A brave new frugal world

The new age of austerity is upon us. Salaries are falling, prices rising, and we’re all going to be wearing our best sackcloth and ashes in an attempt to out do our neighbours in the fiscal suffering stakes.

But is it really all doom and gloom?


The ever growing flood of humanity. Photo: James Cridland via Flickr

It is my opinion that learning to live within your means is not a bad lesson for any of us. Managing their lives with limited resources was something most of our forebears dealt with on a daily basis. In the business world it is the norm to operate inside strict resource boundaries. A good manager works within their resources to achieve set goals. Why should life be any different?

Now there are any number of articles in the media that will try to show you how to save money. The tips range from shopping at discount supermarkets to how to make your own clothes. But the one thing many of these articles miss out is the necessary change of mindset that needs to be adopted.

It’s not just a matter of saving money, but to take pride in the act of saving money. To be so joyous at living frugally that you boast about it on Facebook or Twitter. It has to become second nature to question every purchase. To ask whether you actually need that Blackberry, iPhone or designer outfit. If your life doesn’t depend on it then you don’t need it.

But the current fad for “waste not, want not” shouldn’t just apply to our personal economic situations. It should also apply to the global ecology as well. Every resource, even such basics as clean water and breathable air, is limited. Perhaps we, as a species, should apply the frugal attitude to not just our economies and personal spending habits but also to the world around us and the burgeoning human population.

Thomas Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population” was an 18th Century wake up call. A warning that the human race could not continue to expand within the available resources. In effect, he was saying that we were living beyond our means and that the day of reckoning would be an unpleasant experience for us all. Much like today’s economic woes.

If we adopt a mindset that embraces frugality, that shuns waste for waste’s sake, and seeks to make the most of what we have, we might just make the world a better place.

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