Monday, August 2, 2010

Extreme Frugality

Every now and then, and article or book will pop across my eyeline about someone practicing extreme frugality. Like this article in the New York Times about the Shopping Diet where people are urged to choose only six items of clothing and wear only those (plus fresh underwear) for an entire month.

There's also The Uniform Project, where one woman wore the same outfit every day for an entire year. She actually made six copies of the same dress, so she wasn't completely stinky by the end of the year, or staying up doing naked laundry all the time, but it was essentially one dress, every day with a lot of different accessories.

Whenever I read about something like that, I go through a range of emotions.
  1. Jealousy. Why didn't I come up with that?!? Then I could have written a book about it and sold it for a nice chunk of change
  2. Competitiveness. I should do it anyway, I can totally do that, and I'll save tons of money that way.
  3. Bargaining. This is where I start examining my life and figuring out how I can take on the project with the least amount of impact on my comfort level/free time. Any changes I come up with also serve to make this project of mine unique and in no way am I just imitating someone else.
  4. Acceptance. I will not attempt this. It's been done already, it would take too much time and it just doesn't work with my lifestyle.
I've tried my own version of extreme frugality, which didn't work out so well, but I remain slightly jealous of these people who seem to pull it off so handily. I may eventually stumble upon something that I can successfully pull off, but in the meantime it seems that any major attempt to save money ends up costing me more in the end.

I have a friend who successfully does a no-buy month every February where she only spends money on necessities and no extras, but when I attempted it, I found that all I could think about was money and the fact that I wasn't allowed to spend it. Similarly, I feel like if I attempted the clothes diet or something similar, I'd just yearn for everything else in my closet--including stuff I probably should have gotten rid of a long time ago.

I liken frugality to dieting pretty often, and like dieting, I've learned I don't operate well under an extreme philosophy. I'm good at frugality if it's something I'm mindful of, but an not thinking of constantly. Once I listened to the Shopaholic books in the car on my commute. I've read them before and enjoyed them immensely, but listening to them made me spend money like crazy because all I could think about was shopping. I guess I'm just susceptible.

How about you? Have you tried any kind of extreme frugality? How did you find it?

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