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Living Below Your Means
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By xtn
October 25, 2005

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In another thread - about being mistaken for poor - somebody mentioned feeling hurt about it. I responded something about it being harder to LBYM if we are worried about what everyone else thinks. But it got me to thinking a bit deeper, and in another thread PineLevel asked me for a pep talk, so I decided to start a new thread. Here it goes....

There are a lot of people out there in life who spend more than they ought to. There are people with low incomes and high incomes and in-between incomes living a notch above their means. Everyone seems to want to APPEAR to have more money than they actually have.

There [are] way too many people living that way. So many that there is an unspoken peer pressure almost everywhere we turn. Sometimes in our efforts to LBYM we may have moments of weakness. Moments of embarrassment. Moments of feeling out of place.

Saying we should not care what other people think isn't enough. It's a nice sounding concept, but it doesn't get the job done. I've been preaching to set extreme goals in an attempt to successfully reach the middle. My idea is to aim someplace crazy in hope of hitting someplace acceptable. How does this methodology address the problem of peer pressure?

In order to shrink our expenses without shame, we have to turn our minds around. We need to go beyond just telling ourselves we don't care what other people think. We need to set an extreme goal! We challenge ourselves to new heights of peer independence to go along with our desired financial independence. We need to find a way - mentally - not to just get over feeling embarrassed, but to actually feel PROUD when our frugality is pointed out to us. We should take it as a compliment!

If a child mistakenly observes our lack of spending as a sign of us being poor, we should smile to ourselves inside. We should give ourselves a pat on the back for doing something RIGHT! When a coworker remarks that we have the cheapest car in the parking lot even though we make more than most in the office, we should feel RECOGNIZED for our intelligence. Even though the observations are probably made by a financially blind person with a negative connotation, on the inside we know our efforts are paying off. We will be the ones retiring on the beach with little drinks while they are still trying to figure out where their next car payment is going to come from!

This is just another example of brainwashing ourselves to success. Think about it. Next time somebody makes you feel a bit silly for your frugality, try to turn it around in your head. Try to make yourself bask in the glow. Having a cheap car is our form of showing off, even if most people don't get it. It isn't the cheap car itself of course; it's all the money sitting in the bank because we aren't making car payments! But the cheap car is just the outward sign that everyone sees. When someone points out your cheap car, or whatever it is, don't feel bad about the car silly... feel GOOD about your savings account!

Anyway, I don't know if this will work for everybody, and I know it kinda sounds like a bunch of self-help guru blabber that I'm usually against, but it works for me and I mean it works WELL. Wrap your mind around it.

xtn


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