Is There Morality In Personal Finance?

A while back, my blogger friend and fellow GRS writer Holly Johnson wrote about  a healthy dose of lifestyle inflation. In that article, someone made a side point that there shouldn't be morality in personal finance - it should be about practicality.

Within the comments, there was a brief but interesting dialogue going on about this topic - morality and personal finance. I thought it was really interesting and worth expanding on more, as it prompted me to give this topic a lot of thought.

I agree that it helps to think of personal finance and frugality in practical, functional terms.  What's the investment of this purchase? How much is my time worth? What is the cost/benefit of something?

But I also think money matters have some place in morals. Benjamin Franklin listed frugality as a virtue, after all.

And I also came across this quote in a book:

“Advocacy in favor of thrift can be roughly divided into two types: traditional, religiously based appeals that classify consumption in terms of vice and virtue, and pragmatic appeals couched in the language of social mobility, budgeting, and financial management.” (Lauren Weber, “In Cheap We Trust”).

I really like this quote, but I'd like to think  thrift can be a combination of both virtue and pragmatism. I view thrift as a practical way to manage finances, but at least for me, it's also a concept based on something more virtuous than my budget.

Money teaches life lessons

A lot of financial lessons are life lessons, too. The very philosophy of this site a good example of that. We're founded partly on the idea that there is no “get rich quick” scheme. Financial freedom takes hard work and patience, and I think that can be a useful lesson for other life goals.