Benjamin Franklin - Frugality

Frugality is the fifth of the 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin striven to develop as part of his self improvement effort. In short, he described frugality as: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

Today’s materialistic world entices people to spend more. There are such creative advertisements which artificially creates wants and needs where none really exists. Consumerism urges people to buy more unnecessary stuff. Consumerism thrives on creating a sense of inadequacy in your life. It fires the emotions of envy and pitches it against pride. Remember the feeling of keeping up with the Joneses?  All these have led to the consumerist society.

The consumerist society is full of show offs. They are the ones who get a sense of achievement by bragging their latest acquisitions, be it the newly launched iPhone or an Applewatch or some other gizmo. Some people love to splurge on cars and yachts, some others on castles and property. They have different tastes. Different strokes for different folks. But in the final analysis, to live a life well, one need not spend unnecessarily on such extravagant luxuries. Benjamin Franklin believed that the money that one earns should be spent judiciously. Money should be spent in such a way that it should either do good or be beneficial to others or be beneficial to yourself. There should not be any wasteful expenditure.

Some people may argue why one should not be free to spend their own money in the way they like. I am sure Ben Franklin would not have objected to one spending his own money as per his desire. But before spending that money, one should ask, if this expenditure will result in something beneficial or not. When a millionaire goes for yet another race car, whom is he doing good? It is only for his ego satisfaction that he is buying another race car or luxury yacht. Doing something for your own ego is universally known as a selfish act. A student of success should not act in a selfish manner.

Frugality is a way of life. It can be practiced not only in matters of money, but also in matter of words. Wise people are known to be frugal with their words. They think more and speak less. By being frugal with their words, their words carry more weight. These days, there is a small tribe of people who follow a way of life called minimalism. They like to call themselves minimalists. Their philosophy is one should live one’s life with minimum need for material things. They live in a sparsely furnished house. They have bare minimum possessions. They may have just a pair of dresses, few books, few utensils, etc. Some sleep on the floor and live a very monastic life. Some of them take minimalism to a different sphere by thinking in a minimalist way. They try to think less. They meditate more and try to stop their thinking process when it is not needed. I think this is the height of being frugal. This may not be possible for many people.

There are 2 ways to become rich – either earn more, or spend less. Those who are frugal will be rich due to the second reason. Their life is a life of fewer needs. Since the needs are less, they have more time, better relationships and enjoy life more.  By practicing the virtue of frugality, one can get the strength and courage to drop out of the rat race and focus on those things that are truly fulfilling and uplifting. Being judicious in money matters and avoiding wasteful expenses will result in a wonderful life. 

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