money management

Being Financially Smart: When Others Don’t Get It

One of the best aspects of the personal finance blogosphere – aside from how ridiculously awesome everyone is – is the fact that most of us share the same general sentiments about personal finance.  Our goals, dreams, and thoughts about money all boil down to the same thing: debt is bad; financial freedom is good.

You and I both know that leading a debt-laden lifestyle with a side of bloated-spending just isn’t the way to live.

So we do something about it.  Almost every blogger in our little cove of the world wide web is deep in the throes of a grand plan to make their financial dreams come true – whether it’s getting out of debt or becoming your own boss.

So, that’s it; end of story.  We know what the problem is and we’re working on a solution.  High five!

But… what about those people that don’t share our same sentiments about personal finance?  Because – trust me – they are out there.

They are the ones that often whine about being in debt and then go out and buy a new 50 inch flat screen TV (but after that, they’re really gonna curb their spending; they’re gonna get serious this time).  We’ve all see it before.  Sometimes, these people might even make others, like you and I, feel bad about being financially smart, secure, and stable.  And maybe, many years ago, we were these people?

Keep It Simple, Silly

I was reading the review of Trent Hamm’s new book – The Simple Dollar – over on Get Rich Slowly the other day and was amazed at how simply, yet accurately, he described the most basic aspects of minimalistic spending and frugality.

From The Simple Dollar (as posted on Get Rich Slowly):

Many people associate frugality with sacrifice: You have to give things up.  They hear stories about having to give up lattes or giving up eating out or giving up nights out on the town, and it sounds incredibly tedious.

A more appropriate thought is that frugality is an exchange: You’re trading things you don’t value for things you do value.”


Money is nothing more than a tool with which you can create the life you truly want.”

It’s the basics of personal finance and frugality simplified into just a few words that describe my exact feelings on the topic.

The Personal Finance Epiphany

After I moved out on my own, it didn’t take me long (thankfully) to realize that being frugal and money-conscious would, in the end, be a much better trade-off than buying another crew-neck tee from my favorite department store or another expensive night out with friends (and we still go out, we just do it on the cheap).

However, I think it takes some people a much longer time to have such an personal finance epiphany (I probably have a few too many, actually).  And until they have the epiphany, what do we – their money-conscious counterparts – do?  I have so many people that I come across in my life that I want to help.  I want to show them how easy it is to be financially secure, that all their dreams can come true no matter their financial situation.  But, most of the time, it goes in one ear and out the other.  It’s so frustrating!  Being financially stable will open you up to a completely new life, free of the stress of debt or unpaid bills and full of hope, excitement, comfort, happiness, contentment, stability, and the list goes on and on and on and on…  I just hope they figure out how good they can have it sooner rather than later.

Finding The Fun In Free

Last night, I took an awesome, energizing Yoga class.  After that, I cooked a delicious meal at home (“healthy” Mexican pizza … yum).  Then, after that, I spent the rest of the night on my couch with a good book in the silence of my little apartment (Lloyd was out doing some sort of man thing).  I didn’t pull out my credit card once (although, I do pay a gym membership and buy groceries), and I literally couldn’t have been happier doing anything else.  I felt so happy, relaxed, and content (of course, that could have just been a contact high from Yoga).  I wouldn’t have traded the night for any other activity that comes with a price tag.

In the end, I guess I’m just really happy that, like you all, I turned out to be one of the lucky ones who realized early on that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Do you encounter others who have the opposite view of personal finance from you?  How do those with different financial viewpoints affect you in your life?


  • This is so important!! I love having nights where Hubby and I play a game, or turn off the tv and just read. Even a night in playing Wii or watching a movie can be super relaxing. I think when the work week is over, especially, everyone rushes around thinking of things to do that cost–sometimes it’s nice to relax at home and do things you can’t during the week that you really enjoy 🙂

  • I totally agree! People do not understand that it is a trade off for a better life. I have a friend that goes out all the time, spends lots of money then constantly complains that she hates her job. Perhaps if she stayed in a few nights, got an emergency fund together, she could afford to change jobs.

    Being financially smart is also a sign of maturity. You are someone that is planning for your future not just your weekend.

    Go Yakezie! I just joined last week.

  • I won’t lie. I wish I were rich and that I COULD buy whatever I want and actually afford it (cause I’d be paying in cash not credit cards). But that simply is not the case. I have to live within my means whether I like those means or not. Sometimes I don’t like it. Honestly, it really does feel like a sacrifice sometimes but it keeps me sane and my life is balanced in the way that it needs to be so it’s worth it. Being this way has already paid off several times when I could have faced a financial crisis but didn’t because I had money saved.

  • I think everyone needs to realize things on their own & I don’t see frugality as missing out on life or as a sacrifice. I think of it as the path to freedom, and exchange for things I don’t care about for the things that I do care about, just like that writer wrote.

  • I find it frustrating sometimes when I meet with other people who have different financial viewpoints themselves sometimes and sometimes I don’t really mind. It reminds me of why I’m happy I changed and what a better position I’m in now than I was a year or two ago. I’m still getting the hang of being frugal thing and I still make not so frugal choices but I really need to give myself credit. I stay home so much more now and I’m reaping the benefits. Here here!

  • The wanting so badly to help others realize what you so perfectly explained here, and knowing that they “don’t get it”, is by far one of the most frustrating things. The whole reason I started blogging was to help people get it, and what keeps me blogging is knowing that some people have.

    The debt free life is better than I could have ever imagined. I am definitely more content than my former debt-infested self. I get to enjoy life knowing that my future won’t involve scrambling just to make it. I have traded fun now, for fun and security later!

    GREAT POST!! One of my favorites!

  • I have found that free or cheap activities are just as fun as expensive one’s. My favorite Friday nights include homecooked dinners, wine/beer and a redbox. I would much rather spend money on vacation, a weekend away or some kind of experience rather than on a “thing”. Luckily, most of the crowd I run with feels the same way, so there is no pressure to try to fit in with anything you aren’t comfortable with paying for.
    I didn’t used to be this way–I would literally waste my entire paycheck on crap, never knowing where my money went. I won’t go back there, that was frustrating.

  • I totally agree. I was one of those people that didn’t understand the benefits of being frugal. I placed more imprtance on the size of my closet then the size of my bank account. I was also ignorant to how my current spending was effecting my future. Ever since I had my “financial epiphany” I am always curious about others and their financial habits, especially if I notice a penchant for spending.

    It’s interesting stradling the line between personal finance and personal style blogger because unchecked spending runs rampent in the style blogosphere while reading blogs like yours help me keep my head on straight and make me want to spread the word on the other side!

    love your blog!

  • I had a very funny ‘doesn’t get it’ experience a few weeks ago: I have a group of close girlfriends, and we try to get together – all 6 of us – at least once every other week. Often, these meet ups center around meals – either brunch or dinner. I’d say about half the time we go to a restaurant and the other half of the time one of us hosts everyone else and we either potluck it, or actually cook together. Works great.

    Well, the last time we made plans to get together, we were trying to decide if we should go out or stay in, and I specifically asked if we could make this particular soiree a potluck brunch, because my husband and I were on the gas and groceries budget for the rest of the month (this is something we do every so often: decide at the beginning of the month that literally the only things we can or will spend money on (other than bills) are gas and groceries).

    So when the weekend rolled around and we got together, the subject somehow came up and one of my girlfriends said ‘are you guys just really broke right now or what?’

    Now, to be fair, sometimes I do FEEL broke as a result of frugality (particularly when we’re on our ultra restrictive gas and groceries budget), but the truth is that FINALLY, I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m NOT broke and barring a legitimate catastrophic disaster, never will be again. But I’m pretty sure that actually BEING broke is something she still experiences in her life, otherwise, why would it even cross her mind that I might be?

    I laughed and told her no, we’re not broke, but we’re saving 30% of our salaries each month so we can STAY not-broke, so sometimes I have to live like I am.

  • Great post Amber, thanks for the personal insight. ☺ Balancing one’s finances is definitely a personal task – and one that differs from person to person. But you and Get Rich Slowly are exactly right! “Money is nothing more than a tool with which you can create the life you truly want.” That’s one thing we thought of when we created specific lifestyle-products. Our Kasasa Giving™ product gives you money to donate to a charity you care about just for doing activities you probably already do (like using your debit card) that your current bank isn’t “rewarding” you for. This kind of product says “thank you” to consumers for choosing Kasasa, and then makes it easy for them to get on with their lives to the things they most care about.

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