Monday, 27 December 2010

Frugal guilt

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

With the new year about to begin, the yearly urge to purge is coming on. Always with good intentions I bolt out the gate in January and fizzle out in a month or two. I want to be organized and finish all my projects, and sail through the year. This year will be that year, I hope... .

Another thing that comes with the year end is the self-assessment we all do. Did I live up to my goals and ideals? Or can I do better? I always think I can do better. But one of the worst areas I struggle with is frugal guilt. Growing up with older parents, who were adults during the Great Depression, I grapple with being frugal enough. As you can see, I am cutting the buttons off one of my husband's work shirts. Handmade, with whimsical pocket flaps and buttons I had already recycled, I am now cutting off the buttons, again, for the button jar. My husband has done his job, he has worn this shirt until it is so frayed, it won't do too much duty in the rag bag. In this case, I'm doing pretty good.

Other areas of the fabric nature, not so good. See, I grew up in the material culture of making all my clothes because it was much cheaper than buying store-bought clothing. I started sewing at age 8 or 9 and haven't stopped. I admit I was a very frustrated seamstress, but once I started quilting I was off to the races. Patchwork freed my mind, and a funny thing happened during that time, sewing became much more expensive, and clothing at the store came to be inexpensive. I would look at a dress on the rack, and do a mental tally: pattern - $5.00, fabric - $10.00+ per yard, notions - $5.00-$10.00, and none of that included the day at least that it would take to make the dress, making the rack purchase cost less. Now I know it doesn't really "cost" less due to all the issues surrounding the present day garment industry. I haven't came up with a cure for that, but I do dress differently too - work jeans, and sweatshirts from the Goodwill are the norm for me these days.

I'm not saying quilting is cheap either. Especially if you're a collector. I never could afford antique quilts, but I could sure afford antique quilt tops which took up much less space, and in some cases were as crisp as a newly minted dollar bill. But many were made from scraps, and some were made of soft, well-worn pieces of fabric. My favorite has some tiny pieces put together just to make a piece large enough to fashion a tiny one inch triangle. Now that is frugal! How easy I have had it, I grew up in a time where it is normal to buy large pieces of yardage and cut them into small pieces only to sew them back into a large piece of fabric! I dad-gum-goll-guarantee you that my quilting antecedents would ban me from a quilting bee these days.

But in my defense I would have to say this is where the generational guilt that we all carry comes in. My experiences are different than my forebears. I have to deal with the cards I have been dealt. I don't know for sure, but suspect that they carried guilt pertaining to their times too. I have never had to make a blanket out of patched together pieces of old clothing, but if I had to, I could now. So with that in mind, I sorted through the snippets and scraps I have been saving for years and I whittled the pile down to strips and pieces I thought I might use (quilt bucket list) someday...and I sent everything else to the Goodwill, where someone may find the scrap bag and give those pieces of my past sewing some life.

I guess what I am trying to do is justify my wasteful ways, many times we don't rise to the "occasion" if there has not been an "occasion" in our lives, yet. Life is a series of baby steps, taken one day and one project or learning curve at a time.

Do you have struggle with frugal guilt pangs too?


Hayden said...

yep. try not to buy things that are destined for a quick trip to the landfill. So when my coffee maker went out this year (after 5-6 years of service) I researched long and hard to find a replacement that'll last. But - it's turned to crap already, misdirecting the water and giving me a weak brew. What to do? I think I'll give the Toddy cold brewer a try. Not too much plastic, the carafe is glass, and it doesn't use electricity. In winter, I can avoid some of the energy use of heating water by leaving my tea kettle on my propane heater over night, then putting my 3 daily cups in a glass-lined thermos pot to hold.

But that's the future. Right now I've got a 6 month old, too-much-plastic Mr. Coffee headed for the landfill, and it's driving me crazy. I can keep and use the thermal pot, but - that's it. Aarghh!

David said...

My biggest gripe with today's culture is the toss and buy mentality. I still have to try and fix things when they break but it's virtually impossible to find the right parts so unless it's a simple broken wire fix, it can't be done. Even my grandson of six years old can see that we as a society throw too much stuff in the landfill.

Have a great week before the new year.

Tiffany Jewelry said...

I am living a frugal life. and it sounds good too. have a nice holiday.

jay said...

Hayden, why don't you get your coffee machine fixed?
If you did your research before you purchased and got a decent one it can be repaired. That would certainly be better than just throwing it!
My husband is a coffee machine repair tech - without any more information he says it may just be that the brew unit is blocked - easily fixable. Repair is inexpensive if no parts are needed - it may just need to be cleaned!

Laura said...

Hayden - get an electric percolator! We've got one and I swear that thing is going to outlive me. If you want to make your frugal self feel better, look for one on ebay (the GE ones are the best) or at garage sales.

Annette said...

I have saved so many shirts and such to repurpose into other cloths, yet the day job consumes so much of my time that those piles rarely make it into anything useful and end up stealing energy. It may be time to turn these loose to someone who has more time than I.

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Oh boy do I. But, I also struggle with space to save things! I only have an 1,100 square foot house, and if it becomes cluttered (lets be honest its always cluttered) it interferes with my getting things accomplished and in turn saving money. So, I try to suppress the guilt, knowing that I'm literally paving the way to getting stuff done! :)

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Joanne said...

Yes, I get the guilts too. But I think its important to remember that we can't live in the past. Our Depression-generation forebears were dealing with circumstances that were present to them. I need to figure out what is needed to balance frugalness/self-sufficiency/sustainability.
BTW, I save buttons too and any zips and fastenings that are still in good condition. I'm even making a collection of pockets- I have a quirky pocket quilt in mind.
That brings me to the whole other issue of hoarding guilt....

The Professor's Wife said...

Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Everytime I throw out food from the fridge I have "frugal guilt pangs"!

Cristina said...

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