Frankly, a full 99% of frugality tips on the internet are crap. Buy store brands and don’t drink lattes? NOBODY HAS EVER THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE. And yet, there are still all sorts of blogs (with way, way more visitors than mine, dammit) that continue to spew these nuggets of wisdom, kind of like that college kid after his first kegger. Yep, that was a vomit joke.
Luckily for all of us, you’re not going to get that crap here at whatever blog it is I’m writing on. I’ve been on so many I’m starting to lose track. I know that frugality can only take you so far, so I barely gloss over the subject. I’m much more turned on by building wealth (well, that and boobs) so I choose to spend my time talking about that. I like to think I’m on a journey to becoming wealthy, and I hope you’re all along for the ride. Pile in, there’s plenty of room in the back.
The fine folks at Control Your Cash have summarized this philosophy much better than I ever could, using only 4 words: buy assets, sell liabilities. Damn them and their succinctness. I like to refer to it as thinking like a wealthy person. Once you change your mindset to ours, building wealth becomes relatively easy. You find a way to save money every month and then repeat it until you wake up one day and not have to worry about money anymore. Like a lot of things in life, it gets easier the longer you do it.
But here’s the thing: frugality plays a part in that equation. Unless your last name is Gates or Buffett, you’d better be paying attention to where you spend money, since most of us don’t have the limitless resources those people do. So we do what enterprising people do- things like shopping for sales, not eating out every night and so on. We don’t do these things because they’re terrific frugal tips. We do them because they’re easy. They’re the low hanging fruit of the frugality world. Nobody is waiting for you at the end of a home cooked meal with a gold star, because only a moron would expect one.
With a few minor exceptions, there’s nobody that focuses on frugality tips that save serious cash. We all laughed at my Dad’s crapbox car, but who’s having the last laugh? Us, or the guy who literally saved HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars over a 40 year span by not having a car payment and paying next to nothing in repairs? Nice work saving 38 cents on buying the generic macaroni and cheese. Forgive me if I don’t get all motivated about it.
Frugality is kind of like hitting on that girl you like. You should be able to do it without someone holding your hand because that’s what adults do when they want a relationship. (Or just to get laid) Does someone really deserve a hearty congratulations for using common sense?
You know what’s a special kind of fun? When frugality bloggers start tackling the extra income equation. They have all sorts of ideas for earning extra cash, each worse than the last. Babysitting? Cutting grass? Walking dogs? OH BOY. SIGN NELLY UP! Those jobs can be performed by anybody, which is exactly why you should avoid them. How much would it suck to be replaced by a 13 year old?
All those jobs are perfect examples of someone who’s limited in their thinking. From their perspective, money can only be earned one way- exchanging time for work. We all make the majority of our money this way, so it’s easy to fall into this trap.
It’s just too bad it’ll never get you wealthy.
If you take anything from this post, make it from this point on. The previous 8 paragraphs? Crap. There was even a vomit joke in one. Gross.
A small minded thinker gets a part time job over the weekends, earning a few hundred bucks a month. Someone who looks at things a little differently will spend their spare time working too, but at something that creates value for someone other than their employer. A small minded person will look at sharing a 2 bedroom place with their friend in order to save $650 per month. Someone who gets the big picture rents out his basement for the same amount, both making money for doing next to nothing and getting a renter to pay for the purchase of an asset. A small minded thinker has $10k sitting in some savings account somewhere, even though that represents like 20% of their portfolio, reserved for some catastrophic event that’s unlikely to happen, instead of taking at least a little risk with that cash. (Just a little. Relax.) A small minded thinker avoids debt like I avoid watching Glee, because they’re scared senseless of some debt monster somehow rising up and beating them into submission.
Life is not without risk. Every time you cross the street, (jaywalking is so badass) or approach that person you’ve admired from afar, you’re taking a risk. Without taking on risks though, it is next to impossible to amass significant wealth. Borrowing to buy a house, for example, generally works out pretty well for people. Every time I rent out my basement to a new person I’m taking a small risk that they might be a grade A dirtbag. I keep renting it because I know that I will profit from this exchange over the long term.
Frugality is trying to accomplish the same thing, but without the risk. There’s no worst case scenario if you don’t like generic brand cheese slices. You just admit defeat and move back to Kraft Singles. If you spend 11.5 minutes cutting coupons, you have a very specific idea of how much you’ll stand to benefit from the exercise. When you focus on making more (ideally without working a whole lot more) you create a little bit of uncertainty, which adds that level of risk.
If you limit your thinking, you will limit your potential. Don’t do that. Start thinking like a wealthy person.