On Penny Pinching & Delayed Gratification

We have lost the ability to be penny pinchers.

Afraid to be labeled a tight wad, a miser, or a scrooge, we spend our lives “keeping up with Joneses” and sacrifice our own financial security to the allure of having it all, all the time.

You can not build financial security if you spend beyond your means.  As I have stated in an earlier blog, you must plan your budget to meet your obligations, including your savings.  If these are not being funded, you do not have money for the extra stuff. I know a couple who regularly invests in a Christmas Club Account.  Kudos to them for planning ahead.  Unfortunately, they are not meeting their current bills, and rarely can pay their credit cards in full each month.  At the holidays, they joyfully present friends and family with gifts that are beyond their means.  They believe that they have carefully budgeted, instead they have put themselves deeper in the hole by allowing their credit card debt to increase and paying more and more interest.

Our great grandparents knew how to pinch pennies. If they did not have the coin to pay for a treat, they did without. Today we have no such constraints.  With a swipe of the credit card, we can buy fancy coffees, doughnuts, the latest fad toys and gizmos, a trip to the movie complete with soda and candy, the newest app, fashion apparel, sporting jerseys, the list is endless. And none of these items are required for life.  Remember the basics we were taught in grammar school: the necessities of life are food, clothing and shelter. Be sure what you are buying is a necessity and not a “want” or a “keeping up appearances” item.

Another story for you: My 90 year old neighbor (who has since died) told me about the day her boyfriend came to her and told her he would not be able to see her anymore.  It was the height of the depression and he could no longer afford the gas to drive from his farm-hand job to her house for their weekly visits.  It would be over two years before he once again came to her door.  The economy had started to improve and he was finally able to afford the gas.  Their marriage would last over 50 years before he passed away. This story spoke to me on so many levels – commitment, sacrifice, frugality.  It is hard to imagine not seeing someone for so long.  We have so many readily available technologies to stay in touch.  But the basic premise is there.  Live with in your means, deny yourself the little extra luxuries that are fleetingly important (2 years compared to half a century!) and look towards your future.

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