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“Ugh, is she wearing cheap thrift store clothes?”
“That cake isn’t made from hand-ground flour!”
“Did you know he spend all of his time obsessing over rebate apps?”
Our lives are chock-full of judgment, both from other people and even ourselves. We’re not smart enough, attractive enough, fast enough, thin enough, or cool enough.
The issue with judgment is that it provides negativity and pressure that prevent people from living a life that’s true to their needs and beliefs.
While we’re no strangers to receiving judgment, we’re also no strangers to dishing it out. We’re all guilty of judging in some way or another; it’s a natural part of our lizard brain processing information.
It’s no secret that a frugal lifestyle naturally draws ire from lots of people. We live in a culture that’s normalized debt and all of the flashy lifestyle upgrades that (appear) to come with it. I’ve gotten my fair share of nasty comments and questions from people who just don’t get it. They think frugal living is about deprivation, that I’m a magical trust fund baby to have paid off student loans in 7 months, that it’s not possible to pay off a house in a few years, etc.
The negativity comes from all sides, unfortunately. It’s even coming from the frugal living community!
Just like anything, frugality is subject to cliques and the judgy behavior that comes with them. Too often we’ll judge other people’s “frugalness,” deeming the poor suckahs to be less informed as we are. “Ha, poor peons! If only they were as enlightened and frugal as we are!”
I admit I’m guilty of this line of thinking, and that’s a big problem. In fact, here’s how I’m teaching myself not to be a frugal a-hole.
What’s a frugal a-hole?
I’m glad you asked!
You can usually spot the frugal a-hole because they unintentionally spread negativity. They might politely-yet-not-so-quietly object to eating Bob’s strawberry pie because it’s not organic or homemade.
They laugh at Mary’s attempt to bake a cake for her kid’s birthday. “Holy crap, this cake tastes like a brick! This wouldn’t have happened if she’d used free range duck eggs like I told her.”
They point and laugh at someone’s meager savings rate, ignoring the fact that it takes a lot of balls to post that online (just saying).
They mock people’s hobbies. This is something I actually saw happen: an acquaintance of mine was lamenting about her coworkers taking on side hustles: “Guys, they like, just work in their spare time. It’s so sad. They don’t want to do anything else!”
I’ve even been the frugal a-hole! I’m snobby about my coffee and will often pass on Keurig coffee. I’m known to turn up my nose at meals made with canned vegetables. I’ve scoffed at someone else’s hard-earned debt payoff because, “Well I completed miiiiiine fasterrrr, nanananabooboo.”
Ugh, what an a-hole, right?
How to avoid frugal cliques and judgment
Nobody wants to be a jerk. Fortunately, there are steps that everyone can use to keep themselves and the people around them a-hole free.
The Golden Rule
Other people are easy targets for our judgment. It’s all in good fun, right? What they know won’t hurt them, right?
Nooooo. I firmly believe the world would be a better place if we’d all practice the Golden Rule: treat others how you’d want to be treated. Would you want people raising eyebrows and whispering about your decision to hire a cleaning lady?
The Golden Rule is important because it reminds us that other people are just like us. It’s weird that we need to be reminded of that, but it’s true. If I practice treating people how I would want to be treated, I notice an immediate difference in my behavior. For me, it’s about cutting other people some slack and working on my sense of empathy.
How can you love other people if you don’t love yourself? This is a recent realization for me, but by talking to yourself kindly, you’ll notice you talk to others more kindly, too.
For example, I’m making an effort to squash all negative self-talk about my appearance. In the process of doing that, I’ve realized I’ve also stopped talking smack about other people’s appearances.
Practice what you preach and the results are pretty cool.
The art of complimenting
In a similar vein to self-love, we’ve got to consider the lost art of giving compliments.
It’s powerful to acknowledge when someone is doing something great, and complimenting them on it. Of course, this needs to be a genuine compliment; don’t make something up!
When we spread positivity, something cool happens. We feel great about telling someone they’re doing a good job, and in turn that person feels great.
Frugal living ain’t easy, y’all. Sometimes it’s nice to hear that you’re doing something right.
Compliments also turn around our negative feelings about others. Even though I could pick apart someone else’s choices, I choose to focus on a great decision they made. This is tricking my brain into associating that person with something good and positive.
It makes me much less likely to be an a-hole to them.
Find a new tribe
Humans are social animals. That means we tend to fall into patterns of behavior when we’re around certain people.
And let’s be real: some people bring out our inner a-hole.
I had a group of friends growing up. After a while, friends came and went from the group. Naturally our teen angst burst forth in gossip sessions about the friends who had left the group. It was fun at the time, but looking back, it wasn’t a healthy environment. It made me snarky and cynical, which isn’t the kind of person I want to be.
If you find a certain person or group of friends likes to gossip and spread negativity, it might be time to make new friends.
Give actual feedback
Trust me, some days I could turn smack-talking into an Olympic sport. But if, say, Joe’s attempt at using family cloth has a lot of problems (maybe he’s using really rough cloth), that’s a chance to give feedback, not to be an a-hole.
We’re so afraid of upsetting people’s feelings, but we still chat about them behind their back. And that’s not sparing anyone’s feelings at all.
The kindest thing to do in circumstances where there’s an actual error or room for improvement is to tell the other person. It’s as easy as saying, “Hey John, I’ve noticed the family cloth is pretty rough. Have you considered using another type of cloth?”
Sure, John might be defensive, but it’s better for you to be honest with him, instead of spreading a bit of a-holery when he isn’t around.
The bottom line
We’ve all had our less-than-nice moments. But frugal folk get a lot of negative feedback from the world at large. Why do we spread negativity within our community? Everyone can do with a little more kindness. Follow these steps to begin shutting down your inner a-hole.
We want to know: How do you try to stay kind, even when you don’t want to?
The post Don’t be a frugal a-hole appeared first on Picky Pinchers.