Thursday Rant: Why Does Everyone Hate Savers?

MrCheapo

Hell ya I’m Mr. Cheapo!

Thinking back, I was always the way I am now. Even as a kid, I liked to work hard, save money and figure out how to make more. However, I was always an oddball. None of my peers seemed to think the same way.

As a teen, my 2 younger siblings would often ask me why I wasn’t buying this or that for myself or my girlfriends. I would tell them that I (or they) didn’t need it and that I prefer to save my money. These conversations took place many times. Eventually, this gave way to a pet name for me, Mr. Cheapo! The conversation would usually go something like this:

Sister #1: Your radio kind of sucks, why don’t you just buy this one?
Me: Well, that one is $300. My old one still works OK.
Sister #2: You have a job and you have the money, go for it.
Me: Nah, I’m OK. I just don’t need it.
Sister #1: You’re Mr. Cheapo! Ha ha, Mr. Cheapo!!
Sister #2 joins in: Mr. Cheapo! Mr. Cheapo!! Mr. Cheapo!!! Ha ha ha!!!!

Eventually, I came to like the term. Damn right I’m Mr. Cheapo! Want some more cute names to call me? How about Mr. Savo or Mr. Early Retiremento or Mr. Doesn’t have to live paycheck to paychecko!

My current friends think I’m off kilter with my decisions as well:

Friend #1: Let’s stay at the <insert expensive hotel> on our trip.
Me: Why? We’re going hiking. The only thing we’ll do in the room is sleep there.
Friend #2: Well, its better and we can afford it. We should treat ourselves.
Me: I think it’s a waste of money. All hotel rooms look the same with your eyes closed.
Friend #1 looks at friend #2 and sighs.

Neither my siblings nor my friends have come around to see my way of thinking. They are great people in all other ways; they just aren’t enlightened yet. Like most, they will probably never will wake up.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that smart people who save their money and behave in financially responsible ways are generally looked down upon in our society. People make fun of the guy who still has a car 10 years after he purchased it. People make fun of others who shop at the thrift store. Apparently, we should all treat ourselves, live paycheck to paycheck; buy junk we don’t need and dispose of it when we get bored. We look up to people who fill their houses and garages with junk and expensive cars. Nice purse! Congratulations Bob on your new car!

I see people on Facebook all the time showing off some new purchase and think its a bit sad. Have we become so superficial? Are our lives so devoid of good experiences and relationships that we have to compensate by buying stuff constantly?

Savers should be praised, not laughed at. We should ask the guy who has his car 10 years later about what he has done to maintain it so well. We should take the $500 we were going to spend on the purse and save it or use it to do some good.

I will be happy when I log into Facebook and see people bragging about their savings or how much they contributed to their 401(k). Until then, send them over to Mr. Cheapo for some financial advice!

This entry was posted in Bad Role Models, Rants. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Thursday Rant: Why Does Everyone Hate Savers?

  1. I too have led a long 15 years of difficult personal austerity. Not as a result of wanting to however. More of a result of a very low income.

    You only get one life to live my friend. Don’t try and save it all for a rainy day as you never know when an accident can change the course of your life forever.

    That fancy hotel? The beds will be cleaner, the spa/pool/hot-tub will be clean and working. You will relax your tired muscles and then get a more restorative sleep. That’s why more expensive hotels are worth it.

    I’ll confess, I’m not much of a saver, but that’s because (IMHO) savings are for the poor, while the rich invest. If you save (without investing) then you’re losing money to inflation. Many PF bloggers would look at my spending and die a thousand deaths on my food budget alone. But it’s my money. It’s my choice. I do run a cash-flow deficit every month, but my net-worth is increasing to the tune of 2-5 times my monthly deficit.

    • 1500 says:

      “You only get one life to live my friend. Don’t try and save it all for a rainy day as you never know when an accident can change the course of your life forever.”

      Wise advice, but I live very well. I don’t skimp on what it important to me. I love travel, so I take a lot of vacations (more on that with Saturday’s post). I take good care of my body with a nice bicycle and a health club membership. We have good cars, but not luxury brands and we keep them forever (200,000 miles plus).

      When I compare myself to some of the big spenders I know, I have become convinced that I’m actually a happier person. They buy sports cars and expensive clothes, but I don’t think that stuff makes one happy. They are filling a void with material stuff.

      “I’ll confess, I’m not much of a saver, but that’s because (IMHO) savings are for the poor, while the rich invest.”

      I should clarify here. By saving, I mean ‘not spending.’ Most of the money I save goes into some kind of investment. In fact, most would say that my actual cash (emergency fund) is way too small (less than $10,000).

  2. And how are your siblings making out in life? Do they have to borrow money from you for car repairs or doctor bills because they failed to save?

    • 1500 says:

      Ha, this could be a blog series in itself!

      The older one (37) skipped college and instead followed the Grateful Dead with a loser boyfriend. She has been trying to finish college since she came to her senses, but has been unsuccessful so far. Her adult life has been a struggle with money. She borrowed a lot of money from my parents and moved back home multiple times.

      The younger sister (24) graduates from grad school in May. I have seen her make some mistakes (getting a new car, getting expensive pets; both facilitated by handouts from my parents), but I hold out hope. She has a lot of student debt, but is also graduating with a degree that should get her a decent job. I am trying to counsel her now on what she should do after she graduates (get cheap housing, pay off debt, max out retirement accounts ASAP, read Mr. Money Mustache!). I’m not sure if any of it will stick. Stay tuned.

  3. Mrs. Herb says:

    Why does saving money equate depriving yourself in many people’s minds? (see first comment on this post!)

    As you said, you spend money on things that are important to you (traveling, etc) and try to save as much as possible everywhere else.

    Good thing people that are smart enough to be achieving FI don’t let the general attitudes of most people – friends/family included – bother them too much!

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Mrs. Herb!

      Yeah, its hard to understand. I only figured out the early retirement/FI thing recently. I had planned to work until I was old and grey. I was always a saver though, so I was already setup for early retirement.

      The thing that I think about all the time is the butterfly affect; one small event now can turn into something very significant down the road. I always go back to cars. Suppose, you’re 25 and can make do with a used Honda Accord instead of a new Acura and save yourself 20K. I don’t think that the Accord is really depriving yourself, but look at how it can change your life down the road if you invest the 20K. Assuming an average stock market return and following the rule of 72, you’ll be about $320,000 richer in 28 years (20 -> 40 -> 80 -> 160 -> 320). Holy cow, just for depriving yourself of a luxury car! Now suppose you to a little more like eating out less frequently…

      • Mrs. Herb says:

        That’s a great example, especially because I actually drive a Honda Accord! Ha! Was my first car (gift from a generous grandparent!) and loved it. Totalled it about this time last year, and replaced it with a 2006 accord with 58k miles :-) I definitely don’t feel deprived!

        We are going through the process of replacing Mr. Herb’s car right now. It’s a VW Jetta with 115K miles and is getting pricey in the repairs department. Using MMM’s list of cars for smart people to find a replacement. Think we’re going to get a Focus or something similar.

        • 1500 says:

          One of my first cars was an Accord too. Loved it! I got it at 130,000 and it was still running fine when I got rid of it 100K miles later. I hardly put any money into it and only got rid of it because we had too many cars.

          Mr MMM’s list is a good one. We have a Mazda 5 which is on his list and has been great. Too much car for just a couple though.

          Our other car is a Honda Element. We’ve had it for 120,000 trouble free miles and expect to have it for another 120,000. Honda knows how to build stuff!

          Good luck in your search!

  4. tom says:

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog while researching about Lending Club. I share many of your values about being above the influence of consumerism and setting goals towards reaching financial independence. Unfortunately, many of my teenage nieces and nephews (in-laws’ children) do not understand the ideas of planning for the future or delayed gratification. What stuns me is that their families grew up very poor, yet have no sense when it comes to teaching or showing the kids how to use money. I am not cool like their favorite rappers or celebrities, but they do connect with me more as compared to their parents or elders, since I am closer to their age. I want to help them without being preachy because they do not respond to that, as I have seen. Any recommendations? Thank you for your time.

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Tom!

      Wow, your comment has really got my brain spinning, so brace yourself for a long reply.

      What you ask about is near and dear to my heart as I have two young children that I’m trying to bring up in financially savvy way. It is a constant struggle. Society bombards them (us) with ways to part us from our money. Ever see cartoons lately?

      Your question is a difficult one, but I’ve got a couple immediate thoughts on it:

      “What stuns me is that their families grew up very poor…” A close friend of mine grew up in the same boat and now spends money like its going out of style. I asked him about it once and he said its because he never had money growing up, so now that he has it, he’s going to use it. Another friend grew up in one of the richest parts of Illinois (River Forest) and he has similar spending habits. In his case, its because he is trying to maintain the lifestyle he grew up with. In both cases, I don’t think they had positive financial role models.

      I started thinking about the way I am (frugal and a saver) and there are a couple reasons. My parents never gave me money. I had to work for it all ($2/week allowance), so I thought very carefully before I let it go. Also, I had some miserable jobs. One of the worst was working at McDonalds earning $3.35/hour at age 14. Another was working a 6am-6pm shift Monday-Saturday opening boxes with a razor at a computer distribution facility. The boxes would fly down the conveyor belt and you had to move super fast to do the work. I’d cut myself all the time. Again though, it made me think about every dollar that went out. Crappy jobs also make you appreciate the good one when you finally get it.

      In your case though, you’re not going to be able to influence these factors, so your task is a little harder. A couple thoughts just off the top of my head:

      I wonder if they’d respond to example of how some celebrities have blown vast amounts of money? Vince Young is a great example. Google pointed me here.

      In high school, a teacher once asked if I’d rather have $10,000 or a penny that doubles every day for 30 days. The answer astounded my teenage brain. It may be a cool example that would set the stage for a saving/compound interest/delay of gratification lesson.

      This is really awesome that you’re thinking like this and trying to be a positive influence. I’d like to hear more about your thoughts on the topic and what you think worked and what didn’t. Its not an easy task; teens have so much pressure from all different directions. I wish more of them looked up to people like Larry Page, Carl Sagan, Jeff Bezos, etc. instead of people on TV.

      In any case, this is a topic I’ll be writing a lot about as I try to help my 6 and 3 year olds become decent people. The older one already has peer pressure: “How many American Girl dolls to you have?”

      Thanks for reading and your kind comments!

      • tom says:

        Hi 1500,
        Thanks so much for sharing your stories and taking the time to give me advice. I appreciate it. Next time I see the youngsters, I will start a casual conversation about celebrities and money issues. I look forward to reading more of your future thoughts and stories on raising kids in our current society. I’m expecting my first child around November, so I feel I can learn a lot from here. Thanks again!

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Tom-

      I was discussing your comment with my wife tonight and she had another idea which I liked. When it comes time for your niece’s/nephew’s birthday or the next holiday, why not buy them a share of some stock they can relate to? Every kid knows about facebook and the stock is currently under $30. Buy it under your own brokerage account and show them how to track the value. Set some ground rules (you can’t sell it for 10 years). Who knows, maybe it will spark a fire?

      • tom says:

        Hi 1500,
        Please send my thanks to your wife for the excellent recommendation. After the 2008 crash, I closed my brokerage account after taking some heavy losses. But I think I will open a new one again and start investing small. Getting the youngsters interested in the financial world through one share of stock in a company they know is a great idea. I look forward to sharing your experiences and reflections on life through this blog for the next 1500 days and beyond. Thank you and best wishes!
        -Tom

        • 1500 says:

          Tom-

          Very cool! I’d like to hear your experiences as well. If you do go through with the stock plan, let me know how well it works.

  5. People don’t like to deny themselves. People also tend to not like behaviors that conflict with their philosophy on life. That’s a main reason that people don’t like savers.
    I was a lot like you as a kid. I remember when my family would get Slurpees at 7/11. Sometimes I would ask if I could have the money. My parents agreed since I was saving it. I got teased, but was able to save that money for something more worthwhile.

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Justin!

      “I remember when my family would get Slurpees at 7/11. Sometimes I would ask if I could have the money. My parents agreed since I was saving it. I got teased, but was able to save that money for something more worthwhile.”

      Wow, this is super awesome. I was a saver as a kid, but not quite to this level. Did you have siblings who thought the same way? If not, why? Who teased you?

      Also, what made you think this way? I have 2 young children who I’m trying to shape into financially responsible people. I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Raising financially responsible children is a constant battle…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge