Fuck you, Frugality
Yep, this is going to a “ranty” post, ladies and gents.
Let me first start by saying that I love seeing other people succeed when it comes to finances. “Hey Paul, you helped us save $200 per month” is an awesome thing to hear. And frankly, I’m 100% a-ok with you doing whatever it is you need to do in order to get your finances under control. You want to live in a box? Go for it. You want to participate in the “Eat nothing that has a shadow” diet? Be my guest.
And it’s easy to see why this appeals to so many people. After all, saving a buck is a relatively simple concept. You find something you want, you try to purchase it, your jaw smashes through the floor as you look at the price, and you find some creative (but not too creative, you little klepto…) ways to get the price down. But here’s the thing…
I’m tired of looking at my finances as an exercise in limitation!
I swear to GOD, if someone calls me a typical millennial one more time…
Scour the internet and you will find literally tens of thousands of references and tips on how to cut back on your budget. Even I’ve given some tips on how to reduce costs. And for the most part, they make sense. Don’t spend on things you don’t need, try to split costs when you can, and always leave early and stick your friends with the tab…
But here’s the thing with living your life this way:
You’re CONSTANTLY telling yourself you CAN’T have things!
Here’s a list of things that I’ve told myself I can’t have yet because they don’t fit in my budget:
- Another T.V. – Sorry, but I want one. And frankly, this doesn’t make me a bad personal finance blogger at all; it makes me a person. I want to be able to watch something like a normal person and not have to view it through a god damn telescope because my TV’s so small. It’s also the same TV we’ve had for YEARS. It still functional, but it’s time folks… it’s time.
- Dining out – So, ok, I’m a pretty decent cook, and I can make 80% of what my girlfriend and I go out and eat anyway. But for the FIRST TIME IN MY WORKING LIFE I’m living somewhere where there are actually good restaurants with interesting menus. And I can’t eat at ’em because the budget doesn’t allow it. I swear to GOD, my Roth IRA better taste like real Italian pasta boiled in a pot of Gordon Ramsey’s tears… otherwise it’s really not worth it.
- New computer – I’m legit waiting for this thing to crap out. I’m on a 7 year old macbook pro; it’s only a matter of time at this point…
- Car – I don’t even want a new car; I just want to put in new filters and get new belts for it! But it’s another couple hundred dollar expense that I don’t need.
- Couch – My couch is at a point where I can literally feel my spine turning into the letter “C”. It’s like the most graphic and painful episode of Sesame Street you’ve ever seen.
- Skiing – I would give my best friend’s left nut to go skiing again. Christ, I moved from Texas to Colorado Springs. I should go skiing. But between ski passes and the amount charged for a burger at those ski lodges, it just doesn’t make sense.
- Meat – Recently, the girlfriend and I decided that we should give being vegetarian a try. Quick tip: don’t be a vegetarian. Ok, I’m kidding, but in all seriousness, I miss meat more than America misses Obama. And there’s no WAY I’m buying cheap meats; you never know how much crap they put in those packages. Literally.
- Glasses – I’d love to have a pair of sunglasses that weren’t made from cheap recycled plastic and that I didn’t win in some “swag bag” at a baseball game. But there’s no way I’m going to drop $50-$150 on a new set right now.
… and the list goes on and on.
I’m pretty good at limiting myself when it comes to these expenses. I don’t crumble under the pressure of on-sale T.V.’s, I know that $100 sunglasses could mean groceries for a week, and that my old couch serves it’s purpose just fine. But in reflecting on all this in the last couple weeks, I’ve finally come to the realization…
…that this is why EVERYONE hates budgeting!
Go ahead, challenge me on this one. “That’s not true Paul. I LOVE allocating my resources appropriately and making sure I have enough savings at the end of the month to contribute to my financial goals.” Ok, sure, but if I were to replace the words “Allocating my resources” with “figuring out what I’m not allowed to have this month”, then suddenly there’s a giant shining beacon of understanding that hits the budgeting world: people don’t like to tell themselves no.
So what’s the solution?
Well, as I’ve said before, pretty much ALL of personal finance revolves around this one annoying equation:
Revenue – Expenses = Profit (Income)
And as any of my six graders could tell you, there’s really only one way to increase that final number: you either up your revenues, or you decrease your expenses. But here’s the problem with living a “frugal” lifestyle:
Your expenses can only go so low, while there’s no limit to how high your revenues can climb.
Example: let’s say you earn $50,000. Even if you lived somewhere where you didn’t pay rent (mom & dad’s), didn’t have to pay for food (again, mom & dad’s), didn’t dress yourself (mom and dad’s at a nudist colony), didn’t have to pay to transport yourself (mom and dad’s at a nudist colony while traveling by bike #ouchie) or didn’t have to pay for anything (even taxes), the most you could save in a given year is…
That’s it. That’s literally the maximum.
But we all know that the world doesn’t work like that. Eventually, your parents are going to want to kick you out of their house, even if you really are their little schnookums. You can’t lead your life like Alladin and just steal the food you need; you’ll have to pay for that. And if you want to get to your job at all, you’re going to have to find a way to get there. And, the ever present taxman is pretty much always going to want to stick his hands on “his share”.
This is where it gets depressing…
That means that there is really no amount of frugality that’s going to permit you to become vastly wealthy. Sure, you might be able to retire in a shack by the time you’re 35, but you’re not going to be jet-setting around the world, leading a “models and bottles” sort of life. I highly doubt that Dan Blitzerian is a coupon cutter, or that Bill Gates tries to take advantage of the senior special at Denny’s.
No, these guys are focused on really increasing the amount that they earn, so that they don’t have to live a hyper-restrictive life in order to achieve the lifestyle they want.
And this is super depressing, because, at least for me, it’s very difficult to increase your earning power, ESPECIALLY in the world of education. Actually, here’s how you do it:
Be an administrator.
And I’m not 100% sure that that’s what I want. So recently I’ve been focusing on activities that increase my earning ability, as opposed to choking the shit out of my budget till pennies start popping out.
Fuck you Frugality – The Wrap Up
There, I’ve said it; I’m the personal finance blogger that doesn’t necessarily want you to budget.
Ok, that’s not exactly true. I’m the personal finance blogger who wants you to make a budget, set it, forget it, and focus the rest of your time and effort doing whatever it is you can to increase your earning potential. After all, there’s no shortage of money in the world. But there IS a limit to how much you can trim from your budget. Unless you hate having a roof, eating food, wearing clothes, and having a way to get around.
Alright dear readers, now it’s your time to fight back: Do you think it’s more prudent to spend your time trimming the fat off your budget, or bulking up your ability to bring in the big bucks? Comment below and let me know either way!
Keep trying to crack the code,