What does it mean to be rich?
|November 18, 2009||Posted by thefrugalvegan under Finance & Budgets, General Content & Rants|
I have concluded over the years that the word rich can mean many different things to various people. I am financially rich compared to some people and poor compared to others (say, like those folks living in a Park Ave Penthouse in NYC). My friend once told me that if someone has enough to live off of, meaning paying rent/mortgage and bills, food on the table and be able to buy some clothes then those people are rich and that would be assuming they aren’t drowning in debt of course.
We may see someone driving a Lexus and think to ourselves: “Wow must be nice to live like that” but maybe that person carries a heavy debt and unable to refinance anything because they spend every dime they have (and what the bank is willing to lend them) to keep up appearances. So really, that person may appear rich but really they aren’t. I’d much rather be driving an inexpensive car that I can afford rather than swimming in debt.
I once read that the true definition of being rich is being debt free. I also read that most “real” rich people (this excludes old money folks) are driving Toyotas and living in moderate sized homes and are usually real deal hunters..wait..this sounds familiar. I grew up like that! My parents have been debt free as far as I can remember and to this day, my mom doesn’t get why people have any debt aside from a mortgage.
What people need to do is reassess what it means to be rich. Being debt free would be anyone’s dream right? The guy we deal with at the bank said that most people are still paying for their homes way after retirement which shouldn’t be happening. Luckily he told us that we are way ahead of the game and will be debt free in 14 years if we continue what we’re doing. wow. Funny because now I want to achieve my goal sooner now that he’s told me this.
We live in a consumerists’ age right now. What the general public deems as important seems to be acquiring big property and owning a lot of material things. This has even leaked over into food where people are gorging in such exuberant amounts that North American population is now mostly overweight. We’re greedy little buggers and it’s about time we take a few steps back and perhaps learn how our parents or grandparents were living; in moderation.
I had a couch-surfer here last week who said that in the Czech Republic, credit cards were just introduced a few years ago. Before that, people just paid with their debit card or cash and no one really complained about it. Consumerism has hit Prague hard . Locals are barely able to afford those clothes coming from Western countries but want to buy them because they feel that it will make them seem more important or better. How sad.
How do we re-evaluate the way we live our lives? How do we cut back & monitor our spending habits, where do we start?
I have always been very rebellious and never cared what people said, so if someone thought my homemade gift was cheap, then likely that person won’t be a friend for long and if they are a family member, rest assured that would be the last gift they’d get from me. Luckily I have never cared about keeping up appearances or what people thought about the frugal gifts I give them. When someone comes over, I don’t apologize for the unfinished rooms in my house or the fact that I like eating ramen noodles sometimes. It is what it is and if someone thinks they are better than me because they drive a Lexus or wear Prada head to toe then there is no way I want to be their friend. Really, it’s about reclaiming what is important to you and if others are going to judge you then perhaps it’s time to let them go.
My friends actually find my frugality somewhat comical and are always amazed at how much energy I put into getting free and cheap things as well as how far I go and how much research I do to save a buck on something I want. Due to my frugal reputation, some even come to me for advice and although some of my advice might be a little more radical than what they had in mind, they might even still do it.
All that being said, I am certainly not perfect in any way and I could definitely make some improvements financially as well. I go away on weekend trips by plane every few months which I could cut back on. I do stay with friends and aside from some shopping slips I am usually pretty good while away. I could also get that dollarstore mascara instead of my $20 one that I love. But really, all is relative. We all have our little luxuries. The key is balance. Maybe it’s ok to get that $20 mascara if you don’t eat out so much or if you find ways to cut other costs.
If you are unsure where to start cutting costs because it all seems a bit too overwhelming, look through bills and habits and what you have and see what you can dispose of. Here are a few areas where you can start:
*Call your cell provider and ask them about your patterns to see if they can offer you a more economical plan
*Call your cable company to get a better deal. If you tell them you are thinking of cutting the service because you are trying to cut costs, they will try to keep you as a customer by offering you a better deal. They would rather save you money than lose you as a client.
*Call your credit card company to see if you can lower your interest rates (assuming you are carrying a rather large balance). I did this once a few years ago and they cut off 5% so I set the card aside to pay it off with the lower interest and didn’t use it.
*Look at your bills and see where you can make improvements. Electric, Heat, Water….we can all cut down on things and usage. Companies can offer solutions for you as well so call and ask. We have water saving devices all over the house and we barely use more power than needed. The power company is shocked as to how low our bill is and one lady who worked there even asked me what I did. haha.
*Food is one of the easiest things to cut costs on. We all spend too much on it whether it from buying pre-made meals or going out to eat. Set aside a day to cook and bake and freeze the stuff. Invite a friend over, drink some wine and share some cooking skills, make it fun instead of a chore. Look through flyers for grocery deals. Bring your lunch to work. Limit coffee shop trips to once a week as a treat instead of making it a daily habit. I buy coffee that I bring to work and make there.
*Spas, pedicures, massages, haircuts….If you can’t claim massages on your insurance, go to a school to get one. They are 25% of the cost of one in a spa. Go to cosmetology & hair schools for spa & hair services. They are usually really awesome. Sadly I get my bio gel nails done once a month and that is something that is important for my job as I need to look really polished and doing nails has never been my strong point. This is an expense I am looking to get rid of though I do go to a cheap-o place. Once I stop working I am going to buy those nail kits and attempt it myself to see. I want to be able to do it but right now I don’t have the time to mess it up. But it’s on my list of expenses to get rid of.
*Cleaning: I have cleaning ladies come in every two weeks and that is an expense that has been bothering me especially since their price has gone up. Apparently one of them is moving away so the other one will do it on her own. I will ask her just to do what she can in two hours and pay her half of what I did before when it was the two of them. She can do what I can’t and I can do the rest with my sweetie. That will be an extra few dollars a month. If you are bad like me, maybe get someone to barter with you instead of paying them.
Some of you might be wondering how I can fly places all the time and have cleaning ladies come in if I am on budget? Well, it’s because I save in pretty much every other aspect in my life, so I can allow myself to do these things (and I even save on my luxuries!). Being frugal doesn’t mean depriving yourself but making the most with what you have and allowing a few things that make you happy. Oh, and being rich doesn’t mean you have to live in a mansion or drive a Lexus either. When balance is achieved and we have everything we need to survive, we are rich.
Books that you might be interested in:
I personally haven’t read all of these but did some research on which ones would be good to read. I bought Mary Hunt’s : The Complete Cheapskate: How to Get Out of Debt,Stay Out,and Break Free from Money Worries from Bookcloseouts.com and am still waiting for it to arrive. I am really skeptical though and should have done more research before buying it. I hear she preaches Christian messages throughout the book (not judging, but this type of thing in books really bother me as I am myself not Christian and I feel that preaching has no place in other than religious books). She’s been called a fraud by some readers apparently copying ideas from other books and claiming them to be her own. So i’ll see how it goes. Yikes. Now I’m scared to read it.
I own The Tightwad Gazette which is a cult classic for frugal folks. I love it. I pick it up at least a few times a year to read stories. It has given me a lot of inspiration and saved me lots of money when things were very tight financially. She’s a cool lady and I wish she still wrote books because she has a very no-nonsense down-to-earth approach.
*The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton
*The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs
*Your Money Your Life by Vicki Robin
*How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously: *(Based on the Proven Principles and Techniques of Debtors Anonymous) by Jerrold Mundis
*The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (this is for you hardcore frugal folks!)