Recently, I was delighted by the tremendous number of e-mails that I received from readers reacting to my column. Maybe it was my confession that I once couldn't afford a can of grape juice that struck a nerve.
To provide further inspiration for those who need prodding, I'm devoting this column to comments from readers, who are faithfully following the gospel of frugality. Here goes:
Believe it or not, one of the highlights of our family life is our Wednesday sojourn to the thrift shops. I sometimes marvel at the sight of my clothing when I realize that everything I wear on any given day and 90 percent of what I have in my closet is a thrift-shop purchase. Those visits on Wednesdays are not only financially enhancing, but also cathartic in nature." - Tom
I had a conversation with a real estate agent several years ago who told me about a couple (with no children), who each made more than $100,000 and still rented. She was trying to help them buy a place, but they couldn't afford one. They spent everything they made and had no savings or money for a down payment. So no matter what the income, if people haven't learned to live within their means, they will always have a problem! - Sharon, who wrote this e-mail while wearing a Liz Claiborne outfit that she bought for $8 at a thrift store
I saw myself in your column today. I was a yuppie in the '80s, moved to San Diego for my husband's job in the '90s, where we lived on his income and had two kids. I slowly built a consulting business and now we could spend a lot but don't, partly because of those years of frugality. Like you said buying used saves you money, but I think you missed the opportunity to also say that buying used items saves the planet's resources. We buy organic fruit and vegetables through a community-supported agriculture program. For $20, I get a box of food direct from a local farm delivered to a nearby location. The variety and quality are excellent and I know I'm supporting local farmers who don't use chemicals to grow our food." - Anne
About 25 years ago, my husband and I fell on financial hard times due to an injury and unemployment challenges. Necessity being the mother of invention, we learned to live very frugally while certain acquaintances and relatives lived quite high off the hog. Well, things got better for us; we both got decent jobs but continued to live beneath our means.
We are now in our early 60s, retired, enjoying long RV trips in our adequate, used, but unimpressive motor home. We are debt-free and can live comfortably on our pensions and prudent investments in our modest, comfortable, but not too fancy mortgage-free home.