It’s the week of relationships here on Frugalwoods! On Monday we heard from Sam of Frugaling.org about his journey through frugality as a single guy. And on Wednesday, I shared the positive impact that frugality has had on my marriage to Mr. Frugalwoods. Today I want to discuss another type of relationship: the friendship!
I’m the first to admit that being a counterculture frugal werido means it’s not necessarily easy to make friends through traditional avenues. But, it’s also not a recipe for loneliness. For Mr. FW and me, it’s all about forming bonds with people who support–or are understanding of–our choices, whether or not they’re frugal themselves. We have friends who are extremely frugal, moderately frugal, and not at all frugal, and we love them all. The common denominator with all of these friends is not their use of money–it’s their supportiveness and understanding. Not to mention their willingness to socialize with us at home and at free events :).
While we adore our frugal friends and the camaraderie that comes from hanging out with peeps who really and truly get us, we enjoy our more spendy friends just as much. They key for us is finding interesting, intelligent folks who respect what Mr. FW and I are trying to achieve through our aggressive savings rate. We don’t need friends who are carbon copies of us, we just need friends who are fine with our nontraditional path. Perhaps not surprisingly, we’ve found that often our friends are forging an unconventional path of their own. Encountering a diversity of opinions and world views isn’t a bad thing in our book and we’re thankful for friends who challenge us and who we can learn from.
People who push us to spend or “live a little” as they put it (which, by the way, is a phrase I’ve never understood–pretty sure that having debt and an insecure financial future is in no way “living”) aren’t folks we hang out with for long. We’re not out to convert anyone, nor are we interested in being converted. We’re grateful for our friends who are down with the frugality and early retirement agenda, whether or not they ascribe to it themselves.
That being said, there certainly is something uniquely special about friends who share your core values. For more on that, I refer you to an excellent guest post here on Frugalwoods written by our friend, Mr. 1500 of 1500 Days To Freedom, titled Frugal Friends and Where to Find Them.
Ironically enough, we’ve never actually met Mr. and Mrs. 1500 in person, yet we consider them close friends. Bonds forged over the internet are genuine and when you find people who are so incredibly compatible, it almost feels like an epiphany! More than just the “we’re not the only ones!” refrain of sheer joy, it’s an opportunity to learn and share ideas with other folks on a similar trajectory.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the ability for internet strangers to become real life friends is one of the most inspiring aspects of this community here on Frugalwoods. Last month we hosted someone we’d never met before at our house for the entire weekend–Cat from Budget Blonde, her husband, and their twins. It was a wonderful experience and one that we hope to repeat!
While I appreciate a diversity of opinions, I do think there’s danger in surrounding oneself with people who are antagonistic, disrespectful, or downright rude about your frugality. I believe that our spending habits are impacted by the people we spend the most time with. And so, while I don’t think my friends should all be identically frugal to me, I also don’t seek out the company of frugality-bashers. It’s about putting myself in an environment in which I’ll thrive.
This is honestly part of the reason why we’re so excited about moving to a homestead in Vermont. Cambridge is a fabulous place for art, culture, and excitement, but it’s also a place where a lot of money is spent on an alarmingly regular basis. Brunches, lunches, dinners, concerts, artisan doughnut shops, museums, artisan coffee shops, doggie boutiques–essentially every street is rife with opportunities to spend, spend, spend.
I have no interest in hiding my frugality and I’m very frank with people about the ways in which Mr. FW and I choose to allocate our resources. Part of this stems from my desire not to be two-faced (which is also why I only speak the truth here on Frugalwoods) and part stems from the fact that I honestly don’t care what people think about me.
Everyone is entitled their opinions and, at the end of the day, we all care vastly more about how we live our own lives than how someone else lives theirs. If you’re worried that people will judge you for your frugality, well, they might. But who cares? If you’re living the life that YOU want and are working towards goals that are meaningful to YOU, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. Free yourself and enjoy life on your own terms. And, as I’ve found, I bet you’ll find awesome friends who share, or at least respect, your honest pursuits.