1:25:14 My Frugal Byways

I have a friend, who supporting his family in bare-bones fashion, says having no money simplifies life, cutting down on choices. I think that's one consequence of frugality--and likely a way out of the well-known "misery of choice" that hits people with too many stuff decisions.

But besides simplifying my material life, I find frugality takes me to unexpected places and some quirky behaviors. A few examples:


About ten years ago, done with the sports car experience (a Miata), a new car was in order. I wanted value, reliablity, and economy in a very basic car. I wanted something like the legendary VW Beetle, which hasn't been available for decades. I decided the closest to my automotive wish would be a Toyota ECHO sedan, $12,000 and no options. Then I found out a neat Toyota ECHO hatchback model was sold north of the border in Canada--everywhere else in the world--but not in USA. So I went north and imported, as an individual, a Black Sand Pearl ECHO HB. Bare bones: no air, no power steering, wind-up windows, a worthy successor to the VW Beetle. You can read more about where my frugal ways took me here.

I eat oatmeal for breakfast, have for a long time. Being frugal, I buy oatmeal in bulk. But where to keep it on the shelf at home? Well, once in the past I bought a cylindrical "Old Fashioned Quaker Oats" box and I've been filling it with bulk oatmeal ever since. How long? There's a shelf pull date stamped on the bottom of the Quaker box: BEST BEFORE JAN 10 02! Yes, a cardboard box twelve years old (I might add another year to that because last night I noticed Quaker Oats now on the store shelves have a pull date of mid-2015).

In another testament to substituted goods, I use witch hazel as an aftershave and prefer Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel. But of late, I've been backsliding with my frugal ways. I buy the house brand at the supermarket, save a buck, and pour it into a Dickinson's bottle. I feel a smidge of guilt. This is, after all, a commercial success in the marketplace that shares my surname. But then Dickinsons have always had a reputation for Yankee thriftiness to uphold.

Lastly, I wrote about stockpiling incandescent light bulbs on this blog. A frugal defense against the mandate of more expensive replacements (CFLs, LEDs, and the like). Recently, a reporter for NBC, coming across the blog post, interviewed me by phone. Thus, my frugality led to fifteen minutes of Internet fame, something--if I'm to be labelled--with which I can live.

Read more ...
(click to enlarge image)

The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.

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