Please refer to me by my Latin name: illegitimus frugalis.

Apparently some folks think that frugal people are really just cheap bastards. Witness this response to my most recent Living With Less column on MSN Money, “Stock a closet with $1 gifts“:

“I really can’t stand articles like this. No matter what you’ve been told, you really should learn to pass up a bargain,” wrote someone named “Kaplan.”

“It doesn’t matter how bad the economy is, going el-cheapo on your gift-giving is like telling a person, ‘You matter to me, but not that much.’ … Come on, people! Stop being so materialistic. Stop feeling like you have to buy things. If you can’t afford it, don’t give it. And if you are materialistic, tell your cheap friends you don’t want their store-reject coupon deals!”

Anybody but me think that Kaplan wanted a pony last Christmas and didn’t get one? What puzzles me is that he or she suggests that people “stop being so materialistic,” yet rants about how they’re not spending ENOUGH on gifts.

As for the “If you can’t afford it, don’t give it” aspect of the argument, the entire point of shopping in this way is that this is the only way some people can afford to give.

Oh well. Everyone is entitled to the wrong opinion.

For other Living With Less columns — topics like “Get paid to save money,” “Free toothpaste for life,” “How to play the cashback game,” “Free stuff: Get it, give it, swap it,” “How to live rent-free” and “Surviving Armageddon on a budget” (or, in case you don’t survive, “How to get a free funeral”) — bookmark this URL:


Incidentally, you have to scroll way down to leave a comment on these articles. There’s mondo white space and then a box with MSN videos. But you can voice an opinion if you choose. Not that I’d ever lean on readers to do that. (Do it.) Because that would be pushy. (Do it!) I mean, just because I wish I had more comments on some MSN columns (do it do it do it) is no reason to strong-arm folks.

And could somebody send Kaplan that pony?


  1. Coupon Ninja

    I really don’t think Kaplan deserves that pony… he’s just a grumpy old fart that would probably sell it to a glue factory.

  2. Well, you know how I feel about *reading* unmoderated comments (don’t do it!!) but you got a good column out of THAT one.

  3. It’s absolutely amazing at what people will take offense at. Recently on our blog it was the Wii and David Beckham which stirred up controversy. And here I thought I’d be safe avoiding sex, politics and religion…

  4. Sorry I am fresh out of ponies, just sold my last one, got a dollar for it! LOL Kaplan is on his/her own to sort out the truth regarding their rant.

    PS found you (meaning your blog) recently, really enjoy visiting.

  5. Donna Freedman

    @Melynda: Thanks for visiting. I hope you’ll come back regularly.
    Thanks to everyone else for the comments.
    And Liz: You’re right, I should stop reading the comments. I should also stretch every morning and stop eating so much chocolate. :-(

  6. What I want to know is A.) am I allowed to swear on your site? and B.) is it all possible to get Kaplan’s address?
    I think the biggest problem is that some people(Kaplan) were never taught manners! And could it be that he believes that (he/she/it/Kaplan) is only worthy of expensive gifts? The thought doesn’t matter just the price tag!
    “Oh well. Everyone is entitled to the wrong opinion.”-I want this on a t-shirt!

  7. Donna Freedman

    @SonyaAnn: You can use foul language on the site as long as you put a dollar in the swear jar every time.

  8. Donna, I agree that stocking up on junk gifts is lame-o. It’s interesting to me that so much frugal living advice flies in the face of minimal living. When I devote series time and energy to going through every item in my house – drawers, pantries, garage, closet, flat surfaces – and am relieved that I’ve gotten my cosmetics down to a single bag, why on earth would I want to stockpile mini toothpaste. That is clutter folks! I live in Las Vegas and am not a “bettin’ woman,” but I’d bet money that most people who stockpile stuff end up forgetting about it and then tossing toothpaste in the cart on the next grocery trip!

  9. Donna Freedman

    @SimplyMe: Oh, I don’t know about that. A lot of frugal folks have a very good idea of what they have, either because they make lists or they keep it organized. For example, I know one woman who stores all her free-after-rebate toiletries in the same closet with her bath towels. Every time she goes to get a fresh towel she gets a fresh glimpse of the things she DOESN’T need to buy.
    I’d also like to make it clear that we’re not talking about “junk gifts.” We’re talking about nice things bought deeply discounted. It *can* become clutter, but it’s also possible to keep things organized.
    Minimalists might not want to buy in advance. That’s OK — they don’t have to. Not every suggestion works for every person. The point is to choose what would work best for you.
    Thanks for reading, and for submitting a comment.

  10. Wow, it never ceases to amaze me that so many people don’t have manners. When did giving from the heart go out the window? I guess only giving from the pocketbook counts to some!
    And I will refrain from swearing just to keep my money. See you can get me to behave just threaten my coin purse!

  11. I’ve pretty much dropped the gift-giving habit except for cash on occasions where that is appropriate.

    However, we send cards. Lots of them. Birthday, get-well, funeral, anniversary, Christmas … all the occasions that were “old school” manners. I handcraft a lot of cards and pick up others during good sales. Therefore the biggest expense is postage. But we’re OK with that.

    • Donna Freedman

      I love getting cards, especially handmade ones. My friend Tricia makes the most amazing ones out of bits of magazine advertisements, and my niece makes them out of torn paper. They’re small works of art and when I receive one I feel, yes, special.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.


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