Keeping frugality in perspective
Don't obsess over saving every penny or clipping every coupon. Frugality shouldn't override your every decision, Hamm says.
Frugality is simply a tool to ensure that whatever does come first in your life is well protected and facing a minimal amount of stress.Skip to next paragraph
The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
This is something I often have to remind myself of. I spend a fair amount of my time during the week reading personal finance blogs and other sites, looking for interesting links and ideas and perspectives.
When you spend time browsing through all of these people practicing and talking frugality, it’s really easy to let yourself focus on the nuts and bolts of maximizing every dollar and lose sight of the big picture.
We don’t make meals in advance at home so we can be proud of the $2.50 we saved. We do it as a matter of routine so that we know we’re not overspending on food, which lets us save for that home in the country we dream of.
We don’t browse the community calendar for free activities so we can revel in the fact that we didn’t spend $20 at the movie theater. We do it because it’s fun, it’s a great way to meet people, and the fact that we’re also making sure the entertainment part of our budget stays under control is just a sweet kicker.
We don’t make our own laundry detergent so that we can pride ourselves on having a few more quarters in the change box. We do it so that our children can see such behaviors as normal and that adults think carefully about how they spend their money.
We aren’t frugal so that we can stare in slack-jawed awe at our growing net worth. We do it so that we’ll be able to take the entire family to France for a couple of weeks when they’re older without worrying a bit about how much the flight will cost and how overwhelmed our credit cards will be.
Frugality doesn’t come first.
It is a tool to fill the ordinary days so that the extraordinary ones come without stress.
It is a tool that we use to maximize the value of the things we do each day so that we have the resources to chase those bigger dreams.
It is a tool we use so that we can sleep well at night without financial stress hanging over our heads.
Saying that frugality makes you miserable is much like saying a hammer is bad because you can use it to smash your thumb. Frugality is a tool so that you can live the life you want by minimizing the cost of the stuff you don’t care about as much. Like all tools, there are good ways to use it and bad ways, and there are also times to put it aside.
If you let frugality come front and center in your life and if you let that ever-escalating bank account be the goal of things, then you’ve become a miser, and that’s an existence that leads to unhappiness.
Find the joy in your life. Use frugality to take care of the other things, the things that don’t bring you joy, so that the joyful elements can always stay in bloom.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on www.thesimpledollar.com.