A frugal shopper; researches how to be frugal, finds shopping coupons, considers penny pinching, learns tips to save money, and generally plans ahead before spending. Frugal shopping is maximizing the use of money, not conserving every dollar. So, what's the threat?

It's a bill in the House Judiciary Committee that is titled Online Piracy Act. It's opponents call it the E-Parasite Act. From what I can gather, it is about online censorship, disguised as corporate interests to stop online piracy. I urge all internet users to get educated on the Online Piracy Act and the SOPA activists. SOPA stands for Stop the Online Piracy Act. The easiest to explain information I have come across so far is this infographic on Mashable Tech.

Stop Sign(71325)Credit: wikimedia commons

I would dare to say that a considerable amount of frugal shopping is researched online, and therein lies the threat. Some of the major opponents to the Act are; Facebook, Google, Twitter, eBay, Mozilla and Yahoo. What does that tell a frugal shopper? That if some complaint about a site that offers save money tips or valuable free coupons towards a quality food or merchandise is made, and the online police decide a bad deed was committed by the site then it can be shut down, and a website owner/operator could face dire consequences due to blocking. Meanwhile the shoppers would lose access to the coupons or information about a new consignment shop opening nearby, or even word of mouth from an online friend on a social site that is getting nailed.

A full page ad was placed in the New York Times by 9 internet giants (6 of them mentioned above) who are against the Act. The website boingboing.net reprinted the ad. You can read it at the link I provided via boingboing. An important paragraph in the letter is this:
One issue merits special attention. We are very concerned that the bills as written would seriously undermine the effective mechanism Congress enacted in the Digital Millenium Act (DMCA) to provide a safe harbor for Internet companies that act in good faith to remove infringing content from their sites. Since their enactment in 1998, the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions for online service providers have been a cornerstone of the U.S. Internet and technology industry’s growth and success. While we work together to find additional ways to target "rogue" sites, we should not jeopardize a foundational structure that has worked for content owners and Internet companies alike and provides certainty to innovators with new ideas for how people create, find, discuss, and share information lawfully online.

The letter is respectful, clear, and even frugal - meaning it is considerate, researched, and well-written, unlike the confusing bill.

Where else would one get a true picture of a frugal idea. For example, re-using foam packing peanuts for potted plants? Picture an empty pot with some foam packing peanuts on the bottom of it. Then it's easy to realize that they make excellent drainage for the potting soil (I have always used stones). I read about that frugal tip and didn't quite get it until I saw a picture. Duh! However, this is what we have learned to recall and use for our how to shop and live frugally. Online research is where we go, even at a library. Yes, books are still bliss, however more and more people are using library computers or bringing their own to sign on, in the library. Look at all the article writers who don't have the disposable income to physically travel to hot-spots they want to write about or inform readers about a deal on gasoline available through a reputable business. Where do they go for the info? Online, of course. Information sharing is mostly done online in this time on earth. Shopping frugally involves information sharing.

How To Be Frugal
Live below your means so you always have a comfort to fall back on, knowing you could spend more on the new designer jeans, but the ones you found at the thrift store are absolutely perfect so you take the comfort in "find." Most consignment stores have designer brands, so it helps if you already have done some comparison shopping to know which brands you prefer. Then you have shopped frugally by researching ahead and not bothering to take the time to try on items you know aren't perfect for you. It takes focus and some mental reminding, "No, I came in here looking for skirts, I won't be distracted by those shoes."

Shopping is such a broad term. Say you are ready for some nice hot springs to soak in. Do the comparison shopping. The closest ones may cost $20/day and they are in a private hotel. Since you know you won't spend more than 3 hours that may seem a bit pricey. So you check into natural hot springs that may be a few miles further to drive to, however they have no fee, and usually less people hang out at them. The frugal shopper would go for the natural hot springs that are free, if possible.

The big gift giving season is upon us and there is a great need for frugality for 99% of the holiday shoppers. Think Coco Chanel, she was a great example of a classy frugal person!

What to do for gifts? Consider giving a free cooking class or trade for the ingredients needed for the recipe taught. Buy your reciprocate a workout class or a Zumba class or something like that. These are examples of quality gifts, like a pair of Fox River socks that you purchased pre-season for a thoughtful gift at a discounted price. Consider gifts at all times of the year, like Christmas in July.

Of course frugal online shopping often includes purchases free from shipping costs, so one saves in gas dollars and shipping as well as the discounted items purchased. In order to keep the internet free from censorship we must cherish our frugal sense and keep up on the current events in our government, and most of all, take a stand either way.