A $70,000 pay cut?! Humph. It’d be amazing to make that much in the first place! Why, people who can’t live on $70,000 need a lesson or 5 in money management, priorities, and sacrifice. Why, if we had $70,000 to work with… uh-huh. Good thing it was a silent rant!
I’m glad curiosity got the best of me and I read Jason’s full article. He and I come from different places in the frugal road, but our philosophies and strategies are much the same! Dismissing his ideas simply because of my “he has no idea how to live on little” attitude would have been a mistake. And by the way, he does know how to live on little!
No room for frugal one-upmanship.
I was reminded last week in a comment on one of my own posts, that what I think is living living on little, may be someone’s big.
“Don’t worry about the whole teacher’s salary factor. There are a lot of college educated folks working for lower wages and fewer benefits than teachers, so you are probably doing better than you think!”
Um, yes. Yes! She’s so right! I tend to reiterate that we’re living debt-free mostly on my husband’s teacher salary to cheer everyone on and remind others (and myself when the going gets tough!) that it can be done, but I also need this reminder: There will always be people who make more money, live in a larger home, and have nicer things. There will also always be people worse off than you and me, regardless of our income.
I know I’m not the only one who browses the comments of any frugal living blog post and notices the “oh, yeah? well we…” fill in the blank with how someone somewhere does something somehow with less money and fewer resources than the rest of us. How someone’s 1,500 square foot home is so big for their family of 10 and another person’s 1,500 square foot home is so small for the 2 of them.
How my car is older than your car, and gosh Amy, 150,000 miles? That’s worth celebrating? Good grief, we have 450,000 on our 1957 chevy whatever (Ok, so I totally made that up. You caught me.)
Compare without Despair
Comparison is inevitable (I just can’t stop myself!), and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We have a lot to learn from the experiences people share. Reading how someone does something successfully, and I’m not just talking frugal living, may indeed motivate us to try a new money-saving strategy or keep pressing on toward our own goals. It becomes a slippery slope, though, when we compare without remembering: There is no way to know someone else’s whole story.
There is no way to put ourselves in their shoes. No way to know their specific history, experiences, cost of living, and unique needs, all of which make their story theirs. Not yours. Not mine.
Comparison becomes counterproductive when our focus becomes either “look at me” one-upmanship or “woe is me” self-pity. Neither is helpful to our own unique trials and triumphs.
Each situation is different, but the lessons are the same.
Embrace your life. Learn from your past. Strive for your better.