Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why should frugality be a village? - Out of the Box 40

By Renton de Alwis

A repost of a column I wrote in the Daily Financial Times in October 2011 is presented for your reflection ....

Just last week during a casual search on Google for some material, I stumbled on an interesting image. It was a photograph of a road signage, which read ‘Village of Frugality’. The first thought that came to my mind was ‘Why only a village, why not the whole wide world?’ I did casually post that on my Facebook page, and moved on to other things. Several of my FB friends liked the thought and it seemed to have touched accord with their thinking. I wondered if that was because we were a likeminded flock or because the idea of being frugal was a basic human instinct.

Before we explore that thought any further, it would be good to understand what frugality truly means as a concept and a form of action. According to the Wikipedia “Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.

In behavioral science, frugality has been defined as the tendency to acquire goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourceful use of already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal”.

My ‘discovery’ of a ‘Village of Frugality’ continued to haunt my mind and I returned to learn more about it and thought of sharing it with you in this column, for at a time when most of world is affected by crisis caused as a result of imprudent and selfish use of resources i.e. the poverty, climate and financial crisis, ‘frugality’ as a life-style mode assumes even greater meaning and relevance. I thought it was also important for Sri Lanka as a nation to think of what frugality in our ways would mean to us, as we approach this new phase of our drive for development. 

The sign I found was real and the little known ‘Village of Frugality’ exits within the Cambria County, Pennsylvania in the USA. Even a web search on the village will not yield any evidence that the village can now be cited as an example of frugal living for times have changed and frugal living has been replaced as a culture, within the dominant Western cultural milieu, within the USA with wasteful pursuits of over indulgence and luxurious ways in their day to day living. Perhaps it is the early Dutch migrants to the USA and their roots at the village that gave it its name.

Closer to home, ‘frugality’ was a value and a trait that was valued and admired within our own culture in the not too distant past. I remember as a kid the reference to the term ‘Boru Shoak’ (meaningless extravagance or show off) being attributed to individuals and situations where there was imprudent spending on things luxurious. Austere lifestyles were considered a virtue then and people who were less extravagant were considered wise.  

There is however a very useful website and a blog called the Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.org) which I came across and the search I made was well worth it for that discovery I made.
Shared Google Image

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