When I graduated from college I lived in a filthy group house with five other roommates, because I couldn’t afford a nice, clean apartment of my own. I drove an old rusty station wagon and avoided shopping for new clothes. Over time, though this necessity to save gave way to a secret feeling of pleasure. Rather than feeling deprived of ‘things’ I once desired, I began to feel gratified that I could live without them.
As my feelings of deprivation turned to gratification I began to realize that I was continuing to live frugally despite the fact that my income no longer warranted the need. In fact, I now feel happy whenever I stop myself from spending money on unnecessary ‘things’. And in some strange monetary cycle, this sense of joy further propels my frugality. After all, as humans we are certainly more apt to repeat acts of pleasure than acts of pain.
In my mind, frugality no longer equals deprivation. Instead, I now recognize that even in my most desperate times, frugality has always been a choice. Over the years I have chosen to eat 99% of my meals at home, drive old cars, and polish old shoes. Over time saving money has become a game, and as I find pleasure in clipping coupons and spotting sales, I continue to save more and more money.
As time progresses I am beginning to realize that one cannot succeed at saving money for money’s sake. The ultimate goal is to save money on things that don’t matter, in order to spend money on things that do. In my case those desires include pursuing passions and spending time with those I love, for others it might be traveling the world or taking time off work to volunteer. Saving money in one place, in order to spend it in another, empowers me to make better decisions with my money. Realizing that I am forgoing something today, in order for something more ‘important’ tomorrow, allows me to continue to save.