Monday, 18 July 2011

Because you're worth it?

Sorry it's been ages since my last post. I have been working away from home so not had much time to sit down and write.

It has been interesting for me watching how other people live their lives. I was working some of the time in Jersey where, ok, there are many well off people; yet, being well-off doesn't really signify a wasteful nature. In fact, although they live in big houses and drive nice cars and go on holiday, many of them seem to have a fairly frugal attitude towards their needs, particularly where food is concerned. There is definite attitude of not wasting anything, the chicken carcass becomes stock, the left-overs become tomorrow evenings dinner. Perhaps it is how wealthy people remain wealthy?

So why is it that people with less money tend to throw away food, tend to not eat left-overs because it is too boring to have something that they have already eaten this week? Perhaps it is the lack of tradition and the reaching for some pseudo-celebrity life style that is the problem. We are all told over and over again by various media sources what we should be spending our money on and how we should be living our life. We should buy this shampoo because Cheryl Cole uses it (sure she does!),  we should wear designer labels because if we do we will attract the right sort of person and be living the life that our favourite celebrity lives, we should listen to this music because everyone else who watched x-factor thought it was good, if we love our children we will buy them a £700 flat-screen tv for their bedroom. When is the World going to stop listening to what the media tells us we should be doing and start living our own lives in our own way? Celebrity culture is telling us that not only do we need everything, but that we deserve it! 'Because you're worth it' seems to have replaced old-fashioned values. We are no longer striving for a good happy home life, now we are striving for everything, we deserve it all, apparently. It is easy to begin to assume that having all the things that other people have is the secret formula to a happy home life. It is actually of course just the secret formula for accruing what is apparently now the average debt outside of a mortgage or £9700.

I have a friend who is a single parent with 3 children, her mortgage is almost paid off, but she earns less than £11,000 a year. She recently told me that she is now really buying her clothes from shops in the next level up than places like next, she now buys Crew Clothing and tops from small expensive boutiques in town. How and why? She says that it makes her look better than cheap next clothes (cheap?) Of course, the answer is that she is told that a woman in her 40's deserves to look good and the way to do that is by spending more money on herself.

 Going back to all the people I met on Jersey, they are perhaps living an expensive life style in a lot of ways, because they have the money to do so, but they are not in general doing it because Cheryl Cole told them that they are worth it. They are doing it because they have always done it. In the same way they are boiling up chicken bones to make next weeks soup, they are serving beef sandwiches because they had a beef joint at the weekend and sliced it up for use through the week. Tradition and old fashioned values.

It is like a tonic to me to read other peoples blogs, people with the same attitude as me, to get back down to reality, to ground myself and know that there is a movement of people out there that are reacting against the I deserve it and I want it now trend.


  1. There are a great many people out there who think like you. Our tea yesterday was chicken casserole and rice, today it will be chicken casserole and chips, tomorrow I might pad it out with extra veg and have it with pasta. The chicken bones have already been boiled to make stock. With luck we should still be eating it for the rest of the week in one form or another. And it's delicious so we won't tire of it!!
    Love from Mum

  2. Hi, It is true wealthy people have a different mentality towards things. I know of a particular family who don't buy meat because it is expensive and have other quirky ways. They do not spend unless they have too. I used to find some of their ideas comical but in recent times I've thought perhaps they are not so wacky.

  3. I have always known that some people have the knowhow for living a frugal existence. Some of us, including some rich folk, have learned these kills from our parents or grandparents.
    If you have not had those skills handed down to you from generations before you, it`s not surprising that you prefer to be more frivolous
    with your attitude towards spending and what you spend your money on. Some folk will always
    strive to impress the next man by their attire,
    and that`s a pritty sad way to live. It comes down to prioritizing your life. If you have been brought up in a fast moving society where
    everything can be had by means of money you will always look to improve yourself with that
    comodity. If you had a more grounded and balanced upbringing you might not feel the need to impress the next man, or to show your wealth with the way you can throw your money around, and often throw money away on unecessary accessories, clothe or fast foods.
    Once you had learned the basics to provide a comfortable way of living you can have a happy existence without the constant need for things.
    Sadly, modern society does not educate us in this way. But, there are still plenty of us folk about that know how to survive without the
    modern trappings of the consumerism that exists around us. It`s a matter of personal choice and prioritizing our chosen life stile that sets us apart from the rest. Stick with us old wise owls, kiddo. You`ll always be in good company here.

  4. I'm content and happy with my frugal ways. I had grandparents and my parents were of a generation that had to make every penny count. I watched my grandparents stretch meals and live a frugal life and I have these memories within me. My parents scrimping and saving to make ends meet but we never went hungry, always had lots of homemade wholesome meals. Always had homemade clothes and knitted cardies but we were happy and content with our lot. All these memories have moulded me into who I am today. I don't get gratification from spending on expensive clothing. I don't need expensive cosmetics to look good. I'm happiest making all my homemade meals and not wasting my money on crap food that advertising says I should buy. I don't give a toss if someone thinks my lifestle is strange. I'm happy that's all that matters.

  5. I'm amazed at how very subtle the advertising/marketing has become. Even an article in the newspaper that appears to point out a product's shortcomings somehow manages to sum up its finer points as adding up to more than the negative. And boy, do I ever get irritated when I find myself suddenly craving something that a few months before I couldn't have cared less about. The malt powder in the muffins I'll be making for breakfast will be the last to that latest addiction...the spell is broken. ;)

  6. It's true what you say about rich people staying rich by being careful. I used to do repairs & alterations on an army base. Whilst the enlisted men & their families hardly ever repaired anything, most of the officers, who in those days still came from the "upper Classes" repaired everything & I do mean everything. I was often asked to repair underwear & socks by threading new elastic around the tops, turn shirt collars & put patches on everything. These people bought good stuff in the first place & got their money's worth out of everything before binning it, switched off everything that wasn't used in their homes and only bought what was necessary. A Lesson to us all I think

  7. Our "who dies with the best toys wins" paradigm has led us to be facing the oncoming crisis of peak oil and climate change. We desperately need to adress our "status objects" and the disconnect we have from the planet. Food, especially foraging and an awareness of the environmental cost of our food seems to me to be key to the necessary mental shift.

  8. Hello, just found your blog from a link on Frugal Graduate's blog. Started reading from the beginning as i like to do with new blogs! For myself and my other half, the best thing we have done for ourselves in recent years was ditch the TV. We have sort of swapped it for the internet, admittedly, but the range of information and interesting things to see and learn about via the net is enormous compared to the paltry rubbish on the telly. The best thing is not seeing any of these adverts. Add blocker software also means we dont get endless adverts pushed at us from the net either. The effect is huge. Its simple really, stop looking at the ads and forget all about what theyre trying to sell you. Sometimes I think people have just never thought about not watching TV, its becomes such an ingrained part of our culture. To be fair to some kids, they've probably never had the opportunity to NOT watch TV. Thank god for the awesomeness of the internet which might some day replace it!