Can I get rich only if I spend less and deprive myself of Life’s Pleasures?

Last Updated on

When I tell people that I managed to invest close to three times of what I spend each month for the last ten years and this is key to becoming financial independence, there is a similar-sounding comment or question: If I invest so much, when will I spend money on the things that I love? When will I enjoy life? The assumption being that I deprived myself of the pleasures of life on the way to financial independence. Let us find out the answer to “Can I get rich only by spending less and depriving myself of life’s pleasures?” and the answer is not a simple yes or no.

If you have always wanted to buy something or do something like a bike or a DSLR, or a holiday, go ahead and buy or do it. Do not deprive yourself. The problem starts when people start purchasing new cameras/lenses every year, take holidays every six months and so on. Then there is a spending problem.

Even otherwise, there is a simple way to find out if there is a spending problem or not. List down all of your mandatory expenses: food, clothing, transport, phone bill, cable bill, etc. Call this X. Use a retirement calculator such as this app: freefincal retirement calculator (Google play link) and find out the investment amount necessary for sustaining your current lifestyle in future. You can get some help on inputs from here:

Or, if you do not trust retirement calculators, DIY one yourself with these instructions:

Or you can trust me and safely assume that you need to invest at least 75% to 100% of X each month to sustain your current lifestyle. So, are you spending too much from your income? Yes, if you cannot invest that much from your current income. No, if you can comfortably manage to invest.

The logic is trivial. If money leaving you today will destroy your lifestyle and peace tomorrow, then you will have to stop that from happening or at the very least start with small changes.

So do not worry about getting rich in future. That is a big second step.  “Can I get rich only by spending less?” is not the right question. Start with, “can I maintain my lifestyle in future if I keep spending like this?” If you can’t do this, there is zero chance of your getting rich!

If you can invest enough to maintain your lifestyle today then the only way you can get rich – defined as more than enough money to meet your future expected and unexpected needs – is by ensuring that you do not increase your expenses as fast or faster than the rate at which your income grows. If you can do this and invest the surplus cash right, then you have a reasonably good chance of getting rich with some luck.

Finally, let us get to my case. I can assure you that I did not deprive myself of anything. I believe frugality is more an inborn trait, though it can be acquired by those who value logic. In my case, I was just born with it. If my heart tells me, “now, that would be nice to buy”, my mind would immediately start doing a cost-benefit analysis. If there is enough benefit, I would always buy.

A simple example is a low-carb lifestyle. I drink cream for breakfast often and eat almonds as an afternoon snack every day. These things are far from cheap. Our monthly vegetable budget is higher than average because that is all I eat for lunch and dinner. However, the benefits exceed the monetary value: losing weight and more importantly staying that way, proper cholesterol levels, healthy blood sugar, ability to handle Myasthenia Gravis (my autoimmune condition) better and so on. So it is a no-brainer in my case.

On the other hand, we still have a CRT-TV. Simply because we do not use TV anymore, all four members of our family – self, wife, son, mom – have their own pcs. So there is no need to have one just because it can give you a better “experience”. We do not change tech unless it is broken down beyond reasonable repair.

I travel by the most expensive way other than first-class flights (so far), just that I do not travel much. There is nothing deprived in my life in any way.  Just that I did not start making expensive spend the moment my income became a bit higher.  I invested the excess and only when I was comfortable that the cash flow situation is good did I choose to spend on something “big”. That is an instinct in my case.

Please do this above exercise if you have not already! Share this with a friend or colleague who may need to.

Do share if you found this useful

About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management.  He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Want to conduct a sales-free "basics of money management" session in your office?
I conduct free seminars to employees or societies. Only the very basics and getting-started steps are discussed (no scary math):For example: How to define financial goals, how to save tax with a clear goal in mind; How to use a credit card for maximum benefit; When to buy a house; How to start investing; where to invest; how to invest for and after retirement etc. depending on the audience. If you are interested, you can contact me: freefincal [at] Gmail [dot] com. I can do the talk via conferencing software, so there is no cost for your company. If you want me to travel, you need to cover my airfare (I live in Chennai)

Connect with us on social media

Content Policy

Freefincal has original unbiased, conflict-of-interest-free,  topical reports, reviews, commentary and analysis on all aspects of personal finance like mutual funds, stocks, insurance etc. All guest authors and contributors to the site also do not have any conflict of interest. If you find the content useful, please consider supporting us by (1) sharing our articles and (2) disabling ad-blockers for our site if you are using one. No promotional content We do not accept sponsored posts and link exchange requests from content writers and agencies. This is our privacy policy Our website is non-profit in nature. The revenue from the advertisement will only be used for hosting charges, domain registration charges, specific plugins necessary for traffic growth and analytics services for search engine optimisation.

Do check out my books

You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing

You can be rich too with goal based investingMy first book is meant to help you ask the right questions, seek the right answers and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.  It is also available in Kindle format.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You WantGamechanger: Forget Start-ups, Join Corporate and Still Live the Rich Life you wantMy second book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner

The ultimate guide to travel by Pranav Surya

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover This is a deep dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step.  Get the pdf for ₹199 (instant download)

Free Apps for your Android Phone

All calculators from our book, “You can be Rich Too” are now available on Google Play!
Install Financial Freedom App! (Google Play Store)
Install Freefincal Retirement Planner App! (Google Play Store)
Find out if you have enough to say "FU" to your employer (Google Play Store)

Blog Comment Policy

Your thoughts are vital to the health of this blog and are the driving force behind the analysis and calculators that you see here. We welcome criticism and differing opinions. I will do my very best to respond to all comments asap. Please do not include hyperlinks or email ids in the comment body. Such comments will be moderated and I reserve the right to delete the entire comment or remove the links before approving them.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *