Frugality: It’s Not Just for Americans Anymore

No matter how long I live out of the US, I cannot shake the value of getting the BEST DEAL. As Americans if we haven’t gotten the best price for something we feel somehow cheated. You know what I mean…

We go to parties and boast about how we got the expensive shoes we’re wearing for 80% off at the end of year sale. We subscribe to Consumer Reports magazine to find best energy-efficient car and then drive around for hours to bargain with dealers within a 50 mile radius from our homes. We go to our neighbour’s garage sale and negotiate them down from $15 to $12.50 on their barely used weed whacker. To us this is not hypocrisy it is frugality. e-Bay, Amazon and Costco would not exist without us! It is in the fabric of our being that

Paying full price = guilt

Or at least that’s what I tell myself. This impassioned diatribe betrays the many years I’ve had to hone this belief. I grew up in a household that revolved around frugality. My mom would sit with her coffee on Wednesday and Sunday mornings clipping coupons and itemizing her shopping lists by store so she could use each precious voucher. She made our clothing to save money. I walked to school to save on gas costs. We ate leftovers. We wore sweaters and turned off heater at night to save money. (green before our time?)

Frugality starts young. Me wearing dress mom made from left over sofa cushion fabric and sporting a kitchen haircut.

I used to hate this as a child. I was NEVER, ever going to do this as an adult!

As a teenager I succumbed to buying clothes on sale as I discovered that my babysitting money seemed to go further. By university I stock-piled bulk purchases of ramen noodles. Buying my first house meant Sam’s card membership. You know the rest of the story…age and having lean financial times forced me to change refined my attitude and yes, you guessed it! — I’ve become my mother.

But I thought that frugality only applied to Americans. Imagine my surprise when a friend of mine visiting her UK family posted the following:

“woke up at 1030 [am] having watched Extreme Couponing until midnight – OMG new favourite programme, upset that I’ll miss the season finale next week 😉 XXxxx”

WT…? I don’t even know what “Extreme Couponing” is…ahh…but we live in Sydney, the land without coupons or this show. I know this is hard to believe but there are no coupons here. If you live in a “safe” suburban neighbourhood you will get sales catalogues from the grocery store and other chains once a week. But there are NO COUPONS!!!

From the Australian website

I’m wondering: How did a fellow expat Sydneysider from England not being exposed as a child to coupons end up being addicted to “Extreme Couponing” overnight? I did some research (ok, one google search) as I wanted to be a part of couponing fever — until I read this:

“One thing I won’t be doing is spending 70 hours a week clipping coupons or dumping plans just to go shopping!” crazysexyfrugal

70 hours a week???

Before reading about “extreme couponing” a part of me missed my weekend couponing ritual. I’m now grateful I live in the land without coupons. I’m worried about my fellow Americans. You cannot spend this much time couponing and/or watching others extreme coupon! Even Huffington Post exclaims: Couponing Can be Hazardous to Your Health (because it promotes buying unhealthy food). Help exists. If you want to coupon sensibly, perhaps check out this post Extreme Couponing: I’m about to step my game up!

As for my Pommie friend I can only hope she’ll return to her British heritage:

Free Image Wikipedia Commons

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4 Responses to Frugality: It’s Not Just for Americans Anymore

  1. thedailydish says:

    LOVE this post! I remember my mom clipping coupons (pronounced “Q-pons”) too – though she often forgot to use them before they expired!

    I am a bargain shopper, though the only coupons I use tend to be from BJs (another big box store like Sam’s). I have at least one friend who carries a coupon caddy in her purse. I saw one recently and thought about buying it – but it seemed like to much money to spend to save money!! LOL

    I couldn’t agree more about American frugality. I think it’s a good thing, truly, overall. Extremism is bad in all forms, coupons included. One great thing to note: Whole Foods now has monthly circulars w/ coupons – and you can even print out coupons form their website. Often they’re for items I don’t use, but BOY do I love the fact that they’re doing it!!

  2. gaycarboys says:

    Great post. I envey you sending from your ipad though. I don’t seem to be able to blog from my ipad. Never mind, thanks again

  3. Love the “Keep Calm and Carry On” sign. I’ve seen it posted somewhere else recently. Wonder if I’ll see it again soon in yet a third place? If I see it again, I may have to buy a tiara. 😉

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