Sometimes I wonder. Mr. FS and I developed our frugal practices in graduate school, where we not only faced poverty but a very uncertain job market. Then, having gotten jobs, we still faced an uncertain future, so we continued frugal practices. Then, we were concerned about education costs and, not wanting our children to take on massive debt, we continued even more.
The best part of frugality is that it minimizes (though it does not eliminate) stress. I can't imagine facing unemployment without an emergency fund. I can't imagine facing an economic downturn with credit card debt. And I didn't want my children to go into adulthood bearing the burden of education debt.
However, since I can be a little--no, a lot--on the pathological side, I tell my kids to lighten up and have fun too. So far, they seem to be doing OK.
My daughter, of the untended blog Lucy Marmalade, just got back from a leadership conference for college students in DC, sponsored by a nice group of philanthropists in Alabama. After telling us of various sessions, she exclaimed "Everyone there was so rich!"
Rich as in iPhones, de rigueur designer bags, and so on. She said, "Everyone looked airbrushed." One participant displayed her "ghetto phone," explaining--with a laugh--that a more upscale replacement was imminent.
Lucy M, as often happens to ME, was a kind of impostor: she didn't LOOK that different from the other participants, but her clothing was thrifted and otherwise scrounged, her phone was not a prestige model, and so forth.
One thing Lucy noted was the sense of entitlement most of these people had. One participant said that her father had loaded up her debit card before her trip. Then she found out that he had only given her $150.00. Thanks Dad, she said, with sarcasm and heavy eye rolls, to a laughing crowd of girls during a side-trip to H&M.
While I'm glad that my children are more grateful than that person, I started to wonder...I presume that most of these people--mostly in private colleges, mostly in sororities and fraternities--will make sure, through career choice or marriage or both--that they can live the privileged lifestyle to which they are accustomed. That does breed a certain amount of ambition, doesn't it?
Sometimes I worry that the ambition may be bred out of people who know how to be frugal. Should I be worried? Do you think there is an inverse relation between frugality and ambition?