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Post of the Day
February 11, 1999

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Living Below Your Means Folder

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Subject: Re: Earning more
Author: ChundoHadASnack

"But if spending a few bucks more allows you to have a lot more fun, then I say if you can afford it, go for it."

See, this is where I think you have hit on something and maybe don't know it. You said, *words here* if you can afford it *some other words here*

Most people (in this country, at least) would do the things you mentioned whether or not they could afford it. I think the big part of the main philosophy of this board is having the mentality of handling our finances so that we have money available to do the things we want to do instead of just trying to keep up with the Joneses. It's about me having control of my money instead of my money (and/or the debt I have accumulated) having control of me.

To me, living below your means is synonomous with self-control. If you don't have the money for it, don't do it. If you REALLY want to do it, find a way to do it without hurting yourself in the long run. I make more money than most other fresh-out-of-college people my age do, but I make considerably less than a lot of people on this board. And it drives home the message that when people say, "if I just made more money, I wouldn't have to worry about anything..." because human nature is to use up what you've got, no matter how much it is. The real truth is that no matter what is in the blank on your paycheck, you need to learn to control yourself.

"The real truth is that no matter what is in the blank on your paycheck, you need to learn to control yourself."

I grew up in a family that was frugal because we had to be. When I was growing up, I didn't understand why I couldn't always have all the STUFF other kids had, and I was often embarrassed about getting reduced-fee lunches at school and not always getting to get ice cream on Fridays when all the other kids did and about having to wear clothes from Fred's and Dollar General and about our car with the peeling paint. Yes, my mom washed plastic forks and straws and plastic bags and made clothes for us and used dryer sheets twice (when we weren't using the clothesline out back). Yes, Dad invented lots of gadgets to repair things with. Yes, Mom relined the ceiling of Dad's truck with a bright-colored scrap of fabric from the "rag bag." But we were never lacking for the things we needed and we didn't borrow money for the things we wanted. I learned that if you only spend money you have, you get rewarded later. If you save up money and call going camping a vacation, eventually, you can save enough money to take a trip to Disney World. If you do buy used cars and drive them until they fall apart, you can save up enough money to buy your daughter a French horn for Christmas so that she can play HER horn in the band, not an old, clunky one that the school loaned her that is nearly impossible to play. Oh, yeah, and as much as I hated working in the garden, fresh tomatoes and corn really do taste better than the stuff from the store. And refrigerator boxes do make great toys. Oh, and playing in the sheets flapping in the breeze is a lot of fun. I got way off-subject somewhere. Oh yeah, and one of the best rewards is knowing that you aren't worrying about bill collectors and how much interest you are paying. You decide how much money goes out of your pocket every day, month, year - not the credit card company.

Now, I try to be frugal because I want to be. I still wash plastic bags, but it isn't about money. Being single, I tend to only buy things when I run out, hence, I wash plastic bags because I don't want to be without when the box is empty. In my mind, LBYM isn't about stockpiling money for the sake of stockpiling money. I think that people who do that are letting their money control them instead of the other way around just as much as people who spend too much of it. Money is a tool, not a king. Many people treat money like it is something to be worshipped and they let it rule them; I like to use it as a tool. ***SOAPBOX ALERT!*** If your needs are taken care of, why stockpile money when you can give it to the church or to a charity or to someone you know who maybe could use it more than you could? I'm reminded of the parable in Luke 12 in the Bible where the man had a very productive year and he was going to tear down all his barns and build bigger barns to store the crop and God came and told him basically "you're going to die tonight and you aren't taking any of this with you." Life is about more than stockpiling money. It is important to prepare for the future, but when money becomes an obsession, it defeats the whole point. The point of planning ahead is so that you won't have to be obsessed with it. ***end soapbox here***

"Life is about more than stockpiling money. It is important to prepare for the future, but when money becomes an obsession, it defeats the whole point."

I have many friends who apparently think retirement is something only middle-aged people need to worry about. They spend money they don't have and live paycheck-to-paycheck simply paying off minimum payments on credit cards and car payments. All because they think they need a new outfit every couple of weeks and they need another car NOW and they need a computer NOW (even when they can use mine any time they need to and there are plenty of computers in the lab at school) and it just wouldn't be right if their house weren't decked out from top to bottom during the holidays... So they buy things they really can't afford and their money controls them and they worry a lot. And what is fun about that??! Absolutely nothing.

LBYM is all about opportunity costs. My grandfather has money that he doesn't live off of because what he wants is for his children to have it. I try to live frugally because I would like a house, and the more frugally I can live, the sooner I can get a house and not have to hear every time a neighbor opens a drawer in their kitchen. I don't particularly feel a need to have cable T.V. (although the "Joneses" would feel too backwoods without it and thinks everyone should have it). So I don't get it. However, I do like to get a manicure every once in a while (in all that frugality growing up I never quite learned all that grooming stuff, not to mention that I am clumsy, so I like to do things every once in a while that are a little pampering and make me feel more feminine). Well, it just so happens that a manicure costs about the same as the price of basic cable (about $15). See - opportunity cost. And I got what I wanted - not what everyone expected me to get. I could afford to have someone come in and clean my apartment once or twice a month, but I'd rather sock away that money in a ROTH IRA and have someone come do it when I am too old and feeble to. Once again - opportunity cost.

In summary, in case I haven't been redundant enough and for people like me who just read the bottom of long posts, LBYM isn't about stockpiling. It's about priority setting. It's about getting the things you want without getting in over your head.

Oh, and about the coupons. I just like knowing that I paid less for something that everybody else did.

Have a great day, everyone.


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