I need to rethink the phrase "I can't afford it." My husband and I have been known to say that we don't have cable because we can't afford it. But we could afford it. Even for a basic package at around $40 a month we could swing it. But we choose not to, as we don't feel paying $480 a year on television is worth it, for us. We don't have a typical cell phone package but instead use a pay as you go phone which costs us about $25 every three months. We could afford a real cell phone plan but choose not to as we have a land line and see no need to have the perks of texting or unlimited minutes. The thing is, we could afford to buy these things that we do without, but after paying $40 for cable, maybe another $50 or more for a cell phone plan, $40 or more for eating out, and so on we would be broke at the end of the month. We don't feel that those things are worth a financial insecurity.
Choosing to forgo things that the typical American purchases can make one seem poor. I don't want frugal to be thought of as something only born out of necessity.
An example is when we went to a dealership to look for a van last year. We found one that we wanted but was a bit more than we had the cash for. Knowing that it was about to go to auction I knew that we had some bargaining room. We tried getting the price lower and they went down $500 but it was still more than we wanted to pay. They asked why didn't we just take out financing if we didn't have enough cash for it. We said that we wanted to pay cash. The men looked at each other as though they thought "They can only pay cash, they must have bad credit." They wouldn't budge on the price. I saw then that in their eyes financing was worth more to them (maybe they get a part of the interest?!) than the cash, so I asked if they would go lower if we did it all on financing (which I knew we could pay off in a few short months). They grinned and said "IF the financing goes through we could get it for the price I mentioned" (which was $2,000 off their original asking price). So we went into the dealership and waited and one of the salesmen came over a little later with papers in his hand and said "Your credit is perfect; you got a great deal on this van!"
Because we wanted to pay cash and not deal with a loan (we steer clear of debt at all cost) they thought that we couldn't get a loan. This is the perfect example of how frugality is too often viewed as a necessity for the poor instead of a smart financial decision.
From now on I am nixing the term "We can't afford it" and substituting "We choose not to purchase it". Because being frugal is a choice and one we chose. This phrase sums it all up for me:
"Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants." ~Esther De Waal
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