Living simply, or just being cheap?

Living simply has been on my heart for a while now, as you may have guessed, what with me stopping work and living on one income etc. But as I have been browsing some sites and blogs, a thought crossed my mind. When does living simply and frugally become downright cheap, and not in a good way? (this is not a reflection on any of the blogs I have read!)

For example, is it frugal to buy say a non-brand shaving foam because it is cheaper, or is it just cheap to buy a non-brand shaving foam because it leaves the skin dry and irritated?

Is it frugal to give an obviously second hand (as in old and looking tired) gift or is it cheap?

Is it frugal to buy from a non-brand supermarket or is it cheap?

Is it frugal to give a home-made gift when a shop-bought one would look so much nicer, or just cheap?

Is it frugal to give time to someone in leiu of something physical, or just cheap?

Is it frugal to buy gifts from cheaper shops e.g baby clothes from Primark rather than John Lewis, or just cheap?

In the above examples, and where I am coming from is if you can afford, but choose not to afford the more 'expensive' option. Obviously, in some situations, one just cannot afford to spend on the expensive things, and will make use of an alternative, and that is fine.

Living simply is about reducing the costs associated with our lives, and thus the hold that money has over us. It is about enjoying the 'free stuff' of sunshine, love etc etc etc. But it shouldn't be a stick to beat yourself up with, a tool which you use to be mean to others with.

Also, another almost unrelated thought. Is growing your own veg actually cheaper than buying it from the local greengrocer? I mean, once you have factored in the price of seeds, soil enhancers, water (if on a water meter), compost, and not to mention the time involved?!

Some random thoughts from me on a slow afternoon at work. Yes, I am still here, and plan to be for a while... More on that at a later date...

Comments

I have been pondering so much about frugality & simplicity lately. Just like everything, so much of frugality is dependent on the individual families involved, what their needs might be, and how they define both of these concepts. I also wonder if sometimes time is not factored into certain frugal endeavors--be it coupons & hunting loss leaders or baking every single item from scratch. There are many occasions in which time is more valuable than money, IMHO.

For us, we like to go by the little saying "live simply so that others may live." Oftentimes this results in our supporting local farmers, purchasing beautiful wooden toys and cloth diapers from WAHMs, purchasing home decor from local artists & crafters at a craft store, and opting many little things that we simply do not need and probably would wind up detracting from what might be a more profitable task/activity to be doing.

As for growing your own vegetables, I have done a tiny bit of container gardening for things I use a whole lot of (tomatoes & peppers for instance), and while I save a teeny bit, it's not a huge savings by any means. The herb garden that I keep growing all year does provide a great savings, and I would highly encourage anybody who enjoys fresh herbs to give their own garden a try. The little packs of herbs at the market are really expensive and I hardly ever use the entire package before the poor herbs wilt. With my own plant, I can just snip what I need and the rest stays fresh, awaiting it's eventual culinary mission.