There’s a certain stigma attached to a frugal personality, at the office. I’m always worried that colleagues will judge me in a weird way when I say I don’t eat out, or won’t have that second beer, or I don’t own a car, or an expensive phone, because these things are too expensive from my perspective.
Instead, I tend to use lame excuses, such as “oh, I totally forgot we had this team lunch and instinctively packed my lunch like I do every day. That’s ok, you guys can go”, or “I can only drink one beer, my wife made me promise I’d be home by 8 [note: she didn’t]”, or “We’re thinking of buying a car, we just need to look into it, soon”. Or “You’re right, I have a shitty phone, didn’t want to spend too much on it but I totally regret it [note: I don’t], let’s have a laugh together at how shitty my phone is”.
I’m honestly not sure why I do that. Maybe some of my colleagues would tell me it’s impressive how frugal I am, but somehow to me it’s part of the secret personality: “Yeah dude, I’m on the same boat as you, spending as much as I can and living the life. I’ll totally work for this company ’til I die, I am definitely not planning a secret exit for next year”.
As many other people trying to reach financial independence (I have to assume), I think a lot about those situations. It might be much less about the “stigma” of frugality for me, than not blowing up my cover.
But when these thoughts become a bit too oppressing, I just remind myself that I’m as much of a spendypants as my colleagues. It’s just that the luxury item I’m saving for is far more expensive than the most expensive of their gadgets, and probably even more expensive than their house (although some of them probably have insanely expensive houses):
I’m saving money to buy my freedom from the corporate world. And once I have the funds for that expensive luxury item, then, yes, maybe I’ll think of buying a new phone.*
A boat. NOT the luxury item I’m saving for
Until then, I save, save, save. A few more years, fellows!
* I won’t. One of the things that happens to people who become frugal to reach financial independence is that we stay frugal after we reach the target. Because along the way we realize it’s about much more than money, it’s also about not filling landfills with gadgets that still work, about not paying insane prices for things that do not make us happier, and much more than that. MMM refers to it as the “frugal muscle” and it’s real. Once you train it, that thing sticks around.