Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Frugality and Happiness

Living a Frugal Lifestyle does not equal misery. People are under the impression that being careful with your spending and saving for retirement, means we are living a deprived life. People think we have a lifestyle like a third world country. That we eat only rice 3 times a day. Wear old sacks for clothes. Recycle toilet paper. Reuse our dental floss, ok I have done that. And live in a mobile home with no a/c. Not true. (well we do eat a lot of rice)

Everyone needs to find their own balance between frugal living now and having enough to live on in the future. You could live like a monk now and save every dollar you can for the future. Or you could spend everything you make now, plus take on debt, and live like a pauper later in live. Or you could find a balance between the two that works for you.

Spend money on what makes you truly happy and on what you enjoy. Did buying another purse when you have 30 in your closet really make you happy? How about that new golf putter you just bought when you have 6 of them getting dusty in your garage? Do your boys really need to go to the barbershop to get their haircut when you could buy a $20 hair-clipper set from Amazon or StuffMart?
Mrs Sardonic and I are working on balancing the two extremes. We enjoy live and do plenty of activities. We just choose carefully and spend wisely. But the choices are ours to make, we are not being dictated to by our finances, we are dictating to our finances. We are in charge and make the decisions.

The thing that people need to understand is that we don’t feel deprived or poor. We still spend money, on ourselves, on our kids, on others. We pick and choose carefully. And when we buy something we take our time and research the purchase. Sure at times we make fast, rash choices, we learn and move on. I’m still mulling over purchasing a new iPod Shuffle ($46 at Amazon) to replace the old one that died a week ago (I sweated it to death while running).

We go on vacations. One week at the beach every summer with the whole Fam. Our kids play sports, one in the Fall and one in the Spring. We take the summer and winters off, to save money, to de-emphasize sports a bit, for more family time and less running all over the damn place being chauffeur to our kids.

Growing up we didn’t: play every sport there was, take horseback riding lessons, take archery, participate in plays, do gymnastics, take ballet, go to a different camp every week of the summer. No, we did a few things and spent a ton of time playing outside with our friends (pickup sports, spud, kickball, tag, bb-gun wars, riding bikes). And somehow we survived. I like to think we enjoyed childhood, looking back it seems like it was great. Maybe I'm mis-remembering it, but I don't think so.

Remember when kids used to ride their bikes to places? Now parents drive them to sports practice, drive them to the 7-11, drive them to “play dates”. What in the heck is a play date anyway? What a bunch of dorks people have become, I blame the yuppies.

I hear that nowadays parents even let their kids decide where they want to go to high school. If their kids choose a private high school, mom or dad gets a second job. When I was a kid I was told where I was going to school, at least through high school. And that's another reason why our kids are home-schooled, it's almost free. It actually costs less than the 'free' public schools (with their fees, new clothes, peer pressure purchases). We spend under $200 a year to school a bunch of kids.

Letting our kid’s do all and every activity is hardly a great way to prepare them for the future. We wouldn’t be doing them any favors if we gave into their every whim. I wasn’t put on earth to give them everything they want, I was put here to help get them to heaven (which is crazy hard sometimes).

And believe it or not you don’t have to spend money to have fun. But that’s a good subject for a future post.

Dave Ramsey sums it all up pretty well, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

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