In Discussions, Discussions, Life, Money

Being frugal or cheap doesn’t mean you’re morally superior

And if you think it makes you so, then you’re seriously deluded.

Being frugal is a good thing in the PF community, I even aspire in some areas of my life to reach this (e.g. not owning furniture, not buying and using commercial products to clean), but just because you know how to pinch pennies, doesn’t make you a morally better person than someone who doesn’t choose to do so.

I am not saying the two are mutually exclusive (e.g. you are frugal and therefore a bad person), but I am saying they’re not mutually inclusive.

Deciding to eat cheap junk food so that you can save a million before the age of 30 are all admirable accomplishments in their own way but it shouldn’t make you think that you’re better than anyone else for doing it.

Likewise, people like me who like to spend money (like me) are not bad or stupid, particularly since I am not in debt and can afford to enjoy my money.

It doesn’t make me a worse person than you.

WHAT’S THE POINT OF HAVING ALL THIS MONEY IF I’M GOING TO ACT LIKE A MISERABLE TROLL?

We just have different priorities and I am less into amassing tens of millions as I am happy to be on track to have a million or three saved by the time I retire, and most importantly, making sure I am happy as a good partner, mother to my children, in a career I love, and having a balanced life I enjoy.

I don’t want all that money if it’s going to warp me, and turn me into a hateful human being.

What kind of lesson would that be to pass on to my children? …that if you have lots of money you can act any way you want with no consideration for anyone else?

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See, I could have worked like crazy for the past 8 years and amassed well over half a million or more by now, I’m sure of it.

I could have not gone on all of those yearlong, monthlong, half-my-career-was-spent-on-traveling trips around the world, and stayed at home working like a dog.

I could have decided to not eat as well as I do, and just survive off dollar store ramen with a cracked egg for my sole source of protein.

I could have decided to wear 3 outfits fir the rest of my life.

I CHOSE AND STILL CHOOSE not to do any of that.

Do I regret some of my choices? Yes, a couple in hindsight, but I couldn’t have known what I know now.

I regret for instance, wasting time living in the U.S., but I am happy I made those mistakes and I am far less likely to make the same mistakes again.

So am I stupid?

Am I a bad person for spending that money, and having gained that experience even if I regret in hindsight having done so?

HAVING MONEY DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE PERFECT

Take Warren Buffett for example — he is a frugal investor who is one of the richest men in the world, but a terrible father by his own admission and his childrens’ as well.

He’s powerful because he’s wealthy. When the Oracle of Omaha speaks, everyone listens, enraptured.

So while I am not saying if you’re rich you’re a terrible person or if you are a great father you’re poor, but just because Buffett knows how to invest his money and save a buck, didn’t automatically make him a good father.

Yes, I know he’s pledging to give away his fortune but that changes nothing for his children.

Nothing he does now can change that he was a terrible father.

He can’t buy his way out of the decisions he has made.

In the same vein, you aren’t a better person because you have more savings than I do, spend less than I do or hate “wasting” money on fashion and electronics.

The decisions  you have made to be a rude, anonymous troll on the internet don’t change just because you have money.

By the way, I also don’t believe that just because I make a lot of money, I’m a better person than anyone else.

I may make a lot of money when I work, but that doesn’t mean I want to wield that like a sword to cut down others in my path by disparaging them online.

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EVERYTHING YOU ARE SAYING IS A REFLECTION UPON YOU

I actually believe this. What you say and what you do is a reflection upon who you are.

You’re the one who’s unhappy with your own life and decisions, no matter how much you’ve saved or amassed, that you feel the need to disparage and look down upon others to feel better.

CAN YOU REALLY CLAIM TO BE A GOOD PERSON?

Tweeting, writing posts and being otherwise a rude, holier-than-thou, and ill-mannered person just because you don’t spend a lot money or happen to have worked hard to have a lot of it saved up at a tender young age, doesn’t make those ramblings justified.

It just makes you a rude, two-faced person who worked to spend less money and saved up a lot of it.

That’s it. It doesn’t make you a better person.

Maybe you think what you’re doing it’s funny, but I assure you, it isn’t.

Anyway, are you proud of being who you are by writing such posts? Tweeting such mean and hateful things?

Would your family members be proud of you?

Could you go and proudly tell your grandparents that you’ve been heckling, harassing and otherwise being a jackass to other people you may or may not know in real life all because you have more savings than they do?

Or that you know how to spend less money than them and therefore feel justified to make fun of them and be a jackhole online?

What do you think they’d say to that?

Does all that money make you justified in being so mean?

If the answer is “No” and you feel the need to hide behind some mask of anonymous insecurity to bash others for spending money because you’re passive-aggressive, then perhaps you should keep your trap shut.

You may think I’m being a hypocrite, being anonymous and talking about my own troubles anonymously, but while I may talk a lot about my family and the grief they cause me (particularly my father), but it is NOTHING they (and he) are not aware of.

They KNOW how I feel.

I’ve told them plenty of times to their face and I’ve been in some epic family fights as a result.

I don’t like confrontation (starting it, I mean) but I’m not the type to back down from it either.

Can you claim the same about what you’re saying and going to say? I doubt it.

If that were the case, you wouldn’t be doing it anonymously and attacking people you don’t even personally know.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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Posted on September 25, 2017

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30 Comments

  1. Jennifer Roberts

    Just seeing this now. Great post! A while back I commented on another blog on a post about Dave Ramsey, and some troll declared me “undisciplined” because my husband and I financed a used car (hence, taking a step backward) instead of emptying our emergency fund when his vehicle croaked unexpectedly. He commutes 60 miles per day, in winter weather for a good chunk of the year, and I didn’t want him in a $1,000 beater as Dave Ramsey would suggest. So sue me. I shouldn’t have let it bother me, but it really did (especially since I struggle with perfectionism).

    There are places I absolutely draw the line, especially with kids. Childhood is fleeting, and I’m not going to spend that time living some extreme lifestyle in order to be rich later. And what good is being rich if by the time I get there I’ve wrecked my body with a poor diet and stress? I try to strike a good balance, and I know my choices have consequences. I need to do a better job keeping my blinders on and moving forward with what is best for MY family, not someone else’s idea of perfect. I beat myself up enough, I don’t need other people doing it too.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Right now I’m DYING to find a beater car to drive to work but so far no bites. *sigh*

      I draw the line at food, for sure. I need the good stuff. No point in being cheap.

      Reply
  2. dojo

    What matters most are the experiences, at least that’s what I think. We have ‘wasted’ A LOT of money on traveling for instance, but it’s been worth it. At the end of our lives I’d probably be more happy to have seen as much as possible from this world than to have some more money I won’t take ‘with me’ 😀

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’ve never considered any money I’ve spent on traveling as “waste”. The souvenirs maybe, but not the travel itself.

      Reply
  3. My Own Advisor

    BAM! Nice rant. Fully agree, not point in being mean or acting like you know-it-all. No amount of money, fame or lack of money or stardom justifies anyone from acting like an a$$hole.

    Just my take.
    Mark

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Precisely. What you do and say comes back to you.

      Reply
  4. Tawcan

    Great post, I enjoyed reading it. People always think they’re better than the person next to them. That’s just human nature. I’m a true believer that your life is a reflection of yourself. That suits very well of that you said that everything you’re saying is a reflection upon you. Nice people can be mean too if you’re mean to them.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Agreed! (And thank you)

      Reply
  5. Michelle

    Mean people suck. Enough said.

    Reply
  6. Charlotte

    Preach!!

    I hope you aren’t being personally attacked by anyone…if you are, at least you know that so many people are on your side! Really great post.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      My post isn’t just about me specifically , it is also in defense of everyone who has been disparaged for not being cheap/frugal.

      Reply
  7. Tania

    Well this sounded personal girl, I hope it wasn’t and isn’t a reaction to someone attacking you. I completely agree with you, frugality doesn’t make you a better person. As an older chick I’d also add some of the behavior that people tout isn’t always sustainable or life happens and is no longer in your control. I once had a early twenty something girl (that’s right, girl) lecturing me about how her marriage will never end, they will never get divorced because she knows better than everyone else. Sigh, I was like “talk to me in twenty years”. Even if you are still married, I guarantee you’ll be less cocky about it. The same goes for PF, spirituality and health/fitness. We don’t all have to do things the same way and we can have different goals. It goes both ways too. I’m not critical of the very frugal (who am I to stay being less frugal would make them happier) but I’m also not critical of those who are pointedly less so.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      For me, being frugal is a GOOD thing. I’d like to be MORE frugal but I don’t think that, or making a lot of money, or saving a lot of money makes me able to look down on others in a mean manner. I can be critical, yes.. because I’ve been there and done that.

      I know what wasting money is because I’ve done it and I can give advice to others on how NOT to waste money when you’re in debt, but I am not mean about it.

      Reply
  8. Pauline

    I wouldn’t dream of changing people because you can’t. So I expect people to leave me have my way as well. It is not better, not worse. As long as you are in line with your value, I accept anything. I don’t get people whining they are broke when they spend like crazy, or complaining about work when they haven’t sent a CV elsewhere in a decade though.

    Reply
  9. Bridget

    PREACH.

    I have nothing more to add, you said it all 😉

    Reply
  10. Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com

    I just posted something very similar to this! I completely agree. It needs to be said.

    Jay

    Reply
  11. Kassandra @ More Than Just Money

    I have little to add except to say that you nailed this post! Thanks for saying what several of us have been thinking of late.

    Reply
  12. Kathy

    There are so many areas where people think they are better than others. A couple that come to mind are exercisers. Those who bike often times consider themselves superior to the walkers, and the runners think they are better than the bikers. Another is regarding food. People who eat organic often think of themselves as better than those who just buy regular produce. And if you shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s you are certainly better than someone who shops at Walmart. How someone lives their life can potentially make them morally superior to someone else, but then we mere mortals are not the ones who will ultimately be judging.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Well said! Buying organic is expensive too.. I can sympathize with that but as long as people don’t whine about their situation without doing anything to better it (see: Pauline’s comment), I’m okay with it.

      Reply
  13. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    Wow! I loved this. I have been in the pf community for a year now, and I can’t stand the holier than thou types. No one is perfect and people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. We all have lessons to learn in life and we are all on personal journeys of growth. We should support and encourage each other along the way, not sit on a hill and feel self righteous by our choices.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Circumstances are also things we cannot control. Some people are born wealthier, others are not and that can determine a lot of the challenges/opportunities that come our way.

      Reply
  14. femmefrugality

    I couldn’t have said it any better than Taylor Lee.

    I hope I’m not like this. I didn’t think I was, but as I was reading I thought of a few instances where I could have been less blunt, more flexible in my opinion. Good things to keep in mind as we make our way through this internet world.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’m okay with being critical. I am not okay with being mean about it.

      Reply
  15. Taylor Lee

    For sure. The PF community has so many holier than thou types that hate on ANY sort of recreational spending. What gets a bee in my bonnet though is when I read people poor-shaming on their blogs. E.g. people who go back to their parents’ house after graduation, people with low incomes who have smartphones, people who’ve declared bankruptcy, etc. I always see people write such harsh things about people who are poor (“why don’t they just get a better job? harharhar”) as if the act of being in a financial precarious position is a sin in itself. Or act as if being low income it is morally repugnant for you to have access to any material objects that may be class indicators ever (e.g. smartphones). Of course, I’m not advocating people go into debt in order to spend above their means, but really guys what if people’s means are low due to systemic things completely out of their control?

    So much of the time, I feel like some PF bloggers need to take a step back and remember that financial security is a benefit in and of itself, but it doesn’t give you some badge that let’s you police other people’s behavior and call them idiots for not having the same type of PF acumen. Money is important in our society, but it is not a measure of a person’s worth.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      If someone could pick up a job worth $50,000 – $100,000 tomorrow, they would. That’s how I see it. Granted, there are those who always whine and say: I can’t make it.. the system has me down.. bla bla bla.. and they’re just whiners who can’t do anything about their situation because they don’t want to, but not everyone is like that.

      Money is definitely important but it shouldn’t be how you see yourself and a way to use it to lord over others.

      Reply

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Save. Spend. Splurge.
[ wealth. style. minimalism. ]

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