Life is precious. As far as I'm aware, we get one lifetime. Some might argue that we get more than one, but at the very least, we can only experience/influence this one. Money is precious. Because in our world, money plays a big role in how we live. My money comes from my time. My time comes from my life.
I'm a frugal bastard. My peers might be jealous of the number of vehicles that I have, but all of them combined are less than any new car. I do the maintenance myself, saving a lot in labor costs and marked up material cost. Though I might have more material costs from the number of cars, that's okay to me, because they bring me joy. It makes that time in my life happy. Whereas, other people might choose to take their car to a shop. For their time, it isn't worth learning a new skill and investing the man hours into. And that's alright.
The line between frugal and stupid (frupid) is a subtle, biased line. So here is a secret that I ask myself when I'm trying to decide if something is frugal or frupid. "Would I pay what I'm saving, to extend my life by the time that I'm losing." There is a lot of objectivity in that statement and that's what I mean by the line between frugal and frupid is biased.
Case Study, but not really
Lets examine a common oil change. According to some Googling, a synthetic oil change cost $45 to $75 dollars, while prices for the oil start at $25. So our question starts to look like, "Would I pay $20 dollars to extends my life by the time that I'm losing." For someone that can't spare $20 dollars, this might already make their decision. We don't all have the same buying power, and this objectively, makes our time worth different amounts (as messed up as that is, lets continue). "... by the time that I'm losing", for a common oil change, you're losing maybe 5 minutes once you've developed the trade. Maybe 30 minutes to an hour your first few times. This starts to get a little bit more complicated because of that. "Would I pay $20 dollars to extend my life by 30 minutes to an hour." could be true for a lot of people. But, after you've developed the trade and do ten oil changes, "Would I pay $200 dollars to extend my life by an hour." Which would probably no longer be true for the same amount of people. So, for your average white or blue collar Joe, it would pay off to learn that skill (in the frugal sense).
You can apply this to any frugal decision you're making. When making the decision on others behalf, such as work, you just need to remember to adjust your "values". Working at a large company, thousands of dollars will mean a lot less to them then it does to your personal budget. They might also value time-to-market more than you would for a home product, etc.
Time is finite, life is finite, money is finite. They will all fight and conflict, but you should be maximizing happiness. While being financially smart while you're young may lead to a happier retirement, when your old, you may regret your youth. You may not be able to go and do those things that you wanted to do in your youth now that age and time have taken their toll. So remember to enjoy life and be happy.
Bonus: One more practical examples
30 minute walk versus $10 cab for 3 minutes, "Would I pay $10 dollars to extend my life by 27 minutes?" but, this might change if, say, your partner was with you. Maybe those 27 minutes are the two of you outside, talking and enjoying life. So then you might say, "Would I pay $10 dollars to extend my life by 0 minutes?" There are always a few other factors like comfort too, if it's hailing, grab a cab.Cover photo for this article is by Djim Loic via Unsplash.