What if everyone in the world was as frugal as the most frugal? Inspired by conversation on the Early Retirement Extreme forums about the ethics of the Early Retirement Extreme lifestyle. So, the beginning of that linked conversation (if you haven’t read it) is based on the premise that if everyone did as Jacob does and lived the ERE lifestyle, would the world collapse? And, if so, doesn’t that indicate that the ERE lifestyle is not socially responsible (ethical)? Which, got me to thinking. What if everyone was as frugal as most of the frugalers we know? What if frugal was normal?
I’m not talking about the people who hand wash their Mercedes, either. When it really comes down to it, the ERE lifestyle is pretty similar to the frugaler lifestyle. Each has their extremists. So, what if everyone was frugal?
Would we all make our own shampoo? Would we all have a sustainability garden? Would we all coupon? Would coupons still exist?
It’s an interesting question. Many of the things we all see and do each day exist because a much larger section of the population use them far more regularly than we do. Disneyworld, for instance, probably wouldn’t exist if it’s only customer base were frugalers. What about those Mercedes cars? Probably not in the U.S. But, if you think about it, there wouldn’t be very many used cars available for purchase, since we’d all be busy driving them until the wheels fall off. What would that do to the auto industry? If all the people who buy a new car every year, or even every five years, stopped doing so? You thought they needed a bailout a couple of years ago! They’d really need one then.
We might see more local farms growing a larger variety of goods because more people are shopping at farmers markets and taking advantage of the Co-Op farms. We might see less McMansions and more smaller houses with big yards and gardens. We might see some pretty drastic changes in the pricing of some things. Without all the willy-nilly spenders out there paying whatever the manufacturer asks for the product, you might see more reasonable pricing to get people to purchase a product. We would likely see a return to a more craftsman foundation, much like the early retirement extreme lifestyle. People might be interested in making things themselves if the market dynamic shifted that drastically towards the frugal side of things.
How do you see the world changing if everyone was as frugal as the most frugal?