UNITED STATES—Frugality and wealth go hand in hand. They dance the dance, and to cut into that dance and waltz with the likes of Donald Trump, Warren Buffet and Oprah you would be advised to nurturefrugality—a most underrated virtue in our supersized age.
Frugality starts with an abundant appreciation for how far we’ve already come in our acquisition of wealth and virtues. Those who would satisfy this threshold pre-requisite for fabulous wealth ought to cultivate a knack for commemorating our many attainments, however, modest they may seem, they are not modest. And if you can’t quickly enumerate how many things have improved for you since this morning, or last year, sit down awhile till you’re ready.
Appreciate that your stomach is full enough or something that once made you angry now lets you chuckle. Appreciate that your undies stay up and that somebody invented matches (the gift of fire is a scratch away). How much money did you find on the street today? What new corners did you cut in your job to add to your store of time-money? No job? Well who did you help today, smile at, or open the door for?
Where everything is the Big Gulp, being frugal knows to be contented by the 8-ounce cup. It is the invaluable ability to decide and decree in advance how much is enough. This is an interior measure vital to the positive experience of wealth within ourselves –so often denied– and a sacred point of reference.
This set-point for enough is continually being brutalized and attacked by Facebook posts and the allure of what other people now possess or achieve—and we suffer a compulsion to pick fruit from a tree not our own. Even the wisest and the brightest are not immune to the hemlock of envy. The results are poisonous: discomfort, dissatisfaction with who, what or where we were are.
People who start from this place of dissatisfaction end up creating Frankenstein lives a patchwork of acquisitions copied from others. The major positive byproduct of coveting what another soul has or does is to kindle a bit of competitive spirit—the spice that motivates in forward action when used in non-lethal amounts. To stay out of harm’s way, we must constantly reaffirm within ourselves the gold standard for enough, sufficient. One egg might be enough instead of the usual three and will benefit your shape as well as your wallet.
Stocking up on the usual, will keep us on the bloated state; literally and figuratively. The shopping list gets longer and we are always harassed by what is missing. This is detrimental to the joyful experience of wealth.
Now those people who embody the most clichéd yearnings of an overworked, un-frugal society, they win the lottery and fritter it away. They had no set point how much was enough to spend or give, and without an innate inner sense of frugality, the millions went like water through their fingers. So frugality can be great source of resilience in lean times and a great protection in lavish.
The frugal eye too will detect opportunity where others see rubbish. For example, the bank constantly sends me preprinted checks, as a promotion. I used to waste my time shredding them to eliminate the personal information contained on them. Then I realized that by snipping out the address portion on each check, I killed two birds.
Cutting out the personal information off this junk mail eliminated the personal information and turned into an unlimited source of free address labels. Today, I lacked writing paper. I drafted this whole column on the inside of a torn open AT&T envelope with cool “security” crosshatching as my backdrop. Now that’s frugality. Adopt and embrace it and the gates of wealth will open wide to you.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: the Grady Diet” and the humor collection, “Late Bloomer,” available on Amazon.