Frugal Snobbery

 Posted by on January 26, 2009  Add comments  Tagged with:
Jan 262009

When I wrote my List Love post, I posted my grocery list for the week, and an anonymous reader left me this comment:

“Do you buy a lot of name brand items? It looks like you do according to your list. Also, I was looking at your recipe blog and they look positively yummy but there is one recipe listed as vegetarian that isn’t…it calls for chicken broth. Love your blog!!!”

Oh really? For someone who loves my blog, you certainly have enough complaints about it.

In my response to this question, I explained that I actually buy almost all generics, unless I have a coupon, sale, or combination of both that brings the price of a name brand down to the same price (or lower) as generic. Other times, I write the brand name because it’s easier, but there are some name brand items that I buy because I’ve tried the generic and didn’t like it, or found that it didn’t work as well. The whole time I was writing this response, I was inwardly fuming, because I understood the thinly-veiled meaning behind this question. What this person was really asking is, “If you’re supposedly so frugal, why do you buy so many name brand items?”

This is an example of what I call “frugal snobbery.” Frugal snobs make the incorrect assumption that everyone must be frugal in the same way…meaning the same way that they are.

There are many different ways to be frugal, and we all have different talents, resources, goals and values. Some people are frugal not because they have to be, but because they choose to be. Their frugal strategies and goals may be totally different than those of a person with limited income, or desperate circumstances, such as unemployment or bankruptcy.

The truth is, I don’t really care how another person chooses to be frugal…or not. I only concern myself with the spending habits of others if they:

a) ask me for help

b) have already asked me for help, and I’ve told them what to do, but instead of making the necessary lifestyle changes they continue to complain to me about their problems, or

c) when their spending habits are so wasteful that they impact others (IE: they declare bankruptcy, carry no health insurance – even though they could afford to if they didn’t waste money on unnecessary things, fail to pay child support, or don’t provide for the basic needs of their children).

I write this blog because I want to share my frugal strategies and ideas with you….not because I want to tell you how to live. Take what you can use, apply it as you see fit, and discard the rest. I’m not going to alert the media if you buy serving-size packages of chips, or pack your husband’s lunch sandwich in a Ziploc bag instead of a reusable container. If you choose to use cloth napkins and hang laundry, but you want to buy Hamburger Helper, I don’t care. That’s your business.

We worked very hard for 7 years to become debt-free. We are fiscally responsible, and we meet all of our financial obligations each month. We save for our retirement and for our children’s education. I think we’ve earned the right to buy Town House crackers (because we like them), or Kraft Singles (because they make good grilled cheese, and the generics are watery), or occasional Snack Pack pudding cups for Bee’s lunch (because I’m running late and forgot to make scratch pudding the night before).

Yes, that’s right – I sometimes buy Snack Packs. Stop the world.