I think most people have a low savings rate simply because they’re unaware of the connection between saving money and gaining freedom. But even for the people who do make this connection, there’s still one factor that prevents most of them from saving a high percentage of their income: fear of what others will think.
When you make the conscious decision to start saving more money, this inherently means developing a more frugal lifestyle, which means developing new daily habits. This scares most people.
If you stop eating sushi lunches with your coworkers, will they think differently of you?
If you tell your friends you want to have potluck dinners instead of going bar-hopping on the weekends, will they still want to hang out with you?
If you tell your parents you want to buy a tiny house, will they think you’re mentally insane?
This fear of what others will think of our lifestyle decisions can be crippling. In many cases it prevents us from living in a way that’s true to our nature.
I have faced this fear myself over the past two years. I have been fearful of explaining why I don’t want to buy a house, why I have a weird cheap phone plan, why I tutor students on weekends even though I don’t “need” the extra money, why I still drive the same car I have had for years despite having the cash to buy a new one.
Fortunately there’s one simple truth that helps me overcome this fear of what others will think of my ultra-high-savings lifestyle:
The universe is vast and I overestimate my importance.
This truth has completely changed the way I view my life.
The Universe is Vast and I Overestimate My Importance
Most of us go about our days thinking we’re the center of the universe. We think the house we own, the car we drive, the job we have, the clothes we wear, our social media following, etc. are constantly on display for the world to see each day.
We think the actions we take, the tweets we send, the work we do, the conversations we have, and the lifestyle we live are all significant and meaningful.
We have a tendency to overestimate the significance of our accomplishments and the seriousness of our failures.
In general, most of us think we’re more important than we actually are.
If we take a step back and actually consider how vast the universe is, we can begin to put things in perspective.
There’s 7.5 billion people on earth that have no idea you exist.
Of the thousands of people you have interacted with in your lifetime, very few of them actually care about the intricate details of your life.
Of the hundreds of Facebook friends you have, you’re only close with a handful of them in real life.
Of the 10-15 people you interact with on a daily basis, most of them don’t care at all about your house, your car, your clothing, or your career. People aren’t rude, they just have their own lives to live.
When you boil it down to it’s core, there’s probably only a handful of people whose opinion you genuinely care about.
Weird At First, Normal Over Time
What I have realized is that each time I make a decision to live more frugally, or more minimal, or just different than society, my immediate family and friends do think it’s odd for about a day. Then they get over it, accept me for who I am, and continue living their lives.
See, the people we are closest with care about us because of who we are as humans, not because of what type of house we live in or car we drive.
If you want to live in a tiny house, go do that. Your family and friends might think you’re a weirdo for a while but eventually they’ll get over it.
If you want to cut your cable to save money, do it. The bros will give you a hard time for about a day and then you’ll find a new house to watch the Sunday games at.
If you want to take a six month excursion around the world with your family, do it. Your parents will worry about you for about a week, then they’ll get over it and life will continue on as normal.
We all have this tendency to think the earth will stop spinning if we decide to change our lifestyle. But this isn’t the case.
The universe is vast. You are small.
Whether you embrace a life you actually want to live or not, planet earth will carry on without a hiccup.
Use Your Insignificance to Your Advantage
Billions of people have no clue you exist.
Of the few hundred people who know you exist, only a handful are actually important to you.
This handful of people is probably composed of your immediate family and close friends. These people won’t care if you suddenly develop a frugal lifestyle. They care about you, not your stuff.
If you want to adopt a new frugal lifestyle to save more money without fear of what others will think, use your insignificance to your advantage.
Don’t overestimate your importance. Recognize that you’re a tiny spec in the human history of time and space. Most people don’t care if you live frugally or not. For the ones who do, they’ll accept you anyway because they love you for you, not for your lifestyle.
This might help you see that yeah, I probably should pursue a life that makes sense to me, because most of the universe won’t care how I live anyway.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
Although the bulk of his net worth is invested in index funds, his favorite place to invest in individual stocks is M1 Finance, a site that allows you to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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