About fifty, sixty years ago Frugality was executed and buried in the Graveyard of Old-Fashioned Virtues, along with Chastity, Prudence and other sermon keywords we don’t miss much.
I love dancing on graves as much as anyone. There’s nothing more obnoxious than virtues so virtuous that no one can tell you what they’re good for. But we may have a little re-thinking to do about Frugality. An aversion to excess and waste isn’t a virtue at all. It’s not about moral points.
Frugality is simply a strategy for getting the most out of your resources. The more you get out of your resources, the less of them you need. Therefore, you could conceivably dedicate less of your life to the pursuit of these resources. And who could object to that?
Ha! We have our suspicions! Could it be that capitalistic magnates framed and prematurely buried Frugality? Has our capacity for pleasure been hijacked and subverted, our imagination branded and slapped with a price tag?
Owning a lot of stuff didn’t used to be a prerequisite for happiness. But the amount of stuff the average American needs has grown so much that our houses are bigger and bigger to accommodate all of it. And even then it spills out into the garage, and then storage lockers are rented. Yes, we pay extra to store all of our excess stuff we don’t really need.
Here’s an idea: less stuff, fewer hours working, more time to figure out the true rewards of life.