Meet Basic Needs - first and foremost
Meet your basic needs first and foremost. This personal finance concept focuses on identification and prioritization of needs.
The less money you earn, the more important it is to prioritize what you spend.
The more money you earn, the more "slop" you can have in your budget, up to the point where you can simply go without a formal budget at all.
Money gives us options, choices - an ability to make decisions.
With limited financial resources our options are severely narrowed. Our options become quite limited, and sometimes we're faced with little choice at all
Our Needs - an overview
If we look at our basic needs right up front, they boil down to something like the following that money can buy for us:
This seems to be a bare bones list, but it's really what we need today, and there are a range of ways we can meet those needs. For example, transportation could be walking or a bicycle, it doesn't have to be a motorized vehicle.
A friend of mine used to ride a dirt bike when he was first starting out in the working world. It's what he had. It's what he could afford. So, he rode it (very carefully), even in the winter.
One of the challenges of frugal living is to sort among our wants, wishes and desires, and pick out our basic needs and focus on those first and foremost.
I have known several couples in Cheyenne who were heading into winter with no heat and no electricity. One couple lived in a trailer and two other couples lived in a tent (with children).
All three couples had made (and were still making) choices in their lives that redirected their income to things other than basic needs. I know because I was witness to it.
I'm fine with camping and roughing it, but living in a tent as winter approaches in Wyoming is like sleeping on the freeway - something big and tough and undesirable is coming at you, very soon.
Benjamin Franklin said something appropriate to remember and applicable to such situations:
"Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."
The message here is clear - don't be a fool with your financial resources.
As sad as it is to see a family living in a tent with winter approaching, I use it as motivation for myself, and I suggest you do the same. Decisions have consequences. That's the modern day version of "experience keeping a dear school" that Franklin was speaking of.
Many people look up to others and see just how low and "unlucky" and "unfortunate" they are. I look to folks like our tent families and realize just how grand my life is. We'd all like to help people like that, and I have tried in many cases to do just that, but again, Benjamin Franklin reminds us:
"He that won't be counseled can't be helped."
Take care of you and yours by addressing your basic needs first and foremost. Only then can you hope to be in a position to try to help others and guide them in better decision-making.
Done with Basic Needs, back to Mindset of Frugality