I’ve been blogging here for almost four years now – time flies! – and sometimes it’s fun to look back at posts I wrote back in the day. It makes our debt-free (except the mortgage) life feel even better when I remember the days when I was keeping track of all of our debts on a yellow legal pad. But I notice when I read some of my early posts that I was a bit of a self-righteous frugalista. And I see that as a pretty common theme in the frugal blogosphere – it’s easy to start to feel superior and smarter when you’re focusing on debt reduction, saving money, living frugally, etc. It’s easy to start thinking that you’ve got everything figured out so much better than all the people who aren’t doing whatever it is that you’re doing. I know I was guilty of this, and I know I’m not the only one.
I mentioned recently that I’ve been making lots of small changes in my life, and one of them has been to be less judgmental in general. I’m also feeling very grateful for all the good luck that has brought me to where I am today. Just a few years ago I’d have scoffed at the idea of luck being a factor. I hated the idea that I had ever been lucky – I preferred to think that it was all a result of hard work and dedication. But that’s just not true. Fact is, I was born to two well educated parents who wanted me and loved me from the very beginning. That alone is a pretty lucky start. And then I was encouraged to get a good education of my own, to eat well, to exercise, to value nature, to live without debt… and the list goes on. Yes, I believe my husband and I have worked very hard to get where we are today, but I’d be a fool if I said that luck wasn’t involved. I really like this quote from Barry Switzer:
“Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”
I was definitely born on third base, but I don’t want to go through life thinking I hit a triple. I want to be grateful for what I have, and to not judge other people who see things in a different way than I do. I truly believe that living within one’s means is a pretty important aspect of happiness, but it’s up to each of us to decide how to do that. For my own family, saving a good chunk of our income is very important. But that isn’t better or worse than another family who spends a bigger chunk of their income – as long as they are happy and content with their life, and living within their means (and hopefully doing the best they can to take good care of this little planet that we all share).
Personal finance is just that – personal. Don’t let things you read on blogs make you feel guilty about the way you spend your money – it’s your own money after all. If something about your life – financial or otherwise – is making you feel bad, then change it. But don’t change it just because it’s what someone else is doing. We’re all different, and we all want different things. Just keep your focus on what you want most, and you’ll be fine. There will always be people who are smarter, richer, happier, more frugal, etc. Be inspired, but don’t feel guilty. I’ve found that the less I judge others, the happier I am. Hopefully it works for you too.