One of the misconceptions I get from a lot of folks when I share our lifestyle and savings rate is – ‘wow, y’all must live like paupers! I could never live like you! I could never give up x, y, z.’ HA. Please, never get the impression that we live on the cheap. We just bought a THREE HUNDRED dollar water filter last week. There it is in the picture, all shiny and new! Did I mention we’re also going on a caving adventure this weekend to the tune of almost $200? And that Andrew just bought over $150 worth of books about mushrooms?
There’s a huge difference between being frugal and being cheap, and I think when most folks encounter frugal heroes their mind immediately assumes, “these people are cheap.” This assumption is driven by the inherent consumerism and materialism in our culture. We are taught from a young age to measure everything from self-worth to success to even happiness in terms of dollars and possessions. We’ve made a sport out of ‘shopping’ – so many Americans feel the best way to spend time with loved ones and amuse themselves is by going out and buying shit. Our lives are a never-ending race to fill our oversized homes with as many possessions and knick knacks as possible. When one knick knack falls out of fashion or becomes obsolete, we toss it and run to the store to buy another one to replace it.
Frugal heroes choose not to play this game, and thus are seen as subversive by mainstream America. This leads to a perception that we are somehow ‘lacking’ the experience of buying shit, giving us the label of ‘cheap.’ However, cheapness and frugality are two entirely different things.