Can You Ever Get Back From the Frugal Tipping Point?
“I went to the bank and reviewed my savings, I found out I have all the money I’ll ever need. If I die tomorrow.”
“It’s a fine line between frugal and being a cheap *$#&$.”
I loved Thomas J. Stanley’s book The Millionaire Next Door. I found the stories inspirational, and they aligned with my beliefs. Ostentatious showiness is often a cover-up for a poor life – both in the financial and in the mental/spiritual sense, and as I drive my paid-for hoopty down the road and get passed by much nicer, newer cars, I often wonder how much the payment is on those and if it’s worth it (the answer is that if there’s a payment on it, it’s not worth it). I smile when I pass the cars which have bumper stickers which say “Don’t laugh. It’s paid for!” I appreciate sales and deals and downsizing more than the average person.
The habits of frugality are great. They keep you from overextending yourself financially. They keep you from getting onto the hedonic treadmill. They ensure security through old age.
They can, though, become an anchor as well, just as much as living a life of excess can. Take a look at the example of the millionaire grandmother in a trailer homecited by Stanley in his blog. This is a woman who is, according to her son, making a six figure passive income but refuses to turn the heat above 65 degrees in the winter.
It was the statement about still not turning the heat above 65 degrees in the winter which struck me. Yes, the woman in the anecdote had to scrimp and save and work hard all of her life to get to the point of wealth that she is at. I suspect that the behavior is so ingrained in her now that she wouldn’t consider loosening up, even a little, to enjoy the fruits of her labor and her sacrifice. She has lived a life of thrift for so long that she has reached a frugality tipping point from which she could never return, no matter how much money she had.
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Jason Hull is a Fort Worth fee only, hourly financial planner who serves clients in Fort Worth, TX and Dallas, TX as well as serving clients nationwide.
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