Someone asked me the other day…
You’re advertising yourself as a frugal person on your blog… so does this mean you don’t buy anything at all?
Wow that sure is an interesting question with a hint of sarcasm perhaps?
It’s really a shame that some people associate being frugal with not spending any money or not buying anything at all.
The thing is, being frugal does not mean you don’t spend any money, deprive yourself, and do not enjoy the finer things in life.
Spending money is not the enemy. It is how you approach money and how your prioritize things in your life.
When I was in my early 20’s, I was very frugal with very high savings rate. I have done some crazy & weird stuff to simply save money. It was fine because I was single. I was OK with depriving myself in some areas of my life. My top priority was to save money.
Now that I’m married and have 2 kids, my priorities have changed. Being a single income family pursuing financial independence, this means we need to focus on spending money on things that we value the most and cut back on spending in other areas.
Nowadays, it makes me cringe every time I see someone suggesting to eat ramen noodles, canned beans, and other cheap, high salt, highly processed food just to save money on their food expenses.
The old me would see this as frugal and perhaps applaud. The new me would not.
You are being frugal with groceries at the expenses of your future health! Eating high salt, highly processed food isn’t good for your body. It will cost you more money in the long run due to all the health issues that will come along. You are better off making your food yourself, using fresh ingredients. To save money, make a large batch that will last the whole week (i.e. pasta sauce, stir fry, fried rice, etc).
Let’s repeat that again, spending money isn’t the enemy.
Do spend on things that you value the most.
There’s nothing wrong with buying coffee, chocolate, or eating out in moderation if that brings you happiness. Heck, if you value fitness (and you should), it’s totally OK to spend money on that gym membership, on a bike, or the home gym. Stop labeling these as guilty pleasures. Because they are not!
If you are already taking small incremental steps to improve your finances, pat yourself on the back. You are already doing great things to change your financial life. A year from today, I can guarantee that you will be better off financially.
Spending money is not the enemy, it’s how you approach money that matters the most. How you approach your money is and will be completely different from how I approach my money. Because we value things differently. This is why it is called “personal” finance…because it is personal!
That leads to my next point. Where and how you save is again an entirely personal choice. What is right for you might not be right for me. We choose to save a big chunk of money each month toward long-term spending and investment. The big item expenses we make are usually for travels or some sort of new experience. We invest in appreciating assets that will generate passive income for us.
Life is all about balance. We need to take our financial independence journey with a balanced approach. Saving is important, but quality of life is important too.
Which sounds like a more balanced approach? Working for 120 hours a week at 4 different jobs so your mortgage can be paid off in 3 years, or working for 40 hours a week at 1 job and pay off the mortgage in 10 years? Since life balance is different for each person, I can’t answer this question for you. For me, the latter case makes more sense to me. Working 120 hours a week means missing out on being a good husband, a good dad, and seeing my kids growing up. Although the mortgage can be paid off 7 years faster, I probably would miss 3 full years of my kids’ lives. I want my kids to know who their father is, rather than asking what this strange man is doing in the house.
Remember, your priorities will change as you go through the different stages of your life. It is important to adjust your spending, budget, and how you allocate your money to accommodate these changes in your priorities.
So live below your means, save, invest, and spend money on things that you value. Strive for the right personal balance in your life.