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Old 12-13-2010, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
12,899 posts, read 18,446,350 times
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Do you think it is possible and/or healthy to live on a frugal budget but look like you're filthy rich...or at least well off?

First off, I'd have to confess I am not making a huge amount of money (about 50-60K a year) and am still relatively young (32) but I was raised in a wealthy family and am "used" to a relatively fancy lifestyle/appearance. Also, I'm fiercely independent and never ask for money from mom and dad. Everything I have I earned on my own and I like it that way. I am not a big spender or debtor either; I only owe on my house, a small amount on a TV (which will be paid off in a couple months) and 1 new car.

But I snuck into a great neighborhood where the average income is easily 4 times mine; most of my neighbors are doctors, lawyers and sucessful businessmen in large 6,000 ft+ houses. The schools are top rated for Utah too and crime is almost non-existent. I did it by buying an small old house that needed work but had potential, negotiating a killer deal and fixing the house up myself; though I still got saddled with a 200K mortgage that makes things tight, despite being 1/2 to a quarter the price of other houses in my area.

I furnished and decorated the place stylishly too by looking for deals at DI (the local version of goodwill) and yard sales... where I've managed to get some really nice antique furniture (including a great teens era player piano), paintings, real Peruvian, pacific islander, and african art literally for a song; it would would have all cost tens of thousands if I'd acquired them at a gallery or antique shop.

I went to great (legal) lengths to make myself look well-to-do and comparable to my family and neighbors despite my limited budget, but I still have this stupid inferiority complex going on and can't help but compare myself to my rich neighbors and feel like a looser.

I really do enjoy art, restoration and making stuff with my hands, but am I doing it for the wrong reasons? What does it really mean to "live frugal?"; is it living better for less or being happy with less? Does anyone else play this game?
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:50 PM
 
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I'd rather be the poorer guy in the rich neighborhood than the other way around.

You're doing fine my brother!
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Old 12-13-2010, 05:25 PM
 
5,019 posts, read 12,468,097 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
But I snuck into a great neighborhood where the average income is easily 4 times mine; most of my neighbors are doctors, lawyers and sucessful businessmen in large 6,000 ft+ houses. The schools are top rated for Utah too and crime is almost non-existent. I did it by buying an small old house that needed work but had potential, negotiating a killer deal and fixing the house up myself; though I still got saddled with a 200K mortgage that makes things tight, despite being 1/2 to a quarter the price of other houses in my area.
I think that's called "smart investing". We did something similar.

Quote:
I really do enjoy art, restoration and making stuff with my hands, but am I doing it for the wrong reasons? What does it really mean to "live frugal?"; is it living better for less or being happy with less? Does anyone else play this game?
It sounds like your upbringing and your background have informed your tastes. You know good stuff when you see it. That's usually an advantage; you know that your grandmother's 100 year old dining table is more solid than anything you can buy at Ikea and that your 15 year old Pringle sweater is nicer than anything new at Macy's .

I have to say that some of my most-frugal habits were taught to me by some of the most wealthy friends and family in my life. What I learned from them: don't squander your $$$ on things that are not important to you. Save and then buy the best you can afford.

The only potential downfall to your lifestyle (from my POV) is if you fall into the trap of "keeping up with the Joneses".
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Old 12-13-2010, 05:34 PM
 
5,640 posts, read 16,926,779 times
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You can do this by being an educated shopper. Know what things cost, and be ready with cash to snap up a great deal when you see one. I know so many people that just can't decide to buy anything and they end up paying top $$$$ because they have to "go home and think about it"... even on the littlest stupid items. They miss out... you snooze you lose.

Buy used stuff, esp. craigslist and ebay (although I personally will not buy used upholstered furniture because of the bug thing). Also goodwill, I have gotten real (not knockoffs) coach purses and kate spade bags at goodwill for $10 each - no lie.

Do not buy trendy clothes, only trendy accessories (which are cheaper). That way you can keep the same pair of pants for years and years and no one will be the wiser. Learn to take proper care of your good clothes and shoes.

Also, do not drive a gas-pig of a car, the gas savings really add up as well as insurance is cheaper with the smaller engine cars. And for your house, make sure you get a programmable thermostat. We figured out that energy costs were one of our major expenses so we have always took measures to keep those as low as we could.

Do not get caught up in the "gotta have a newcar" thing either. Our strategy is: buy a car new and keep up with proper maintenance and drive it into the ground until it gets too expensive to fix it anymore: i.e. engine or trans work. Some people we know have always driven used certified cars, which saves on the depreciation costs of the luxury brands. That works for them.

Also, don't eat out very much. If you do lunch at work, bag your own, and only go out like once a week. Make your own coffee to bring to work (if your work doesn't provide it). Every little $ you save is more money you can use for what you really like.

And don't forget to save for your retirement.... Good luck with your house!

Last edited by gardener34; 12-13-2010 at 05:43 PM..
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Old 12-13-2010, 06:02 PM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,957 posts, read 17,000,905 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
Do you think it is possible and/or healthy to live on a frugal budget but look like you're filthy rich...or at least well off?
All that is necessary to enjoy a good "rich" life is to learn and live "The Concept of Enough". You don't need all that other stuff.........

The Concept Of Enough
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:09 AM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX, USA
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This right here Chango is a biggie; plaidmom said it best.
The pressure to feel the need to keep up with your neighbors is a strong one if someone doesn't have a strong sense of goals that are in tune with their lives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plaidmom View Post
The only potential downfall to your lifestyle (from my POV) is if you fall into the trap of "keeping up with the Joneses".
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:01 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,095,377 times
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Why do you care about looking "rich" compared to your neighbors? If you think that will somehow validate your image of yourself--well, it won't. Chances are you may have a net worth in excess of your neighbors', anyway. In today's economic environment, it may be far better NOT to advertise your wealth.

I think of a friend of mine who passed away not too long ago. He didn't live in the fanciest house in town--it was nice, but not large or ostentatious--not even the nicest one in his middle-class neighborhood. He seldom wore a tie or suit--"funerals and weddings only," he said. He would as likely be seen at the local café as in the fanciest restaurant. His friends ran the gamut from the poor to the wealthy. I never met a person who disliked him. Despite raising a family (all of his kids successful in their own right) and running a successful business for many decades, he always made time for unpaid civic and volunteer work. He never worried about what people thought of him--what you saw was what you got.

When he passed away, his estate was estimated to be close or into 8 figures, and it was revealed that, over the years, his donations to charity had well exceeded a million dollars, nearly all of it made anonymously. If you want an ideal to aspire to, that would be the model that I would choose.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:10 AM
 
Location: SW Missouri
15,527 posts, read 29,233,815 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
Do you think it is possible and/or healthy to live on a frugal budget but look like you're filthy rich...or at least well off?


is it living better for less or being happy with less? Does anyone else play this game?
Wow. As I look around my $7,500 single wide mobile home at the furnishings that are 20 years old or purchased from the thrift shop...I would have to say that no, I don't play this game at all. LOL

Such things are not important to me sorry.

I do have to ask you, however, how do you KNOW that these "antiques" are so valuable? Are you actually researching this, getting an appraisal or are you simply guessing that, because they are old, they are worth a lot of money.

Newsflash.

Lots and lots of "well to do" people are NOT going to be fooled by this at all. People who are truly well bred and know art, and know antiques, etc., will have you figured out in a heart-beat.

Stop trying to impress people and FOOL them. You are going to end up just looking like a FOOL. Be YOURSELF and live the way you WANT to live and enjoy what you have for it's beauty, not because you think it is going to IMPRESS someone and make them think you are well off.

People are smarter than you give them credit for - especially wealthy people.

Newsflash.

People will love you or like you because of YOU. Not how much money you have/make. If they do not, they are not worthy of your love/friendship/attention.

20yrsinBranson
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,957 posts, read 17,000,905 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 20yrsinBranson View Post
Wow. As I look around my $7,500 single wide mobile home at the furnishings that are 20 years old or purchased from the thrift shop...I would have to say that no, I don't play this game at all. LOL

Such things are not important to me sorry.

I do have to ask you, however, how do you KNOW that these "antiques" are so valuable? Are you actually researching this, getting an appraisal or are you simply guessing that, because they are old, they are worth a lot of money.

Newsflash.

Lots and lots of "well to do" people are NOT going to be fooled by this at all. People who are truly well bred and know art, and know antiques, etc., will have you figured out in a heart-beat.

Stop trying to impress people and FOOL them. You are going to end up just looking like a FOOL. Be YOURSELF and live the way you WANT to live and enjoy what you have for it's beauty, not because you think it is going to IMPRESS someone and make them think you are well off.

People are smarter than you give them credit for - especially wealthy people.

Newsflash.

People will love you or like you because of YOU. Not how much money you have/make. If they do not, they are not worthy of your love/friendship/attention.

20yrsinBranson
Yes, this is living life not controlled by your "stuff". It's also is about enough.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic east coast
5,115 posts, read 9,413,466 times
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I think if you're empowering your personal style and home decoration with 'protective coloration" to blend in, there's nothing wrong with that. If you're doing it to pretend you're much wealthier than you are, then a bit of the charade enters into it, doesn't it?

I think it takes more talent to carefully put together a look for home or self on a limited budget and it shows genuine creativity. I've a friend who buys furniture with 'good bones' and then she makes them new with paint or re-finishing to create true treasures. Her home is wonderful. Truly unique and stylish and cozy. Each lamp is a work of art. She makes her own drapes and curtains and headboards from fabric.

There was a long-ago book that influenced me a lot to do as you do..its title was Living Poor With Style. It influenced me to hunt for good buys at consignment shops and garage sale for well-made items such as furniture crafted from real wood, well-made clothes from real materials such as wool and leather.

To this day, I prefer these gently used well-crafted goods to junk that's new and shabbily constructed from particle board and synthetics.

To look at me, you might think I was comfortably off when I'm of quite modest means. I'm not trying to fool anyone, though, I just like wearing and furnishing my home with nice things.

No one need know my furniture is someone else's heirlooms. Of course, my friends know--we go thrifting together! It's cheap entertainment even if my haul is one classic cook book for $.25.

Personally, I think you're smart. As long as you're being genuine and not putting on a facade.
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