Every day we’re bombarded with messages of how we’re missing out on something BETTER. Whether it be tasty food images on Instagram, a photo album of vacation pictures on Facebook, TV commercials with fancy cars, and numerous other examples.
This phenomenon of FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is defined as “the anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” Social media is a big driving factor of this. It’s extremely hard to avoid comparing yourself to these perfect picturesque images we see playing on out our social media feeds. It also makes it hard to fully enjoy the present moment, when we’re constantly thinking about the potential alternatives we may be giving up. This manifests itself whenever we catch ourselves engrossed in our cell phone, rather than making eye contact with the person across the table. This is no way to live.
Unfortunately frugality is linked to this concept, because often times in an effort to try to remedy this fear of missing out, an individual will spend their money frivolously to overcompensate. What people fail to realize however, is that spending more money doesn’t buy more happiness, and choosing to live a frugal lifestyle doesn't mean you’re missing out on what life has to offer.
People tend to draw conclusions based on commonly perceived status symbols, such as houses, cars, electronics, evenings out, among others. If you don’t have these status symbols, you’re sometimes perceived as having a less desirable life. It goes without saying that the majority of frugal people don’t have these type of status symbols, so does that mean they’re missing out on a better life? Quite the contrary.
This pressure to keep up on what we “should be doing” is also referred to as keeping up with the Joneses. A well known financial book, called The Millionaire Next Door, depicts accounts of real-life millionaires, and found that many of the people who were most well-off financially actually lived much simpler lifestyles than their neighbors. Having the smallest house in your neighborhood or an eight year old car are GOOD things. They are lifestyle traits that can end up allowing you to build much more wealth over your lifetime than your peers. In this way, possessions don’t tell the whole story. Someone driving the fanciest car on the road isn’t truly wealthy if they have a pile of debt that’s been accumulated to purchase that same car.
Living a frugal life doesn’t mean you’re missing out. It doesn’t mean you never spend money, it simply means you get the most value possible from the money you do spend. I discussed this at length in a recent post, “The Difference Between Being Frugal and Being Cheap.” While these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are completely different.
Studies have shown that peak happiness levels occur around a $75,000 income. Anything more than that doesn’t increase happiness, and often leads to more stress and growing dissatisfaction.
So how do we avoid this?
Many times people cloud the line between “wants” and “needs.” A lot of it has to do with the mindset we have towards what we spend our money on. For example, having a smartphone with a data plan is now considered a “need” by the majority of customers. If you have the mindset of taking your smartphone for granted, it’s much easier to justify splurging on other items to “treat yourself.” On the other hand, if you take a closer look and realize how much you already have, it’ll keep you from wanting more and more.
This also prevents lifestyle inflation, which is increasing your spending whenever your income increases. Lifestyle inflation is one of the quickest ways to become broke, because instead of growing the gap between your income level and spending level, you get caught in the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. Reverse the trend and increase your savings rate, and you can build wealth quickly. By practicing gratitude, you’ll be able to feel more satisfied and happier with where you’re at in life, rather than getting into the endless cycle of always wanting more.
Spending money shouldn’t equate life happiness for you. Time spent with other people, memories made, and experiences shared are what’s truly important in life.
Living a frugal life is about making changes that bring about a positive impact on your well being. It’s about figuring out what truly matters to you, and choosing to spend your money in ways that coincides with that knowledge. It’s not about being miserable and cutting out the areas that are most important to you. Spending less money doesn’t mean you’re missing out on the best that life has to offer.
Avoid being caught up in the temptation to compare yourself to what you see on social media. Social media is a highlight reel, not the whole picture of what’s really happening in a person’s life. By practicing gratitude and focusing on what truly matters, we can be happy living the frugal lifestyle, rather than being caught up in trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing.
Visit DealsPlus and explore the best money saving tips on your quest to living a frugal lifestyle! What are your experiences and how have you kept a frugal lifestyle?