My life is simple, and that’s a priviledge.
It’s all about having the freedom to pursue the life I want without having a financial burden. I want to do the things that I want to do now. I don’t want to wait until I’m 50 to realize that I spent half a century living for others. I would have lost my zest by then.
I want to remain humble, knowing that no happiness sponsored by wealth is permanent. I don’t want to inflate my lifestyle, even if my income skyrockets. I don’t want to have so much disposable money that I can buy clothes without looking at the price tag. The moment I start thinking about stupid ways I could spend money, I risk becoming too comfortable for my own good.
I want to be self-sufficient, and empower myself against helplessness. I don’t want to depend on others to create things that I otherwise could do myself. An extreme way of thinking about this is pretending that I’m training to live off-grid in a foreign country, all by myself: How would I protect myself? How would I ration water? How would I keep my tiny house warm during winter?
Of course, the questions that I deal with are nowhere as extreme: Can I borrow instead of buy books? Can I bike instead of bus? Can I cut my own hair? You get it. The thing is, I find these small challenges fun. They reduce choice overload, require me to be creative with the limits I have, and often require a safe level of risk. But I haven’t always felt this way.
Before I started working, before I had any conception of financing myself — I tried to live a frivolous lifestyle, though I was limited in doing so. I wanted to buy everything, because my identity was not yet formed. I was absorbing who my friends were, what celebrities did, and how adults behaved. I was still exploring who I was. I admire those who learn to be frugal from a young age.
I’m sure I wouldn’t give a shit about “living frugally” under different circumstances. I’m sure I would have different priorities if I had kids, or if I were in my mid-70s and retired. I’m sure I would think differently had I been born in another culture, or brought up in a different social class. So I understand that my specific circumstances are privy to the value I hold for being frugal now.