In my first Savvy blog post, Living Frugally: Less Waste, I spoke on the concept of less is more. Unfortunately, some have come to believe that living a frugal life forces us to settle for less than the best. I find this idea very curious and believe that it is important to address this concept. I disagree that shopping for bargains, checking out the clearance rack, and browsing thrift stores is settling for less than the best. In fact, I believe it helps to free us in such a way that we can afford the best things in life, like time freedom, spending quality time with family, paying for a good vehicle without financing a penny, not being a slave to creditors, etc.
Did you notice I did not mention the best clothes, cars, house(s), or electronic devices? There’s a reason for that.
You see, most people view the best as something material; it is an item, a physical thing that can be used as a showy status symbol. This mindset is due, in part, to the ingrained American attitude that success is measured by the amount of stuff one accumulates and the brand name attached to said stuff. This is a shallow, unproductive, and enslaving mindset!
Think about it. If we give into this way of thinking we are then obligated to work for the sake of buying stuff. We work overtime, sacrificing time with family, to afford the luxury vehicle. Then once the vehicle is attained we turn to acquiring the bigger and better home, and of course that home needs the best furnishings, the best alarm system, the best pool…and don’t forget the best manicured lawn in the neighborhood maintained by the best landscaping crew money can buy. When all these things become obsolete, which doesn’t take long, you are forced by your mindset to upgrade everything in order to maintain your lifestyle.
Does that really sound like the best? That sounds more like a trap to me!
If you are planning to adopt the Frugalist lifestyle and accumulate wealth, in order to save for a debt-free, financially independent retirement, I suggest you develop a true idea of what the best is. It is not the cars, vacations, or the other stuff. It is the memories you create while on a cross-country drive with the family. It is seeing your children’s eyes light up when they meet their favorite Disney character in person. The best is creating a thriving business so you have the freedom to attend your son’s band competition without having to ask your boss’ permission to take time off. The best comes from creating assets that allow you to take months off work to take care of your ill spouse and never feel a financial weight on your shoulders. It is also being a living example to your grandchildren that they really can build their dream home without financing and the resulting burden of debt.