Moderation in everything, including moderation. There are many folks far more frugal than I. At the other extreme, some investors I know can never have enough. I even know people who embody both. I tend to the middle road, but occasionally go uber-frugal (I tend to repair my typing letter-by-letter rather than deleting misspelled words). Today I have swung to the other side. I’m at a ski resort.
Maybe I should have put “balancing life and money” in my book’s subtitle (Dream. Invest. Live.: Pioneer the Investment Frontier So You Can Live Your Dream.), because that’s one of the important lessons I’ve learned, and continue to learn. Lessons learned later in life, after entering the “world of grownups” can be more revelatory and reach a deeper understanding than lessons ingrained through childhood.
I’ve always known about balancing life and money. Chasing money for the sake of the chase or for some misplaced love of wealth isn’t healthy. That I’ve known seemingly forever. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until my health began to degrade that I learned how far out of balance my life was. I thought I was living in balance. My body disagreed. It has taken years to begin untangling good habits from bad, and begin reweaving a stronger, more flexible cloth.
As I type this, the snowcat drove by the window grooming the ski tracks. I’m on my annual ski vacation. Ski-in/ski-out, quiet, comfortable accommodations, for cross country and telemark skiing. The lifts are full of alpine folks, but I don’t do that. I slowly waltz down the mountain ticking off younger snowboarders. Half the time I am locked into cable bindings linking genuflected turns down a half mile drop of mountain. Half the time I’m on skinny skis, kicking and gliding along. Few would call this a frugal vacation.
Yet, despite my attempt at luxurious living, I realize that I am able to do this because I approach it in a frugal fashion. Check the prices of downhill versus cross country equipment. Cross country is much cheaper. Actually I can’t say that with authority because some of my equipment is old enough to vote. Maybe things have changed. Trail tickets are cheaper than lift tickets, and buying both brings discounts. I stay in a full service condo because that way I can cook for myself. The extra cost for a kitchen is far less than the cost of dining out every meal. I even got a deal by staying longer.
Frugality isn’t about being cheap, at least not within the definition I ascribe to. Frugality is about respecting resources like time and money. Of the two, time is more valuable and can’t be created. Money burns, but it can be regenerated, and is worthless after death. My time here in this life isn’t only to be spent making money. It isn’t only to be spent spending money either. Life is here to celebrate life. Sometimes that means volunteering to help other lives. Sometimes it means me helping me celebrate mine. Snow is falling, covering the freshly groomed tracks.
Time to clean up the kitchen, suit up for the day, and go outside to play – moderately of course. Ha!
My favorite Warren Miller quote:
“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”