Does frugality limit ambition?
I recently received a comment in the about me section of this blog. I thought I’d reply to it here:
I’ve read your blog and although you are full of ideas. I think you are going overboard with your frugality. Is it really worth sacrificing your lifestyle so save a bit more? You know, we only live once. From the your ideas and your writing, you seem like a decently smart person so I’m sure wealth will eventually come to you. Why not spend your efforts on something more constructive like making more money?
This is why I always stress that personal finance is personal to everyone. Just because one person does something a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. For me, when I was getting out of debt, I was as frugal as possible. I had gotten myself into a lot of debt by living beyond my means, and I wanted to correct it as quickly as I could. Not only was I cutting out expenses, but I was also working TWO full-time jobs and a part-time job in order to make as much money as I could. Living frugally, combined with making more money helped me to get out of $20,000+ worth of debt in 12 months. If I had kept up my spending, and just looked at trying to earn more to fund my lifestyle, I might still be in debt!
If you look throughout the PF blogosphere, you will see some bloggers absolutely agree with my strategy of getting out of debt. While others prefer a more balanced lifestyle over a longer period of time. Both ways are fine, and both ways are for certain types of people. If you don’t like my approach, that’s cool.
Now that I am out of debt, I absolutely live a more balanced lifestyle. While I’m conscious of every dollar I spend, I wouldn’t consider myself to be overly frugal. If there is something I want to do, you will see that I always make room in my budget to do just that. A vacation, concert, or electronic gadget that I really want? Sign me up! In fact, last summer I spend almost $3,000 on a new laptop, $1,200 on a trip to Hawaii, and hundreds of dollars on another trip to Mexico – all within a 3 or 4 month period. Because I value those things, I knew I had to cut out spending in other categories of my life that I deem less important.
As for your comment about spending my efforts on something more constructive, like making more money – well I’ve always had either a part-time job or my side business on the go – most of the time, I’m utilizing both. And this year my goal is to increase my income by 50% ($25,0000). So to me, I think I’m being extremely constructive with my time. With a little bit of hard work, I’m taking steps to live a frugal lifestyle AND make more money.
Also it is sad that you were willing to sacrifice your friends to live this scrooge-like type of lifestyle. You only live once and having friends is one of the most important things in life. There’s those who would argue and say that “Oh forget about friends if they can’t accept your frugal lifestyle”. Well how will you make friends in the first place? I know I wouldn’t want to be friends with a cheapskate.
Just because I choose to live my life differently than you doesn’t make me sad. Yes I saw my friends less, but it doesn’t mean they still aren’t my friends. I just chose to hang out with them when they were doing less expensive things. You don’t make or keep friends by spending a lot of money. If your friends were holding you back from something you really wanted to achieve in life, would you just give up on your dreams because they didn’t understand? Or would you do it anyway, because it’s your life, and it makes you happy? Friends should be supportive of your financial situation, regardless of what it is.
In the process of changing my attitude towards money, I’ve made many new, great friends who understand where I’m coming from and enjoy the same things as me. I am absolutely not a “cheapskate.” I just choose to spend less in certain aspects of my life that I don’t value as much as the other aspects of my life. No matter how much money you make, you can’t have it all. Even millionaires want things they cannot afford. For example, I choose to cut down on groceries, dining out, and clothing (among other things), so that I can spend more on what I really value in my life – traveling, buying a home of my own, and playing sports. That’s not being cheap, that’s being smart with my money, and understanding the value of a dollar.
You should check out the site below to open your eyes a little on how being frugal can save you so much. http://mywifequitherjob.com/why-being-frugal-can-… Instead of trying so hard to save an extra $1000/month why not spend that effort to earn an extra $1000/month? I really hope that young people who are still trying figure themselves out don’t get influenced from your lifestyle because this will only limit their ambition thinking frugality is the only way to go.
It is true, that you can get to a point where you can only cut out so much in your budget by being frugal. At that point, you will have to start looking at ways of increasing income in order to save more. But being frugal doesn’t limit ambition. Don’t you think the definition of ‘ambitious’ would be trying to save AND trying to earn extra money each month? If your goal is to be ambitious, why limit yourself to JUST trying to earn more? You can get much farther ahead in life if you try and do both at the same time.
Understanding your needs vs. wants is an extremely valuable tool to achieving financial freedom. If you choose to live a less frugal lifestyle than me, go for it. If you want to focus on making more money so that you can live a larger lifestyle, that’s absolutely up to you. I’m not here to tell you what you should do with your money. Everybody handles personal finances differently, and nobody is exactly the same. I’m not here to influence anyone with my lifestyle choices. I’m here to provide a window into my life and how I handle my money on a daily basis. It’s not for everyone, but it is certainly working for me.
Thank you again for your comment, I really appreciate your perspective on my situation.
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.