Wealth through frugality
A quick recap. So far in this series, we have explored the issue of how to stop worrying about money. At its root, financial bliss comes when we spend less than we earn, which is very easy to say. The lure of cool new stuff guides our hand to slide our plastic through a lot of slots and into a lot of trouble. We learned that tracking our wealth helps us refocus, change our relationship with money, spend mindfully and invest profitably. We looked at the incredible wealth building power of simple spending changes over time. Naturally, those changes are less painful when they can be done with minimal effort and sacrifice. Getting something better for less. However, another whole range of possibilities emerge when we consider wealth through frugality. Eliminating the actual stuff itself. Not buying it in the first place. Plastic stays in wallet.
Ugh. Could anything be less appealing? Let me guess, we’re going to take away lattes, avocado toast, nice cars, fun vacations, cool clothes and dinners out? Well no, yes and kind of. But hear me out.
The things you own, end up owning you
I first heard that line in the movie, The Fight Club. At the time, I didn’t understand it and just viewed it as one of those slick turns of phrase. Years later it made a lot of sense, maybe too much,
Through a lot of hard work, careful saving and the glorious days of stock options, I found myself with a lot of stuff including a large sailboat, a vacation property, a nice home and a closet brimming with fancy togs. Which sounds like a wonderful lifestyle and in some ways it was. But I needed a toolbox for the boat, one for the cottage and one for the house. Every hour of fun seemed to demand 3 or 5 hours of maintenance, by either me or a hired serviceperson. Then there were the lists. Lists of lists, of tasks, parts and scheduling. Lists by store and by thing. And a ton of work. All of it had to fit outside the hours of my job, my family, friends and other interests. The things I owned, ended up owning me.
If you avoid buying a thing, there is the obvious point of saving money through the avoiding. But you also save on the service, the cover it needs, the extended warranty, the accessories, the place to store it, the related clothing and safety gear, its depreciation and eventual replacement. So of course there is a way to build wealth through frugality. But who wants to not have the thing? Maybe you.
Shift from things to people and experiences
When you dial down the things in your life, some wonderful changes occur. The lists disappear. Your time frees up. The drudgery of sorting, storing and purging goes away. Your life is returned to you to enjoy.
I wrote Cashflow Cookbook to help people build millions of extra wealth without “sacrifice”. The ideas really work, but there is another gear shift to add that brings both wealth and joy. Frugality. And it turns out that having less doesn’t involve a sacrifice at all.
The old joke is that the 2 happiest days of boat ownership is the day that you buy it and the day that you sell it. Totally true. And the reality is that I don’t miss my boat. Spring set up used to consume 3-4 weekends and fall storage another 2-3. I would grimace over the maintenance, the work and the time away from friends and family.
Three years ago, I downsized from an Acura to a Honda. What happened was fascinating. Absolutely nothing. My friends didn’t abandon me. Road trips were just as fun, the car is easier to park and more fun to drive. When I leave it somewhere, I worry less about it getting scratched or stolen.
I did a clothing purge a while back. I rarely wore most of it. Each time I moved, I would dutifully pack it all up, carry the boxes, unpack everything, fold, hang and store. Then do it all again for the next move. I would hunt for things to wear, moving things I never wear out of the way. Now my clothes have room. And I can find them.
Suddenly the frugality movement starts to make some sense. Not because I have to but because I can. Things are simpler and I have more time for, well, everything. Living more simply and frugally is way to shift our lives from things to people and experiences. There is wealth in frugality, but also calm, connection and joy. And interestingly, no sacrifice.
What do you think? Have you embraced a simpler lifestyle? Let me know in the comments and please share the post if you enjoyed it.
Stay safe and enjoy.
P.S .In fairness, I do have more guitars than ever before, but they don’t own me. They even let me share their room.