In addition to my desire for financial independence, my frugal tendencies are driven by my deep belief in sustainability.
While “sustainability” is often seen as an overused buzzword that seems to have lost much of its meaning in recent decades, it shouldn’t be about politics, or causes, or buying “green” products that ultimately end up in the landfill next to their non-recyclable cousins.
Instead, sustainability is a moral choice that means making decisions now that will enable us as individuals, families, humans, to thrive in the future. Sustainable personal finance means you spend less than you earn, gradually building up your savings. Sustainable energy means choosing wind or solar over fossil fuels because (unless climate change really screws us in ways we haven’t imagined), the wind will keep blowing and the sun will keep shining long past the days when we’ve dug the last piece coal or pumped the last drop of oil out of the ground. Sustainable living means making decisions that let us leave the earth a little bit better than how we found it, building a global savings account for future generations.
While half of this blog is about earning more, life isn’t all about the big bucks. Frugality and financial independence are about more than having a bank account of a certain size or working towards what are ultimately arbitrary goals blind to the world around you.
Goals are great — I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without them — but make sure to enjoy what you have now too. It’s morbid but true: you or your Sweetie Pie could drop dead tomorrow; if you knew that, would you change what you’re doing today?
Stand up for yourself and know your worth; get paid what’s fair and don’t let others take advantage of you. Treat others the same way — golden rule and all that — and beyond that, relax a little. You don’t have to earn every possible penny, you don’t have to take the higher paying job that will eat up your weekends, and you don’t have to make more than your neighbors. Define your goals and find contentment in what you have.
I am certainly not the first frugality blogger (frogger? flogger?) to meet the interwebs, nor the first to try to define a concept that is in many ways a highly personal one. My frugal philosophy entails (1) not spending money on things that don’t matter and (2) not being cheap. Frugality also enables generosity, it’s important cousin that I’ll cover in a later post.
The first part — what matters — can be highly subjective and personal to your individual values. I know, for example, that it matters to me that I keep my (unusually expensive) Cheddar Pup around and well cared for; others would be appalled what I spend on this creature’s comfort. On the other hand, though, it doesn’t matter to me whether I drive a shiny new car, buy most of my clothes secondhand, or eat out at the hippest new restaurants. Much of the “spend less” portion of this blog will cover where I define the line between what matters and what doesn’t.
The second part — not being cheap — is a more objective standard requiring an empathetic viewpoint. I define the difference between being frugal and being cheap as what matters to me versus what matters to other people. For example, you might not mind living with a “if it’s yellow let it mellow” bathroom policy to save money on your water bill every month, but step into the shoes of your good friend CP who’s coming over for your weekly potluck dinner: ew, gross, no. This rule isn’t just for friends: failing to tip well at a restaurant isn’t being frugal, it’s being a jerk. If you can’t afford to pay someone fairly for a service they give you, take a close look at whether you really need that service. Saving a few dollars at the expense of others’ comfort, wellbeing, or friendship is never worth it. Make your own compromises, but don’t force them on the unwilling.
This is my first post! Welcome to the Beginning.