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Old 06-17-2008, 01:08 PM   #21
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thought of another one.. we asked DH's nephew to send us a fax of some needed family document as we live a couple hours away from all of them. Instead of just going to some copy shop where they have a fax service (for which we would certainly have reimbursed him the couple bucks or whatever), he spent probably more than an hour to drive 1/2 way across Rome on his motorcycle to go to his parents' house to scan said document and then send it to us via e-mail. I can't say if he was motivated by frugality or stupidity. He has a 'laurea' in Economics and Commerce; go figure.

I think on another thread I described DH's ancient piano teacher who froze in an unheated apt. surrounded by valuable antiques and artifacts she refused to sell.

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Old 06-17-2008, 01:19 PM   #22
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My parents lived somewhat frugally... but they managed to raise three children and own their home. My parents had a paid off home in the city a paid off small farm and very little debt... Mom was a homemaker and Dad retired at age 62... and they did all this on a carpenter's salary.
With all due respect, there's "living frugally," then there's "being born in the right era."

It sounds like your parents had the fortune of living during the right era. I don't believe their accomplishments can be duplicated today. They had the benefit of almost non-existent taxes, a completely non-existent national debt (which contributed to the lack of taxes), very low property taxes and housing expenses relative to peoples' salaries, and a thriving economy.

Does anyone seriously believe that a carpenter could support 3 kids and a wife, while paying off a farm and a house, and still retire early, in this day and age? I'm sorry, no amount of frugality would make that possible today, in my opinion.

The Boomers borrowed their prosperity from their children. They ran up the national debt to keep their taxes low so they could pay off farms and homes and raise 3 kids on a carpenter's salary. And now we get stuck with the triple-whammy of having to pay their bill (via higher taxes), higher housing prices and educational expenses (relative to our incomes), and in many cases, paying for the medical care of our own parents.

But I'm not bitter.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:21 PM   #23
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When I do it, it's prudently frugal. When my dinner companion does it, it's bizarre.
"I am firm; you are obstinate; he is a pig-headed fool."
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:23 PM   #24
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"Bizarre" seems to me to be an opinion word. I try to tell my three kids that they should only spend their argument effort on issues of fact, and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I also have a libertarian streak in me, so as far as I'm concerned, anyone else can live their lives and manage their money any way they please provided they aren't breaking any applicable laws or endangering other people.

If you want my opinion, not spending what is necessary on needs - air, water, food, shelter, and decent medical care - would be the only thing I would think would not make sense to me. I'm not sure I would go as far as saying "bizarre".

I think there is a tremendous pressure to conform in the US to societal/cultural norms and using a word like "bizarre" with a negative connotation -- rather than "different from me", which isn't as negative -- is usually an effort to enforce conformity in order for the person using the word to not have to think about anything as uncomfortable and involving effort as non-conformity.

My 2 cents.

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Old 06-17-2008, 01:40 PM   #25
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OK, I won't label this "bizarre", but in my opinion it does cross the line of simple frugalness:

When my DH's aunt died in her independent living facility, we couldn't hold a sale of her furniture, etc. due to the rules of the facility. And, since the stuff wasn't really worth much, we didn't want to rent a truck to move it out. So, instead, we posted a note at the building's elevators inviting the residents to take what they could use from her apartment.

Well, within 15 minutes, EVERYTHING was taken -- right down to the walls. Which was fine, but there was one lady who said she really needed a bedside table, so we tagged it for her, and after the residents left, my DH carried it to her apartment.

When the lady opened the door to her apartment, we saw that -- with the exception of a very narrow walkway from the door to the kitchen and the bathroom -- she had furniture and other stuff PILED TO THE CEILING in every square inch of the place! In case of an emergency, there would be no way out of that place and in case of a fire, forget it! There literally was no place to put the nightstand, although the lady begged us to leave it for her.

We found out later that this resident rarely left her apartment and refused to let anyone inside for fear of being evicted.

I don't think she was frugal or bizarre. I think she was mentally ill.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:11 PM   #26
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kombat, I understand your bitterness.. but gov. debt has in the last 20-30 years been outpaced by an unprecedented growth in private debt.

The cost of soaring private and public debt - MarketWatch

I think there are a number of reasons for this, but they are better left to the Soap Box so stay tuned.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:19 PM   #27
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gov. debt has in the last 20-30 years been outpaced by an unprecedented growth in private debt.
That's hardly surprising. People's paychecks are raided by the government to pay taxes that are far higher than any their parents had to deal with, yet they still expect to live the same kind of lives their parents did. They still believe that 1 blue collar income should be able to buy a detached house on a half acre of land and support a wife and 3 kids. Why not? It worked fine for their parents, after all. When they find themselves coming up short, they turn to consumer debt to fill in the gap, not understanding why they're finding it so difficult to accomplish what their parents made look easy.

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I think there are a number of reasons for this, but they are better left to the Soap Box so stay tuned.
Fair enough.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:36 PM   #28
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You're right. Maybe people who question me might have nothing to do with the pressure for me to decorate. I personally think I don't have that "thick skin" because when I answer such or similar questions I feel kind of guilty because I know we can afford it but we don't do that by choice (factoring in how we detest shopping in general). Maybe I need a shrink who'd help me to overcome my guilt while talking with mainstream consumers.
Oh, and I frequently blame my family (in my mind) for the sense of guilt. My parents spend money as well as my sister. That could be me to rebel their living style and chose to be frugal instead. On the other hand, once in a while they'd say something about my frugality and it would hurt me. So, I know they consider me very cheap. When we go to visit them, we're the ones wearing the same clothes and shoes they've seen before and they would were something new.
Your relatives actually note and recall what you are wearing from day to day? And comment on it?

Maybe you should tell them that you see no need to associate with people who put effort into insulting you.

Maybe (getting back to unwritten rules) you can ask them how much you would have to spend (and on what) to gain their approval; also ask how much they are willing to contribute to that end.

I'm always amazed at the crap people will put with because "they're family".

About the guilt: Unless you are actually causing harm, there should be no guilt.
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Old 06-17-2008, 03:09 PM   #29
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Your relatives actually note and recall what you are wearing from day to day? And comment on it?
Hopefully not. Perhaps all that Aida is referring to is some gentle family teasing regarding her thrifty ways. Within reason, that's no big deal, and not worth causing a fuss over.

If her relatives are actually making hurtful remarks regarding her clothes ("you're wearing that old thing again?!"), a taste of the same medicine might be in order. E.g., "You've got another pair of new shoes?! Wow, bet they set you back a bundle!". Or "Is that coat new? Looks expensive! How much? They sure saw you coming!".

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About the guilt: Unless you are actually causing harm, there should be no guilt.
Absolutely right.
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Old 06-17-2008, 04:04 PM   #30
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I hope this forum didn't have such a topic or if it did then it was long ago.
The following quote of CaseInPoint from "The Ultimate Cheapskate" thread: http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...tml#post670362 prompted me to start this thread .

Sure, there's a point at which overspending becomes garish and wasteful, but there's also a point at which being super frugal can become downright bizarre.
I really wonder how many people actually choose to live so frugally, as oppose to being forced into it.


I'm curious whether you are frugal by choice or your decision to become a frugal person was influenced by someone else (e.g. your spouse, friend, etc. or someone close went through bankruptcy that prompted you to evaluate your early lavish living, etc. etc.).

When do you think frugality becomes bizarre? Any real life examples?
This is all about perspective IMHO. After seeing families living in their one room hand built grass/bamboo/wood huts, all the furor about decorating a McMansion seems beyond bizarre to me. And depending on what part of the world, many of the hut people are in general happier and healthier than your average overstressed desk jockey here. I'm thinking parts of the Yucatan and the South Pacific specifically.
DH and I are considered bizarre by many at my ex-office for exiting the rat race, retiring early, living in a small old house and driving 15- and 20-year-old compact cars. Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn.
So what if I reuse my Chemex coffee filters? I'm not bizarre, I'm eccentric.
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Old 06-17-2008, 04:14 PM   #31
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With all due respect, there's "living frugally," then there's "being born in the right era."

It sounds like your parents had the fortune of living during the right era. I don't believe their accomplishments can be duplicated today. They had the benefit of almost non-existent taxes, a completely non-existent national debt (which contributed to the lack of taxes), very low property taxes and housing expenses relative to peoples' salaries, and a thriving economy.

Does anyone seriously believe that a carpenter could support 3 kids and a wife, while paying off a farm and a house, and still retire early, in this day and age? I'm sorry, no amount of frugality would make that possible today, in my opinion.

The Boomers borrowed their prosperity from their children. They ran up the national debt to keep their taxes low so they could pay off farms and homes and raise 3 kids on a carpenter's salary. And now we get stuck with the triple-whammy of having to pay their bill (via higher taxes), higher housing prices and educational expenses (relative to our incomes), and in many cases, paying for the medical care of our own parents.

But I'm not bitter.

My parents were part of the WW2 generation and I am a baby boomer.

There were plenty of people in both generations who did not do as well
because of lousy financial and life choices. In the end, one's lot in life
is based much more upon one's own personal life and financial choices
than what the government does or does not do. The first step for
improving one's lot in life is to stop thinking of yourself as a victim.


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Old 06-17-2008, 04:23 PM   #32
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Maybe I should have posted this in the windmilling thread.

I once got a ride with a guy going up to Oregon. This guy was so fanatical about saving gas that in stop and go rush hour traffic, he got out of the car and pushed! I told I didn't think it was safe to push a car a freeway in non emergency... He told me other stories of frugality that were equal bizarre.

I don't have kids but nothing that OP said regarding not gong crazy with spending money on kids seems out of line.
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Old 06-17-2008, 04:59 PM   #33
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thought of another one.. we asked DH's nephew to send us a fax of some needed family document as we live a couple hours away from all of them. Instead of just going to some copy shop where they have a fax service (for which we would certainly have reimbursed him the couple bucks or whatever), he spent probably more than an hour to drive 1/2 way across Rome on his motorcycle to go to his parents' house to scan said document and then send it to us via e-mail. I can't say if he was motivated by frugality or stupidity. He has a 'laurea' in Economics and Commerce; go figure.
Actually, he may have had a very good reason to do so. Here's the reasoning (note personal bias):

A) I HATE faxes -maybe this person is like me.

B) When you fax something, you really don't know how well it will come out - you are not on the other end to see it.

C) Due to 'B', you may have wasted the time (and money of a toll call or fax service).

D) Maybe he wanted an electronic copy for himself, or for you to have.

When you scan it, you can see what the scan looks like, and even clean it up if needed. Scans can be much higher DPI than a fax. When you put it a jpg or pdf format, you have a good idea that the person on the other send will see it just as you do.

E) I HATE faxes.

F) The fax on the other end might jam, run out of ink, whatever - you have no way of knowing. Or the line might be busy.

G) You end up having to call the person just to find out if they got it, and they would need to be there before you left the copy shop- with the email, they will just reply when they open it 'Yep, got it - looks good - Thanks!'

I had this happen just the other day. A FAX would have been a waste of time for me, and left me with no electronic copy for myself.

-ERD50 (who HATES faxes, BTW)
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Old 06-17-2008, 05:36 PM   #34
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With all due respect, there's "living frugally," then there's "being born in the right era."

It sounds like your parents had the fortune of living during the right era. I don't believe their accomplishments can be duplicated today. They had the benefit of almost non-existent taxes, a completely non-existent national debt (which contributed to the lack of taxes), very low property taxes and housing expenses relative to peoples' salaries, and a thriving economy.

Does anyone seriously believe that a carpenter could support 3 kids and a wife, while paying off a farm and a house, and still retire early, in this day and age? I'm sorry, no amount of frugality would make that possible today, in my opinion.

The Boomers borrowed their prosperity from their children. They ran up the national debt to keep their taxes low so they could pay off farms and homes and raise 3 kids on a carpenter's salary. And now we get stuck with the triple-whammy of having to pay their bill (via higher taxes), higher housing prices and educational expenses (relative to our incomes), and in many cases, paying for the medical care of our own parents.

But I'm not bitter.
the number of factual errors in this post are too numerous to count. However, if you will check the link, current tax rates for median and half median incomes are as low as they have ever been, and even those at twice the median income are not much above 1955 levels. All tax rates have fallen since the mid-1980s.

Historical Federal Income Tax Rates for Family of Four

I love it when Americans, pretty much the least-taxed population in the industrial world, bitch about taxes. But then again, the country was founded on tax rebellion. And yes, I am an American taxpayer.
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:23 PM   #35
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I've done the same thing in my PT Cruiser for a few years now since I do 98% of my driving alone....why should I haul around 100-200 lbs of seats that I rarely use?

Yikes! Cheap minds think alike! I've had this Nobel-prize-winning idea for years: We should make cars with detachable butt-ends (giant zippers right behind the front seat - 3 wheels on the front half, 2 on the back), so that you can leave the entire back seat and trunk at home when you don't need it.

Seriously, we can't apparently convince ourselves to drive smaller cars or car pool, but who would haul along the derierra of their car if they didn't need to? And, if you have a Big Car Ego, you'd still have bragging rights ... "You should see my back end! I don't use it much, but it's HUGE!"

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Old 06-17-2008, 06:32 PM   #36
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I actually think it's bizarre to set up a room as a "nursery". Babies need loving care and safety. We bought a crib and not much else. The same crib was used for both our kids. Since our friends and family have kids that are about a year or two older than our kids, we basically bought no clothes for our kids: they survived very nicely on hand-me-downs and used toys.

We are not particularly frugal in that we eat out alot, drive expensive cars, have expensive consumer electronics, take family vacations overseas, etc.

Here's when frugality is bizarre: When my MIL would come to visit, she would go through our kitchen trash can to find food to eat. We had to make sure that we emptied the trash can before she stepped in the door. Even then we had to leave "decoy food" in the fridge for her to find and eat: things like broccoli stalks, carrot heads, a chicken neck, old fish bones, etc.
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:40 PM   #37
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Hi Jeff, welcome to the board. I missed you at Arlington County library a few weeks ago. I'm gonna head to the library this week and get on the wait list for your book. Or I might go to the local mega book store and camp out to read your book while drinking some coffee. If the book is really good, I might break-down and order a copy for my kids to share -- taking a page from you.
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:45 PM   #38
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Whoosies - shut off the electricity. Don't own a car. Get back with us in a week or so and post( from work or a friend's) what you have learned.

There is only one frugal - extremely creative cheap bastardhood.

And dat's the name of that tune. Listen to Loretta Lynn's Coal Miner's Daughter to get in the mood.



Of course with time in the market - I ain't going back there. I prefer creative to bizarre.

heh heh heh - 12k in the 90's all in - my personal best - and yes there were some threats from the SO - she had a frying pan with my name on it - should I attempt some of my more 'creative ideas'! .
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Old 06-17-2008, 07:15 PM   #39
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Hi Jeff, welcome to the board. I missed you at Arlington County library a few weeks ago. I'm gonna head to the library this week and get on the wait list for your book. Or I might go to the local mega book store and camp out to read your book while drinking some coffee. If the book is really good, I might break-down and order a copy for my kids to share -- taking a page from you.

Hey Chris - Thanks for the welcome. Sorry I missed you, but I had a blast at the Arlington Library; found .67 cents in the sofa cushions there ... those things are like upholstered ATM's!

- Jeff Yeager
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Old 06-17-2008, 07:42 PM   #40
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Most baby gear was hand me downs and/or second hand purchase including the crib. We did pony up for a mobile to entertain the little buggers. Then they graduated to a mattress on the floor so they didn't have far to fall, then a box spring and a mattress on the floor and finally up on a frame. Painting and decorating occurred when the kid(s) was old enough to offer an opinion. Don't let Madison Avenue or a shopaholic co-worker get you all jazzed up.
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