There are many stories told in the financial blogosphere on how we can minimise our expenses. While keeping expenses low is one of the great virtues, there is fine line between “Frugal and thrifty” and “Cheap and stingy”.
FRUGAL AND THRIFTY
Frugal and thrifty people, live simply and use their money and resources carefully and not wastefully. They prioritize in spending, so that they can have more of the things they care about. They will never save at the expense of others and they are generous and helps the needy.
Value over money
For example, as I become more financial savvy from 2012 onwards, I have been more conscious about my expenses, even though my income has not reduced. I tracked my household expenditure on a monthly basis and cut down the amount and frequency of lavish spending. This led to the selling of my firsthand conti-car, replaced by cheaper second-hand Japanese car. I rarely changed my household appliances, or personal gadgets only when they are not working. Spending on expensive apparels and in high-end restaurants reduced greatly too, only on special occasion. There is also neither renovations nor upgrades of my house since then.
That said, it does not mean that I don’t spend and are saving every cent. Instead my priority in spending is more on my family members, health, investment portfolio, friends, and also hobbies I love that coincidently does not cost that much. It does not mean that I will not buy a better car later, nor visit good restaurants anymore, nor buy expensive goods. It simply means, I am more conscious about the value return over the cost I pay, and I have better priority in my spending, depending on which stage of the life I am in.
Be generous and charitable
Also, we ought to be generous to the needy and contribute to the society. I started donating since my university school days even though I am poor. Over the years, my charitable expenditure also increased greatly despite my rising expenses as a result of the enlargement of my family.
Personally, I always have extreme empathy for less fortunate children and the visually handicapped. Hence, perhaps a suggestion is for you to be a child sponsor via Worldvision and donations to SAVH via Giving.SG.
During CNY, it is not necessary to be over calculative on Ang Pow money, such that you will calculate into every details to make sure you have net inflow or at least breakeven. They are your relatives and friends, and the people you are giving to are the kids or the elderly. Even if the parents are the one keeping the money, there is no need to be bitterly calculative. This is because…
“The misers will end up poorer, if not now, but one day. And even if they keep their wealth, they will not be able to keep their health or their relationships, or their children will be divided and chaos will find way into their homes.”
CHEAP AND STINGY
Cheap and stingy people love to save money at all cost and at all instances. They are always thinking about how much it costs. They feel a sense of achievement when they save costs. This is even if it is at the expense of others, or at the expense of losing value, or losing their precious time. They are also generally selfish and self-centred and only care about themselves and their immediate family.
There at times when they appear generous, but they don’t really mean it. Even when they pray, it is always for, “me, my wife and my children, full stop and no-more!” They live in their own world and are unaware of the outside world or simply don’t care. Their thinking are narrow minded. All they care about are themselves. They think that issues that matters to their family and them, are the only important things in this world.
Save at the expense of others
The most hateful are those who count every single cents, at the expense of others. For example, you may recall having a friend who always never pay for his drinks or food when there is a gathering. He or she find joy when others pay their bills, as many times as possible. How about, those kind of people who always wanted to save on their transport, but always asking others for a lift even if the far distance totally make no sense. However, when they drive, they will never offer anyone a lift, even if it is on the way, or not too far away.
Eventually losing more
I have known many “Kiam Siap”, selfish and self-centred people, who only cares about themselves and their immediate family who will never lose even a dime on others. These are the people who may lose even more money than the small money they saved by being stingy on others. Somehow they may see more accidents, more health related expenses, or have more disputes etc, giving rise to unexpected several ad-hoc high expenses, that outweighs the money they try to save for themselves.
I believe that when you try to save money for yourself at the expense of others, Heaven always a way for you to lose even more than what you hideously save.
Penny wise but pound foolish
Buying cheap stuffs may seem good upfront, but it can also be not as reliable at times. Safety can even be compromised! The cheap stuffs may break down more often, and require repairs or replacements which are even more expensive eventually. Queuing for hours just to save a few dollars, is also not wise, because time is money. The amount of time wasted can easily be translated into useful learning to increase knowledge or improve relationships socially, that can possibly give much valuable gains in the longer term.
SPEND WISELY, AND THE RETURNS WILL BE MORE
Car gives me more time for family and friends
For me, having a car is very important, as I not just need it in my work, but it also help me to reduce a lot of time in commuting, which can give me more time in doing many other things I enjoy. I have a big family, and a car gives me more quality family time. This is when all of us are singing and talking in the car, without worrying about public opinions.
Convenient of travel with a car also provides me with higher frequency of social gatherings. This expands my social network and deepens my relationships with people around me. Of course, gatherings can be at home and be sure to be generous in your house offerings of food or goodie bags for kids.
Do NOT have an agenda for being generous
As long as we are generous at all times, whenever we are in need of help, there will always be unrequested helping hands available for it. Be assure that this will happen, whether from people around us, or from unexpected miraculous events by the almighty.
Yet, do bear in mind that you should not have an agenda for being generous. This reminds me of the teaching of one rich man. He said, “we should buy lunch for people who are more knowledgeable, richer and who have or can helped us in our career.”
This kind of ideology is DISGUSTING! We should extend our helping hands to all people of different social classes and not just for those who can help us to profit in future.
Invest on your family and yourself
Invest on your family and children is very important. For example, I invested a lot of money for my kids’ sports enrichment such as table tennis and swimming, which gives them better health, better focus, discipline and perseverance. Their friends’ network also expanded, giving them better ability to socialize and mingle with crowds, which will help them when they grow up.
With time spend on sports, they are less fixated to mobile phones, ipads or TVs. Too many times, I have seen electronic gadgets doing the majority of the parenting of kids rather than the parents themselves.
Last but not least, we need to invest on ourselves too and set aside money on books or courses that can improve our knowledge and wisdom. Spending on hobbies and holidays should not be avoided too, just to save costs! We need leisure or holiday to recharge our minds and bodies.
Give freely and become wealthy,
Be stingy and lose everything.
The generous will prosper,
while those who trust only in money will fall eventually.
Before I go, I was reminded of my 2015 Fujian trip when I met with Mr. K, who come from one of the richest families in Asia.
Mr. K lost 40 millions during the 1997 crisis, and was mounted with debts to be repaid by himself without the help of anyone. While many will be so brooded by the repayment of debts, Mr K did more charitable work instead. He realized that his debt problem is a wake-up call for him to start contributing to the society.
Therefore, for every 10k earned, he will donate 5k to charity. At one time he told me that he donated so much money to charity that all his friends started to ponder that he must be extremely rich. On the contrary, Mr. K showed the friend his bankbook which was still 18 millions of net liabilities. His friends could not believe it! Today Mr. K had cleared his debt.
The joy derived from charity, matters more than anything!