Friday, May 07, 2010

The New Frugality

I'm all for saving a buck or two. Snatching something on sale, striking a deal, or getting something for nothing. Yet, I'm also one of of those types that gather coupons in my house and car, dragging them out for redemption two days after expiry. I have tried to read flyers and check sales, but I just get bored and end up shopping at the same places as always. After all, no matter what I might hope for, wine and camembert just never seem to be good items to hang your frugal hat on.

So I read, with a certain amount of bemused fascination, an article on the "new frugality" that people have embraced. Of course frugal living is a by-product of the recent economic malaise. Coupon hoarders have been around for decades. Carrying in their binders and organizers packed with clipped bargains, we've all heard the stories of these "coupon heads" leaving the grocery store with carts of food stuffs and paying $1.25.

But that is passe. The new frugal living folk fill blogs with tips and tidbits on extreme frugalness. Splitting two ply toilet paper into two rolls, grabbing ketcchup packs from fast food restaurants for home use, and in one case, bragging that you live in a house without a toilet (Which of course saves you a great deal in the two ply to one ply activity). At the most extreme, the new frugal folks even recycle and reuse dental floss. These activities might save a few pennies, but they hardly seem sensible, or even very practical.

For retail and service industries, all these uber frugal practices create one big headache. Frugalites brag of their conquests with restaurants to score free meals with their endless criticism of minor imperfections. After chowing down on free burgers, they go shopping, scoring discounts for slight imperfections in clothing. Asking for (and receiving) dollars off on products that are slightly banged and bruised. When that does not work, they go dumpster diving, looking for case off merchandise and food.
Whats the lesson here? Well for one, "The Retail Muse" is far too high maintenance to unroll toilet paper and reuse dental floss. Besides that, awareness if the lesson of the day. While these individuals might be the extreme of frugal living, College stores should be aware of this movement, and assess their customer refund and discount expectations in light of the possibility of uber frugalists living on campus.

Beware the new frugalist, and grab only as many ketchup packs as you need for one meal.

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