Wednesday, October 21, 2009

newnoise1 on frugality

Is frugal a four letter word?

Five years ago I knew a thing or two about money. One was you had to work to get it if you liked to sleep at night and two was that you need money to pay for stuff. Little did I know . . .

Everything changed when I was forced, no not at gunpoint but it felt like it at the time, to do research about a subject I found vaguely disgusting - money. I had to read a considerable number (okay hundreds) of articles about how much money you have to save to retire without hoping you die soon.

It took me about two weeks of reading to become hysterical. Overnight I became one of the most obsessed money researches in town, pouring over the business sections, my hands clasped together in panic. I freely admit I spoke to strangers in fast food franchises to help me calm down. I am embarrassed to admit how much my need to talk about money scared them off.

Eventually, I considered buying some shares as it seemed many people thought this a good idea. Like newsreaders for example. I envied them the confidence to let money-words roll off their lips like some exotic language. The thing is I knew millions of people listened to that language but I never dreamed anybody in their right mind took it seriously. Headline earnings per share . . . I repeated the words like mantras too open the windows to wealth. Headline earnings per share. This is an amazing concept. It means . . . well it's nearly like price earnings per share just different.

The broker was silent for a long time when I called and asked if R5 000 would be enough to buy some shares. Hearing his sophisticated snigger I could see myself sitting, a little old lady on my little rocking chair staring into the distance sharing my wild memories of the sweet café lattes of twenty years ago with my cat. Of course I won't be able to afford a cat. I will rock and rock waiting for students from an outreach program to bring me an extra blanket in winter. I called a financial adviser to hear more about pension plans and unit trusts and indexes and took an aspirin.

Once upon a time the word 'budget' could put me to sleep faster than the word 'staff meeting' now that word kept me awake into the early morning hours. As the Reserve Bank increased the interest rates, I kept the lights burning trying to figure out how to beat the bank. I listened to Pink Floyd singing about money being a crime and considered that despite their music being quite depressing in this instance they had a point.

In my quest the word got around that I was seriously researching the subject of money and a friend bought me the Wall Street DVD. I watched it like a documentary and at some point just after the son gets arrested, his Father advises, "Rather start doing something creative with your life than making money from what people are buying."

The man had a point I thought. On the other hand how am I supposed to do something creative if my financial advisor is convinced I have to save just about my entire salary every month to survive my retirement? I thought he was joking but the flinty look in his eyes confirmed his utter lack of humor. I stopped crying and laughing intermediately and started saving . . .more . . .

To conclude, as I read in one of the thousand blogs on frugal living - frugal, frugal, frugal . . even if it sounds like a four letter word it's still the way to get what you really want tomorrow by doing something about it today . . . as far as I can see.

Money reads that inspire

The Millionaire next Door
The Richest man in Babylon
The Power of Positive Thinking
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
The Fountainhead

If you want to read more about the money subject I can recommend Joshua Kennon's inserts at

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