Are you a money saving expert or are you a frugal living expert? There is a world of differences between the two and both can be crushed by debt. Real frugal living frees you from debt before you start saving any money.
This is a quick blog post in my own defence, after my being subjected, once again, to what one may refer to as criticism against my frugal lifestyle. I just want to make one thing clear - make no mistakes, I actually love being frugal! Get it into your head that some of us don't need to be part of the general 9 to 5, or a salaried slave to the system that we call 'normal' society. Some of us actually enjoy our freedom and we will happily go without what others consider to be absolute essentials in order to afford simple living. I have no fear of losing my income or my home, I earn my own pittance and have the skills to create a home from wherever I may be at the time. Again, don't get me wrong, what I do pays very little, as I'm mostly writing and publishing free content, attempting to grow some food from the kitchen garden or assisting those whose budgets (or wisdom) [prevent them from seeking professionals. I don't mind non-cash payments by way of some pickle, veggies, a bag of apples or a cake. I just need to earn sufficient to pay the essential bills and this is made possible by squeezing them as low as possible and seeing beyond the goal of 'living within my means'.
Some people assume that it is a basic human right to be able to afford certain things that I would consider absolute luxuries, but let's get this straight - paying for all these things as cheaply as possible in order to save cash in a tin, jar or bank while having any form of debt or money worries, in my opinion, is just plain dumb! Absolute debt freedom allows you the luxury to continue following a very frugal lifestyle while saving and investing in your own futures. I know there are other ways of doing things but this is mine and it works for me.
Frugal living allows those of us on low incomes to speculate a little in the hope that we will accumulate sufficient to afford to continue our stress free lifestyle, right through to retirement and beyond. That is not to say that we will ever reach a point when we can easily live off the interest from our savings but at no point will we get into the unsustainable situation whereby we have more going out than coming in - that is the gist of this story. It's about living within lowly means in a way that demonstrates how it is affordable to all and making the most of every penny to grow it into a pound.
Money saving - it is such an ambiguous phrase. Is it money-saving or is it simply saving money? Are you saving by shaving a percentage off the overall cost of what you buy or are you living well within your means in order to save what's leftover by way of cash and other investments. For the past ten years, I have been living a fairly frugal life, primarily to clear debts like credit cards and a couple of contracts I had locked myself into and then to free myself from the rent trap, as I prefer the security of owning over the pressure of earning hundreds of pounds extra each and every month in order to sustain rent payments. Personally, I feel I could make a home anywhere, as it's about how you feel and not the material 'stuff' that's built up around you. Personally, I don't care if what's around me is built from stone, brick, wood or mud. I don't care if the roof is slate, tile, shingle, tin or felt. Affording to feel comfortable, relaxed and secure within that space is what matters, free from the worry of how to pay for it.
So, when someone grumbles to me that their savings are dwindling, their out-goings are far greater than their income, their home isn't worth selling because they won't get back what they paid for it and they are worried about how they will afford to keep the roof over their head in the future, don't expect me to wave a magic wand and say, "There, there, everything will work out somehow." My answer is blunt and to the point - quit spending, quit throwing good money after bad and downsize instead of playing silly games of 'what will friends and neighbours think?'
Yes, I did say it as I saw it and do you know what their utterly disgusted response was, fellow frugal lifestyle fans?
"I could never live like you!"