Get Rich Slick has a great post contrasting those who are capitalistic and those who are frugal. In it he points out all the advantages of capitalism and all the negatives of being frugal. There are two sides to every story, so allow me to try to tell that story. Let’s take the stanza’s in turn:
1) Researching to save a dollar vs. researching to earn a dollar – That extra dollar will be taxed, so the capitalist will probably need to earn 30% more than the frugalist. The dollar a frugalist saves is typical a 100% guaranteed savings. The dollar that a capitalist earns is likely brought on with increased risk, that over the long run, might turn into a loss.
2) Buying used vs. buying new – A smart frugalist realizes that by saving money, she/he can get two items. The frugalist also realizes that he/she is doing something to save the environment by reusing. The capitalist buying new all the time can over-extend themselves, especially if those investments turn south. The capitalist consumes and consumes without heed of what it might be doing to the environment.
3) Frugalist using rebates, discounts, and sales to save vs. Capitalist paying full price – The frugalist realizes that companies wouldn’t have rebates, discounts and sales unless it helps them. It is the company that decides to offer these things. Again, the capitalist over-extends himself, but justifies it by “helping the economy.”
4) Frugalists view of capitalists and vice versa – This probably stems from the capitalists wasteful nature. If that is not considered, a frugalist will not deride and go with the same explanation. He may say something like, “You can get (3) 42″ plasmas for the price of (1) 46” LCD.
5) Car buying – A frugalist realizes that used cars have to go somewhere and if they are not bought they go to landfills. He also realizes that a car is a depreciating investment and would prefer to put his money in more investments. Capitalists don’t typically consider the overall economy in a purchase, they are looking for a way in which they can make more money for themselves.
6) Pennies – I agree on this point, but don’t see any advantage or disadvantage to either.
7) Spent time – The frugalist will be happy about the better world he has left behind, having twice as much as the capitalist, and have no debt. The capitalist risks ending up like Casey Serin, unable to sleep at night because the investments didn’t work out as planned.
I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I don’t think that these belief systems are mutual exclusive. It’s possible to be a frugal capitalist. In fact, that’s what I’d classify myself as.