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 Post subject: Frugality
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:26 am 
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Adept
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I'm reading through Fr. Dubay's Authenticity and I am really, really liking it. Well... like, may not be the best word to express how I feel about everything it has to say. I for sure like it. But...convicted by it too; that is also a good thing. I felt both convicted and a bit confused as I read up last night on two signs that one may be being led by Holy Spirit. The sign in question was frugality (and also his next sign, closely related, uncluttered freedom).

I'm just curious where is the line drawn? He does say that "Frugality is not destitution, but it is frugality." Earlier he listed some of the Biblical witness on this matter: "Hence they who are led by the Holy Spirit are content with necessities, with food and drink (1 Tim 6:7-8). They do not dress up for show with fine jewelry, elegant dresses and excessive care for the hair (1 Pet 3:3; 1 Tim 2:9-10). St. Paul is willing to be a fool for Christ: he is despised, hungry, thirsty, clothed in rags, a wandering pilgrim (1 Cor 4:10-13). After all, Jesus had told the Twelve that when they travel to proclaim the word, they are to take no bread, no money, no spare tunic, no beggar’s bag. In all this they are simply imitating him who had no place to lay his head (Mt 8:20)."

All in all, I certainly don't disagree with anything he has listed. I just wonder what is the line between frugality and wasteful excess. At no time do I suspect the author is suggesting a life of destitution... he's far too balanced to say that I think. But now I struggle with the question. Maybe it is my more Fundamentalist upbringing that seeks to turn every general precept into a hard and fast, Pharisaical rule. Maybe I'm haunted by the end of Schinderl's List, where Schindler is reflecting on the possessions he did keep and says, "I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! And I... I didn't!"

So now, in my mind, I'm wondering what is too much? Don't get me wrong... I'm not thinking yacht, BMW, mansion, expensive suits. I'm thinking, is air-conditioning in my house too much? Is a television too much (not the biggest, or newest)? Is spending a little extra money at Christmas to have special cakes and oyster stew, too much? Having a bigger yard that I have to mow and weed-eat and waste time taking care of? Sometimes I buy the more expensive spicy mustard than the standard French's mustard... is that wasteful? I usually get the slightly more expensive baked, kettle chips (I eat fewer of them), is this unfrugal? Taking a vacation? Having coffee? Having a beer? Where is that line?

And what of some of the Biblical examples of men who had plenty? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph of Arimethia, Philemon... there are others... how do they fit into this picture?

I'm not freaking out or worrying myself sick or anything... and I have no plans to sell my TV or my beer or to dig up my lawn and replace it with dirt (which would be expensive and unfrugal) at this time. I suppose you can see my old Fundamentalist habits coming in to play a bit, but I really am curious. I know no one can make up a big list, or create an arbitrary cut-off point (that would be the Fundamentalist way I think) but what are the guidelines, the navigational buoys, for living a frugal life?

Thanks all!

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 Post subject: Re: Frugality
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 3:02 pm 
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Handmaids of the Lord
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My Dad was a car mechanic, and my Mom stayed home and did all the necessary things like laundering, cooking, sewing, and knitting, which she also taught to me and my two younger sisters; and she made beautiful clothes for all three of us. I never remember being hungry, but it was a big deal to buy a ten cent comic book once a month, and have about two cents to spend on candy now and then. (I am a seasoned, senior citizen :) )

My Dad's hobby was playing violin, and then teaching himself classical guitar. He gave free lessons to all his neices and nephews that wanted them, including me and my sisters.

I remember a happy childhood, surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins who all lived walking distance from me. I had seven uncles and aunts, and all of us saw each other pretty frequently.

I also see that a family can have more financial comfort than I was ever accustomed to, and live frugally as well. Their priorities are in order, and they can afford a yearly one-week vacation with their family. They dress in nice clothes and yet are not shows offs in the way of extremely expensive accessories that scream for attention. They don't make a big deal out of a piece of jewelry that their husband may have just bought for them. They don't buy cars that attract attention by their design and price, but they do consider the safety of their children when purchasing a nice new vehicle. They know enough to say "no" when their children ask for things that they can see they do not need and would not do them any good.

In my own family of eight children my husband and I learned how to purchase good used furniture from garage sales, hand-me down clothes from relatives and friends, and some brand new ones that our expert seamstress, Grandma made! Same with bikes and toys. When they were old enough to earn money from baby sitting and newspaper delivery they treasured the new items they purchased themselves.

One funny story --- one night on tv we saw a family called the "frugal family" and they were selling a $12. year subscription (monthly newsletter) on how to be frugal. They had a large family and it sounded interesting for us to get. So, we did. And guess what? We could have written that newsletter, and given more hints as well! :)

So, what I have shared here is written from the lens that I have looked through all my life. I still seem to be hard-wired for frugality because of the training imposed on me, but I'm not sorry. I do splurge occasionally to buy art supplies for my hobbies, and I really consider that as a way I can give hand-made gifts that are much appreciated. (Such as the mosaic Holy Spirit, white dove in my avatar that I gave as a wedding present to my son and his wife.)

A high income can also be used frugally and generously for the well-being of the family. I see families that are able to help their children with college expenses, and also teach them that it is necessary to do some part-time work as well to help out

Detachment seems to be the key, and priorities in right order.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugality
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:51 pm 
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Handmaids of the Lord
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I have heard recently, and of course, previously, that all belongs to God, and we are His stewards. There is nothing wrong with having nice things, a nice home, attractive ( and modest) clothing, vacations, etc. But not to the extent that they will cause comment or attract undue attention. Remember that Jesus' robe was so nice that the soldiers cast lots rather than tear it.

Peace,
Linda

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 Post subject: Re: Frugality
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:37 pm 
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Prodigal Son of Thunder
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Jerome_2 wrote:
it's ok to have money, just so long as you know were your priorities lie.

Right, and for some people that might mean to embrace poverty, for others, perhaps not.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugality
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:03 am 
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Criminally Insane Cucumber
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Bagheera wrote:
Jerome_2 wrote:
it's ok to have money, just so long as you know were your priorities lie.

Right, and for some people that might mean to embrace poverty, for others, perhaps not.

True, but we do need to keep in mind that having money can stand as a constant temptation. Just as chastity can be much harder for a married man than for a celibate, so can detachment from material things be much harder for someone not vowed to poverty than for a religious. It's not a simple thing to actually be detached from our possessions. I can't claim that I pull it off, I'm afraid. I'm not disagreeing with either of you here, I'm just saying that this is not an easy thing that we're talking about. It doesn't come naturally.

As far as frugality goes, I think one thing to bear in mind is that often buying cheap stuff does not = frugality. I've always had a tendency to look for the lowest price and jump on that. In recent days, I've noticed that the cheap junk I buy breaks or doesn't work right or otherwise fails to be worth even the smaller amount I paid for it. It's not a bad thing to buy a nice thing, if that thing does what it is supposed to do (and if the purpose it serves is a legitimate one).

The easiest way to handle these Schindler-type worries (IMHO) is to start by figuring out what your weekly or monthly giving is going to be. You might go by a percentage if you like, or you may just fix figures that you think are appropriate. That's what we do. X$ for the parish. X$ for our diocese. X$ for the Sisters. X$ for St. Jude's. X$ for etc...... That gives us a baseline. Then, other stuff will come up. There's an extra envelope for donations to such-and-such at our parish. Or there's a disaster and we think we should give money for relief. Or whatever. If you've set yourself a family budget, and you put your monthly giving first, that leaves you a certain amount of money per month to divy up for groceries, gas, mortgage, etc. If your budgeted amount for groceries allows you to buy the fancy mustard, then buy it. But maybe some months the kind of pop-up one time donations will eat into your grocery budget, and you may have to decide to forego your mustard and some beer and chips and other luxuries that month in order to have enough to give away.

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