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November 14th, 2006 at 03:12 am

I never really thought about how invisible frugality can be. I’m usually so open and unapologetic about it that lots of people that I know are aware I’m frugal. Today I was at a meeting with a lot of people in the community, from three counties. I was looking around and it struck me funny that there was no way to tell who had bucks, who spent bucks, or who owed bucks.

I was in a pair of Freecycle dark Levi’s, with a fifty cent pure wool men’s sweater, a $3.97 clearance top, and some thrift store shoes. I felt my outfit was nice, if in my usual more boyish, more casual style (it’s a good thing I live in Humboldt.) I knew I was going to this meeting and I felt good about these clothes. (Later on in the day someone said, “New shoes? Cute!” They were surprised I had bought new (looking) shoes….but less surprised when I admitted they came from a thrift store.) Looking around, I was trying to spot any fancier or funky clothes, and was stumped…the nice Oxford shirts could have been $40 or $2 clearance/thrift store and I wouldn’t be able to tell. The flattering women’s suits could have been a few years old and well kept, or brand new, or a hand me down.

In the parking lot, looking at all the sedans and hatchbacks, again, I couldn’t tell anything? Some of the nicer cars may have had a lot owed on them. Or maybe not. I’m not in an area that runs to Jaguars and BMWs; and the economical cars could easily have been bought by the more affluent as an ecological purchase (again, I live in Humboldt).

Does this matter? Well, no. If someone asked me, “Do you hang clothes on the line?” or, “do you shop at thrift stores?” I wouldn’t have any objection to admitting it. I’m proud that I use resources wisely and reduce unnecessary spending; I’m proud of My Challenge, as odd as it is. I know, though, that other folks may be tightening the belt out of necessity, or may be new visitors to The Land of the Thrifty, and may feel a little out of the mainstream; some might rather that the newly acquired thrifty habits weren’t immediately visible.

Some people I know this year are giving home made gifts because they are excellent bakers, or avid crafts hobbyists, and some folks who are giving homemade gifts because it’s easier on the pocketbook-I only know because they felt like sharing the information. (My Challenge brings this out in people.)

Wrapping it up, I couldn’t tell who had cable today, who had low utility bills, who had cell phones or used furniture or mortgages or rent. So use coupons, hang the laundry, shop the thrift stores, give home made gifts, watch broadcast network one can tell. Unless you do.

5 Responses to “Invisible”

  1. threebeansalad Says:

    Great post! I am closeted penny pincher. I'm only "out" to Mr. Bean and 2-like minded friends. I feel like most of my peers are spendthrifts and would construe my choices as being "cheap". I don't have any probelm spending money on things I really like (I travel alot, too), I just don't see the point on spending on things that don't matter to me.

  2. pjmama Says:

    I'm proud! I think it's a sign of maturity and responsibility-- qualities lacking in today's youth Smile

  3. baselle Says:

    I'm one of those people who will tell you where I shop (usually a thrift store), but you have to complement me on the item first. Smile Then the person's caught, in a sense.

  4. rduell Says:

    When we went out to pick our middle son up from working at a Baptist camp all summer, he took us to a huge Salvation Army thrift store. I bought tons of clothes for $30 there and they are usually the ones I get the most compliments on! I love telling people that my sweater only cost me $2. LOL!

    The camp workers had been going there all summer and he came home with a completely new wardrobe that barely cost him anything.

  5. Aleta Says:

    LR, you are so right. I had put away money for clothing over a couple of years faithfully and really didn't spend much of it. Then, something happened in my life that made me turn myself around and start caring about me again. I had visited my Mom's and my brother said we're going out and shop for you. When I came back home I had started going to some ladies groups and a study. What I didn't realize was how people perceived me. One started calling me the rich lady. One said that she had never seen anyone with so many shoes. I had a lot of accessories that I had had for years and just started using them. I had gone to a department store outlet and sometimes only paid as low as $2. for a beautiful pair of shoes. So many times, it is perception on people's part and also how we carry ourselves. Thanks for your input. Aleta

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