Pop quiz: What’s the most popular piece of advice on the internet about saving money?
If you guessed something about the Latte Factor — you know, that old saw about giving up your daily cup of caffeine from Starbucks to retire early — you’ve probably read more than your fair share of personal finance articles.
And I’m pretty sure that if you were planning to cut out your daily cappuccino buzz, you would have already done so by now.
Whether you do or do not imbibe in a fancy morning drink now and again, the trouble with so much of the advice floating around about frugality is that it makes it sound like a punishment. Something along the lines of, “If only you’d quit wasting your money on fancy things you don’t need, you could get yourself out of whatever mess you’ve created in your checkbook.”
Lecturing isn’t the answer. But changing your thinking about frugality can totally change your life.
The Worst Advice I’ve Ever Seen
On a beautiful Saturday in the not-too-distant past, I was riding my bike downtown to run some errands (more about why that’s a good move in another post). On my way to the bakery for our daily bread, I passed this sign:
Work harder? Maybe, if it’s something I’m completely passionate about.
But shop harder? No thanks.
I actually do my level best to do the exact opposite in my life: Shop less so I can work less — and love life more.
How Frugal Choices Changed My Finances — and My Life
A couple years ago, I challenged myself to live a more frugal lifestyle by cutting back on something in my family’s budget every week. The idea was that finding 52 little ways to save over the course of the year would add up.
And boy, did it ever add up.
I hit the low-hanging fruit first, like turning down the thermostat by a (nearly imperceptible) couple of degrees and refusing to buy my kids any more granola bars. As our success started to take off, I was inspired to find even more things I didn’t really need and jettison them from our budget.