Cheapwashing: Cashing in on the Frugal "Fad"

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Deeper Issues (eg: Hoarding for “Thrift”)

This is the one I have the most problems with, as I have the most compassion for those going through this. Sometimes frugality, like any good thing, can be harmful when taken to extremes. Some frugal living tips seem to encourage hoarding behavior, which is not only un-frugal, it’s downright irresponsible!

Even if the author of an article or set of tips had good intentions, if they harp on saving too many things, they are going away from frugality. The point differs a bit from person to person, but there is a definite point of “too much” when it comes to stuff. Thrift is one thing, clutter is another, and clutter costs. Clutter costs in terms of physical space to house it, resources to maintain it (heating, A/C, etc.) and it certainly costs in terms of your physical and mental health. This is thrift gone sour, and it leads to keeping too much stuff. And keeping too much makes it hard to keep your space clean and functional. And from there you get into the sheer mental stress of having excess, which can cycle into all sorts of problems, like The Fly Lady’s CHAOS: Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome!

Coming to Conclusions

The moral of the story here would be to employ your Baloney Detection Kit with frugal tips (and all things, as well!). Watch out for faux frugal tips that attempt to separate you from more money. Be skeptical with your tips –- even mine! Learn to ask yourself questions:

Is this frugal tip a worthwhile investment of time or money? Does it concern something I would normally acquire, use, or do? Or is it just cool?

Do the necessary supplies or services pay for themselves within, say, 6 months? Will this save me money in the long run? How long is that run, and can I sacrifice cash now to save more later?

Can I learn how to do this or make this for free? Some skills do need special training, but can I pick up the techniques in an online tutorial, from the library, etc?

This process of questioning and rational decision making won’t put tons of zeroes behind the digits in your bank account, but they can be good tools for making your own life work a little more sensibly. And isn’t that what frugal living is all about, at the end?




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