Poor is spending 10% of your income on lottery tickets. Frugal is putting 10% of your income in investments. Poor is spending money. Frugal is saving money. Poor is paying $4 for a small box of sugary cereal at the gas station at the corner. Frugal is paying $4 for 4lbs of oatmeal at the discount store. Poor is buying $50 shoes on credit and replacing them next year. Frugal is buying $100 shoes on sale for $50 and getting them repaired next year. Poor is watching TV and wanting things. Frugal is reading books and doing things. Poor is thinking that success comes from talent and luck. Frugal is thinking that success comes from hard work. Poor is thinking that nothing ever changes. Frugal is making a small change every day.

Most importantly: Poor is not how much money you make, neither is frugal. Poor is a mindset and so is frugal. Poor is economic slavery and frugal is economy freedom. There is in our society a tendency to blame those on top for oppressing those on the bottom. I say this is the wrong way to look at it. Let us blame those on the bottom for letting themselves be oppressed by those on the top. The only way that those on top can exist is because so many bend over [backwards] and let them.

You are not oppressed due to external constraints but due to internal constraints. You can be free, if you can change your mindset. It is not simple. Your prison is a mental one continuously reinforced by the way you live and the way you think. This means that the bars are easily broken but also that they are hard to see.

You think you are not poor? You may spend more money than me, but if you are financially obligated to sit 70 minutes a day in your car to go somewhere where you don’t really want to be for 9 hours and then go home exhausted and unable to change anything, are you not in some sense locked up. Sure you are free to quit and go somewhere else but you are always obliged to check in somewhere. I say that is poor.

Poor is trying to live up to the expectations of others. Frugal is living up to your own expectations.

Poor is choosing between options. Frugal is creating your choices.

Originally posted 2008-12-06 10:04:11.