A Spoonful of Sugar

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I think people get the wrong idea that saving money is a sacrifice.

The way most people talk about saving for retirement makes it sound about as appetizing as a glass of wheatgrass juice following seven hours on a stationary bike at fat camp.

When TV personalities advocate for saving more, they always seem do it in a very nagging and patronizing tone as in:

You’re really not saving enough. You’re being too undisciplined. I know it’s hard, but sometimes you’ve got to eat your vegetables.  I said “eat your boiled brussels sprouts.”


Have I got a bitter pill for you to swallow!

Which completely misses the point.  Saving is fun, and selfish, and sexy, and gluttonous, and rebellious, and cool.

(The fact that it’s possibly good for humanity and the planet is an unintended side effect. )

I would even go so far as to say that saving is the new black.

This is not clever marketing spin.

After all, I’m really not trying to sell you anything.

It’s just a fact.

Once we are able to see past the emptiness of purchasing stuff that does not make us happier, we are left with a surprising ever growing surplus of wealth, and happiness, and time.

We’ve already talked about the Mad Fientists argument in the triple value of income.

But let’s think about that some more.

A dollar saved for 30 years and invested in the total market is worth conservatively five times the real value of a dollar spent today. (And we are talking about taxable accounts here, not tax-advantaged savings, or employer matched tax advantaged accounts – Which are dramatically better.)

Five times! This means that if you have the same quality-of-life 30 years from now as you do now, for every dollar you spend you will be able to keep another four dollars in the market to grow for another 30 years!

Even if your lifestyle then becomes twice as opulent as it is now, you’ll still be able to save three dollars for every two that you spend.

This is what it means to be rich.

It doesn’t mean you own a Mercedes with gold rims or a pink Bentley.


Trust fund = Rich.  Pink Bentley = Distraction

It doesn’t mean you have a house with a basketball court or a car elevator.

(In fact if you purchase these things and do not save a hefty portion of your income, I would consider you poor, and worthy of pity.)

Being rich simply means you save and invest a good portion of your money.  Seen in this light saving is not really about discipline at all, it’s about selfishly accumulating money (and freedom.)

It’s more Mark Cuban than Mother Theresa.

And the benefits don’t end there.

Once our spending is under control, it’s not just a figurative richness.

Living on a reasonable amount of spending means that once we retire we will pretty much be able to avoid income taxes altogether. Much like the venture capitalist who worries about the work ethic of the 47% from the deck of his yacht, we will feel compelled to cast concerned glances at the yuppies who speed-by our vegetable gardens in their Beamers, so clueless of their own self inflicted poverty.

This article from Go Curry Cracker is one of my absolute favorites and is destined to be the next Cliff’s Notes tribute post, but it’s worth your perusal ahead of time so please read it.

So through the magic of saving and investing not only will our money become dramatically more valuable, but by being disciplined with our spending, and only spending money on things that actually make us happier, our money will become untaxed money.

Which inflates its value even further!

So to recap, by doing exactly nothing but following our bliss, buying what we need and not buying what we don’t, investing our money, and making smart financial decisions, we will be able to stand by passively as our money grows once and grows again.

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Which is why the only rational way to talk about saving money is to describe it in terms of its exclusivity, it’s attractiveness, and it’s glamour.

Do you think Robin Leach is available for new show?

I’m thinking….Lifestyles Of The Frugal And Thrifty?

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2 Responses to “A Spoonful of Sugar”

  1. Robert February 24, 2014 at 6:00 am #

    Doc, since you like embedding pop cultural images in your blogs, and in this one, the Simpsons, I think you’ll find this debt-related article entertaining. Grant Williams is one of the most creative writers (as in “good at the craft of writing) in the financial arena I’ve ever read. When I read these regular newsletters, every one of which is brilliantly written, and then consider all the other responsibilities he has, I’m amazed!http://www.mauldineconomics.com/ttmygh/pdf/quoth-the-maven-evermore

  2. Miles Dividend M.D. February 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm #


    I started reading the newsletter. You’re right, he is a good writer. Thanks for the reference.


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