When Frugality Becomes A Dirty Stinkin’ Excuse

Posted on September 21, 2007 by Melissa 
Filed Under Frugality, Household, Psychology, Reflection

But they’re soaking…This morning when I got up to make breakfast I noticed something didn’t smell right in the kitchen.  The garbage was full and it was starting to smell a little.  I kept putting off taking it out because I could fit more in the garbage bag.  I might as well maximize using that bag before tossing it, right? 

Realizing my garbage was in desperate need of attention I also noticed the dishes in the sink were building up.  And in the laundry room there was a pile of dirty laundry.  What happened here?  Why did I get so behind in my household chores? 

Frugality.  Yes, you heard me.  Ok, well maybe not frugality but the guise of frugalityI think I’ve been using frugality as an excuse to put off doing some chores that needed to be done.

“I can fit a little more trash in this garbage bag – I’ll wait to take it out until tomorrow”.

“But if I wait to do the dishes/laundry until tomorrow I’ll have a bigger load and it will save water and electricity.”

Who am I kidding?  I’m not really saving any real amount of money – I’m just being plain lazy.  It wasn’t like I only had a few shirts to wash or a couple of glasses in the sink.  I had big enough loads to make it energy efficient and worth the cost.  I was simply finding a way to justify my lack of housekeeping yesterday with saving money.

What good is saving a few pennies if I have to live in home with stinky garbage and dirty clothes?  Quality of life plays into this, too.  I don’t have to be a slob to save money.

I know I’m being dramatic here – I wasn’t horribly behind in my chores – but the smelly trash did make me examine my thinking behind not removing it earlier.  I remember thinking that in a way I could be saving money.

This applies to more than just household duties.  Could a desire to save money be used as an excuse to hide the true reason behind certain actions (or inactions)? 

Could there be other reasons besides frugality that someone would:

I can think of a lot of ways frugality could be used to justify behavior that is really motivated by different reasons.  After all, you can still attend dinners with your friends if you eat an inexpensive meal or split something.  If there are ways to make it affordable and you still choose not to go then maybe the desire to save money isn’t the main reason you aren’t going.  It’s just a side effect.

Anyway, this morning I went on a crash course of cleaning to restore my home to its usual condition.  I need to be more honest with myself about my motivations sometimes.  For instance, if I avoid going grocery shopping is it really because I want to save money or is it because I don’t feel like going that day? 

In my case, it was pretty obvious I was just avoiding doing the dishes and saving money was just a convenient (and barely applicable) excuse.

Image Source: Old Sarge


16 Responses to “When Frugality Becomes A Dirty Stinkin’ Excuse”

  1. b.sav on September 21st, 2007 2:46 pm

    I think we’re all guilty of procrastination at one time or another for different reasons. I know I am.

    Even if you tell yourself you’re holding off on running the dishwasher or washing machine to save energy and water couldn’t you load as you go? Then when it’s full turn it on? I find it’s a lot easier and less unpleasant to do a little at a time rather then let the mess pile up and have to deal with it all at once, especially with dishes. If you let a pot sit and the food hardens it takes so much more elbow grease to get it clean.

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  3. Melissa on September 22nd, 2007 2:05 pm

    b.sav –

    You have a very good idea. By pre-loading dishes in the dishwasher I’m taking away the laziness factor.

    Typically I have enough dishes to do a load everyday but for some reason I had one of those days and didn’t want to do them at all. I guess it happens to all of us sometimes.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Louise on September 25th, 2007 12:34 pm

    It only takes one interaction with maggots in the garbage can inside your kitchen to never, ever, ever procrastinate taking out smelly trash again.

    Don’t ask me how I know *shudder*

  5. SAHMmy Says on September 25th, 2007 4:09 pm

    Oh, that was not where I thought this post was going! Funny, but so true. I’ve thought through this very issue before–now I buy the cheapest, sturdiest trash liners (Costco), stock up on dishtabs when they go on clearance (Target), and buy Tide when it hits $5/bottle (but use half the called-for amount.) This way I can be as picky-clean as I want in the most frugal way possible. Great point on the other issues as well. I make sure my kiddos get all the healthcare they require, but my husband and I are miserably behind on checkups for health, eyes, and teeth. Thanks for the jumpstart!

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  8. Debbie M on September 26th, 2007 9:32 am

    This is off-topic, but if you want to take your kitchen trash out, but it’s still not full, you can empty your office and bedroom trash into the kitchen can first.

    Also, if you are organized, you can keep smelly things (meat) in the fridge until trash day (or until the bag is almost full) and then throw it away just before taking the trash out. Another strategy is to wrap it in a leftover plastic grocery bag before throwing it away to help seal away future odors.

  9. Melissa on September 26th, 2007 11:02 am

    Debbie M. – I always dump my office and bedroom trashcans together but never my kitchen trashcan. How funny! I think that is a better way to conserve trash bags than just waiting. Great tips!

    Louise – gross. Unfortunately I know what you mean and I now keep a tight lid on the outdoor trash.

    SAHMmy – I’m on the same page with you on stocking up. Sometimes getting the expensive stuff on a good sale is the better way to go. I was using generic dish soap but it never did a good job on grease. Now I stock up on Dawn when I can find it on sale with a coupon and I conserve.

  10. JEM on September 26th, 2007 11:47 am

    Guilty as charged!

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  12. Meg on September 28th, 2007 10:11 am

    Oh, soooo true! I definitely use being frugal as an excuse some times.

  13. Kimberly on November 16th, 2007 7:54 pm

    Actually, dirty dishes can cause debt, according to the ladies at “Living on a Dime.” Their theory is that if you have a sink full of dirty dishes and a messy kitchen, you are more likely to go out to eat or get takeout than make the effort to cook. I can identify, since I am a lot more motivated to cook with a clean work area!

  14. Melissa on November 21st, 2007 9:12 pm

    @Kimberly – I think you are absolutely correct! If the countertops in the kitchen are clean, I’m much more likely to want to cook. Thanks for the comment!

  15. Cookie Recipes on December 22nd, 2007 8:04 am

    I laughed when I read this post. I have heard the same reasons for not dumping the trash from my own teenage kids. Our brains are very clever when they are trying to help us get out of work. ;-)

  16. Melissa on January 9th, 2008 3:00 pm

    @Cookie Recipes – Your comment made me smile! I did sound like a teenager trying to get out of work. Thanks for the comment!


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