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Thought I would share this NYT article. It speaks to why people find happiness and peace in a frugal, simple life. I found it both interesting and true. As someone who is frugal but surrounded by friends and family who are not, these types of reassuring studies - and forums like this - are a welcome reminder that we are not alone in our desire to be off the "work-spend treadmill" as the article puts it.
 

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Interesting article Dana - thanks for sharing.

One point - in my mind, there is a difference between 'frugalist' and 'minimalist'.

Frugal can mean just about anything, but I like to think it means trying to save money using various methods. These methods could certainly include having less stuff, but not necessarily so.

Minimalist implies just having less stuff without regard to the cost.

For example; someone who is frugal might have a ton of furniture - but they bought it all very cheaply. A minimalist might have 1 chair for a family of 4, but that chair might be a rare antique that costs $10,000.

Of course, I'm having fun with these examples - I would term the couple in the article as frugal minimalists since they obviously don't spend much money on stuff and they don't have much stuff either.

On a personal note - I would love to get rid of a lot of our extra crap, but it can be difficult when you are married/kids etc to get everyone on board.

What I need is for the wife to take the kids away for a weekend and I will do some spring cleaning. :)
 

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You mean "late summer cleaning!" (Great distinction between "frugal" and "minimalist" though.)

This will sound ridiculous but I have vacation coming up and I am going to spend a fair amount of it cleaning. Between having knee surgery and writing a book this year my house needs a lot of love.

Watching an episode or two of "Hoarders" absolutely puts me in the mood for reducing the amount of stuff in my personal space!

And yeah, rare is the child who is a natural minimalist. :D
 

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Brilliant. While I won't be doing the exact same things as they did to save money (driving a bicycle among motor vehicles in typical urban traffic is very dangerous, high-risk behaviour and not suited to our harsh winters) I am glad to see that more and more people are aware of the value of money.

The article is rather optimistic in that it says this sort of thing MAY be permanent rather than just as a temporary measure to the recession. I wish I could be so optimistic. It takes things like the great depression/dust bowl/no cash/no credit to really change minds and attitudes about money.
 

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WHatever floats your boat I suppose.

Contribute to their nephews education fund? Huh? I thought parents paying for education was a touch overkill.

I had to work for anything i got, including education. Personally I feel having everything handed to you is the main cause of most economic problems people have.

We are all so used to having everything as a child then you expect it as an adult. Cant afford it? No problem credit is available.

Round and round we go until you adopt a minimalist lifestyle so you can enable your nephews to do the same thing.

I separate needs from wants. Once the needs are looked after and I can afford the wants I go ahead and buy them. If I cant afford the wants I dont buy them.

Pretty simple eh?

I even dissect wants into life enhancing or not.

Sure I want a brand new car. I can afford to buy one, but I get from a to be with my used car so buying a new one will not enhance my quality of life.

On the other hand I want to buy a drum set. I can afford one, and currently do not own one so it will enhance my quality of life.

I want an Ipad, but I currently have mobile internet on my BB at a very good price point. The ipad will not greatly enhance my life.

Now once my BB plan is up for renewal, I may look at an ipad, and use a pay as you go cell.

Do I really need a cell phone? Not really but the quality of life I derive for the price I pay is an absolute bargain.

A friend of mine who earns 3x what I do lives in a HUGE house way bigger than 2 people actually need. He always drives vehicles no older than 3 years (and we are talking pricey).
GUess who is always broke, and who always picks up the lunch tab?

I define wealth as being able to live your life the way you want.

If that means riding a bike, and living in a small appt so you can pay for your nephews education than who am I to point a finger?

Likewise if you want a sweet ride and a huge mc mansion type house with astronomical property taxes and that makes you happy then so be it.

I'll keep driving my "old" 5 year old car, and go ahead and buy the drum set.
I will be happy but I am not so sure about my neighbors!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
One point - in my mind, there is a difference between 'frugalist' and 'minimalist'.

Frugal can mean just about anything, but I like to think it means trying to save money using various methods. These methods could certainly include having less stuff, but not necessarily so.

Minimalist implies just having less stuff without regard to the cost.

For example; someone who is frugal might have a ton of furniture - but they bought it all very cheaply. A minimalist might have 1 chair for a family of 4, but that chair might be a rare antique that costs $10,000.
Good Point, 4P and nice examples! I am frugal, but not much of a minimalist. As you point out, minimalism and children do not co-exist amicably.

Regardless of the label, it is always inspiring to read stories about people living against the grain of consumerism and rejecting society's aquisition-based definition of success.
 

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Good Point, 4P and nice examples! I am frugal, but not much of a minimalist. As you point out, minimalism and children do not co-exist amicably.

Regardless of the label, it is always inspiring to read stories about people living against the grain of consumerism and rejecting society's aquisition-based definition of success.
I agree! The thing I like about that couple is that they made changes to fix their financial and lifestyle problems and were successful in doing so.

They are far more inspirational then someone who can't pay down their debts because "everything costs so much", but won't change their lifestyle.
 

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What? You can't expect me to save money. What, do you think I am some kind of wizard? I have two children and an image to maintain. :p
 

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bean, I agree completely with 'separating wants from needs, take care of the needs and then have the wants as you can afford them'. And I love your definition of wealth being able to live the life you want. Some of my family think I'm cheap because I don't eat at restaurants very often and buy my kids' clothes on sale at the end of the season. My husband and I would rather save up for the inground pool we feel will really enhance our quality of life, hopefully next summer. Those of us who clearly think about what we really will get enjoyment from, then have a plan to make it happen (i.e. save up for it ahead of time) are the smart ones. And I believe the happiest ones, too.
 

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I think frugality is best when it is a caused by necessity. I see no inherent value in hoarding money. If you can afford it and it brings enjoyment why not spend it? Enjoyment can also be achieved by charitable giving or being very generous to family and friends as well. Cheapness on the other hand is something I don't support.
 

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This thread reminds me of an article about how more money creates more choices but less happiness. The main thrust was that decisions are much tougher when you can have whatever you want. Too bad the link is not in my memory cells.

We are pretty happy with what we have but we also have friends who are not (and their net worth is in the 8 figures).
 

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This thread reminds me of an article about how more money creates more choices but less happiness. The main thrust was that decisions are much tougher when you can have whatever you want. Too bad the link is not in my memory cells.

We are pretty happy with what we have but we also have friends who are not (and their net worth is in the 8 figures).
Agree that money doesn't always or even usually equate with happiness. Not sure that frugality does either though. I have noticed that for some people being "cheap" does seem to give them some sense of beating the system and that seems to make them happy? There seems to be many ways to be happy.
 

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Agree that money doesn't always or even usually equate with happiness. Not sure that frugality does either though. I have noticed that for some people being "cheap" does seem to give them some sense of beating the system and that seems to make them happy? There seems to be many ways to be happy.
Well put.
 

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I notice some people have the inability to understand that if they buy every little thing they want they can't afford the larger things that might bring them a lot more pleasure.

Some people even enjoy shopping. I don't understand these people. I go to the shopping mall for a specific thing and only under duress.

I think our kids would be happier with a more minimalist lifestyle as well. I have tons of stupid toys for my son. In fact I have to buy bins and just throw them all in there. He doesn't play with them he dumps them out of the bin. I pick them up. I'm like some kind of toy slave :)
 

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This thread reminds me of an article about how more money creates more choices but less happiness. The main thrust was that decisions are much tougher when you can have whatever you want. Too bad the link is not in my memory cells.

We are pretty happy with what we have but we also have friends who are not (and their net worth is in the 8 figures).

The studies I've read demonstrate that happiness while making a decision is correlated to the number of choices one has in making that decision. I believe it was generally demonstrated that anything over three choices shows significant decrease in happiness. Increased wealth suggests increased choices, therefore you have a sound argument.

Though, one could also argue that a general demonstration does not hold true for each individual. I have no doubt that there are brains out there which adore choices and find their happiness in making decisions. Therefore, for this group, money may in fact buy happiness.

To each their own.

Though I am keen on saving and improving cash flow, I am more of a minimalist than a frugalist. My equation for a purchase includes cost, but does not stop there. As my definition of value is:

Value is proportional to a combination of usefulness and effectiveness over cost.

Is it useful (do I need it)?
It is is effective in what it does, and if so, how effective?
What does it cost?

It should be noted that effectiveness is also a multidimensional variable, as for example, a couch (to me) is not only for sitting, but a major factor in the asthetic an natural 'feel' of a room.

A worn down sofa does not make me feel at peace. Neither, necessarily does a $10,000 sofa.
 

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Ah! Sheena Iyengar's famous jam study. Here's the actual results (the paper is titled "Choice is Demotivating").

From an interview with Iyengar on her jam experiment:

...what we learned from this study was that while people were more attracted to having more options, that’s what sort of got them in the door or got them to think about jam, when it came to choosing time they were actually less likely to make a choice if they had more to choose from than if they had fewer to choose from.

And that really ended up starting an entire area of research where we began to look at "Why is that?" And a large part of that has to do with the fact that when people have a lot of options to choose from they don’t know how to tell them apart. They don’t know how to keep track of them.

They start asking themselves "Well which one is the best? Which one would be good for me?" And all those questions are much easier to ask if you’re choosing from six than when you’re choosing from 24 and if you look at the marketplace today most often we have a lot more than 24 of things to choose from.


Remind you of anything? Like, say...mutual funds?
 

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Choice theory also shows that when people are presented with a series of investment options (in their group RRSP, for example), they typically divide their funds into equal portions of each option.

So, if your company offers 3 bond funds and 2 equity mutual funds, you'll have a 60/40 bond/equity mix in your total allocation. But if your company offers 3 equity funds and 2 bond funds, you'll have a 60/40 equity/bond split. What's the right choice? Surely it can't be "split your funds among all available options." ;)

(I can provide the link to the research paper when I'm not on vacation...)
 

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Ah! Sheena Iyengar's famous jam study. Here's the actual results (the paper is titled "Choice is Demotivating").

From an interview with Iyengar on her jam experiment:

...what we learned from this study was that while people were more attracted to having more options, that’s what sort of got them in the door or got them to think about jam, when it came to choosing time they were actually less likely to make a choice if they had more to choose from than if they had fewer to choose from.

And that really ended up starting an entire area of research where we began to look at "Why is that?" And a large part of that has to do with the fact that when people have a lot of options to choose from they don’t know how to tell them apart. They don’t know how to keep track of them.

They start asking themselves "Well which one is the best? Which one would be good for me?" And all those questions are much easier to ask if you’re choosing from six than when you’re choosing from 24 and if you look at the marketplace today most often we have a lot more than 24 of things to choose from.


Remind you of anything? Like, say...mutual funds?
Dang, I feel crippled by "choice" in nearly every aspect of life....it's not just w/r/t shopping, it's investing, it's dating, it's moving out/not moving out, it's keep job/change job, it's go back to school/don't go back to school, and then I feel so guilty for feeling overwhelmed by the choices available to me, when many others in the world aren't afforded such opportunities.

The only time I can make a choice is when I'm forced to, otherwise I procrastinate, stall, and brain melt.
 
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