Frugality requires conscious spending. There are things that people need and things that they want. And knowing the difference can mean building an impressive reserve for times when income has decreased.
In addition to saving more, the frugal spender learns a priceless lesson about true value. When the thrifty spender attempts to buy more for his or her money and subsequently spend less, products and services end up being assessed more closely to determine their long-term value rather than their immediate and often times shallow appeal.
Someone with an unlimited supply of money would not feel the need to check price tags or inquire about the quality of various products because a bad product or a rip-off could easily be amended through another purchase. With limitless resources, why would a person want to save money at all? There would be no reason to take the time to compare products and services to find a good deal or the maximum value for his or her money. But no one has limitless resources and therefore everyone can profit from learning to attentively spend money.
Conspicuous consumption (the opposite of frugality) elevates appearances – the shallow, ephemeral appeal of a product. What one buys is more important than how much one is able to save in the process, or even how much one is able to get for his or her money. Flashing accessories come to have more worth than long-lasting necessities. In effect, needs and wants become indistinguishable.
It is only through frugality that discipline is established and products can be confidently labeled as either necessary or superfluous. Sometimes one has to wean oneself off of unneeded products or services for awhile – even indefinitely – if it means saving more in the long run and not living paycheck to paycheck.
Being short of money can be devastating, but it can also be liberating. Enough of a shock can compel a person to budget, and unnecessary purchases can be analyzed and sworn off for the future.
Of course it is better to think about purchases prior to being forced to by a dwindling bank account, but it is never too late to start truly valuing one’s own money. Because spending unnecessarily and unconsciously only cheapens money itself; the spender receives minimal value for his or her hasty decision. And, worst of all, the time and effort spent earning money amounts to nothing if one is unable to make the money grow; instead allowing it to disappear due to undisciplined and unexamined spending habits.
Frugal people are sometimes called cheap. They are made fun of for constantly counting pennies. And while extreme frugality can be unhealthy and time consuming, moderate frugality is the only way to be sure that one’s efforts to maximize the fruits of labor start with the smart purchase.