Thrift Week — Perspective

by Katy on January 22, 2010 · 10 comments

Today is the last day of Thrift Week, and as much as I’ve enjoyed writing on the subject, I’ll be happy to expand my subject matter again. The United States has a long and twisted history with thrift as a virtue,  and conversely, thrift as a vice. Either way, thrift as defined as “wisdom with resources,” is just plain smart. Living below one’s means allows a person to not only pay their bills and put money into savings, but to also have the ability to weather life’s financial storms.

Do I have all my debt paid off and six months’ living expenses in the bank? No. But my family’s non-mortgage debt should be eradicated by the end of 2010. And every day, we do something that moves us closer to this goal. And today, when my 14-year-old son called from school to tell me that he needed me to bring him a $350 check for his upcoming Japan trip, I didn’t bat an eye. I knew this expense was coming up, (even if I hadn’t known it was today.) And when the next payment comes due, I’m also ready for that.

Every day there are multiple frugalities that weave their way into my routine. This may be hanging clothes to dry, watching library movies, wearing 100% thrifted clothing or just the act of not shopping recreationally. I am lucky, because I am able to choose to do all this stuff. I have a clothes dryer, I could drive to a video store to rent a $3.99 movie, and really these are luxuries. I’m also lucky because I have a job that pays me a living wage. As an RN, I’m able to work a couple days a week and bring home a healthy paycheck.

With the recent earthquake in Haiti, it’s hard to not compare our  lives to the Haitians lucky enough to have survived. When so many go without food, water and shelter, our own problems pale by comparison. Being tired of outdated furniture or frustrated with how to organize our possessions suddenly seems a little less important.

I do want to live below my means so that my family can pay our bills, (even the unexpected ones) send my kids to college, travel, continue with charitable giving and retire in relative comfort.

I do not want to practice frugality and thrift without perspective.

Has your perspective about your standard of living changed since the Haitian earthquake? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

For those who missed it earlier. The Non-Consumer Advocate has teamed up with Mercy Corps to raise money for their Haiti earthquake relief fund. We have raised $465 so far to help fund humanitarian efforts. Click HERE to be taken to The Non-Consumer Advocate/ Mercy Corps page.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean January 23, 2010 at 8:04 am

By US standards I am a working class women who is far from rich or even upper middleclass, but as I walked through the grocery store last night I realized that in reality I truely was rich, rich way beyond the wildest dreams of billions of people. There were isles of food, more than anyone could want, and I had enough money to buy all the food I would need and some I just wanted. No one needs ice cream even if it is on sale.

Whenever my grandson asks for food I can give it to him and it will be healthy food that he can eat with milk or juice to go with it. He does not have to stand in line, if he is lucky, to get a tiny bit of rice and a bottle of water.

Too often we seem to think of wealth just having more and more stuff rather than having the ability to meet our daily needs. So much of what we have is an over the top amount of junk that serves no useful purpose other than as a status symbol while real wealth that includes friends and family, work you like and time to do what you want is sacrificed.

I came home to a warm dry house with bags of, mostly, healthy food. The house was filled with everything I need to lead a comfortable life. I am rich! I do not have flat screen TV or high speed internet or the most up to date clothes, but compared to Haiti I am a very lucky person .


Elizabeth B January 23, 2010 at 11:52 am

I love this. What a beautiful perspective. Your grandson is so lucky to have a grandmother who thinks the way you do.


Marie-Josée January 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Thanks Jean, my thoughts exactly !


Lisa January 23, 2010 at 9:41 am

I’ve felt blessed for years!… in spite the fact of having very limited income (we can’t even see the poverty line from here!). The earthquake in Haiti didn’t change my perspective so much as it reminded me to remain fully aware of my blessings…and of course, to share them with others.


Bridget January 23, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Thanks Jean for your beautiful response, I couldn’t have said it better.


ksmedgirl January 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I like your blog, and I’m glad you will be happy to expand your material too 🙂


Jinger January 24, 2010 at 5:56 am

I survived a natural disaster in 2005, losing every material possession but a small backpack of clothing, a laptop and my vehicle, as well as my job and my home. However, I had a wealth of resources at my disposal…my education, family and friends.

I agree with Jean that true wealth is being able to meet your daily needs in a safe, comfortable home, surrounded by love.


Jinger January 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm

OT, but could you please post your husband’s orange chicken recipe…my 21 year old and I love it from China Emperor, but would be so much less expensive to make at home.


Katy January 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I would give you the recipe, but it was kind of gummy. Yes, it got gobbled up, but it wasn’t so fabulous.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


magdalena January 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Even when we lived off the grid and carried water from a spring, we were better off than most people in Haiti, and throughout the underdeveloped countries. I’ve seen children sick with parasites from bad water and food, who get hookworms because they have no shoes, and even at the lowest points in life, my family was always much better off. I’m sure God has blessed us not so we can gloat but so we can share. But I also see attitudes out there on the street that these poor people deserve what they get, because they a) didn’t please God; b) they had too many children and c) they made a mess of their political system. I hope those attiudes will melt away in the face of the overwhelming need of the poorest of the poor!


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