Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frugal Living (in general)

This blog is about living frugally (but well). In case anyone needs a stronger foundation for this kind of lifestyle, here's a great link: 7 Habits of Highly Frugal People. It's a summary of the book by that title. While I'm not trying to say that college won't lead to a higher salary (so that you can stop living frugally), there are reasons to continue living frugally even if you do end up making a generous salary after graduation. It's all about creating a nice cushion in your bank account so that you never really have to worry about money when you need it. Here are my reasons for living frugally (even if you can afford not to):

1. Save money for a rainy day --- Just think about all the people who have recently lost their jobs because of the economy. Many of them probably had high-paying jobs before they were laid-off. The ones who lived frugally are probably enjoying a nice "sabbatical" while they wait for a job opening. The thing about living frugally is that you will never worry about losing your job or about having enough money if the economy starts sucking because your savings account will always have a nice "cushion".

2. Being frugal is not the same as being "cheap" --- Being "cheap" is when you try to get discounts on things that cost only a buck or deprive yourself because you don't want to let go of your money. Being frugal is just shopping for the right prices and knowing where and how to do that. For a more official definition, the Free Dictionary defines frugal as, "practising economy; living without waste; thrifty". Economists like talking about maximizing utility. Being frugal is maximizing your dollar and not wasting it. If you make frugal living a habit, you won't have to say 'no' to going to a nice restaurant with your friends or getting that pair of shoes that you need for an important interview because your bank account will have a cushion. Also, if you're cooking your own meals and not eating at restaurants on a regular basis, the times you do go will be that much more enjoyable. If you get good enough at cooking, your own meals might even start tasting better than the restaurant meals!

3. It's good for the environment --- For every thing or service you save on, there's probably a benefit to the environment too. I'm not saying that everyone in the world seriously gives a sh*t about the environment, but if you do, living frugally will put less waste out there. Everything you buy has some kind of packaging that ends up either in the garbage or in the recycling bin. Yes, recycling is "good" but it also takes energy to process that recycling. This is why I love going to thrift stores - it maximizes my money but at the same time, I'm consuming something that would have gone to a landfill otherwise.

For more information on what materialism does to people, check out this video:

4. Never feel deprived --- Perhaps this one's a little more zen than some of my readers want to see, but living frugally is very much like vegetarianism. It's a way of thinking that non-frugal people might think is somehow depriving but it really isn't. I'm sure vegetarians don't miss meat after they get used to it. Similarly, I have everything I want, even though most of my possessions are second-hand and I spend less money than most of my friends. It's about re-prioritizing your desires so that your money goes where it needs to go. Restaurant meals might feel like a necessity until you realize that you can make the same thing at home and it's healthier, tastes better, and costs much less.

I'm not going to pretend that this post is going to convert everyone to "frugalism" overnight, but there are compelling reasons for doing so in a crappy economy. The working poor and many college students need to be frugal by necessity but it doesn't mean that others can't be frugal too. If we all think about what we're buying and how it affects our environment, maybe the planet will last longer. Think of frugalism as an all encompassing consumption diet - it will make you and the planet feel better.

1 comment:

  1. Haha! I try to save money but it seems to disappear quick. It's not easy.