While not all lower income people are frugal, I’d dare to reckon that more people on the lower end of the income scale practice frugality than those on the upper end. It’s not about being cool or saavy. It’s a matter of life and death.
Growing up, we were poor. Not, living on the streets poor, but a family of 5 in NJ living on $40,000 a year isn’t fun. I guess the best definition of our status would have been “working poor.” Above the poverty line, but certainly not able to get ahead.
And we were frugal before frugal was cool. Vegetable gardening, yard sales, hand-me-downs.
Probably the frugal act that saved the most money was not buying name brand clothes. When I was a kid, Nike was the “it” shoe. Everybody wore Nikes. I didn’t. I’ve never owned a pair. I got the no-name $10 sneakers. They would only last a school year, but what kid’s shoe size stays the same longer than that anyway?
Of course, when you can’t afford stuff, you get very good at rationalizations. Because vegetables are cheaper than meat, I liked vegetables more. Nike was so expensive, so I wouldn’t wear clothes made by child labor mills. Who can afford a mechanic, so changing my own oil, or replacing my own clutch was fun (no, replacing a clutch is not fun; I will never do that again).
My favorite: my senior year, I had to choose between buying jeans or a car. Obviously, the prices are wildly different, but if I bought new jeans, I wouldn’t have money to pay for the car registration. So I bacame a fan of pro-wrestler Mankind (Mick Foley) so I could emulate his style of dress and get away with wearing my sweatpants to school.
We were very good at those rationalizations, so none of my friends knew that my family made half of what theirs did.
So if you are ever stuck looking for a frugal tip, try looking at seeing how those without a lot of money do it.
Have you ever hid a low income with frugal hacks and rationalizations?
- How To Think About Frugality Like An Economist And Save Money (moneyqanda.com)
- Frugality: Welcome Challenge or Only a Chore? (getrichslowly.org)
- Frugality – Some Rules of Thumb (helpwithdebtnow.com)