Sometimes it’s hard to live for the future, especially your financial future. What does having a strong retirement account thirty years down the road mean to you when that new dress would look so cute at tomorrow night’s party? Who cares if there’s a possibility that you’ll get laid off in the next year when you just found the car of your dreams? We get caught up in the now and forget to plan ahead.
But let’s look at it from another perspective: remember that seventy-dollar sweater you just had to have last winter? How many times have you worn it? Was it worth being late on your credit card bill, paying the additional interest, and hurting your credit score? Or what about the latest smart phone you bought last month? Was it worth the stress when you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck to pay the bill?
In 2011, the BBC reported that depression rates have risen significantly since the 2008 recession. And while they don’t place the blame solely on financial stress, they do admit that it’s at least partially responsible. The bad economy coupled with the insecure work force adds significant stress, especially on those who already struggle with depression. So why, I ask you, do we insist on living (and spending) in the now instead of saving (and ensuring) our future?
I think the answer is because it’s much easier to satisfy our feelings of immediate anxiety–not having the latest trends in fashion, wanting a new car or the latest phone–than it is to satisfy future anxieties like how I’ll pay the credit card or cover the phone bill. But I say it’s not a matter of choosing between living in the now versus living in the future, it’s about choosing to live in both. I can live frugally now, which will ensure stability later–be it twenty days or twenty years.
The way to do this is to slow down. Compare shop. Shop online. Use resources such as rebates zone to find the best deals. Utilize search engines to find the best places to buy; research your item, read reviews, find the best product for your money. This not only helps you get the best deal, it also helps slow down the decision-making process. The initial “I must have” feeling has passed and you’re able to save the money you might otherwise have spent.
Frugality is a give and take. By purchasing only essential items, you learn to live with less. You learn what you really need, what you really want, and what you can live without. You begin to look at things differently. It becomes a lifestyle, an addicting one at that. A way of living that eases anxiety, ensures your future, and provides peace of mind. I often find myself striving not to increase the number of items I own, but simply to have a larger savings account, a more robust retirement account, and the ability to rest easy, knowing I’ll be able to cover unexpected financial emergencies.
Living frugal doesn’t mean you stop wanting things, stop striving for better and more comfortable living circumstances, it simply means that you seek those things for different reasons. With more savings, you’ll have greater peace of mind, more for retirement, and a rainy day fund you can be proud of.