Saturday, January 07, 2012

The problem arises if you don't die.

A Facebook posting echoes the view of many critics who have confronted my take on frugality.Their argument goes like this :

Why be frugal ? If you die tomorrow, then all you did not enjoy your life enough. You should live in the present moment and buy whatever you want.

Here is my response to this criticism :

a) The problem arises if you don't die.

Our career trajectories tend to be short compared to our lifespan. In our generation we can expect to live until 80. A large risk that is not addressed by competing ideas of financial self help is what happens if you don't die but live until 105. In such a case, you might end up being a serious liability to your children. Or other tax-payers.

b) There is this thing called children that can receive your wealth after you are gone.

If you are like me, someone looks at money as something which buys choices and solves problems, then if you die, your children can benefit from the free flow of passive income. This opens up tremendous possibilities to decide what their calling is and focus something which may not be for survival but for their personal actualization.

c) You can justify all sort of atrocities using the argument that you might die tomorrow.

Actually this is a nifty argument. I can argue that you can buy a Lexus, then drive it into an orphanage and roll over a bunch of kids, after all, you might be dead tomorrow. The logic remains the same, you'll be in serious trouble if you are still alive the next day.

While I'm just one sample, I bet that most people who are focused on wealth accumulation do not view money in material terms. I see it as a score - something like experience points in an RPG. Spending money is painful to me, it's like getting level drained. It was hard for me during the last Christmas season when I forced myself to buy some gadgets ( Got a Kindle Fire and a Samsung MV800 camera ) but had to realise that it did not give me any personal satisfaction.

( But a visit to the NUS CO-OP to buy psychology textbooks ultimately did because I now have a lot of theories I want to test in real life )

There is safety and security even if money is not spent. Equity ownership gives a stock holder power, he has a right to table questions to the management of the company that he owns. He can work because he wants to be associated with an organization or to fend off boredom.

That's why we save. We're buying security and power.

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