When beginning to write today's post, I waffled on the title between "Pride" and "Vanity." I am still not convince that vanity is not a more appropriate title but what I am trying to describe contains elements of both.
I am frequently asked for frugal tips and advice. I offer aid whenever I can but I frequently find that those who ask are not ready or willing to give up those things that feed their vanity.
$100 hair appointments are difficult to justify when you haven't bought groceries or put gas in your car for the week. Pretty nails, gym memberships, or tickets to a local attraction do not make a lot of sense when you cannot make the rent. A six dollar cup of coffee at the local shop tastes bitter when a credit card bill gets paid late.
Why vanity or pride? To live a frugal lifestyle, you are working toward a larger goal than your personal indulgence. Whether the goal is eliminating debt, simplifying your life, or saving for a large goal, there is little to no room for selfish or self-centered actions. The ego needs to take a back seat to the goal.
Did you need to get your nails done or could you have done them yourself? Why pay for a gym membership when there are countless programs online (for free) teaching you to get the same results with household items or a minimum investment in personal equipment? If you live in a large apartment complex, there is usually an equipment room available to use for free. How many days of food could have been purchased for that salon appointment? Now add in all the gas and car expenses used to travel to these indulgences. The cost just keeps adding up and becomes even harder to justify.
Vanity and pride are insidious creatures. They disguise themselves as needs, as things you have to have or do to function in daily life. The truth is that there are frugal substitutions for all of them that do not carry the same burdens of guilt and unease.
If you are carrying debt; having trouble making ends meet; or just want to spend wisely; examine your purely selfish "needs" in the light of your larger goals. It is a mirror which is quite enlightening.