One of the aims I have for this year is to save money, clear debt and use what I have rather than looking to acquire more. So I’ve decided to have a year of frugality – a word I have chosen carefully.
I was chatting to a friend about my plans and he said “ahh a year of austerity” and my reply was, “no, a year of frugality – it’s different”.
For me the choice of word was deliberate, it’s about how I want to approach the year, and also acknowledge that compared to many people my life, even with spending pared back quite heavily, will not be austere.
What is in a word?
I could rattle on about my thoughts on the meaning of frugality but the Wikipedia definition sums up what I was thinking when I chose the word:
“Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.
“It has been defined as the tendency to acquire goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourceful use of already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal. Common strategies of frugality include the reduction of waste, curbing costly habits, suppressing instant gratification by means of fiscal self-restraint, seeking efficiency, avoiding traps, defying expensive social norms, embracing cost-free options, using barter, and staying well-informed about local circumstances and both market and product/service realities.”
In contrast both Wiki and my Oxford English dictionary (which agrees with Wiki on the definition of frugality too) typify austerity as sternness or severity of manner, extreme plainness and in the context we are used to now – “difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce a budget deficit, especially by reducing public expenditure” (OED). So while austerity is the accurate term for the papers to use and the correct definition of the current economic climate of the country, I don’t feel it’s the best way to look at the challenge from a personal level; a frugal life I can do – even become passionate about – but not an austere one.
As I alluded to earlier I am aware that I am lucky in the fact I have a choice in how I approach the need to reduce costs and be more prudent with money; the time has come to clear debts, live more responsibly and through being more aware of what I really need, what I waste without thinking and what I already have stored away, to tread more lightly; remembering that resources both economical and environmental are under more pressure than ever and even little things can make a difference once they are all added up.
So what about the salad – well it is a small start but I had one for dinner and it contained a beginning of a new frugal way of doing things. Yesterday I made a nice noodle soup for dinner. When making it I chopped too much ginger and green chilli and wanted to use the coriander leaves not the stalks. In the past I would have probably swept the remainders in to the food bin, reassuring myself that they were off to be composted, so not really wasted. But instead I put them in a small dish.
Today they became the base and inspiration for tonights dinner, brought together with some Halloumi cheese that moved house with us in September and was technically well past it’s best before date. Not a big grand showy start – but then that wouldn’t really be the frugal thing to do.
Fry the chopped fresh root ginger, half a deseeded green chilli and the finely chopped coriander stalks in some olive oil. Cut up the Halloumi and place it in the pan to brown.
Wash and shred some lettuce, I had some left over cucumber so I cut that up and put it in too plus a few extra coriander leaves. Once the Halloumi is browned on both sides squeeze over some lemon juice and tip over the salad base, scrape out any remaining oil and crispy bits and add them too + a drizzle more olive oil – dinner is served.
PS: The ampersand in the title
I know it’s not strictly correct to use it but I like the way they look in headings, typographic wild man that I am.