Why Really Thrifty People Strive to Earn More Rather Than Make Sandwiches From Nothing
Research done by Princeton University has proven that the more energy one spends on saving resources, the faster poverty will take over. It means that tightening belts in order to fight being poor won’t help. This article will tell you about the other side of thrifty lifehacks and about where the border between thriftiness and being dangerously stuck is.
We’re not talking about situations where incomes decrease due to insurmountable problems. We’re talking about able-bodied people who make ends meet and who continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel for years. The latter is not a sign of someone’s attempts to overcome a crisis, but a sign of accepting poverty as a norm. We at Bright Side learned that this tendency is dangerous for several reasons.
1. The necessity to tighten belts might take a lot of time, while your income will barely cover basic needs anyway.
Let’s get back to the publications from Princeton University. According to scientists, satisfying basic needs with a meager budget is hard mental work. Almost all your effort goes toward fighting the consequences of poverty and not its causes. To put it simply, a person gets so exhausted that they don’t have the strength to raise their head and find a way out. Poverty increases poverty. It’s a vicious circle.
Apart from the eternal feeling of tiredness, there is also one more issue — a chronic lack of experience. Let’s say you could use your energy and time differently:
- Eliminate the cause of the problem, which is the lack of funds, and earn enough for a piece of meat at a restaurant or a dinner in a cafe.
- Adjust to the situation and learn to turn leftovers into something edible.
It seems that the amount of work in both cases is the same, but the second option will echo with a bunch of issues in the future. All because by adjusting to the situation, a person doesn’t have a chance to develop and it’s unlikely that a person can consider this enough of a skill to put it on their resume. It will all be followed by an emotional burn-out and the absence of a perspective in a person’s professional field. The vicious circle continues.
- But where should someone start? At least part of their time should be spent on strategically important changes. For example, looking for a more profitable activity or a side job.
2. Saving up for a big purchase with a small budget is financial suicide.
When a person doesn’t have enough money for good nutrition and quality medical care, the decision to save up for an apartment (a car, a new iPhone) is a leap into a financial hollow.
Let’s imagine a situation, “What should someone spend 10 years of their life on while solving their housing issue?”
Option #1: Eat ramen for 10 years and later feel proud of having your own apartment. After 10 years, a person will be able to afford a sandwich with bacon once a week. However, by that time there will be a need to save money on a wedding for kids who’ve grown up, so the bacon will have to wait again. But that’s a different story altogether...
Option #2: Invest in experience and knowledge over the first 5 years, and solve the housing issue over the next 5 years. Or they could not solve their housing problem and instead keep renting an apartment or spend their winters in a bungalow on the beach. The important thing here is that after 10 years, option #2 gives them an opportunity to exchange their knowledge for a bigger salary and the right to choose. In the first option, a person will have to continue decreasing their expenses and missing out the joys of life.
- What should you do if you want an apartment but your income is too modest? At first, direct a part of your resources toward organizing better income conditions. For example, invest in a new specialization, leave a hopeless city, or buy gadgets and tools that increase your productivity.
3. Saving resources requires starting investments.
“Investing” and “saving resources” are concepts that not only apply to economists, but also to any person. For example, the person who buys a dishwasher is an investor too — they invest money in a home appliance to save their time and energy. Their project called “Family” will benefit from it.
Investments in everyday life also bring material benefits. Things like central heat for an apartment, a freezer for berries, and even a frying pan that doesn’t ruin your meat do pay off, but they require an initial investment. In any case, the following principle works well — “in order to save up, be ready to spend more.”
- Does this mean that saving resources should be put off if you have a small salary? No. Because money, time, and energy shouldn’t be wasted. It doesn’t matter whether that means overdone cutlets or whether it’s overpaying for household bills, any things that takes up your resources are on the list. In order to close those “black holes” faster, you have to figure out how to increase your income.
4. You’d be lying to yourself if you thought that refusing to use something because of “your circumstances” can be justified as being rational.
Thriftiness is turning the product leftovers into ready-to-eat food, even if your menu is not limited by budget. When the fridge is empty, it’s a different story called hopelessness. This also applies to any housework, as well as attempts to make something worthy out of trash.
You can object here by saying, “Do I have to be embarrassed that I love to cook?” No. We are simply talking about the right to choose again. Money lets you refrain from cooking, your favorite activity, and go to a cafe when you don’t know what to make or have a headache. However, when your wallet is empty, you’ll always be in this situation.
- When assessing your thriftiness, it is important to not invert the cause and the effect. You can praise yourself for the ability to make something tasty out of nothing. While not striving to earn money for something tasty because you have a talent that allows you to turn a cabbage stalk into a masterpiece.
5. The lower the income, the less opportunity there is to save on promotional products.
Of course, refraining from impulse-shopping is a healthy decision and it’s always better to check and follow your to-buy list in order to prevent yourself from buying unnecessary stuff. However, some goods can be bought even if they are not on the list, if the price is good enough — like cleaning detergents and products with a long life span.
When your income is low, the advice to follow deals and save up on bulk products is less realistic. All because there is no opportunity to “freeze” your funds without damaging your budget. We often have to choose between large packages of goods and household trifles, and a tiny salary won’t be able to cover everything.
6. At the same time, a high income sometimes tempts you to avoid deals.
It’s one thing when the deal applies to a good quality product, but when the deal makes it feel like you’re playing Russian roulette, it’s a totally different thing. The lower the income, the more often buyers take risks. For example, they might try buying fish that have already gone bad.
The chances of self-deception also increase when a buyer is offered something fake instead of a delicious and healthy product. “Prawns” made of minced fish, fake caviar, and dyed pieces of herring called “salmon” are much cheaper than the “original,” but they lose when comparing price and quality.
7. Economical options often involve health risks.
Many bad ideas come to mind due to poverty — for example, replacing healthy food products with sausage made from chicken skin and aromatizers or substituting good-quality medical care with suspicious folk remedies. More often than not, the body doesn’t immediately respond to deprivation — it stores its “offenses” for years an afterward “gives its owner a bill.”
Scientists confirmed that the effect of poverty on health doesn’t only have to do with the quality of food or medical services. Lack of money is a stress in and of itself, which increases the likelihood of developing diabetes, and infectious and cardiovascular diseases. This stress also affects the DNA creating a biological background for depression.
- The abundance of products in the fridge is unlikely to appear out of nowhere. At the same time, worrying is something that follows both the rich and the poor. Nevertheless, people should act wiser and not harm their health by seeing doctors regularly, while the principle “less is more” when referring to diet, can help avoid many issues.
8. Folky and economical lifehacks don’t guarantee good results.
When people have to cut back on expenses, they start to use advice from DIY channels or “find cheaper ways” to do things. These can be useful until the moment they start to challenge common sense. The description of lifehacks rarely contains all their possible risks, which is why it’s likely that in pursuit of saving money, you may end up losing money or time (in the best case scenario).
- Using a calculator can dispel any doubts. All you need to do is to compare numbers in 2 columns which are “will save me money” and “can ruin an item.”
9. Emotional well-being is at risk as well.
Refusing to unload emotionally for the sake of material wealth to save money seems natural. However, it won’t do any good. Business plans and good ideas are born in the head, which means it should be kept clear. If the living conditions are unhealthy, your brain will focus on the routine. And according to scientists, this mess and emotional tiredness stops people from seeing their potential and using it for their own development. If there is no inspiration, there is no energy.
What should you do? Get rid of the bad scenarios in your head. For example:
- “I fight with my mother-in-law every day. Should we move to another apartment? But we are saving up for our future flat. Why spend money for rent, when we can save it?!”
- “The prices in resorts are so high! I’d better take my slow cooker with me!”
- “We grew up without tablets and roller blades. Let my son make a pistol from a stick too — it will help him develop his imagination.”
10. When denying ourselves our “dream thing” we substitute our “moral sufferings” by making other purchases.
Human needs are endless, that’s why we always want more. However, this fact doesn’t justify constantly abstaining from what we desire because, in this case, it will start to affect the psyche.
Let’s say it’s been a long time since a person has taken a vacation. They can put aside some money for the trip, but they feel guilty saying goodbye to this amount of money, especially while they’re saving up. The vacation then gets postponed because of the guilt and it grows into a feeling of dissatisfaction. As a result, this feeling of dissatisfaction affects the person’s soul through their wallet, “I feel so sad! Wow, T-shirts at a good discount — they’ll compensate for me not being able to travel! I will get myself some costume jewelry, panties, and summer shoes!”
Eventually, a person starts to substitute things that they need, that are expensive, with something cheaper, but unnecessary. These things give a quick hit of joy, but don’t fulfill the main needs.
- If this scenario repeats often, it’s better to just listen to your inner voice, get what you need, and protect yourself from unnecessary temptations in the future.
11. The more modest your budget is, the stronger the dependency on your surroundings will be.
Mutual help is a good thing. But not in cases when help is more expensive than buying the qualified service. For example, a person wants to save money and instead of hiring a team of loaders, will ask his friend Jack to help move his furniture. However, in the future, Jack might remind you about this moral debt at a very unexpected and inconvenient moment.
The more modest the budget is, the more actual the principle “ask your friend for help and save money on specialists” is. In addition, it makes it harder to remove people you don’t like from your life, because you keep thinking you might need their help in the future.
It’s possible to ignore other people’s “wants” or “needs” if you don’t shift your problems onto them. That’s why it’s more profitable to direct energy toward a well-paying job, rather than continue the chain of mutual debts.
- “Finding people who do good work is a simple task!” — many people might think. It’s not! But there is a compromise to help you forget the harmful thought, “What are people gonna say?” and just pay for the help. When paying for Jack’s help, you keep your moral freedom. And when Jack asks you to help him with repairs, you will be able to either refuse his help or name the price of your help.
There is a common conclusion we’ve come to after going through everything above: in order to save money, you need to increase your income. Tight control over expenses only works as a temporary measure. If you keep saying ’no’ to yourself when it comes to small and big joys, you could very well stay dependent on these unfortunate circumstances and sink into a depression.
We understand that we have touched on a sharp and multi-faceted topic. And we would be glad to hear your opinion on it in the comments!
Illustrated by Yekaterina Ragozina for BrightSide.me