A forgotten Golden Era virtue, Thrift

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Kahuna, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. Kahuna

    Kahuna One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    267
    Location:
    Moscow, ID
    Wow, I'm surprised at all the posts since I last visited. Apparently thrift has been brought up before on this forum but, since it seems to have stirred up some interest again, lets keep wringing more thought out of the topic.

    I try for that as well. It is exciting for me when I can find new uses for stuff I already have on hand.

    I don't look down my nose at anyone who truly needs a cell phone. I had one myself for three years when I really needed to have one. Haven't had one since because I really don't need it. What I question is whether most people truly need to be that connected all the time. Recently I saw two teenage girls walking side by side each talking to someone else on their cell phone. There's something perverse about that. I wonder if cell phones are causing us to lose the ability to be in the moment face-to-face with people.

    I guess my issues with cell phone have more to do with how they're used than whether they are a good tool. I have sat next to someone in the library or in the movies having loud conversations about their personal lives way too many times and, regardless of what drivers think, studies have shown that driving skill is severely impeded by carrying on phone conversations while driving (even with hands-free sets).

    I don't see thrift as being about deprivation. Rather I see it as being about knowing when you have enough. The doctrine of manifest destiny is still shaping American thought, the idea that it is our God-given right as Americans to have something even if the rest of the world doesn't have enough. One of the reasons we have to be thrifty is we sponsor 9 kids. One of our kids in the Philippines has a household income of $22 a month. I have my own weaknesses for "stuff" but I always try to keep in mind how little other people have when I get whiney about what I don't have. An eye-opening site that calculates where your personal income stands in relationship to the rest of the world is Global Rich List http://www.globalrichlist.com/
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The thing about thrift is that it isn't just about nickel-nursing. It's about *avoiding waste* -- which means not just thinking about how much something costs on the shelf at the store, but how much it costs otherwise as well. A "disposable" product might be inexpensive, but is the so-called convenience of use-once-and-throw-it-away worth the wastefulness that goes into producing, distributing, selling, and ultimately disposing of such an item?

    Personal thrift is all well and good, but we what we really need is to get back to thrift as a cultural virtue, to the idea that being wasteful is *morally wrong.* Of course, there's no chance whatsoever of that happening.
     
  3. Kahuna

    Kahuna One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    Moscow, ID
    Exactly! I still use on a daily basis kitchen tools that my great grandparents used in the 1800's. You talked in an earlier post about your ancient washing machine, still in use. We need to get back to making things that last for years and years. Sooner or later we'll have gone through most of our natural resources and we'll be very sorry that we didn't have the forsight to make things last instead of making everything disposable.
     
  4. W-D Forties

    W-D Forties Practically Family

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    684
    Location:
    England
    I think one of the biggest problems is the shoddy manufacturing quality of most items these days. Nothing is built to last. I am amazed if a microwave lasts 18 months, ditto a washing machine, etc. My bl**dy expensive 160GB ipod lasted 2 years before the hard-drive packed up. most of these products are made in the far east and is throwaway culture at it's worst.

    Well, I for one, am sick of it. I don't care if it's cheap, my time in constantly replacing products is worth more than the cost of the item. I would rather have one well made (and hopefully, locally made), well designed item 100 nasty plasticky cheap ones.

    If the regulations were that all 'white' and electronic goods HAD to have a 5 year guarantee we would all have better designed, better made products that, yes, cost more but were actually worth it.
     
  5. Slightly off-topic, but since Lizzie brought up avoiding waste, I thought this might be a good place to ask. I stopped buying water bottles and went back to drinking from the tap like we all did as children. It was partially to save money, partially to stop filling the landfills, but mostly because after doing some research, I found out that bottled water is basically just tap water filtered through questionable ways. My question is..... Does anyone else drink from the tap?
     
  6. Kahuna

    Kahuna One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    Moscow, ID
    My problem lately is even that when I have paid the price for "better" electronics they still don't last as they should. A well respected brand name is no longer an indicator of a product that will last. I like your idea of a mandatory 5 year (at least) guarantee from manufacturers. It would then serve their business interests to make things well.
     
  7. Phones are bad too. We have had to replace our regular phones every 2 years. I'm looking into buying more pushbutton phones and rotary phones for the house. I like them anyway ;)

    Oh and have you seen Lizzie's kitchen? It's darling. So is BoPeeps. You can find them here: http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?46987-Home-is-where-the-Kitchen-is
     
  8. Lincsong

    Lincsong I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,906
    Location:
    Shining City on a hill
    Depends on where that tap gets it water from. If I'm in Oakland, or on the Peninsula yeah. Out in the Delta? HELL NO!
     
  9. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I do. I have a glass water jug I keep in the refrigerator and refill as needed. Unless one has a well full of benzine, I don't see the point of bottled water.
     
  10. Kahuna

    Kahuna One of the Regulars

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Moscow, ID
    We found out when we moved here that the tap water, though perfectly healthy, tastes awful so we tote our gallon jugs to the store to refill them with filtered water. At least by using the jugs over and over again we're not contributing too much to the mountains of water bottles that go to the landfill.
     
  11. Well, I'm glad I'm not alone :)

    That's totally understandable. I have to let the water run for about a minute to get the taste from the old pipes out and then it tastes fine, but I know thats not the case for everyone.
     
  12. I'm curious about other ways everyone saves money, besides those that were mentioned. Kahuna? Anyone else??
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  13. Pompidou

    Pompidou One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,242
    Location:
    Plainfield, CT
    Our water is good when filtered - a bit chlorinated otherwise - and I only drink coffee anyway, so no need for bottled water here.
     
  14. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The thing with bottled water is that it's really a symbol of something that's very very wrong with modern culture: the way in which people allow themselves to be completely and utterly bamboozled by slick marketing.

    Bottled water was irrelevant until the 1990s -- but suddenly people began to think they *needed* it, that it was somehow better or healthier for them than the plain tap water they'd been drinking for generations. What happened? Did the tap water suddenly get foul? Was there some new revolutionary water discovery that could only be had in branded, sealed bottles? No. All that happened was that bottling companies realized that people who didn't drink soda were an untapped market, and the way to reach them was by taking the product they already were drinking, put it in a bottle, slap a label on it showing a frosty mountain peak or a sparkling brook, and give it a snappy name that sounded "healthy." And now, twenty years later, billions of dollars a year are spent on bottled water that's nothing but city tap water -- and sometimes not even run thru a filter.

    Dupes, saps, and yaps. The boys from marketing have us pegged.
     
  15. That's exactly what I was thinking when I went back to the tap. What in the world is so different? No one ever got sick drinking out of a hose on a hot summer day or drinking from the tap before, so why am I buying all of these bottles??
    It's amazing what the public will fall for and I'm ashamed I was one of them.
     
  16. Pompidou

    Pompidou One Too Many

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    Location:
    Plainfield, CT
    Some tap water really is bad - bad tasting. It's all situational. If your tap water and your bottled water taste the same, that's great. If not, be glad there are alternatives. Considering people in some countries drink puddle water with urine and god knows what else in it, I don't let the worst case scenarios of what you can survive on dictate my frugality. Just because it's possible to survive on gross tasting water, doesn't mean it's necessary to.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  17. Amy Jeanne

    Amy Jeanne Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,846
    Location:
    Colorado
    We filter our water. Philly water is NO JOKE!! lol Seriously, it's cloudy from the old pipes. We have to filter it or it looks gross. And that's pretty much all I drink is water. I drink milk and coffee, too, but I can't stand soda and most juices (thank goodness!), and I don't drink alcohol very often. I buy and make my own coffee -- buying it at DD every day was starting to add up. I do love OJ and apple cider, though. I like to keep OJ around, but apple cider is kind of expensive so I skip it most of the time. Silk Milk is good, but it's sugary and I stopped buying it.

    I also buy the no-name brand or shop brand whenever possible. Most of the time I think it's the same or BETTER than the name brands. Wegman's is a grocery store around here and their yogurt is the best tasting stuff I've ever had! It's 40 cents a container. But shopping at the Commissary at Ft. Dix beats anything, really. A gallon of milk is 2 bucks. Groceries for my husband and I at Wegman's was usually $180 a week. At the Commissary it's only $130 a week and we usually buy more, especially vegetables, fruits, and my husband loves his steaks!
     
  18. Pompidou

    Pompidou One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,242
    Location:
    Plainfield, CT
    Lately, particularly as I gather suppliers for my café, I've become more concerned about the source of a product than the price. I'm willing to pay a little more for a good conscience, and I favor supporting local, small businesses, when all else is close enough to equal. Connecticut has a small farmer's co-op of about 6-7 families and it's from them that the café will get its milks, for example. I've gotten big on fair trade, organic, good conscience products. The only downside is that feeling good costs you, and you pay a small premium for doing a good deed. I suppose a second downside is that it can be challenging to tell the real deal from clever marketing.
     
  19. Kahuna

    Kahuna One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    267
    Location:
    Moscow, ID
    I think foremost of our money savers is not having a TV - no cable to pay & no constant contact with advertising telling us what we need to have to be cool. We do have a video projector and watch movies with that. My wife bakes delicious whole wheat bread. We get day-old artisan bread from the food bank that we volunteer at when we need a change of pace. I've had one paid-for haircut in the 23 years we've been married. My wife did the rest. When we shop the supermarket we very rarely go down the middle aisles. The fresh, less processed foods are on the perimeter of the store so we usually shop there. We are lucky to have a supermarket with a very large bulk foods department. We rarely use coupons. The foods they promote are usually of the heavily processed, not very good for you variety. We go to the supermarket with a list of what we need and try, as much as possible, not to impulse shop. When we find an excellent value on a given item we'll buy in quantity to last until the next big sale. We have a freezer which is usually filled to the brim with frozen foods we've found good sales on and meals that we've cooked ahead of time and frozen so that when we are too busy to cook we don't necessarily have to go out to eat. We have 12 raised beds for growing our own vegetables and 5 fruit trees which haven't matured enough yet to give us much fruit but we've got big hopes this will be the year. We pay off any credit card debt every month so we don't accrue interest. We use the library a lot! Our branch has a particularly good and constantly updated selection of DVD. My wife runs the Friends of the Library book sale so we find many of our reading choices there.

    We buy almost all our clothing (with the exception of underwear - too big of an ick factor there:eeek:) at thrift stores. In a country with a clothing glut as big as America has it just seems stupid to do otherwise. There was a time when I really liked Reyn Spooner shirts, a very well-made brand of Hawaiian shirt. I'd see them in Nordstroms at $65 to $70 each and then would find them, in many cases brand new, at the thrift store for 2.95 to 3.95. Not hard to choose which price to pay under those conditions.

    I try not to allow myself to impulse buy. I will delay gratification until the right price comes along (my rule of thumb is 90% off or more the going rate). Sometimes it takes a long time for me to get something that way but when it does the getting is much sweeter.

    Finally, I would recommend anyone serious about saving money to get a hold of "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced decision). Used copies are available at Amazon for cheap. Best $10 you'll ever spend if you use it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  20. Kahuna

    Kahuna One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    267
    Location:
    Moscow, ID
    I agree with you there. I'd hoped when we moved here that the local tap water would be OK as I have always just drank tap water but it was so gross I just couldn't do it. Healthwise they assure us it's fine but it's good to drink a lot of water and, if you can't stand the taste of it, you're not likely to do that. We do refill our gallon bottles so that we're not constantly putting new bottles into the trash stream.
     

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