Tips for living simply
by Gregory Thomas
ere's a question for you. What's the impression or image you have in your head when you think of someone who is a "tightwad," living somewhat of a frugal lifestyle? Does the stereotypical image of a old, feeble-minded miser, with dirty old overalls, worn out sneakers with a fisherman cap pop up in your mind?
That's OK. Stereotypes are hard to get rid of. Especially the negative connotations sometimes associated with budget related terminology. All too often people assume frugality and budgeting are for poor, low-income families. Only the less fortunate have to worry about these things, right?
First off, throw out all these misconceptions. Wipe them from your mind. They no longer exist.
Instead, let's take a look at the bigger picture--the purpose and reason for wanting to budget, conserve and lower your bills.
In our society, it is very easy to get caught up in all the glamor of the rich and famous. You know, all the luxuries in life. Isn't everybody supposed to be gorgeous, drive fancy cars, dine at the most expensive restaurants and have beach front property to come home to everyday?
We have this image of the wealthy and all the luxuries they spend their money on, and we sometimes try to replicate this in our own lives. More specifically, we don't want to be seen as if we are financially challenged, so we spend our money the way we think wealthier people do.
We buy what they buy. Go out where they go. We spend our money carelessly, without even giving a second thought about it.
It makes us feel good because we've briefly made people think that we are wealthier that we really are. Sometimes, we even trick ourselves into believing that we actually have more than we really do.
But in the end, we have no actual wealth.No overabundant savings account. No well invested stocks to capitalize on. No lake front retirement cabin to retreat to from time to time. Just our pretend life that we've been living in.
So how does a person acquire wealth? Many misinterpret the meaning of wealth. Wealth is not determined by how much you earn, but by how much you accumulate.
Aside from inheritance (and luck), a wealthy person will generally acquire money through many years of hard work and discipline. And at the same time, he or she will complement the hard work with regular saving deposits and wise financial investments. It just isn't in their nature to spend money haphazardly because that wouldn't be a wise investment.
Others spend all of their money on many extravagances but rarely have anything left afterwards. Years of reckless spending leaves little to celebrate about in the end.
Income level has little to do with whether a person decides to budget his or her money and strive for future financial goals. In other words, you'd be surprised to know how many poor people do NOT budget their money and how many wealthy people DO!
It all comes down to the GOALS you have for you and your family and how dedicated you are in achieving these goals, whether it be financial goals, career goals, retirement goals, business goals or all of the above. Your goals answer the fundamental question: What do I want to have (or be) in 5, 10, or 20 years? Only you can choose what is labeled a priority in your life.
Would you rather spend your time learning how to invest in the stock market or possibly start your own home business for additional income? Or would you rather spend the money you earn on a new deluxe home entertainment center, relax and wait for the next work day to come?
Regardless what road you choose, choose what you feel is right for your situation and strive for your goals. All the advice in the world can't force you to save money and budget your finances.
YOU have to WANT to reach your goals, period. Only when you decide that your goals are top priorities in your life, will you start implementing effective money saving strategies and begin acquiring real wealth.
- The Mindful Money Guide by Marshall Glickman is a modern classic. Glickman is a former Wall Street sharpie who is now a Vermont activist. In this book, he outlines a common sense plan for right living, voluntary simplicity and responsible investing that doesn't involve living on a pittance a year and recycling vacuum cleaner bags. If you think you don't understand finance, this book is a must-read.
- The Complete Tightwad Gazette: All three volumes in the "Tightwad Gazette" series newly gathered into one big book. Many, many tips on frugal shopping. A book that, while extreme in spots, can change your life.
- Miserly Moms is the story of one woman's successful quest to stay home and all the money-saving tips she accumulated along the way. We have many of Jonni's columns in the Managing Money section as well.
- Jerrold Mundis has written a terrific, must-have book for those of us who are trapped on the treadmill of debt and compulsive spending. It's called "How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously," and if you think that bankruptcy is your only option, please read this book right now! It has saved many, many lives.
Gregory Thomas is the publisher of ValuLinks Money Saving Ideas and Opportunities: Free money saving newsletters, monthly articles, tips, contests and freebies all updated regularly. This article is © 1998-2007 Gregory Thomas and is used by permission.