Wednesday, August 22

Two Worlds of Frugality

Why are you frugal?I am convinced that there are two worlds of frugality. Quite simply, some people are frugal by necessity while others are frugal by choice. Sure, there may be a sliding continuum involved, but at some level you can either afford to meet your financial obligations or you can't.

Frugality by Necessity
This is the type of frugality that is imposed on an individual or a family when they clearly do not have enough money. It is possible to stave off disaster for a while with savings or perhaps even previously acquired credit. In fact, if one is lucky their financial situation may change before they even feel the pinch. However, some are not so lucky.

Whether characterized by unemployment, underemployment, low wages, some degree of illness or perhaps some other cause, frugality by necessity is tough. If someone arrives at this state from a period of better times there will be a drastic and disheartening change of lifestyle. The pressure, stress, lack of options and lack of control may lead to depression.

Frugality by Choice
On the other hand, when an individual or a family is fully employed they may still find it very hard to make ends meet. Often, in this situation, it is poor choices and wasteful habits that are the culprit when it comes to financial woes. Of course, it is certainly also possible to be frugal without having experienced any financial issues at all.

Practicing frugality when times are good will let you pursue financial goals more aggressively. Perhaps you want to purchase a home or pay down a mortgage. Maybe additional budgetary control will allow travel to exotic destinations more often. Alternately, maybe the end goal has become early retirement and a path to stepping off the hamster wheel once and for all.

Why Does it Matter?
I'm not sure it really does matter, but I suspect that we have two distinct frugal audiences. From my own period of forced frugality I know that frugality information aimed at the wrong recipient can be depressing. If you are broke, it's frustrating to hear people making wise choices in situations that are currently well beyond your reach. Of course, those that are relatively well off, even if they don't realize it themselves, probably won't be interested in more extreme cost saving measures.

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Anonymous said...

Great information. It is amazing what people can accomplish with good advice and knowledge. Thanks, Annette

Francesca said...

True. I am frugal by necessity. Being a student is tough without the financial problems, though I seem to be the only person here not living off an overdraft...

Frugal Guy said...

Anon, Francesca,

Thanks for the comments.

I used to work midnights stocking shelves while going to school. Needless to say that wasn't very good as I was too tired to stay awake in class.

I had to quit school, get a full time job, then finish up the last few courses by correspondence. It was not a fun period of time.

However, explaining how I worked midnights and finished up after getting a full time job was something that prospective employers respected. It showed a willingness to do what it takes and to do the work required to finish when it could have been easily ignored after getting that first career job.

Keep on plugging and keep in mind that how you handle the situations you find yourself in can almost be as important as those situations...