Monday, December 14, 2009

Frugality forgone

Frugality finality. It's so typical. The moment my proven lifestyle, sized on nolens volens and casually, seemed to have been finally and fashionably embraced by most — disappointment. Simon Houpt and Marina Strauss, in Frugality fatigue hits shoppers from this weekend's Globe and Mail, find strong evidence for the end of frugality.

We admit, we got excited. We envisioned the environmental benefits of spending less and saving more, and we recalled the moral benefits that had long ago prompted our patron saint Adam Smith to speak of frugality as a virtue.

We said you had changed your ways forever. You hit the malls in droves. Dare we say we were mistaken?

In some quarters, money is flowing again like water at Lourdes.
The Globe is "Canada's national newspaper", so they must know. Frugality, RIP.

That which Margaret Wente called the nouveau chic appears then to be already gone. Was this past year or so just a transitory, desultory bit of profligacy fatigue?

One positive outcome of frugality's ephemerality could be the auspicious demise of some of the many frugality-themed postings and entire blogs. The crowds are reading, with such an unfrugal extravagance, all possible and kooky advice out there, proffered with equal abundance. Many also came to this blog, only to leave utterly disappointed. Our quote at the time of that post was "Frugality is misery in disguise." (Publilius Syrus).

Frugality ethereality. I had my suspicions all along. As my friend ml said, What recession? The cafés and the restaurants were crowded all summer. The malls full. Renovation bins throughout the neighbourhood. The guy next door, while not at all surprised to see the streets so animated during what are otherwise working hours, was amazed by all the consumption going on.

The guy next door is unemployed. He knows. What frugality?

Frugality whimsicality. There are contradictory messages. The announcement for a talk on frugality (only £10.-) by Tim Harford this past Sunday, which ml brought to my attention, says:
Tim will preach a timely message about reducing waste, curbing indulgence, and suppressing the need for instant fiscal gratification in favour of simpler and more lasting sources of pleasure. He’ll argue for the rehabilitation of Ebenezer Scrooge, a self-denying hero unfairly maligned by the slanderous ghosts of Christmas.

By the end of Tim’s sermon, you will have learned [...] why frugality is not a miserly vice but the most noble of virtues.
Tim is an economist, so he must know. Long live frugality.

So — which is it? Are the British, as always, different? Are we different?

I don't know. Somehow, I feel lonely once again.


  1. Moderation in all things my friend... and remember, it can all be taken away in a heartbeat! How's that for a cheery thought!?!

  2. I, for one, agree wholeheartedly! Thing is, moderation doesn't sit that well with the animal spirits...

    And to your sobering cheery thought, I've dug up a cherry cheery thought (must be the holiday atmosphere):

    Chin to knee on the orchard wall, cooled with dew and cherries eating.
    Merry, merry, take a cherry, mine are sounder, mine are rounder,
    Mine are sweeter for the eater...

    Emily Dickinson (the same one who wrote "Hope is the thing with feathers")