Fairfield is one of the most idyllic towns in the county as anyone can plainly see when driving around. Energetic joggers and cyclists, involved parents, beach walkers, happy dog owners and homes with curb appeal. As I’ve come to learn is that you don’t always know what’s really going on—financially or otherwise—behind closed doors in any community.
You might be surprised to know how many people in our affluent community have trouble paying their bills and filling their refrigerators even though from the outside, it all looks fine and fabulous. I’ve heard countless stories since 2008 when the Two Frugal Fairfielders blog was born and since I began doing coupon and budget workshops in the area (TFF has evolved into an active Facebook page).
No one likes a hypocritical tightwad
I’ve learned that everyone makes their own choices about how they manage and spend money and we have to be respectful of how others live. Everyone is trying their best to live in this affluent area, although it isn't always easy when costs have skyrocketed. (If you want to see how costs have risen in the area, see this post that tracks how much things cost now versus the 1990s.)
So, we make our financial choices just like everyone else. Some families live in large homes. Others splurge on expensive vacations. Others rent, but spend money on the latest technology. Think about how you spend your money before making judgments on others. In my family’s case, we have a boat on which we spend money (seemingly all year), but we don’t live in an extravagant house, we own older cars and yes, I use coupons. It’s my brand of frugality and we have what I believe is a rich and joy-filled life (although it would be really nice to have a car with electric windows).
My brand of frugality is not based on fear or lack. It is based on the notion that living an abundant life is more about experiences than things--or the size of things. It's also about recognizing how incredibly lucky we are to be able to live here in this stunning beach town. Finally, my brand of frugality is about living a streamlined, balanced life which can be challenging when you live in a wealthy town like ours. Frugality is not a dirty word in our house.
I’ve been criticized for what I write in the TFF blog/Facebook page. Some readers think couponing is silly (although couponing workshops in Connecticut are popular), and others have written in to tell me that my personal definition of frugality is wrong. I was even told that I trim my chicken wrong so how can I consider myself to be frugal. Oh, my.
Sharing your own brand of frugality
Without writing about chicken again, in future columns I’ll talk about how we tend to struggle with our relationship with money, how to save it, spend it, love it, and I’ll share couponing and smart shopping news and strategies.
I’ve wanted to write a column for Patch for some time, and finally the opportunity appeared so I can reach out to more local frugal Fairfielders. Consider this space dedicated to readers who want to know more about and share thoughts on living a frugal life in our affluent town. And, as this column takes shape, please don’t hesitate to write in and share your thoughts on your own brand of frugality. ~TFFNext post: Couponing in Fairfield