Frugality and FIRE Friends – Lazy Man and Money
It’s still a very busy summer for dog sitting, so rather than be 80% blogger and 20% dog sitter, it’s close to 95% dog sitter and 5% blogger. I expect that to change when kids go back to school in September and families stop traveling.
Last week this Tweet caught my attention:
I’m getting really sick of the constant bashing of the FIRE community and frugality. Everything I’ve accomplished financially in the past decade is due to those two things, so kindly shut up. Personal finance is personal!
— Josh Overmyer (@Jovermyer1) August 8, 2021
It’s simple and straight to the point. However, I read it and think of it from a historical perspective. My blogging mentality is still stuck in 2006 and 2007 when I started.
Frugality Bashing Over Time
There were bloggers in 2006 who were into extreme frugality. I remember reading an article where the person calculated that opening the refrigerator costs four cents. So before opening the fridge, he planned his attack to grab all the items as quick as possible. There were also jokes that if you by 2-ply toilet paper, you can just pull one ply apart and “BAM!” double your toilet paper. Some of the extreme frugality got a little weird.
In general, though, people were just doing common sense things to save money. Make coffee at home, bring lunch to work, that kind of thing. However, people have started attacking those kinds of frugal suggestions. Their argument is, “No one got rich making coffee at home.” That may be true, but brewing coffee at home makes sense.
One decision repeated many times over a long time can make a significant difference. However, it’s more than that one decision. That one decision can grow into creating many mindful and frugal spending habits. When I developed these habits, I had more money left over to max out my 401k at a fairly young age (the maximum allowable contribution was lower then). This 45-year-old is thanking his younger self for doing that.
You have to have money to invest money. Not everyone can have a high-paying career (I did, fortunately), so frugality can be the path to having that money.
If you read a money guru and they are against frugality, it’s probably a good idea to shop for a new guru. They have not walked a mile in your shoes. I haven’t either. However, I’m not going to shut the door and bash an idea that mathematically is proven to help so many people.
Bashing of the FIRE Community
When I read “FIRE community”, my 2006 dinosaur brain interprets it as “personal finance community.” For all practical purposes, they are synonyms. FIRE is a better marketing term and “Financial Independence, Retire Early” evokes a sense of freedom to do whatever you want in life. There are no new money tips and tricks in FIRE that weren’t already in the personal finance community. We could call it all a “money community” and everyone would know what we are talking about.
The thing about defining a money community is that it’s nebulous. There are money communities in website forums (Bogleheads for example), blogs (this one for example), Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. Sometimes the people in one community don’t know who I am, but in another community, they know me quite well. Finding the community that supports you as you work towards your money goals is what’s important.
I don’t understand why anyone would bash a supportive group. I suppose I can imagine a person with enough hate in their hearts to do that. I imagine the bashing happens mostly on social media where people may just be trying to get attention (even negative attention) or entertain themselves. That used to get me going and angrily responding. Now, I just feel a little sad for that person, because he/she does not seem to have a focus and/or a community to help themselves move forward.
Frugality and FIRE communities are tremendously useful money tools. They’ve worked for countless people for decades. It makes no more sense to bash them than it does to bash being in a high-paying career or investing. My 8th-grade math teacher used to say, “There’s more than one way to Moody Street” (a big street in my hometown). There are many money tools that can get you to financial independence. Use the ones that work for you.