Frugality is Cool… If you Explain it Right

by Ryan

The topic of money doesn’t come up that much, being a social taboo and all, but when you have to explain your spending habits as a frugal consumer it can create a few odd looks and perhaps a judgment by your peers as being cheap. Being frugal it’s safe to say that, you’re in the minority… Most people do not save the majority of their money, cut cable television from their bills, or enjoy watching their account balance grow and eventually snowball. Personally I have more fun saving $100 than spending it at the mall, which makes me odd in America. However, even with my frugal ways there are ways to explain it so that you appear to be “normal” and not a money weirdo.

For me, the idea of frugality isn’t something that necessarily gets me excited, but it is a means to an end. Saving for the sake of saving doesn’t serve a purpose if you don’t plan on using that capital for a future spending. Just look a Buffett who recently encouraged fellow billionaires to give away half their savings. Having a lot of money is great, but if not used, what’s the point?

That being said, most of us are frugal because we either don’t want to work as much or we’re saving for something down the road. I’m the latter of those and have goals that relate directly to my balance sheet. Being able to live off passive income, purchasing real estate, owning a piano bar, and being able to donate to charities I think are worthwhile (oceana is my favorite) are things that require such money. So if you’re like me you’ll most likely have big goals that need funding. Those goals make you unique and create a pretty cool story. Some may say that working towards those goals is inspiring and since no story will be exactly the same, sharing your story will help share who you really are and what you care about most in life.

When sharing your story and what you’re working towards it becomes not so much an issue of being cheap, but an issue of priority. Do I want to go to the bars this weekend or should I save my money for something I find more worthwhile? These are the decisions you face each day and most people fail because they don’t have a compelling story to continue them on the track of working towards their life goals.

So when someone calls you cheap, or asks about your frugality don’t simply say I don’t like spending money. Tell them that you’d like to accomplish your life goals which are directly related to who you are and what you stand for in life. Purchasing that new car or coach purse means that you’re one step further from accomplishing the things you want in life. By sharing your story and your compelling reasons you become a lot more interesting and may even convert a spender to a fell frugal consumer along the way.

How do you explain your frugality to others when they ask?

What goals or compelling story do you have that drives your frugality?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Bell June 23, 2010 at 9:07 am

Hi Ryan, this is a good article that I can really relate to. My fiancee and I are getting married later in the year, and have been living with tight purse strings to pay for it. In the short term we have cut down on just about everything. We still have some perks – but they are more affordable than paying to go to a cinema.

I’m working on a few websites, experimenting on passive income. I have a good job at the minute, but I would like to have something in place to boost my savings a little – that or clear my debts a little quicker.

I think frugality is a very personal thing. As you say, you can become more frugal if you are working toward something. Without that target it is very easy to blow your cash. It takes avery disciplined person to save in those circumstances.

Mark
.-= Mark Bell´s last blog ..Developing web traffic =-.

Mark Bell June 23, 2010 at 10:20 am

Hey Ryan,
Thank you!

I think everyone wants to have no money worries. However, I think when it comes down to pushing through with personal spending cuts many people find it too difficult – usually because they are happy with their lifestyle. I’m sure you would agree that achieving your dreams requires sacrifice and determination early on.
.-= Mark Bell´s last blog ..Developing web traffic =-.

U. Romilion June 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm

You’re spot on, Ryan: frugality is a means to an end, nothing more than that. Also, there are places to show frugality and others where we rather want to be a bit more relaxed about our money. In my case, when it comes to spending for my own needs, I (and my family) tend to be very frugal. However, when the spending is related to friends and acquintances – whether it’s about giving a gift or having a cup of coffee together – I will rather follow the norm and often go on the generous side. This way, my friends have learned to know that while I really am frugal in just about everything, it really is a means to an end: my goal is to enjoy life now and later, and spending time with friends and being generous to them is one of the great contributors to my happiness. Also, the total amount I spend in this kind of situations is almost negligible vs. my total spend – less than a third of a percentage point – and even more so vis-a-vis my total income and assets.

So, it always makes sense to be frugal, but it also makes sense adjust our frugality to match each situation in order to stay aligned with – and concretely demonstrate to the others – our real goals.
.-= U. Romilion´s last blog ..Saving for the sunny day =-.

harvestwages June 24, 2010 at 10:22 am

Hi Ryan,
It’s been long i haven’t stop by. I like this post…
.-= harvestwages´s last blog ..Developing Your Leadership Skills =-.

Little House June 25, 2010 at 6:07 am

Great topic, Ryan. When I discuss how I’d prefer to do something other than go shopping, I might be given a strange, side-ways glance. But many people begin to listen to me when I talk about budgeting, retirement planning, etc. Some people, even those much older than me, make comments about how they need help budgeting or need to learn about credit. It inspires me to share what I’ve learned so far. I’m motivated by other people’s reactions to keep on my path toward financial freedom. Thanks for sharing!
.-= Little House´s last blog ..Strategy Discount Shopping =-.

Darren June 25, 2010 at 9:31 am

I try to tell them that I’m working as hard as I can now, so that when I’m older hopefully I’ll be able to say I accomplished my goal of becoming a millionaire. It’s something not everyone achieves or thinks they can achieve.

They could laugh at you, but they say “he who laughs last laughs the hardest!!!”
.-= Darren´s last blog ..Why You Don’t Need An Emergency Fund =-.

finallygettingtoeven.com July 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I was able to retire early by being ‘cheap’ and I don’t regret a minute of it. No one any longer likes to ‘laugh’ at me, in fact I think there is a tab bit of jealousy there now. My goals are not over though, I want to be able to travel the world in the future so I carry on so that I can one day live out those future dreams of mine.

Richard @ Debt Assistance Guru July 13, 2010 at 10:53 pm

It seems, here in the UK at least, that thanks to the recession frugality is becoming a little “cool”. Some of the glossy magazines have started to include articles on saving money, on recycling and reclaiming, and on making your own home furnishings etc. “Staycations” are becoming a way of life for many people (even though a recent survey suggests it’s still cheaper to go abroad for your vacation than stay at home).

Personally I don’t find the need to live an expensive lifestyle and my friends are of a similar ilk; we’d rather not spend our money if possible; and having this “support system” in place actually makes it quite easy, though I imagine it would be far more difficult it my friends were far more consumerist.
.-= Richard @ Debt Assistance Guru´s last blog ..Reducing Financial Clutter =-.

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