Are Italians naturally frugal?

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“All the energy Americans devote to the accumulation and management of money, the hours spent thinking about how to amass it, organize it, invest it, will it, spend it, keep it, share it or not share it. Romans instead devote their energy to other things — to looking well, eating well, loving well and spending time with their families.” — Alan Epstein, As the Romans Do 

What is frugal? It’s not being cheap. It’s not being stingy. It’s not being greedy.

It is a question of selection. It is a question of spending money wisely.

As Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner  writes in Living La Dolce Vita, Italians believe in respecting and taking care of the things they have and not wasting things. They believe it is very important to save money, as well.

Of her Italian grandmother she writes, “She disdained extravagances and buying possessions as status symbols. If something was still in working order, it was unthinkable to replace it just to have a newer model. When we ate at her house and didn’t use our paper napkins, those napkins would be folded and saved for the next time . . . Nonna Angela taught me that buying too many things is like taking your money and throwing it in the wastebasket. ‘Cluttering your house with possessions only clutters your mind,’ she would say.”

 In Simple Living by Jose Hobday, the author describes frugality in this way:

“Frugality doesn’t mean not spending. Frugality means a thoughtful economy. We’re frugal if we use our time well. We’re frugal if we cook with healthy materials. Frugality and simplicty or poverty of spirit all say limit, don’t waste.

“Stinginess is just greed and usually clutters our lives. Frugality is a careful examination of the complexities of buying and selling and deciding how to remain free in this complex transaction . . .

She also speaks about living simply to enjoy small, everyday pleasures.

“Freedom comes to both body and mind in the form of time. When we eat, how much we eat, the time we devote to eating and preparing food becomes important … I guarantee you, if you eat a little less and a little less often, you will eat with more relish both for your soul and body. Mild hunger awakens taste buds and our appreciation grows.”