains of the previous week's "meatless steaks". Potato peelings were boiled up and mashed for the hens, filling the kitchen with a strong, yeasty smell not unlike that of a brewery. Crusts were baked hard in the warming oven of our old coal-fired stove, then ground up to top the next macaroni cheese.
My father had almost no involvement in domestic arrangements, apart from polishing our shoes. A busy GP in Gloucester, his time was taken up with his patients, his golf, and his presidency of the Vegetarian Society. All the economising passed over his head. The only impact it had on him was that he sometimes had to search for his Elastoplast when my mother borrowed it to label the bottled plums that she stored in the larder alongside dangling tights filled with onions, and crocks of salted runner beans.
To waste was to sin in her mind - a lifetime guilt trip for me. No sooner had we finished peeling an orange than its skin was whisked away to join the others drying on a baking tray in the bottom of the stove. They made excellent firelighters - much more pleasant with their spicy Christmas fragrance than the plastic yoghurt pots she used in latter years, which nearly poisoned us all. But her fires always started first time. And woe betide the chimney sweep who failed to give her the contents of his suction machine to put on the compost heap. Meanwhile, coils of hair from my brush were carefully laid on the window ledge for the birds - which got fat on the leftovers she couldn't disguise - to use in their nests.
When we scagged our toenails through soft white cotton sheets, thinned almost to muslin in the middle, they went on to the mending pile to be cut in half and rejoined "sides to middles". When these wore out, they were set aside for making patches on subsequent holes, or to be cut into pillowcases and then cleaning cloths. I swear she would have saved our toenail clippings, if only she could have thought of a use.
Open the landing cupboard, and an enormous silk parachute would spill out - a favourite for building camps in our bedrooms, but intended for petticoats one day. Coats, shoes, jumpers and vests were bought for us to grow into. That's pretty normal - but we also clumped to school in overlarge shoes with cotton wool stuffed in the toes. For a brief, glorious time, clothes fitted, and we could face the world without shame, and then they were handed down. Being a girl after four boys I was spared most of this, but my brothers didn't have to wear the padded undergarment known as a liberty bodice (which saved on heating) but which was anything but liberating. I hated this with a passion, even though I had ice feathers on the inside of my bedroom windows in the mornings.
The most cringe-making moment, which I still blush to recall, was when she was "clearing out" (read "stashing away") her neighbour Violet's possessions after she died. She was often asked to do this task, and her bungalow was crammed full of old ladies' possessions that "might come in useful one day". This time she found a whole pile of nametapes embroidered V Cameron. For half a day she grumbled around the house about the waste. Then the light bulb went on. Licking her thumb, she started her search in the phone book. "Ha!" we heard as she stabbed her finger triumphantly at an entry "Thought so. V Cameron, Gloucester." I watched, excruciated, as she picked up the phone and dialled.
"I wonder," she said. "Would you be interested in a job lot of name tapes? V Cameron, italics, royal blue?"
I tried to imagine the reaction of the V Cameron at the other end. This was long before the days of cold calling. Many people didn't even have a phone. I'll bet V Cameron wished she (or he) didn't.
"No, no, of course there won't be a charge. It's just that they're very nicely done, and it's a pity to waste them, so I thought ..."
What a pity she died before Freecycle, whose members use the internet to give their unwanted possessions away rather than dumping them in the bin. Had she mastered a computer, which I find very unlikely, she would have been in her element - though I have a horrible feeling she would have used it to fill her cupboards rather than empty them. She died in 2004, at the age of 90, and left such a mass of belongings that I am still sorting through the remnants.
But here's the rub. When petrol reaches £5 a litre and goods no longer move around so freely, when we put our foot through the last Egyptian cotton sheets, or shortages remind us that plastic too is made from petrochemicals, we're all going to have to be a lot more like my mother. Those lessons in thrift and ingenuity, once so embarrassing to me, will stand not only me, but my children and theirs in good stead. Only last week I watched Nina, my five-year-old granddaughter, carefully smooth and refold the tinfoil her school lunch was wrapped in, to reuse. As it is, I think of my mother every time I open the Aga and smell the waft of dried orange peel. And you know what? My fires start first time as well.
It was the brthday today of the facilities manager at my work. It is office tradition to buy cakes for everyone in your team and various friends around the organisation but because he is in charge of the buildings everyone but everyone knows him. So did we have to manage with two frozen gateau from the supermarket in the intersts of being frugal? No, we had home made cakes for all 200 of us! He admitted to making abit of a mess in teh kitchen at home but all the same I am impressed.
This is one of the recipes, scrummy.
Parchment paper to line tray
Tray is sized 12.5" x 9"
8 oz marg melted in large saucepan
Add (all at once)
10 oz self raising flour
10 oz sugar (can be granulated, doesn't need to be caster) - today's is granulated
2 oz cornflakes crushed by hand
Option for 5oz coconut (but we don't like it)
Stir all in together
Put on tin, and even out by wet hand
Bake for 15 minutes on 180 degrees c
When you take tray out of oven, cut immediately