frugality

Musings on life & money. Meditations on not being a profligate douche.

I welcome your comments and alternative ideas in the Discussion below. For now, here are my own personal governing rules, attempting to satisfy the dual mandate of building wealth and reducing my own resource footprint.

1) Buy used things.

Maybe this is obvious. New things are more expensive. They are also new… new things have to be newly produced so that you could use it for awhile, forget about it or have it break, and ultimately curse its moldering corpse when you have to move and clear out your basement. You created new carbon emissions, water use, and other resource use to have your shiny thing. Certain more expensive items – like cars and bikes – instantly lose a significant chunk of their market value once they are “not new.”

We have all been socialized to associate new products with social advancement. Or, if you want to get Don Draper with it, with hope, happiness, or freedom from fear. Consider this deeply engrained sub-current every time you think about buying a new thing. If you really need a new shirt for work, grab that lightly used J. Crew shirt from Buffalo Exchange. You’ll look the same and save $75. You win.

2) Never sign up for the mailing list of a consumer brand.

OK caveat: if you truly deem a new product to be worth purchasing (see above), maybe sign up so you can get a first-time buyer discount. Then unsubscribe from that shit. Yes, you can miss the spring styles. Do not let the marketing automations of an effective brand tell you what to buy and when. Buying things on sale that you don’t actually need is infinitely more expensive than not buying bullshit you don’t need. If you deem a purchase to be truly necessary (see above), do your homework, scope for discounts, make that one-time buy, and get the hell out.

3) Be a vegetarian.

Certain cutesy vegan eateries in Brooklyn, etc., aside, not eating meat is substantially cheaper (and that’s before factoring in the long-term cost of heart disease and other ailments that correlate closely with meat and dairy consumption.) Beans, tofu, pasta, nuts, seeds, and grains are all significantly cheaper than animal proteins. New research has suggested that humans need not rely on animals and animal byproducts for “complete” proteins.

There are a number of humanist reasons to not eat meat or dairy, but I’ll stay off the soap box and just say this for now: meat and dairy consumption is arguably the greatest contributor to environmental degradation there is, and it’s eminently reversible on an individual level.

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