Why I Choose to be Frugal

CIMG8825 I have been thinking a lot lately about being frugal and how I spend money.  I read a terrific article in The Tightwad Gazette that made some really great points.  Here are the highlights of the article:

“We still think that frugality has to do with being “poor,” and that wealth and frugality are mutually exclusive terms.  Overcoming this misconception is crucial to achieving a successful frugal life.

The fact is that income level has very little to do with whether a person chooses frugality.  Many poor people aren’t frugal, and a surprising number of wealthy people are.

People who live an affluent lifestyle are seldom wealthy.  Affluent-lifestyle people spend all of their money on extravagances and have nothing left over.CIMG9521Wealth, on the other hand, is not how much you earn, it’s how much you accumulate.

The wealthy person typically acquires money through hard work and self-discipline.  And he is a compulsive saver and investor.  It simply isn’t his nature to spend money frivolously because it wouldn’t be a good investment. 

Most Americans are confused about the relationship between frugality and wealth.  This confusion has a profound impact on how Americans spend.  Because we think frugality has to do with being poor, we see it as an admission of economic failure.  We think only poor people go to thrift shops, only poor people bring home a good find from the dump, and only poor people cut their kids’ hair.”CIMG0892This article really hit home for me and helped me better understand why I choose to seek after the frugal life.  I think I grew up thinking we did these things because we were poor (and like the article mentions, how America has portrayed this view point) when really we were doing quite well.Urke-289My parents have always been a tightwad of sorts, working in their own businesses, scraping by…yet we lived in a really nice house, had clothes to wear, food to eat, were able to participate in extracurricular activities…and we were happy.  My parents joke now that they are “debt free poor” meaning they have paid off their home, cars, two children’s college tuitions, and my wedding last year…yet aren’t making a whole lot of money right now.  I am beginning to see that “debt free poor” is actually another word for wealthy.  DSC_0289 I still struggle with what people think of me when I make homemade gifts, order the soup for dinner, and pick up furniture off the street.  But I am beginning to learn that it is not a reflection of being poor, rather it is a reflection of our priorities.  To live off of one income now so that I can be home with our kids one day…to grocery shop weekly on a tight budget even if we don’t have to…to cut back on clothing so that we have the luxury of buying things like a new camera of going on vacation. 

There are always exceptions to this rule, and I do not want to make light of those in financial hardships outside of their own control.  But rather I hope to make a point to myself, to embrace my frugality, to no longer use being poor as an excuse to be this way, and to ultimately let go of the pressure people and our culture put on being frivolous with money.