Attaining a quality frugal life is all about changing one’s character in regards to finance. It’s like they tell you in Weight Watchers: this isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. You will fall down and get back up, all the while making steps toward progress. Some weeks you gain a pound, other weeks you lose two. It’s the same with frugality. There are certain choices you can make that will enhance your lifestyle and others that will steer you in the wrong direction. Mooching is one of those character traits that the frugal could do without; and frankly, this should be obvious. But to some it appears to be a fine line; “I am saving money after all”. Let me just tell you that mooching is not creative or inspiring to anyone.
The formal definition of a mooch is to ask for or obtain something without paying for it.
Sounds like a money savers dream, right? Careful. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in an unhealthy pattern. We’re all guilty of it. Ordering no fries and then eating our counterparts’. Over staying our welcome on a friends’ couch in between apartments. Drinking the last bottle of beer in the fridge when you didn’t bring any to the party. In all of these cases, context matters. It would certainly not be mooching if it were a trade off of some sort. Equally so if you are being offered a gift by a generous friend. Just because it’s free doesn’t make you a mooch. It’s your attitude that does.
A few months back, I read a book authored by the President of World Vision. He explained that when the organization goes to a third world country, they do not simply give money to a village and leave. They help an individual develop a certain skill and give them money to start a business with the expectation of being paid back. It is through this process that the person learns the value of a dollar and develops a sense of pride and responsibility for their business. Being made to pay the loan back is imperative for their lasting success. I found this to be a great illustration of why it is so important to be an earner in order to understand money management.
I’ve known people who struggle with finances and their response has often made me uncomfortable. Ranging from repeatedly discussing how they can’t afford this or that, to only being social if they are “hooked up”. That type of personality is no fun to hang around. But all to often, I’ve found their inner circle to be enablers. A rotating door of new friendships that have yet to pick up on the pattern and so indulge in what anyone’s instinct would be–to help out. Again, all of us pursuing a quality frugal life search for deals or attend free events– that’s not what I’m addressing. It’s the attitude that sets the mooch apart. Do you lack financial self-sufficiency? Are you always on the receiving end of the other people’s goodness? I have a solution for you.
If you take more than you give, you will likely not be a good saver or conservative in your spending habits. Conversely, the positive impact on your character through being generous is great. I have one friend in particular who is the most giving woman I know. It regularly humbles me. She’s brought me things when I was sick and lived alone, driven out to me from across town (a lot further than it may sound), showered me with gifts in celebratory seasons, calls on the phone for the important things and I am sure would bend over backwards to help if a need arises. What an example to me and everyone else in her life! You see, generosity need not be in the form of a dollar bill. Sure, it’s sweet to pick up the tab at lunch. But not everyone can afford to do that and that’s okay. Just the action of driving out of your way for someone speaks volumes. It shows you are offering what you can to someone you care for. And in my opinion, these simple gestures are a very important exercise to practice in order to distinguish yourself as frugal rather than one who relies on others to provide her various needs. What a small and wonderful adjustment we can all make in our lives starting today and what an impact it can have on those around us! You may not be a mooch at all, but we can all afford to be more giving of our time, skills, resources and sometimes money.