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Over the weekend, I ran across an article that talked about the social acceptability of frugality. The primary example used in the article was that of a clothesline and what impact it might have on your neighbors. The underlying concern was that frugal moves such as hanging out your clothes might negatively impact property values and/or your social standing in the neighborhood.
Personally, I have a hard time imagining that people would think any less of you as long as you do it in a neat and respectful way. Is hanging our your laundry a sign of poverty? Not to me. When I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, it was the status quo. Nowadays, it borders on elightened. Would it bother me if my neighbors did it? Heck no. I probably wouldn’t even notice.
Of course, this just my perspective, and I do realize that different people have different viewpoints. So…
Let’s set aside for the moment the issue of whether or not hanging out your laundry truly devalues property, or is inappropriate, associated with poverty, etc. Instead, let’s talk more broadly about the social acceptability of frugality.
To what extent do social pressures influence your willingness to be frugal?
To me, this just a different form of “Keeping up with the Joneses” in an attempt to avoid the perception of socio-economic or cultural inferiority. But there are, of course, limits. For example…
I’d willingly hang out the laundry, grow food in a garden, maintain a compost bin, mow my own grass instead of hiring a service, borrow (or lend) a tool that I don’t happen to have, have a garage sale, drive my car for far longer than average, etc. But I wouldn’t let our lawn get overgrown, nor would I let the exterior of our house get shabby in the interest of saving a buck. Likewise, I wouldn’t put a car up on blocks in our yard so I could scavenge it for parts later, keep livestock, or rifle through a neighbor’s trash bin looking for discarded treasures. Of course, I personally wouldn’t want to do these latter things, so there’s really nothing lost here.
So… Where do you draw the line?
Are there frugal moves that you’d like to make, but have decided against in the interest of social acceptability?