Yesterday I had the honor of appearing on a video chat with Experian on the topic of “Frugal Ways to Go Green This Year”. This was my second video chat with the credit mega house. My first chat was back in the winter on the topic of health living. You can view yesterday’s discussion on going green on the cheap on the Experian site as well.
The first question on the docket was, “What does frugality mean to you?”
I’m glad they asked. Let’s find out the answer to that question.
What Being Frugal Means to Me
Being frugal means making conscious and prudent choices about what I choose to consume. This definition runs across a number of choices I have made in the past. These include:
- Buying a Home: As I mentioned at the beginning of the video, I bought my current home during the downturn in the economy. That means that I have a mortgage of just $450 per month for a 1200 sq. ft. loft that was built in an old schoolhouse. I remember being pressured to live in different neighborhoods and to buy a more expensive home because most people go into the home buying process under the premise of finding the biggest and best home they can afford. I, on the other hand, went into the housing market asking myself what was the smallest and least expensive house I could buy that also met my needs. See how that changes the whole game? That’s what frugal living is all about.
- Not Falling Victim to Lifestyle Inflation: Once I graduated from business school, and my income started to increase, I could have decided that I should buy more house (or more clothes or more entertainment or more vacations). However, I was lucky enough to feel quite comfortable where I was in life. In fact, before my income went up I had made the realization that even if I won the lottery there wasn’t much I would change about my lifestyle. The only difference would be that I’d worry less when something went wrong.
- Watching What I Eat: Being frugal is not limited to money choices. It is a mindset that means not living to excess. The same can be said for making prudent choices around my nutrition. I choose not to overeat, and I choose to fill my body with nutritious vegan foods (and ice cream). It just so happens that filling my body with nutrition vegan foods (and ice cream) also costs less. Eating less food also costs less than eating more food, obviously.
- Pre-Planning my Fashion Finds: First, let me state that I am not a fan of cheap clothing. The whole cheap clothing industry is built under the assumption of “rip and replace” where clothing is coming in and out of retail stories on the daily. A constant cycle of buying cheap clothing is not only a waste of money, but it relies on utilizing the cheapest labor conditions available. This comes at a tremendous human cost, and being frugal includes considering those human costs as well. Instead, I put a great deal of pre-planning into my seasonal wardrobe. You can find out more in “Drastically Reduce Your Clothing Budget (without reducing your fabulousness)“.
That all seems pretty cut and dry. Let’s see what happens when I answered the third question in the tweet chat, which was, “What does “going green” mean to you?”
What “Going Green” Means to Me
My definition for going green is all about making conscious and prudent choices about what I choose to consume. Wait. See what just happened there? It turns out that the definitions of going green and being frugal are exactly the same. They are both all about making conservative choices regarding the utilization of resources. Let’s see ways that I practice being green.
- Buying a Home: Here we are again. Remember when I mentioned buying my home during the downturn in the economy and coming to the decision based on the idea of buying the smallest house at the lowest price that would still meet my needs? It turns out that this was also a green decision. Even more, I live in an old schoolhouse that laid vacant for a couple of decades before some of my neighbors stepped up to get funding from the city and the state to reuse this beautiful building for housing. That reuse was a greener choice than new construction.
- Not Falling Victim to Lifestyle Inflation: When you increase your spending as your income rises you are also increasing your carbon footprint since consuming resources means consuming resources. That’s as simple as it gets.
- Watching What I Eat: Remember me mentioning my vegan diet? It turns out that while adopting plant based proteins make your grocery bills cheaper, it is also the case that being vegan is the most green thing a person can do. Check out this infographic from Green Living Mag that breaks down the carbon footprint found in the foods you eat. It turns out that one single person can reduce carbon emissions by 1.5 tons (that’s right…I said tons) per year just by going vegan.
- Pre-Planning my Fashion Finds: See a trend here? If you are not falling victim to the cheap clothing cyclone, then you are utilizing fewer resources. Period.
The False Logic Behind the Idea that Green is Expensive
One of the challenges with adopting green habits is a belief that those choices are expensive. It turns out that if you want to go frugal, then you do so by reducing your footprint. You do so through reducing, reusing, and recycling. I know this to be true because while many think my vegan diet must be expensive, I am hear to say that one of the reasons why I spend $50 or less per week on groceries is that I buy cheaper plant based proteins over more expensive meat based proteins. That same diet helps me be more green than any other choice that I make.
So, what do you think? What does being frugal and being green mean to you?