Frugal, smart, minimalist or stingy?
I am interested in earning credit card and rewards programs points. The goal is essentially to allow me to do trips that I could not do otherwise.
You know, business class on a long-haul flight that costs close to $5,000… I wouldn’t pay fort that. Or just being able to treat my own. Let’s go, three plane tickets to the Magdalen Islands. It makes everyone happy and the expense is small. I’m a hybrid type: both a minimalist and a smart consumer. I mean, I think so.
I’ll tell you right away: on the Web, there is no consensus on the use of the different concepts related to the world of expenses, but I’ll present you what I remember.
What type are you?
Some people have the same hobby as me, but their goal is different: they are aiming for cash back on the daily expenses they incur with their credit cards. You should see their Excel spreadsheets that show their earnings optimization.
Of this group, some stand out by claiming that if their expenses become less than what is earned, they can use the difference to pay off debt, save or invest. Not crazy. They are even aiming for retirement at age 40. Well, let’s say fifty for others. The phenomenon has a name: frugality.
The frugal person aims to spend as little as possible because he or she wants financial autonomy above all else.
In this same line of thought, many young people aspire to become (or already are) digital nomads. They work from their computers in a part of the world they like and live on a small budget: little earning, little spending. As Wikipedia would say: “Work less and live better, even if it means earning less”
, a good example of frugality.
The smart consumer
They are the expert in optimizing their spending in all categories. They only use credit cards and know which one to use where.
They bring their balances to 0 every month and never miss a promotion to multiply the airline or hotel points they collect. They use coupons, gift cards for which they have earned several points.
Among them are specialists in “2 for 1”, “Groupon” vouchers and, for those who have cars, full tanks of gas on Tuesdays, because once again, the aim is to turn expenses into profits.
Voluntary simplicity, or the minimalist
I have met other profiles of thrifty people who do not aspire to stop working in their forties, nor to exile themselves under the palm trees. They have families with children who attend daycare or school and enjoy their place in the sunshine of the job market, often on a part-time basis.
They are part of the minimalist, solidarity-based movement of RRR: recycle, reuse, reduce.
They can go to the public markets at the end of the day to take advantage of the falling prices, buy clothes in the second-hand shops and also buy toys for the children. As long as there is no missing piece to the puzzle, why not?
But above all, minimalists know the value of things. They own little, but aim for quality and durability.
Minimizing expenses, controlling the budget, avoiding over-consumption is their leitmotiv.
And the "stingy" one?
I wondered at what point the boundaries of frugality, minimalism and smart consumption were crossed in favour of cheapness?
For example, would I be offended to be invited to a restaurant and have my partner pull out a “two-for-one” coupon, cutting his spending in half? Honestly yes if he invited me, we don’t know each other very well and he didn’t say a word to me beforehand, but not at all if we are both in on it.
The big difference between the stingy and the others, according to my readings and observations, is that the stingy one ignores the connection with others, because what matters is money.
Where the smart consumer is happy to use a coupon or cash back credit card that reduces the purchase amount of a good bottle of wine, the frugal and minimalist are happy to have taken their wine from a local winery in a recycled bottle.
The stingy brings nothing to the party or deprives himself of the party so as not to have to spend money. Their quality of life is questionable.
Shall we recap?
Who do you think these behaviours belong to?
- use public transportation, bicycles, walking or have only one car per household, which is as economical as possible
- use the clothesline in the summer and the clothes racks in the winter, instead of the dryer
- drive a car that is more than 10 years old
- use candlelight to reduce electricity costs
- dispose of unused items in the home
- avoid impulse buying online and wait for sale days to earn travel points on spending
- use libraries
- wear out their shoes
- swap fast food for home cooked food
- buy wine at the SAQ with a gift card instead of paying for it otherwise.
- maintain items to make them last longer (e.g. shining one’s boots)
- buy the latest computer on the market, no matter how much it costs
- invest in the purchase of a duplex
Apart from the unenviable situation of the stingy, most of us probably have a profile that borrows from each of the categories.
You don’t have to be a minimalist to borrow a book from the library. But let’s remember that there is a lot to think about in terms of how we treat our expenses in order to achieve what we want to do with our lives. Let’s just be aware of that.