Confessions of a Frugalista

A frugalista is not a Scrooge!
A frugalista is not a Scrooge!

The expressions cheap, stingy, scrooge or even the all-American tight-wad each carry with them a huge burden of negativity, so when I recently read about someone who described himself as a ‘frugalista’ with all the pride with which the Kardashians adopted the term ‘fashionista’, I decided to spread the word (literally).
So, how can we define the term? For me, it’s someone who has worked hard for what they have and hates to see it or anything else, go to waste. With this positive definition in mind, I can proudly declare myself a member of the frugalista fraternity.
I come from a long line of frugalistas. I remember my grandmother reversing the frayed collars of my grandfather’s shirts and darning the holes in his socks while my own mother turned worn sheets ‘sides to middle’ despite our very vocal protestations that the newly formed central seam was truly uncomfortable to sleep on. Not to be outdone, my father grew mountains of vegetables from seed and even built an enormous chicken coop in our suburban garden!

My own frugalista herb garden.
My own frugalista herb garden.

Now I have nothing against a veggie patch, in fact I have recycled packing crates into stylish planters for that very purpose, but my forebears other pursuits in the name of frugality are a step too far for me.

Frugalista creativity and beauty abound at this market stall
Frugalista creativity and beauty abound at this market stall

Nonetheless, the apple didn’t fall too far from that proverbial tree and I was ‘upcycling’ decades before it became fashionable. Over the years, a lack of cash has seen countless items being repurposed, reinvented and renovated and although these days it has become more of a game than a necessity, the thrill of making something out of (practically) nothing is as powerful as ever.


A beautifully painted stone. Frugalist creativity at its best
A beautifully painted stone. Frugalist creativity at its best

We recently happened across the Yellowwood Forest Farmer’s market in Morgan Bay, where everything is handmade, recycled and /or organic, and what a delight it was!


The very height of recycling and reusing in this frugalistically savvy buiding.
The very height of recycling and reusing in this frugalistically savvy building in the Yellowwood Forest.

The sheer creative talent shown in using unloved materials to create whimsical buildings and useful artefacts was mind boggling! There was a pie-warmer ingeniously constructed from plywood off cuts and a simple light bulb housing delicious homemade fare and a rickety old ladder used to house pot plants. I even bought a painted stone (yes, I really did), because how could I not support someone who is so optimistically ingenious.


However, despite my frugalista tendencies, I also truly believes the old saying  that shrouds don’t have pockets. To me, accumulating money for money’s sake is pointless, so I choose to squirrel away my frugalista profits to spend on memorable holidays that I’d otherwise not be able to afford. As I watch the sun set on an exotic tropical beach with my pink (or blue, or green,) umbrella bedecked cocktail in hand, I know that every hour spent repurposing, repairing and reinventing things has been worth it!
So, this is my call to all frugalistas to band together, boycott our disposable, ‘plastic’ existence and let our creativity have free rein. You never know, we might serendipitously help save the planet while having fun and saving cash towards whatever our hearts desire.
Are you a frugalista too? What are your thrifty secrets?


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian Colmer says:

    Hi Skate, Great to read another of your musings. Being a man of phew words I delight in filling in the blanks. During WW2 clothing was in such short supply and rationed that in order to make items last turning collars and darning socks was the practice. Do you remember Grans wooden mushroom shaped darning thingie? Do you also remember the chicken we were made to eat with its legs pointing skywards. I always thought it died of old age. I do like your ‘veggie patch’ hanging on the wall. I tried in SA to get a veggie garden going but have been left realising that suburban veggie gardens are a colonial throw-back to days when labour was cheap. I’m just not too sure how you would get a ladder, ply-wood off cuts, a light bulb and delicious home made fare into a pie warmer. But each to his (or her) own.

    Well done sis, Brian

    1. Hahaha … trust you to pick up my grammatical oops! Thanks for reawakening the memories 🙂

  2. Daphne says:

    Another lovely read . So well written . I am also a frugalista ,looking for a dressing table . Need your help ,Cathy !

    1. Always at your service 🙂

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