After sharing the expenditure updates for a few months, I have had more people telling me to lighten up rather than to tighten up. Quite surprising, considering that we are still (actually increasingly) spending a fair bit of our money dining out in restaurants in some of this country’s fancy malls.
But then compared to most of our peers, I would have to admit that we can be thought of as a frugal couple. A quick look at my Facebook and I can see plenty of friends/acquaintances dining out frequently (once a week?) at places like Forlino’s/Prive/PS Cafe. Or buying a new outfit every other week or getting a new gadget every half a year. Except for a pair of slippers bought at Daiso for $2, I can’t recall buying any merchandise for myself during this past quarter.
“What’s the point of cutting down on all these nice stuff now so that you can enjoy later? That day might not come or you might not enjoy them as much when you’re old!” – From the You Only Live Once camp (YOLOers)
But then, what if our frugality is not just about delaying and amplifying gratification?
Heck, I would even go as far as saying it’s not just about getting out of the rat race earlier too. In fact, due to my beliefs described below, frugality is actually an ideal and permanent philosophy for us to embrace!
There’s no doubt that the majority of Singaporeans own way too much stuff, and that includes me. A quick look at my wardrobe and I see 6-7 polo shirts, >10 T-shirts, and more than 3 pairs of jeans. Since I only wear half of them most of the time, there’s the other half that serves little purpose except to take up wardrobe space. That’s not even mentioning the pile of “old” clothes (worn a couple of times at most) stuffed in a plastic bag in the corner of the wardrobe. And I haven’t even got started on my singlets and shorts.
Even though we have only moved in slightly more than half a year ago, the bomb shelter, or more appropriately the storeroom, is already almost bursting. It’s filled with leftover tiles, paint, uesless bathroom accessories bought on impulse from TaoBao, luggage bags and other sorts of clutter. Perhaps I will take a photo and write a post on it one of these days, just to illustrate the case.
What I am saying is that most of the time, buying more stuff isn’t going to add value or utility to our lives. In fact, it might even have the opposite effect. That foldable Aleoca bicycle I got from Giant Supermarket is staring back at me everyday when I walk past the aisle. That sight plagues me with guilt since I have only used it a couple of times for the past half a year, hardly warranting the hundred bucks I paid for it. And lifting it everytime we have to sweep or mop the floor is such a pain in the ass that we have stopped doing it. As a result, cobwebs have occasionally formed.
By getting less stuff, not only are we saving ourselves some money, we are also conserving more space (less storage needs) in our small flats. With fewer stuff, less time and energy is needed to maintain them and keep our place neat and organised. Seriously, when we have so much stuff, I am really not sure if we really own them or it’s the opposite of our lives being owned by them.
You know it’s the other way round when you start leasing storage space in Ubi/Paya Lebar. =p
Saving the environment
By now, it should be clear to most that human actions, especially during the past century, have taken a huge toll on our climate and environment. Environmental degradation is directly a result of our intervention in land use and the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere is exacerbating the global warming effect.
As our population has grown exponentially to reach 7 billion during this decade, the Earth’s resources are increasingly getting stretched to meet the basic needs, not to mention the demands of some of us.
Even though I would be one of the first to raise up my hands and agree that it’s unfair for the developing countries not to be given a fair shot at economic growth and prosperity in the name of environmental protection, I do not believe that it’s sustainable or even possible for the whole world to have an American or Singaporean standard of living.
Therefore, as a citizen living in one of the most developed countries in the world with cheap access to basic and hugely important needs like water, food and security, I guess it’s only fair for us to set an example and cut back on more of our frivolous needs. By buying and consuming more than what is even good for us (obesity comes into mind), besides indirectly denying the rest of the world to these goods, we are also encouraging enterprises to dig more resources out of this planet for some of our insatiable appetites.
I do believe that if the developed world/elite does not set an example and exercise restraint on consumption, it’s going to create the ultimate Tragedy of the Commons.
I know it seems unfair that others are continuing with their irresponsible ways while you, the reader, pick up the slack. But then, at least you can become financially independent earlier and also benefit from the advantages of adopting minimalism into your lifestyle? That’s not too bad a compensation too. 😛