Sunday, June 5, 2022

Lebanon: Living in the age of frugality

Artist: James Gillray (Temperance enjoying a frugal meal)

Apparently I am frugal.

Maybe if I spent more in the past I could have saved more money from the one that got lost in the banking crisis. But seems I am quite frugal.

I read an article today about how in the UK with the obnoxious rise in bills, how people are resorting to saving money by all means necessary. The many ways listed are so dépassés by my standards.

What? Cooking in batches? We already cook for two days in a row for myself, my mother and our househelp. Being cautious about what to buy? The other day the only "luxury" bought at the store was a cheap chocolate (usually mother likes those sometime in the afternoon). Gandour "lucky 555" biscuits can really last and last due to the specific number we eat daily.

Cutting down on clothing? I bought a thrifted cashmere pullover from one of those sites on instagram - it worked so well I got another one. All told, with the delivery service factored, the whole thing cost about 20 Dollars (original value of the pullovers is about 360 Dollars or more - depending where you shop them, yes, I checked online).

What is funny in my case, is that when I shop for anything, something needs to go out of my originally basic closet. Did I get a thrifted shirt from Depot Vente? (Do visit that great shop here!) Or a vintage high neck (which has been my style ever since I stopped wearing proper button down shirts during the pandemic, which mind you saves on ironing) from Vintage Something (here)? Then guess what - an equal amount or more was given to charity.

People are these days rummaging in broad daylight in bins on the street, that's how bad the situation is. Poverty has risen to the very alarming level of 55% in Lebanon. Did I inject a large amount of money on my solar panel system? (here) Yes, I did but it also saves me a lot in the long run. Already I told the generator guy (yes, the communal generator guy I subscribe to) to cut my line because just keeping the subscription - with no use whatsoever - costs an amount of money (which to be honest is quasi-obscene!) I'd rather spend elsewhere.

With many medicines no longer being present in the Lebanese market, doctors and pharmacists are resorting to prescribing generic medicines (see here), which saves people and patients money while guaranteeing they still get the appropriate care.

Sure, I did not skim on my insurance - which this year is paid in Dollars to avoid any issues of coverage (last year I paid in Lebanese Pound which meant that whenever I needed to make payments at the lab for my bi-annual diabetes check up, I needed to pay a difference in price due to the Dollar varying). Neither do I own a car - which both saves money but also makes me organize 3 appointments to give myself a pretext to go out of the house (to actually divide the cost per outing).

I know how this sounds - I am leading a boring money-pinching life. Perhaps I am according to "regular" standards. But for some reason, I have always been a homebody, whenever I go out I am never shabby or that I am on some "home owner - extremely shabby edition". But perhaps I am - at my age (born in 1974!) less inclined to buy things. My house is quite lovely to be honest, my home office is quite enticing to work in, I can still afford food and the bills - though yes, like everyone else I am feeling the pinch.

Perhaps I was raised in a frugal environment - my late father (was a government employee) and my mother (formerly a teacher before marriage) had three sons back to back in record time. Raising three kids in such a way needed extreme planning. But then again perhaps not - who knows? Still, the other day I was talking to someone and I said that "I loved items that tell stories" (meaning things already lived in, with a history, with previous owners).

Perhaps this is why I thrift. Or perhaps I am just frugal...