Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. -Elise Boulding
After I wrote this article, I found the above quote, which perfectly explains how I feel about money and spending.
Many people think that happiness comes only from spending money. However, that is a sad way to think about money. Yes, money can help improve your life, but it is not everything. And, if not managed well, it can lead to debt, stress, and more.
Being frugal isn’t always what happens when you are out of options.
Sure, there are times when people must buckle down and spend less than they usually do, like if you are living paycheck to paycheck. However, living a frugal life can go beyond cutting things from your budget. It can be something that isn’t just a short-term solution– it’s one that you can benefit from for the long-term.
What I'm talking about is just living your own life and learning how to save money by not engaging in needless spending just to keep up with others, going into debt, spending beyond your means, and so on. And, don’t confuse this with being so frugal that you may actually be stealing (read Frugal, Cheap, or Thief? Are You Smart With Money Or Actually A Thief? to learn more).
Saying that you are frugal can lead to a lot of negative assumptions. People may think you are cheap, boring, and even a bad person. Many assume that frugal people only eat rice and beans (and nothing else ever), that they just sit at home all day and do nothing, that they have no hobbies, and more.
If you don’t believe me, I recommend you read through the comments on the next frugal-living related article on a major website such as Forbes, Yahoo Finance, or something similar. You may be surprised to see how many negative comments there are from readers.
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Despite all of the negativity that comes from saying you’re frugal, it’s still how I’ve chosen to live my life. Sure, I still have my splurges, but I am very conscious about how I spend my money.
I don’t feel like I’m missing out on what life has to offer. My life isn’t boring (I travel full-time in an RV!), I have great relationships, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a bad person!
I know a lot of people that are choosing to live a more simple life by being frugal, and they are some of the best people I know.
Sadly, those negative assumptions and myths about frugality cause many people to avoid it all together.
And, for many people, it isn’t until they are much older that they realize how much money they wasted when they were younger. They realize that they could have been more thoughtful about their purchases, saved more, and spent more time focusing on finding happiness through simplifying their lives.
However, by that age, it can often feel impossible to try to make up for all of that lost time when it comes to saving, earning money, and investing.
There are many reasons to save money, and it’s never too late to start. So, here is why I choose to be frugal in many areas of my life.
I live an enjoyable life, and I'm frugal.
Bigger isn’t always better. More isn’t always better either. I know this firsthand, and, as many of you know by now, I live and travel full-time in an RV. When we made this decision, we downsized a lot. Our home is much smaller now, and we have much less stuff.
Sure, I could go out and spend more of my income, but I don't feel the need to spend any more of my money than I already do. I purchase what I want and need, and I am very happy with the life I live. Being frugal is not forced upon me, and it’s become a natural part of my day-to-day life.
By living a frugal life, you are most likely making do with what you have, buying and using quality items that will last, and so on.
By having less stuff and less clutter in your life, you will live a simpler life that you can truly enjoy. Material items do not always equal happiness. Sometimes they just add stress, debt, and more. Think about it – the more stuff you have, the more likely that something will break, something will get lost or tossed to the side, and so on.
When we were spending more due to lifestyle inflation, we realized we weren’t really appreciating the things we were spending our money on.
We were buying things, not enjoying them, and we were being a little lazy because we weren’t in the right mindset. I didn’t like feeling that way because I felt wasteful and even guilty about how I was spending my money and time.
By living frugally, as in being thoughtful about your purchases, you will find that you enjoy what you have even more. Wouldn’t you rather enjoying each meal you eat, each item you buy, and more? Appreciating the little things can be a great feeling.
I’d rather save my money than waste it.
There is no reason to spend all of your money just because you are able to. In my opinion, finding ways to save money will bring you greater security and peace of mind.
Even if you are only able to save a small amount, that is much better than not saving anything.
Time and compound interest are both on your side, and this can turn the small amount of money you have saved into a much larger amount.
I don't have any regrets about being frugal.
Some people believe that if you live a frugal life, that you will end up regretting it. However, I definitely disagree with that.
- “Wow, that person must lead a very boring life if they save that much money.”
- “I can’t save money because that means I’ll just be eating Ramen and sitting on my couch all day long.”
There is a myth that only very sad and boring people save money. I’ve heard it over and over again.
As you can probably guess, I really dislike this myth. It’s just not true at all.
There is absolutely no reason to go broke by spending all of your money in order to have a good time. I believe that you can balance living a good life while saving money.
The power of frugality means that you can still live a great life while on a budget. Money doesn't have to dictate how much fun you have.
There are plenty of ways to live an awesome life while saving money. Yes, you can still see your friends, have fun with your loved ones, go on vacations, and more, all while staying on a realistic budget.
We spend less money than ever and travel full-time, so I know this is true!
Not everyone has to live the same life.
One of the most amazing things about life is that everyone is different. If everyone lived the exact same life – well, that would be really boring.
People can be so judgmental at times. People say crazy things about my life all the time, like I'm crazy to live in an RV even though I make $100,000 a month (hint: I don't live in an RV to save money) and even that I shouldn't be allowed to save money. Judging someone for the choices they make, ones that aren’t negatively affecting others, is just crazy to me. Let people do whatever they want, and if they want to save money, then who cares?
Just because someone is frugal, it doesn't mean that they hate their life. If you think that, then you probably have some misconceptions about life and personal finance.
Perhaps, you don't know how to enjoy life without spending a lot of money?
Just because that's true for you, doesn't mean that it's true for everyone.
I don't need a ton of stuff.
This is a big misunderstanding when people find out how much I make. Sure, we could be spending our money on new clothes, shoes, home decor, whatever, but having a high income doesn't mean that I have to spend every last penny on material things.
In fact, that's not what I want at all.
To me, more stuff does not equal happiness.
I’m not alone on this either, Why You Should Spend Like A Millionaire- The Frugal and Smart Money Habits of Millionaires.
Like I said, living in an RV means that you’ll have to downsize. While some people dread this, getting rid of nearly all of your stuff is extremely liberating.
When we sold our house and decided to live in an RV, we donated and got rid of a lot of our belongings. At first, it was difficult to get rid of so much, but it became easier as time went on.
These days, all we have is what we have with us. We have a small amount of everything, and we like it best this way.
We are much more mindful of what we buy, we hardly waste anything, and this is allowing us to save money as well.
Plus, when you live in an RV, you no longer have a need to buy as much stuff because the outdoors take up all of your time. We used to waste time and money going to the mall, Target, and other stores- but we hardly ever do that now. Instead, we spend a lot of our time exploring new places.
It can be environmentally responsible to be frugal.
I don't like waste. I think about every item I buy and how a new purchase may be wasteful. This is me just naturally being frugal. But, by choosing not to buy something and contribute to a landfill, I am also saving money.
By not purchasing something, I am potentially keeping one more item out of a landfill.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was produced in 2013, with around 85% of that going to landfills.
And, according to the Huffington Post, Americans, on average, throw away 70 pounds of clothing each year.
According to Down To Earth Materials, the estimated decomposition time for clothing and other items are:
- Leather shoes: 25-40 years
- Nylon clothes: 30-40 years
- Cotton: 1-5 months
- Tin cans: around 50 years
- Plastic bottles: 70-450 years
As you can see, the clothing we wear and household items we use can have a big environmental impact.
I can retire whenever I want.
Okay, I saved the best for last!
Starting this blog and earning a high income from it has been a huge turning point in my life. It’s allowed me financial freedom, and even though I could be spending much more than I do, I have chosen to be thoughtful about where my money goes.
Because I have chosen to save more of my money rather than spending it, I have put myself on track to retire whenever I want. I have the choice to retire, which is a great thing, and it's because I'm not carelessly spending the income I am earning.
I have made the choice to save a high percentage of my income so that I can choose to retire whenever I want. Instead of working for 40+ more years, being frugal has given me the option of choosing my retirement date and cutting down my working years so that I can have more time to enjoy life.
Why are you frugal? Do you think that people who are frugal are sad and/or are missing out on life?
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