Is Frugal Living the New Trend? And How Our Paper Missed the Mark

My husband was taking a break at work last night when he picked up a magazine at the facility he was cleaning. It was a copy of our local newspaper’s newest publication: Distinctly Northwest – Sophisticated Living. The magazine is geared toward the upper class, and includes articles on upscale living.

After flipping through the magazine, and then thinking for a while, my husband came to a conclusion. The newspaper got it wrong. The newest trend isn’t toward upscale living. It’s toward simple and frugal living.

We had this conversation yesterday morning, and he told me his reasoning. He sees, and blogs similar to this one, growing by leaps and bounds. Every time we turn around, there’s a new article on simple living, frugality, or the minimalist lifestyle. I have to admit he’s right.

In fact, ever since I wrote why the minimalist lifestyle appeals to me almost two months ago, I get at least one hit a day from a google search for “minimalist lifestyle”. Often I get many more. In fact, I would say “minimalist lifestyle” is second only to “being frugal” when it comes to search terms that lead people to this blog.

Beyond that, “going green” is a big social issue right now: not wasting, not overfilling our landfills, minimizing the stuff we buy, because it’s bad for the environment. Al Gore is pushing for us to take care of the environment with his popular documentary An Inconvenient Truth. (We can debate what I think about that another day…this post is about societal trends). What it boils down to is that there is tremendous social pressure to be frugal with our environment.

Add to that the fear of an impending recession, and people are watching what they spend. Housing prices are falling, people are losing their homes, and nobody knows exactly what the economy will do next. I think people from the lower class all the way up to the upper crust are beginning to keep a careful eye on what they spend, how they spend, and the impact it has on the world around them.

Personally, I’m all for the new trend. I’m not excited about an economy that’s tanking, but I think it’s high time people realized that spending more than they earn is a bad idea. I realize this is bad news for advertisers, because they will have to work harder to get people to buy unnecessary things.

What I would love to see is more publications on frugal living, financial responsibility, or anything that says life is about more than spending money. It seems to me that people are starting to figure out that money isn’t what makes the world go round. Perhaps someday the newspaper will catch on.

What do you think? Is frugal living the new trend? Or are we still a society that revels in upscale living (or wanna-be upscale living)?


By , on Nov 15, 2007
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Terri:

    Once upon a time…there was a gal who liked to live frugally…for was a blast to obtain clothing,toys,yarn at a fraction of the cost; I had a ship..and every weekend I would go sailing..that’s right;Garage sailing….I did all this then because it was Fun…now, I do it out of necessity…..oh, I am so grateful for all the skills I have learned over the years….80percent of everything in my home is secondhand…even the furniture..and well…my nest is frankly beautiful…it can be done…you too can be a frugalite….get advice where you can…just don’t pay for it!!!! Try bartering..a fabulous way to go…oh,,, I wish you all could see my home….*

  2. Katie:

    It’s wonderful that people are starting to embrace frugality. However, I hope this isn’t just a trend that will fall off when the economy improves. Careful budgeting, and a commitment to using our precious resources for the things that are truly important, shouldn’t just be a fad—it should be a way of life!

  3. I was forced to be frugal as a young mother and resented it. When my husband got a better job, I went way over board to compensate. For six years now, I’ve returned to the simple life. I love it! I’m so very happy to know there are so many people who are wanting to live more simply. This website and many others are a tremendous help! Thanks!

  4. southerngirl:

    One of my greatest regrets in life was that I didn’t LISTEN to my grandmother more when she wanted to tell us stories about when she was young, or when she was first married. So much experience there to learn from. I wish I’d learned more about making do, rather than always assuming wanting more was the what I should be doing.

    Our parents parents were hardcore frugalites, and I know it’s human nature to rebel away from your parents values to some extent but man I wish we’d kept that one. My grandma knew how to really cook! How to sew! How to make stuff! It boggles my mind a little bit when I think about all the household/domestic tasks I don’t know.

    (Gosh, I really liked this post.)

  5. Maybe it’s a modified frugal trend. I personally spend much less on the little everyday things (coffee, gum, movies, soda machine) but I am probably splurging more on the bigger, more expensive things that I really enjoy.

  6. Carol M:

    We have been going green for years. I moved from Phoenix to Pueblo into a smaller house. Star appliances when replaced, CFL lightbulbs, put on a sweater when cold instead of turning up the heat, etc. We got rid of lots of things and have been continuing to do so.

    My husband and I have lost weight and when we started to give clothes away decided we had too many clothes and in the future will get less clothes to suit our new lifestyle.

  7. Michelle:

    I’m not sure which way the trend is going – but I do know I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole “frugal village” out there! I thought I was in a very small percentage of Americans who live this way! I’m so glad to find all of yall – my frugal neighbors!

  8. I think it really depends on who you talk to, but people are more informed and they see frugal living as a practical and legitimate mean of living comfortably while securing a good future/retirement.

    As for Al Gore’s book, I love it. I don’t own it yet, but had a chance to read about 100 page in a store. I may pick it up this Christmas.

  9. Lynnae:

    Thanks for your input! I always love a good discussion on frugality!

    @Dawn – I love “what would Grandma do?” I think I’m going to remember that one!

    @Jennifer – I never really thought of “going green” as a ploy to get people to spend and waste more. That’s probably because I’m not really into “going green.” I’m just frugal with what I have, and I leave it at that. I can see your point, though, now that I think about it.

    @Michelle – I’m really glad there are a lot of frugal living and personal finance blogs out there too! I sure learn a lot from my fellow bloggers!

  10. Nell:

    I think there’s probably a little bit of both going on. More and more people are realizing that the way we’ve been living is unsustainable, but there are also a lot of people still going all out. I like to think that those of us who figure out how to live frugally now will be the most stable when the economy tanks.

  11. Dawn:

    Gosh when you think about it, it’s really only been a few generations of people living the materialistic and “quest for more stuff,” lifestyle. It wasn’t so long ago people naturally lived the reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle. I’m hopeful our world does try to get back to that way of life! But I’m fearful like Mrs. Micah commented, there still are a lot of people into their “McMansions,” gas guzzling SUV’s, and accumulation of stuff. I think as we keep modeling environmentally friendly and frugal living, hopefully it will spread! I always try to think … “What would Grandma do?”

  12. Paula:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks we are headed straight for a recession. I usually scoff when people cry “oh they economy is FAILING” because in my area things are really so good, but with the price of everything going higher and higher, I don’t know how much longer some people can hold out.

    People that are already struggling are really just going to fail.


  13. Unfortunately, if everyone starts living frugally all at once, its going to plunge us deeper into a recession. There has to be spending happening to stimulate the economy, which is why the FED is dropping interest rates.

    You are right that the problem is people are spending more than they earn, but its deeper, the problem is that people *have been* spending more than they earn for the last 25+ years, and when they all suddenly stop & start living on what they make, its going to be a hit to our economy which is like one big bubble made of credit card plastic.

    Going green is definitely a trend, and a ploy to encourage spending & waste in many ways. People are being told they should throw out their laminate & granite counter tops for eco friendly & renewable hemp ones, meanwhile the old ones go to landfills. People who are serious about the environment aren’t as much into making trendy “green” choices when they shop as they are about not shopping-doing things such as setting goals to completely eliminate garbage from their homes by composting, using cloth napkins & even toilet paper & feminine products, recycling, & shopping for clothing in thrift stores even when they can easily afford not to.

  14. I agree with Dawn, it is more like the “Yuppie” trend is failing and people are leaning back towards the norm.

  15. It’s certainly a new trend. Keeping up with the Joneses, high living, and such are still major (perhaps bigger) trends, though. But frugal living is gaining its ground.

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