Living Below Your Means
Buying Back Your Time

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By jammerh
July 8, 2002

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A lot of people seem to see frugality as money-grubbing, or selfishness. I guess we can't expect everyone to see things the same way. For me money is useful for the independence it provides. It's not to accumulate it so that you can buy more stuff. It's to accumulate it to get it working for you so that you won't have to work at some point.

To the extent that you are successful at this endeavor you should be able to rely more and more on the income generating power of your money itself. Eventually it should enable you to earn enough to pay for the essentials for longer and longer periods of time.

I call it a sense of security. I've been financially independent for about 20 years now. I enjoy having time to spend enjoying so much of life that is free. If I die tomorrow, I won't begrudge the money I leave behind. I'll count myself lucky for the ability it provided me to buy back my own time while I was here.

In sacrificing the things you don't really need to the goal of financial independence you make the attainment of the goal more likely. Take a look around you. Ask yourself how many of the things you have that you really could have done without. Probably there is a lot.

Things have a way of becoming an encumbrance in and of themselves. Kahlil Gibran said,

"You push your things ahead of you down the road of life"

You can realize just how much of an encumbrance your things are when you have to move your things, or store them for any length of time.

While no one should get to the point where they begrudge every cent spent, it does make a lot of sense to continuously ask yourself how you might get more productive use out of any money you must spend.

A Few Examples I like, I'm sure everyone here has a few of their own ideas on this:

*Cooking a special meal yourself in lieu of spending big at a fancy restaurant.

*Buying a vehicle with function and durability as priorities over looks and power.

*Taking a walk in or reading a good book, instead of going to the movies, or theatre.

*Borrowing that book from the library instead of paying for it at the bookstore.

*Taking the bicycle to work in lieu of firing up the gas-guzzling polluter, getting a little
exercise in the process.

*Noticing the price of the premium choice in the grocery store, when the mid-grade choice
would suffice just as well.

Of course, everybody is different. For some people some things are too important to sacrifice. Some people actually like working for others, or for themselves. Each to his own. Its for those of us who believe we can spend our time more effectively if we, individually choose to decide how to spend it that I write this.

You don't have to give up all the things that are truly and dearly important to you. But if you enjoy the challenge of cutting where you can, you will keep more of your income for yourself in the process, and make it work for you.

Small amounts here and there can accumulate rapidly if the process of cutting is regular and persistent. It's amazing just how many things and services we have in our lives that we don't really need.

Its none of these things by itself. Its the repeated process of taking on the challenge of where can I cut the excess. Where am I get in real value for my money in light of the things I value?

I bought myself out of a life of part-time slavery. It bought back time I could spend doing what I, wanted to do. Time I could spend reading, walking in the park, spending time with my family and friends, working on refining my investment approach.

I have no regrets. These are the things I believe are truly worthwhile in life. To enjoy these things though, it isn't money you need but time.

We all recognize that there are a number of free things in life that we don't need money to enjoy, however, of what good is it to know this if you rarely ever get the time to enjoy them?

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