A renewed push toward frugality

As many of you know, B.C. is a pretty frugal guy, or at least tries to be. But this is modern life, and so it’s not always easy.

Case in point: My sister’s wedding. While I tend not to go to weddings when invited (and my absence is rarely noted — I’m hardly the focus of most couple’s big day, afterall) my sister’s wedding is definitely one of those can’t miss, not getting out of it scenarios. I personally think traditional weddings are an enormous waste of money that can be better spent elsewhere (or better yet, saved!).

But, it was my sister and new brother in law’s wedding, so they call the shots, and I go along for the ride. After all, they’re bearing far more of the expense than I.

I didn’t mind buying wedding presents — my sister’s list included a number of practical items, and I ended up buying a cheese board and grill tray from Bed, Bath and Beyond from their registry.

The one that’s been sticking in my craw? The tuxedo rental. All told, it ended up costing me $250. For one outfit, to wear one day. As a frugal thrift shopper, that $250 is probably more than I’ve spent on clothing for the past 3 years, and at the end of the wedding, I have to give it back.

I had no involvement in the planning process of what the wedding party would wear, and wasn’t told anything about the cost until I got to the checkout. The pain in my gut, born of years of frugal living, burned in my loins as I pulled out my credit card.

What bothers me is that it seems like such a waste. I would have rather spent that money, or even a little more money, on a nice suit I could wear for presumably the rest of my adult life. It would have been an expense, but at least it would have gone toward something useful. As it stands, I now only have a picture of me in a nice tux (which is nice for my dating profiles, though still not worth $250!).

Seeing my sister get married was a great experience, far more meaningful for me than I expected. Her and my brother in law have been together for 13 years, lived together for much of that time, so going in I thought of it more as a formality. It turned out to be far more emotional for me than I expected.

But with her wedding over, it’s time to renew my passion for frugal living. Why do I do this? I’ll probably make a whole new post about this at some point, but I’m one of those FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) nutjobs you might have heard about. The basic idea is to spend the minimum amount of money to obtain happiness, allowing yourself to save the money that will eventually allow you to be free from work. That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t work. What it does mean is that you have enough money that work is optional, and you can pursue only the work you want to do.

It’s also important to note that this doesn’t mean self-deprivation. It’s really more about learning to appreciate the simple things in life; not needing every new gizmo and gadget as it comes out; not buying into the constant upgrade consumerism cycle (something common in one of my favorite pursuits, cycling); and being content to enjoy things once in a while instead of all the time. In other words, a treat should be just that: a treat. A good example: One of my favorite summer time activities is pizza on the farm at Stoney Acres Farm in Athens, WI. It’s a lovely Friday night activity with a nice craft beer or two (or three or four) and pizza made in wood-fired ovens with ingredients right from the farm. It’s a great treat, and one I indulge in — once or twice per summer, not every Friday. That way, the times I do go are special.

Of course, that $250 I spent on a tux would have paid for a summer’s worth of pizza on the farm nights. Just sayin…


I’m B.C. Kowalski, writer and photographer, among other things, in Wausau, WI. I also write books, including the Robot Awareness series, and I run Define Photography. Follow me on Twitter too!

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