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Embarrassed to be frugal?

The more than decade-old watch!

The more than decade-old watch!

I hate forwarded email, but I got this “maldita moments” email that had me laughing out loud. One entry went:

I once told an officemate who kept on bragging about her new shoes, ” Sale, right?”

Too funny, I thought, but it also made me realize one thing. There’s a lot of stigma associated with being frugal, going for “sale” items, buying in often literally wet wet markets instead of the grocery, using up the ketchup up to the last drop…

Does being wasteful mean the social ladder looks so much shorter from where I stand, I wonder? Were there times when I felt luxurious—and hence good about myself—because I could afford to throw away a pair of shoes that’s still perfectly okay except for some frayed edges? Was I ever embarrassed about wearing clean and decent clothes but a bit dated in style?

Honestly, yes, I can recall feeling those things. But I have since graduated from the dark side of consumerism. And it feels good.

Here’s the realization that showed me how to be frugal and proud. The stuff that we buy, whether these are electronics, appliances, clothes or whatever they are, are ours because we paid for them, true. But ultimately, they are made out of nature’s abundance and are therefore things that we will eventually be held accountable for.

Do you believe in the hereafter? I do. I know that time will come. I know that I will be asked to account for the things I have wasted. And I know that I can use less to live more fully.

So, guess what? I don’t mind smiling while using things until they drop! Sure, I still love to shop for new stuff, but if anything can temper wanton wastefulness, I betcha this is it. Try it and don’t forget to let me know how it goes!

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25 Responses

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  1. deebee says

    Ms Salve, i grew up from a lavish family. i dont mean that we are rich. it’s just that my parents are one day millionaire, if you know what i mean. however, when i was growing up, i thought that i am different from them. i am the exact opposite of what they portray. i save my baon, i sell stuff in the classroom, etc. now that i am married, i learned to save more, in such a way that my parents and relatives now call me kuripot, in such a way that when you listen to them, it’s like its the meanest thing on earth! how do you deal such situtation?

  2. marcy says

    Hi, guys I have been reading your blogs and I enjoyed it , one thing I can share it is good to be frugal , you know Salve and I am not ashamed toshare to you that we did not have much money but we get through it . one avoid debt especially with interest because it never sleeps or take a vacation , I mean it is important to indulge in debt 1 spend it for education . 2. housing , other than that I encourage you to think twice , thrice befor buying just to show off., however for the most important and I use it every moment of my life now is my eye glass , it was expensive and I only don’t use when I sleep right but it is a life time , perhaps Ican change my lens but not the expensive frame .Thank you for being smart at your early age .Marcy Salve’s mom

  3. cuddsaquad says

    “But, yes. Being wasteful is not really good, financially speaking for an individual, and economically speaking for a whole nation especially if a great number will just waste precious resources on unnecessary spending.”
    How much is real?

  4. AldousCarlos says

    1stworld country ~ Philippines
    pension from govt = sss
    401K or CALPERS = none (kaniya kaniyang ipon at racket)

    If we need peace of mind when we grow old, we might need a piece of something we don’t have.

  5. Margaux's Mom says

    Frugal living is about determining what you want out of your life, and finding a way to make it happen. A couple dollars saved here, and a few dollars invested there doesn’t translate into a life of deprivation; it translates into possibilities.

    Decide what you want to get out of life, and then use frugality to make it happen.

  6. Tyrone | Millionaire Acts says

    There is only one way to financial freedom and that is to “Earn More and Desire Less”. In order to desire less, we must be frugal. :)

    I remember there was this instance before. Because of frugality, I rarely buy clothes. Instead, I usually use the office clothes of my dad. My officemates told me that I dress up “baduy” and old. So they really encouraged me to buy new clothes.

  7. says

    Gosh, this brings back memories of wearing shoes with soles almost detaching itself, or shirt getting too short because the hem has been hemmed a little too much… and that’s not because of me ha… that’s because of the frugality of my mother. I guess, frugality has an offshoot and sometimes, it’s the kids who “suffer”. While I am sure I did not feel good during those times, the memories kind of make me feel good somewhat, o masochist lang ako… pero parang been there been that…. :)

  8. Ryan says

    Hi Salve! Yes, I definitely agree! My own definition of being frugal is being able to get every peso and centavo’s worth of whatever you purchased, expensive or not. After all, you should get what you pay for di ba?

  9. salve says

    Kendrick, somehow, your comment reminded me of what a source from BPI said about the families of OFWs they work with in their financial literacy campaign. When the remittance comes and its fiesta time, they always want to buy new curtains etc to show off. The BPI official would tell them the curtains don’t matter when the bank account is zero! The technical term yata is “conspicuous spending.” People want to spend on things they can show off! Tsk tsk :)

  10. salve says

    Ryan, I like that strategy ha. I used to buy so much from those flea markets but realized that after one or two spins in the washing machine, they already looked tattered and used. Isn’t that a waste of money too? Being frugal really is not the same as being cheap! Do you agree?

  11. salve says

    Ate Taya, that’s a puzzle nga to many people. Sometimes (and this may sound like a generalization but i would like to think it is not), the rich go around in slippers and simple clothes. They don’t worry too much about the image?

  12. ALVIN T. TABANAG, RFP says

    I’m proud to be frugal and I want frugal to be the next “cool” thing to do.

    I have a 12-year old car which I have no plans of replacing yet (not in the next 3 to 5 years). I’m the “drive-your-car-to-death” kinda guy. I have 3 pairs of sunglasses worth P200 each. I have a 3-year old cellphone and the most expensive brand new unit I ever bought cost less than P7,000. I take public transport 80% of the time. I don’t drink P100-a-cup coffee (well, I don’t drink coffee). I wear tattered shirts & shorts at home.

    It doesn’t mean though I live a miserable, boring life and eat instant noodles most of the time. My family goes on vacation (local & abroad) once or twice a year. We like to celebrate significant (and sometimes not so significant) events. I occasionally spend time with drinking/singing buddies. I love to host family get- togethers especially in my hometown.

    I guess the idea of being frugal is to allow you to engage in the things you really love doing. That’s exactly what I’m doing.

  13. Kendrick says

    For whatever reason, I have been branded as “kuripot” by my college friends and office mates. I’d like to believe I’m frugal. Heck, I know I have more money than they do. =)

    Nice article, Salve. Keep it up!

  14. Ryan says

    I hardly buy new clothes and stuff unless necessary as well, and I have a different way of fighting off the embarrassment (and subsequent temptation of spending just to keep up with the others) — I save up to buy classic high-end (and highly durable) clothes (especially pants and shoes) then I use them basically FOREVER (with proper upkeep and care).

    That way, kahit luma na but still serviceable, I just say to myself na kahit hindi ako updated like the others, my clothes are still very valuable, and may be even more than their fancy new stuff! Since most of the new stuff they buy are probably for the sake of showing off the brands that they can afford (rather than necessity), kaya mo nang makipagsabayan sa one-upsmanship of owning branded clothes, even though not as new as theirs, di ba?

    Did that sound practical or not? haha

  15. Taya Julian says

    Nope, I’ve never been embarrassed to be frugal. Even my colleagues and friends who can afford a luxurious lifestyle and retire comfortably live a very frugal life, and it really pays. Being wasteful is like throwing away money down the drain and that’s one unbearable sight for me.

  16. salve says

    nina, i was actually thinking of you when i wrote that part of my blog entry haha. “nina’s going to get a kick out of this!” hahaha

  17. salve says

    hi jan! how are you? havent heard from you in a loong time!

  18. salve says

    @Elevic, i agree. it seems that we are both fans of a little, controlled fun money. The equation Savings=capital sums it up very neatly. So how much luxury money do you think is good enough on a monthly basis?

  19. salve says

    hi hachiko, great point! i think the fraternity can put more pressure than the sorority! :p what do you think?

  20. nina says

    Hi Salve. I like the response – Sale, right? Hahahahaha

  21. Jan says

    good one salve! thanks for the reminder =)

  22. hachiko says

    Never forget Embarrased to be Frugal’s twin sister: Peer Pressure. Even people frugal all their lives will be embarrased if his/her objective is membership in a group / club where you’re measured by how many fancy stuff you own. But outside these circles frugality isn’t really a big deal. So choose well the company you keep. With good friends and the right people you never have to say sorry about frugality. But join the social climbing sorority (fraternity? :) ) and oh boy good luck!

  23. Elevic Pernis says

    I do not want to be TOO FRUGAL such that I will not treat myself to some luxuries from time to time. But, yes. Being wasteful is not really good, financially speaking for an individual, and economically speaking for a whole nation especially if a great number will just waste precious resources on unnecessary spending.

    People ought to remember that SAVINGS = CAPITAL. Hence, in order to enjoy more of life later, frugality (done properly) should be deemed important.

  24. salve says

    Thanks Randell! By the way, great talk last Saturday. YOU told it as it is! I appreciate that very much.

  25. Randell Tiongson says

    Tell it as it is! Nice blog.

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