Frugal: Economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving; not wasteful… (Webster)

Diverging from my list of “Leadership…” virtues, I would like to discuss something that perhaps should be thought about a bit more these days, and it wouldn’t hurt for our leaders to pay attention, too. I’ll give you as heads up in advance, this might be a bit of a rant, and maybe a wake-up call. You decide if it fits a bit too snugly for comfort.

This is a virtue that it seems many, perhaps especially Americans, have gotten away from. To tell the truth, it would be easy to aim this at a particular element of our society (e.g. I remember parents in my youth complaining about young people not being “thrifty,” etc.), but the truth is, if you look closely — there seems to be this mentality in our country that we have to have — NOW!

So lets not blame excessiveness on youth, or middle age, or middle and upper classes, etc. Just observe — yourself and others — and see what you see.

What I often see are people doing  a huge amount of getting, without, it seems, much thought for how, why, need, usefulness, etc. Just spend a few minutes watching at a convenience store (I wonder why they are so convenient?). People of all ages buying candy, sodas, junk food, and so on. Often to the tune of $10 to $20 or more just for a snack, or breakfast, or lunch. Want to go a bit higher in society? Pick a more upscale place — some coffee boutique.

Is this excessive? It seems so to me.

How about movies — pop, popcorn, and candy and you’ve spent well over $20 beyond the price of a movie. $7, $8, $9 for a soda??? All the time I see people spend lots and lots of money on immediate gratification rather than thinking through something instead and say, buying a soda two hours later at the supermarket for 50 cents or a dollar.

Are we a nation that simply self-indulges and cannot control our impulses?

Yes, I’m an old fart. When I was young I really didn’t have the money to buy stuff like this — pretty much ever. And what money I made, my parents made me save. But this non-frugality, this excess, isn’t just the young or rich, it seems to very much pervade our society at all levels. I do want to scream sometimes at the young and at those who are not prepared — “Look to the future!”

I was brought up in a lower middle-class family. Frugality was the name of the game. I was never in “want”; I had what I needed; we didn’t starve. As a result, both my parents moved from lower to upper middle class, through INTELLIGENT expenditure. We learned how to save money; how to spend it wisely; and so on. We learned where to find the best bargains and so forth.

We are comfortable today because we have always considered HOW and WHY we spend our money. We can buy the things we really want and care about now, because we understood the value of being frugal and wise when it came to money and things.

Debt is our national pastime. It doesn’t have to be. Be a bit frugal and wise and pay off those credit cards, debts, etc. Yes, it takes time, and a bit of sacrifice, especially in the immediacy of things, but it will help give you and your loved ones a future.

Make a resolution this next year to THINK before you spend that $7 on a coke or $3 on a bottle of water or…? Even once a day and you’ll be making a huge difference.

Life is, should be, a balance of things. I truly believe this. Find a balance that serves you and those you care for.


Joe Koob



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