Now, the confession: frugality is hard work!
Sure, this may not seem like much of a confession, but it’s something I don’t acknowledge often enough.
When I first decided that I was going to be very serious about personal finance, it was even tougher for me. That’s because the only thing that can make frugality tougher is going at it without being financially literate.
Enter financial literacy
For those who are frugal but not financially literate, frugality is all about less. It’s about eating and drinking less, doing less, spending less time, and saying yes less often. I did less of all these things and many others.
And yes, I did see results — big results even — but too frequently, I got the feeling that they weren’t commensurate to all the “less” I was experiencing.
My aha moment
My aha moment came slowly.
The first thing that financial literacy taught me was that not all frugal cuts are the same. For example, stressing out over saving a dollar on a keyboard I’ll use for four years isn’t worth the time when I could save a dollar every day by packing my lunch.
The second thing that financial literacy taught me is that it matters where I put the fruits of my frugality. Using the cash I save to pay down high-interest debt or to invest in a tax-advantaged retirement account could have a much bigger impact than whatever else I was doing.
But neither of these would be my aha moment!
That wouldn’t come until I realized that frugality for frugality’s sake wasn’t the point. Paying down debt isn’t even the point. The point of both of those things is that they give you the freedom to do the things you’re really passionate about.
And my aha moment finally came when I realized that frugality isn’t about having less of everything; it’s about having more of the things you care about.
And for that to happen, it takes personal reflection to prioritize what matters and the financial literacy to know which tools to get there.
Have a great Wednesday, everyone