One of the key topics found in many personal finance blogs is living a frugal lifestyle – cut your cable, stop drinking lattes at Starbucks, drive a used Honda Civic instead of a Ford Raptor – you’ve heard all of this before.
Many of the people I know dismiss personal finance techniques because they don’t want to trade away the lifestyle they enjoy for a minimalist existence. Today, I want to examine the basic motivation behind frugality, because without that foundation, almost everything else you read about finance is meaningless.
So What’s the Point?
At its essence, frugality comes down to priorities.
You may want to experience a wealthy life, drive a Corvette, live in a luxury estate, and spend vacations in a beach house in the Bahamas. That might be your dream, but it will probably require you to spend 40 or 50 years working long hours at a job that you don’t really enjoy. At that point, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it?
For most people, frugality is about creating opportunities elsewhere. Maybe you love to travel. If so, it might be worth living in a simple home and driving a couple cheap vehicles so that you have the time to study a few different languages and the financial freedom to fly to Africa, Argentina, Spain, and Japan.
Frugality might mean cutting unnecessary expenses indefinitely so that you can retire at the age of 35 and live off of your investments. You would have to live on a very small budget, but you would be free to use your time however you choose.
Maybe you want to take advantage of the way you have been blessed financially to provide for those who don’t enjoy the same opportunities. You could sponsor children through Compassion International and provide for their food and education. Or maybe, you want to have enough extra cash flow that you can generously support the local church or your town’s food bank.
I’m not saying that nice vehicles or vacation homes are inherently bad. Instead, I encourage you to evaluate the ways you spend money and decide if that’s actually what you care the most about.
Frugality isn’t about self-deprivation. It’s about prioritizing your expenses to ensure that you’re spending money on what truly matters to you, not just what society pressures you into thinking you need.