Frugal for All the Right Reasons

"Endless Travel" by buggee @ FlickrMany people think that frugality means a person is a tightwad, boring or self-righteous.  There is a perception that a person cannot be fun or exciting if they chose to spend money thoughtfully instead of frivolously.  A frugal person may not coalesce in a circle of friends which finds itself socializing over drinks at an expensive lounge, however, this does not reduce that person to a boring stiff.  It only means that their priorities are in different places.

For me, frugality is all about living in harmony with my values, my environment and my finances.

The way we are treating the planet frightens me. We have an ocean being choked by our discarded plastics, polar ice caps which are disappearing, and Air Quality Alerts have become as common as Thunderstorm Warnings.  Frugality allows me to eliminate the volume of stuff which passes through my hands and into a landfill by not buying it in the first place.

I haven’t always had this perspective about waste. I used to be a super-consumer, buying everything I could get my hands on. There was an insatiable desire for stuff. I never had enough and always needed more.  As I began to analyze my life and my priorities with more scrutiny I learned that I was not directing my finances in ways which were conducive to my values.

I would always talk about wanting to travel around the world, but instead of saving for a plane ticket, I would buy a DVD. Instead of getting my passport, I would spend the money on clothing. I knew what my priorities were, but because I wasn’t aligning my spending with them, it was likely that I would never accomplish anything I wanted to.

Eventually I realized that by spending frivolously I was blocking my own success. I was living paycheck to paycheck because I was spending as fast as the money would come into my hands.  When I stopped spending my money on things which provided my life with no value I began accomplishing my goal of travel. 

My first travels were short camping excursions to the Rocky Mountains and extended weekend trips to other places I’ve always wanted to see like Niagara Falls and Washington, DC.  As I continued directing my finances in ways conducive to my goals, the trips began getting longer and further away.  My first major international trip was to Argentina for 2 weeks and about 6 months later I was off to Aruba for a 2 week vacation in the sand and sun.  Now I’m looking forward to 9 days in the Las Vegas area at the end of May.

The same people who may consider my frugality boring often tell me they wish that they could afford to travel as often as I am able to.  They seem to think I hold some sort of secret that I’m not letting them in on but the truth of the matter is that I prioritize my time and money in ways which allow me to achieve my goals.

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