Last week we upgraded our internet to fiber. After completion, the landline rang, and I saw the name of the caller flash across the phone screen. Shocked, I asked my husband what had happened. When moving to the area some fifteen years ago, we had declined caller-ID because I thought it cost too much. Apparently, our new contract with the telephone cooperative includes the fiber and telephone bundle, which automatically comes with caller -ID. I must admit it is a nice touch in the era of robocalls.

Thriftiness must be in the genes I inherited from my German great-great-grandfather. Even my ninety-six-year-old grandmother, who died with $60,000 in the bank, showed a streak of cheapness. She re-used plastic bread wrappers rather than purchase plastic bags, and held out on a color TV long after they were a household staple. I have long assumed her behavior stemmed from experiences during the Great Depression. Now, I’m not so sure.

Apparently, cheapness is making a comeback. Millennials are buying into the movement called F. I. R. E.—Financial Independence Retire Early. The idea is to save fast and early so you can step down while you’re still able to enjoy yourself.  

The goal:  1) save between fifty to seventy percent of your income, 2) practice frugal living (minimalism), and 3) follow Warren Buffet’s investing advice by purchasing low-cost stock index funds. After ten years, retirement goals can be met. Buying into the idea that “money does not equate to happiness” and that a minimalist approach can actually provide for a vibrant life experience is a crucial part of the plan.

And to think that, as a young mother with small children, my therapist tried to rein in my cheap streak by suggesting I spend some money on myself! Which, of course, I managed to do since it was doctor’s orders. While I still remain frugal, I think I’ve been cured of downright cheapness.

Maybe, in hindsight, that wasn’t such a good idea.