frugality

I’ve talked a lot before about how debt robs you of your future. To go into debt is to presume that you will have the money at some later point in time, a point at which you would probably rather have that money for other things. But here’s another twist on that same idea: any time you buy anything, even if you pay cash and incur no debt, you are robbing yourself of that same future.

I hear many complaints from people who don’t like being advised to live a frugal lifestyle. “You have to have some fun now,” people say. “I don’t want to live like a miser just so I can go to the grave with a big bank account,” others moan. “Mr. Smith” enjoys reading, double tall sugar free vanilla breve lattes, and eating out. In a typical week he spends $25 on a book, and $75 in lattes and restaurant meals. Mr. Smith complains that he’ll never be able to retire and feels bound to his job. But every week his bank account bleeds $100. Because Mr. Smith wants to “have some fun now,” he is deliberately postponing the day when he can leave his job behind.

What are your dreams? Do you want to buy a house? Do you want to take a big vacation? Do you want to retire early? Do you want to start a business? Whatever your goal is, ask yourself if this latte is worth putting in another hour at work. Or how about this question: “Is being frugal now going to help me reach my dream sooner?” If so, is that a trade you’re willing to make?

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