Wikipedia.com: Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe the lavish spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. In the mind of a conspicuous consumer, such display serves as a means of attaining or maintaining social status. A very similar but more colloquial term is "keeping up with the Joneses".
According to the Frugal Zeitgeist, the Age of Conspicuous Consumption is over, or at least it's no longer cool. In other words, as the economy continues to tank, there's nothing worse than whistling a song and swinging your Prada bag as you walk past a recently-homeless family living in the family minivan.
As Frugal Z put it:
In hard times, showing off the latest and greatest trendy gear now smacks of showing either a distinct lack of common sense or gross insensitivity to people who have lost their jobs and are really struggling.
I'm kinda glad it's cool to be a Cheap A$$ed Penny-Pinching Tightwad these days. It's time for a new age of restraint - peppered with the kind of maturity that actually celebrates a little delayed gratification.
My interest in saving-my-way-to-riches came after meeting a man named Bob during a financial seminar. No kidding. Bob owned a couple of rental properties in an upscale shore town and saved his way to wealth by pinching pennies between his butt-cheeks and turning them into... well... you get what I mean. He was often mistaken for some homeless fella as he lost weight to keep his food budget shockingly low. This guy was like the Patron Saint of Frugal Fanatics. He was the first person I ever met who broke the rule, "You can't get rich by saving."
Many years after Bob, my interest in the whole "frugal" lifestyle skyrocketed after reading a book called The Complete Tightwad Gazette. The tips range from kinda bizarre to the totally awesome. The author tried all or most of the frugal tips and spent years writing about how the frugal lifestyle saved her family. They bought a daggone house with cash, and only the husband supported the family. The wife made it a full time job to save money, clothe the children, and feed the entire brood on super-tight budgets. She must be on to something, because I ony have two children and I'm always one nickel short of having two nickels to rub together.
Although I haven't fallen head-over-heels into the frugal
cult lifestyle, I made a few changes. Those changes will snowball until you can mistake me for a homeless woman I can hopefully rub two dimes together.
For those of you who aren't sold that being a cheapo is the new cool chic, what if you could save $1000 in one month? That's right. This site issued a challenge which features daily tips to guide you to saving $1000 or more in just 30 days. It's not exactly free money, but it will free your money. I haven't started the challenge, but when I do, my cheap ba'hind might splurge on dinner at
McDonald's Outback Steakhouse or something to celebrate the fruits of my frugal journey.
Do you have any stories about saving money to fight off the recent economic downturns?
Photo credit: Mint Software over at Flickr