Rules For Living Thrifty – Spend Less Than You Make

| October 20, 2008

It’s time to embrace being thrifty, and no that does not mean you have to enjoy life any less robustly than you do today, but you may find at the end of the process that your notion of enjoying life may make a drastic change for the better. You can find it a self-renforcing cycle, where you buy less, spend less and re-focus your life on friends, family and achieving more by owning and buying less. So let’s start with the basics. I recently had the honor to pass on a bit of wisdom from my Grandfather to the next generation of Hendersons.

A niece of mine was visiting us in San Diego, she is a bright intelligent young lady but suffers from the same problems I had at her age – a strong desire for wealth, or at least the recognized outward trappings of wealth.

During one conversation, she said she wanted to be rich. A worthy goal I told her, and that because she is part of the family, I would pass down the clan secret for becoming rich. We had just come from Starbucks and she had some large high octane drink in her hands, she rolled her eyes and said, “Yes, I know – stop drinking Starbucks!”. What drew her attention was I told her, “No, you can have as much of that as you want, and you can still be wealthy!”. Now I had her interest. I then told her the one thing that you need to become wealthy, and live a thrifty life:

Spend less than you make.

That is the most important rule, and it has been the deciding factor in my family for generations. Today news is full of families out on the street or living in fear because for years they spent far more than they took in, even with both parents working. I know this first hand, because for years I was doing it myself. Today things in my family are radically different. The stress we used to feel over money is seldom felt, and our focus is now on doing things rather than buying things. But it’s odd so simple a concept can be so complex and difficult to execute.

Like anything else it is best done a piece at a time. Start by finding something you spend money on every month, and try to do without it for a week. A good shortcut would be to transform something like a trip to Starbucks from a daily routine into an “event”. Make it a special part of your Saturday morning, and think of it as your reward for surviving another week. Before you know it, something that was obligatory and draining your income is now something to look forward to and enjoy with your family or friends. This is a good start, give it a try this week.

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Category: Commentary, Economics, Main

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

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