Frugality

We live in a world of embarrassing overconsumption and waste. In such a world, if you can master the art of frugality, you will have a tremendous advantage.

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To be frugal does not mean to be stingy or cheap, not by a long shot. It means something quite honorable: to avoid wasting resources, and to make wise investments.

Frugality requires you to look at all the time and money you spend day to day (as well as the time and money others spend on you) and ask the question: Is this really worth it? Is spending the time and money over here taking away from something else over there that could produce a better outcome for me and the people I serve?

These are not easy questions to answer. They cannot be reduced to simple formulas or checklists–in fact, they’re philosophical questions at heart. Value is in the eye of the beholder, so you need to have some fairly clear sense of both your own wants and needs, as well as that of the other people you care about in life.

And even if you know what is personally valuable to you… you need a combination of luck, skill, and connections to have any chance of grabbing it. And so frugality demands that you invest in yourself, so that you have a better chance of getting what you want out of life.

In order to reliably invest in yourself, you must have the willpower to push through the friction and the difficult times that inevitably arise in self-improvement efforts. You must also hold a strong belief that investing in yourself is worthwhile and likely to pay off over the long haul.

All of this sounds exhausting, and it is. But becoming a responsible steward of your own life is an incredibly valuable thing to do, and is totally worth it.