It’s Cool to be Frugal

The Number One Song in America: Thrift Shop

Macklemore says:

They be like, “Oh, that Gucci – that’s hella tight.”
I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch, shit
I call that getting swindled and pimped
I call that getting tricked by a business

By now you have heard the hip hop-rap sensation Macklemore’s hit song, Thrift Shop. This is a catchy song that rejects the endless consumption mindset that dominates the American psyche and instead promotes wearing your grandpa’s hand-me-downs. I could not have chosen a more opportune time to live a more frugal life.

While not the best song from the Seattle artist I love the message of Thrift Shop. Macklemore tells us that we are being tricked, swindled, and pimped by businesses that want nothing more and nothing less than to separate us from our hard earned money. His message is simple, straightforward, yet powerful: We don’t have to buy (literally) into the consumer mindset and become a clone of our peers.

I have been thinking a lot about the message and how it relates to the way I live my life and spend my money. While the message can be interpreted to mean rejecting the purchase of actual goods like clothes, tech gadgets, and other stuff, I have a different takeaway from the song. I am not much of a shopper. I dread going into a mall and the last time I purchase new clothing for myself was 6 months ago. Traditional mall shopping is just not something I do. However there are plenty of other things I used to buy mindlessly.

First was cable television. Last year I spent almost $1,200 to watch shows I care nothing about. The only shows I remember enjoying were The Game of Thrones on HBO and a few college football games.  Every other hour I spent watching television was mindless, I can’t tell you what I watched. And guess what? That season of Game of Thrones I watched can be bought at the biggest thrift shop of all, EBay, for $30. Those college football games? Half of them can be seen with an over the air antenna and the other half can be found at your nearest sports bar or a friend’s house. I came to my senses and dumped Comcast last month.

Also, I spend too much money on books. I am always checking up on the New York Times book reviews and then going on Amazon to purchase the latest must-read books. At one point I was spending $40 to $50 per month on books! But now I have a library card. Yeah, I cannot read the latest Lincoln biography but I have discovered that there are books from a few years ago that are just as good and most often better than whatever is topping the bestseller list this week. I also spend less time reading books that I care nothing about. If I get a few chapters into a book that I find boring I just trade it in for a new one. It’s less costly and actually more enjoyable.

I like what Macklemore is doing. He is getting people to think about what it is that they are consuming and why they are consuming it. For me that didn’t mean $50 Gucci t-shirts but it did mean plenty of other frivolous purchases. I am also realizing that frugality doesn’t have to mean going without. It means being smarter with your purchases and spending money on the things you actually care about. Poppin’ tags, indeed.

Also check out Wings by Macklemore.

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3 comments
  1. The library is fantastic. MMM saved me a bunch of money with that tip, not to mention all the space in my house that I can use for something other than storing books. My next step: cancel cable 🙂

  2. Sweta said:

    I love my local library. Don’t forget libraries aren’t just for books, you can get dvds there also. I reserved “Argo” from my library and got an email to come pick it up today. On iTunes Argo is $5 to rent and $20 to buy and probably around $10 if I had seen it at the theater.

    Do your friends know about your mission to pay off your loans? Do you feel an effect on your friendships?

    • debtderp said:

      I talk very little about money with my friends. They know that I have a lot of student debt and that I am trying to pay if off as quickly as possible. They don’t know how much I make or how much I spend so there really hasn’t been an effect there. Overall I haven’t felt an effect on my relationships as money just isn’t a topic we talk about.

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