@shannowhamo Holler that! When I saw the prices on the dresses in this article, my jaw fell so far open I may have dislocated it completely. Yeow! I mean, that's more than I spent on my whole wedding. Is that really what wedding gowns cost? I thought my sister's was a lot at $650 or so. Yikes.
Hey, this is what being frugal is all about, isn't it? You spend as little as possible on the things that don't matter to you so that you can spend as much as you want on the things that do. Makes perfect sense to me. I save on: clothing (nearly everything secondhand or sale-priced), personal care (I buy $1-a-bottle conditioner and haven't had my hair professionally cut in years), some food (almost no meat or processed foods in my diet), travel (I don't enjoy it, so I don't spend money on it), exercise (I walk, don't run), and technology (my phone, too is "of average intelligence"--perhaps even a bit on the dim side, but I would never hurt its feelings by saying so). I splurge on; other food (organic produce, Fair Trade coffee and chocolate), home (we own our house and are always involved in some project or other to fix up either the house or the yard), and music (we go out to a folk show about twice a month and to festivals maybe twice a year). In other words, the stuff I care about.
I have to confess, the behaviors you describe as "unreasonably frugal" really don't sound that unreasonable to me. I LIKE spending as little as possible; it's like a game to me. So all the stuff your parents did--paying off a mortgage in five years, paying only cash for cars, eating out only once a month--sounds great to me. I also think it definitely makes no sense to pay for coffee when you can get it for free, and I was still wearing several (classic) pieces from my high school wardrobe to work in my late 20s. To me, the line between reasonably and unreasonably frugal isn't a particular amount you're willing to spend, or a particular set of things you're willing to spend it on. It's simply the way you answer this questions: are you willing to spend money, if you have it to spend, on something that you know will make your life better? If the answer is yes, your frugality is reasonable. Mind you, your standard for what will make your life better may not be the same as anyone else's, but it doesn't need to be. If you spend when it's *worth* spending, and refuse to spend when it isn't, then yes, you are a reasonably frugal person. Oh, and incidentally, a wedding doesn't have to be even in the same league as a house when it comes to expenses. Ours was 10 years ago and cost us around $2,500 for 75 guests (you can read about it on my blog at http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/2012/06/our-big-fat-cheap-wedding.html), and I know of lots of people who have spent even less. Try http://www.stretcher.com/menu/topic-r.htm?side#weddings for some pointers.
Here in New Jersey, we don't really have earthquakes (I've lived here for 40 years and I've never experienced one), but we have snowstorms and thunderstorms all the time, many of which result in prolonged power outages. My emergency kit is a well-stocked pantry, a few dozen 2-liter bottles full of tap water, a good battery-powered lantern and a couple of flashlights (plus extra batteries for both), an ample supply of candles and matches, an emergency radio that can operate on hand-crank power if necessary and can also recharge my cell phone, and a big box of chemical hand warmers. All this stuff served us well during Superstorm Sandy, but a more recent series of power outages in mid-winter convinced me that we really need a better source of emergency heat than the chemical packs. (http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/2013/10/our-emergency-plan.html) As for those "food bars," are these the same ones that Captain Reynolds said on Firefly could feed a family for a month, or two if they don't like their kids too much?