You’re cruising along on your sweet journey to financial independence…your debt is paid off, investment accounts are slowly swelling with the passing of every month, and even the flowers smell a little bit sweeter. Despite your commitment to live frugally, life is good. Super, crazy, wonderfully good.
But the truth is that not everybody in your circle of family and friends will “get it.” They will look at your frugal lifestyle and pity you, imagining that you’re suffering daily under the constraints of driving older cars or living in a house with one bathroom. “I could never live like that,” they proclaim.
That’s fine with me. Don’t live like that. I never asked you to. I won’t apologize for our choice to live in a sweet little 1,000 square-foot, 3-bedroom, 1-bath house. The occasional negative comment only serves to magnify how very differently we view money, life and happiness.
And while I’d like to think of myself as emotionally strong, I’m not. (Sorry to blow the superhero image I know you had of me.) I experienced this criticism first-hand just a few weeks ago, and because I deeply care about the person that criticized me, it stung all the more. At first I was hurt. Then I was confused. I didn’t understand why a friend would openly poke fun at me, because I had chosen to live a less material life. Then I finally rounded the corner, and…stopped caring.
I’ll live my life the way I want, they can live their life the way they want, and we can all go back to discussing the latest Pinterest fail, the NFL pre-season or funny cat videos.
We all have priorities, and every lifestyle choice has a corresponding trade-off. Some choose to spend their dollars on extra bathrooms and square footage, knowing (or not knowing) that choice will delay retirement by 20 years. Others choose to live somewhere that just meets their needs, realizing that retirement can be just around the corner.
To each his own.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
— Henry David Thoreau
Fist bump to you, Mr. Thoreau. I couldn’t have said it better.