No, this isn’t Therapy 101, but it is a first effort to lift the dark cloud of lack, scarcity and that overall fear that so many of us feel. It’s all related, but let’s focus on the word “lack.” What does lack mean? No, it’s not a piece of Ikea furniture! It’s a mindset that many of us live with every minute of the day. It is definitely an issue I have been working on eliminating from my life for years (since I grew up in a not-so-wealthy home), but have been diligently working on for the last couple of years.
What is lack and what does it have to do with frugality? Though many people tend to link the two concepts, they are not linkable. In fact, these two words repel one another and I’ll explain why.
The Meaning of Lack
First, what does lack mean to most of us? It means that we walk through our lives, around our towns, inside and outside of our homes thinking that we don’t have enough. We don’t have enough money (we’ll be bag ladies), enough house (horrors), enough car (embarrassing), enough organic food in our homes (oh no, now we will surely die), enough designer clothing in our closets (now we look like crap). We sense that we lack all of those things. The reason why we feel that way is quite simple: we heard our caregivers worry and obsess over finances, and in addition, our culture promulgates our feelings of lack with advertising, marketing, reality shows depicting hotshot celebrities, etc. And, we’ve accepted the belief that’s what our life should be like and we should worry if we don’t have that. Here’s an example of how a typical train of thought goes (think Inside Out, the movie as shown below). It’s a compilation of many, MANY conversations I’ve heard and read about from others, and, have had with myself…
A typical train of thought filled with lack and scarcity before it derails: “Well, wouldn’t I just love to live like the rich and famous…But they are all kooks anyway and they live in Greenwich and I don’t want to live in Greenwich…And, I don’t want to be a nut job, so I’ll take it down a notch and be thankful for my own life…But wait, is that a new Lexus in my neighbor’s driveway? …Well…I don’t want a Lexus anyhow…I want a Tesla! …Everyone seems to have a Tesla in Fairfield County… Or a BMW…I have a 10-year old minivan that I still need to tote around my kids…But that mom over there has a brand new Suburban to bring her kids around…How did they do that? …Well, they also just got a new kitchen… My counters are chipping!…Oh my God, I can never have anyone enter my home again… And wait a minute, didn’t that family just come back from an expensive two-week vacation to Disney?… How do they DO that?!…And didn’t Lillian August just deliver a truckload of furniture to them last week! Wow, I don’t have anything that everyone else has in Fairfield County! My life sucks! Fairfield sucks!”
Yup. Your train of thought has just resulted in a train wreck which will keep you feeling down for weeks. You have sufficiently made yourself believe you have nothing, lack everything, that scarcity is everywhere and that everyone else has what you do not and will never have. And this kind of thinking is certainly not limited to Fairfield, CT residents!
The Meaning of Frugality
Second, why does “lack” repel “frugality?” If you are frugal, you probably don’t feel a horrible sense of “lack” in your life because you are not running around buying/acquiring things trying to fill that empty place inside of you that is that sense of lack (a topic which requires many more posts). Instead, you are probably frugal because, for one, you enjoy quality items that you want to last and you want to get the best value you can for your money. Buying something cheap that will fall apart and not last is certainly not getting the best value you can for your money.
Future Tag Sale Items
For example, a few days before the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to a store known for its bargains. I don’t go to this store much, and when I do, I leave with only a couple of items that I can’t find elsewhere. I typically see throngs of shoppers piling carts high with what I call “future tag sale items.” There are a number of reasons for piled-high carts, but mostly it is the conspicuous consumption of inexpensive ornaments and holiday decor and other cheaply made items. And buying a cheaply made item for cheap is not a frugal behavior. Buying a lot of cheap things for your home is really an act driven by a fear of living in lack and scarcity.
What Can We Do?
So, what do we do to eliminate this feeling of lack and scarcity that pervades our minds? I’d like to share some resources I have found in my own quest. It’s pretty much my own “frugal resources for personal growth and development” that I’d love to share in upcoming posts and in my page of resources. I’ve just begun this page so please be patient while I compile and pare down at the same time all the resources I’ve devoured over the years.
What many of these resources have done for me is help me to realize where these beliefs of lack came from (childhood, of course) and how they play out in my life. And of course, the tools, processes and techniques out there to help any of us change our mindset from one of seeing only lack to one of seeing only abundance in all areas of our life.