Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The search for a better quality of life

All humans desire a better quality of life. When we are poor, our basic instinct was just to find food for survival. When we have enough food, we would like something more such as a nice house or perhaps a car. Then we go on to buy nice clothes and accessories and shoes. The list goes on and on. Soon, we find ourselves caught up in consumerism. We buy more items but use less of each item. The more we buy, the less we use.

Now, think about the past when you were still a student with little to no money. You probably just had one pair of shoes and it was precious to you. When you do get a new pair of shoe after wearing it for many years, it feels great. That was the time you were living in frugality. As a student with limited cash, you try to get the best deals when you dine out. You try to only buy during a discount.

Consumerism vs Frugality

It'll not be easy to explain the difference between consumerism and frugality to someone who has been living a consumerism lifestyle since young. Some how, people who are living in consumerism will find that frugal people are sacrificing too much and not living a good quality of life. They would say "Why save money when I can spend money to buy happiness?" To them, saving money is sacrificing their quality of life. However, today, I found out that living a frugal life may not be a sacrifice. It could in fact lead to a better quality of life. Let me explain using a simple analogy.

People living in consumerism like to buy lots of stuff. They think that since one shirt is good, another one will make it better. They have a wardrobe full of clothes and maybe even more than 2 wardrobes of clothes. They have a shoe cabinet with more than 10 pair of shoes. They may also have many different bags and accessories. But, if you ask them if they do wear all those clothes, those shoes or even carry those bags, very often you'll hear that they had only wore it once or twice or never wore it before. Many of them still only use those few that they like better and dump the rest at one side.

Quality, not Quantity

This is the same with food. Having a plate of spaghetti is good but doesn't mean having another plate will be better. When you're hungry, more food will be good. When food is scarce, more is good. But when you're full and more food comes to your table, you feel disgusted. A scarcity mindset will result in consumerism. Buying more of the same stuffs does not make your life better. In fact, it's the direct opposite. So how do we go searching for a better quality of life? Here's the answer: Quality is the key, not quantity. Let's go back to the example on food. It doesn't make sense to keep buying more quantity of food when you're full. If we don't buy more food, we can focus our energy and resources to buy better quality food.

Now, when we translate this idea to the clothes, the shoes and all those stuff, we should also buy lesser but better quality ones instead of just more quantity of it. So, who buys lesser quantity and better quality stuffs? The answer is the truly frugal people. Frugality is defined as the prudence in avoiding waste. Frugal people do not like to waste resources. This means when they buy something, they make sure they really use it and not dump it at one side when they get home. Maximizing the use of resources is their forte. If they buy food, they make sure they finish and not waste any of it.

Sometimes, a similiar can of drink cost $1 here but $3 elsewhere. Yes, it does happen. For me, if I know I can get a $1 drink somewhere near, I will find it difficult to buy a $3 can of drink. Even though $3 is nothing and I can definitely afford it, but I know this $3 can be used to buy a decent meal instead of just a can of drink. It'll be foolish to pay more for less (sometimes I still do it if there's no choice). I can get better quality out of the $3.

Having a better quality of life for frugal people is easy. Instead of wasting the effort and money to buy more of a similar stuff, the effort is put into finding a better quality of it. In this way, our quality of life increases. We get better for less. We can find better deals but still get the same quality goods. We can get value out of a frugal lifestyle. This is the search for a better quality of life. Rich people are frugal and they lead a better quality of life.

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Related Posts:
1. Going from working middle class to rich with a simple tweak
2. Practising Frugality to Achieve Happiness in a High Cost of Living Environment
3. Your Perspective of Luxury and an Experience


  1. Hi SGYI,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The tussle between quality and quantity is an interesting one.

    My wife and I discussed the topic once and we used the example of socks.

    If one quality pair of socks costs three times as much but lasts three times as long as an average pair of socks, would you choose to buy one pair of quality socks, or three pairs of average socks, one after another?

    1. Hi SRSI,

      This is an interesting analogy of socks that you have. For socks I really don't care much about the quality. But for shoes, yes. If I can buy a shoe which can last longer and more comfortable compared to a shoe which don't last and not too comfortable but cost lower, I would've chosen the more eexpensive and confortable shoe.

  2. Hi SGYI

    Great post there.

    Some people have a preference over spending a more expensive than other items. For example, many people dont scrimp on mattress and shoes but they cut back on drinks and clothes.

    I read an artice the other day about a couple in american who sold every single item in their household and they admitted that clothes were to their surprise the easiest to give up.

    1. Hi B,

      I guess people buy a lot of clothes out of impulse instead of the need. Most of it is thrown at one side anyway if we have more than what we really need.

  3. Hi SGYI,

    Those frugal people will not be extravagant even with a windfall while the same cannot be said for the people who are used to the lavish lifestyle. Most imptly, we are more contented with living modestly. The real question is how to inculcate this lifestyle to everyone..thanks for the article!

    1. Hi Jes,

      Well, I do hope some change their lifestyle along the way. Sometimes, as we grow older, people start to realise they need to plan for their future. They start saving and living frugally when they realised it'll be good for their future. Inculcate this lifestyle to everyone? Maybe not possible.

  4. Hi SGYI,

    You need to suffer before you can achieve great knowledge and be a better man. Our generation has not gone through much hardships, so it is not easy to inculcate frugality. As of now, I am still trying to figure out how to teach my young daughter how to be careful with her money. Not easy.

    SG Wealth Builder

    1. Hi GS,

      We need to inculcate the wisdom to delay gratification for young children. Things are going too fast now and people want things instantly. The trait of patience is lost in it. I think if we can train our kids to see that they will have more when they delay now, then it helps to build their character better.

  5. Hello SGYI,
    this is a very interesting article. From this perspective I have not seen the buying behavior of people.
    It happens to me very often that I find beautiful things (shoes, clothes, accessories) when I go shopping, but I do not buy them, because I already have something like this or I would not use it very often. In contrast I spend more money for clothes for my son, than for me or for my husband. I think that he usees the clothes, shoes, … better than we can.
    So I'm not stingy, but frugal. Have I understood it correctly?

    1. Hi Wonni,

      You definitely have a good heart. A heart of a wife and a mother who cares for her loved ones.

      Buying something that you'll use often is good. If we can buy it at a good quality but pay lesser for it (ie discount) then it would be value for money. Similiar items at cheaper price. That's what frugal people do :)

    2. Hello SGYI,
      How do you know what frugal people do and do not? Are you also a frugal person?

      I have seen your list in the "about me":
      "Some points I found out about rich people:
      1) They are frugal
      2) They do not rely on one source of income But They seek to create multiple sources of income
      3) They are passionate about the things and life in general They Do
      4) They are always learning
      5) They invest
      6) They read a lot Especially keeping updated on current world affairs "
      Do you have this list created by of studying various books, or on the basis of personal experiences?

    3. Hi Wonni,

      II'ma frugal person. The list was my observation of various successful people and how they lived their lives. I've come to knoe a few rich people personally and I always wondered why they are still frugal even though they are rich. Frugal as in they will still consider the value of the product to the price when they buy stuffs.

      Then I realised that it has become a lifestyle for them. For example, when they know this product uses cheap materials but it is priced at a very high price, then they don't find it value for money. Another example is if they know a product is sold cheaper elsewhere, then they won't buy this product when its priced more expensive here. Frugality is not about owning all the cheap stuffs. It is about buying quality stuffs at great prices. That is probably how they become successful in business and investing by following the exact same principles. Invest in great businesses at great prices.

    4. Hi SGYI,
      Thank you, for your response. You are really helpful and you answer all my questions. Such a willingness to help is very rare.

      I like your point that you think that frugality "has become a lifestyle for them". Do you think that frugality is mediated by education, or rather that it is a setting that you can consciously take? I think, it is mediated by education, because frugality is applied unconsciously onto different life situations. What do you think.

      And I have another question for you. Would you be so kind and click on the next link? It appears a survey, which I have created. I perform it for my bachelor thesis. It's about blogs on the internet. The survey is short and completely anonymous. Would you do me that favor?

    5. Hi Wonni,

      I think frugality is a habit. Habits need to be built over time. A person can consiously take the effort to become frugal but whether it will last will depend on him or her. Education does help if its at a young age. When we're older, we tend to live our ways and its hard to change.

      I've done the survey. All the best for your thesis!

    6. Hmm … Maybe you're right that you can train yourself this habit. I believe that my husband has already acquired a bit of my frugality. Before we met he spend his money on nearly everything and was afterwards very angry about poor quality. Now he I thinks hard whether he wants to buy something, or not. He has developed an awareness for quality. So you may be right.
      But an adoption of a new habit is only possible if the person consciously wants to adopt this habit. The Person has to find a sense of frugality. What do you think?
      And thanks a lot, that you have done the survey!

    7. You manage to influence your husband. That's good! I always think most guys are frugal but most girls are not that's why its so hard to find a frugal gf for myself. Haha. But you're the direct opposite of my case. Maybe furgal doesn't attract frugal. I may just find a not frugal girl then influence her later. :p

    8. Hihi, that’s funny =D
      well then good luck trying. Maybe it works.
      Perhaps you feel attracted to non-frugal women until you realize that their expenses are very high. fashion-conscious women invest in their appearance. This can be very expensive if these women want to have many clothes or jewelry. You have to weigh, what you like more. A woman in many beautiful dresses, or a woman who is happy with less.
      this is tricky

    9. I think you're right. I'm somehow attracted to non frugal woman but I want to find a frugal girl. Haha. What a dilemma. Very tricky indeed.

      But come to think of it, a woman who's naturally pretty don't need all those other things. They can just wear normal clothes, go on without make up and still look good. I think this is the kind of girl I'm looking for! Haha. Don't know whether they exist or not. Lol