Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

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wolf
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Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by wolf » Thu May 10, 2018 12:20 am

This german article catched my eye. It is about a man who FIRE'd within his 40s. He talks about living frugally and saving a great part of his income for years. Now he works as a financial consultant for private persons in his free time.

Of course he also wanted to use this media coverage to advertise his financial consultant gig, another part was very interesting: the comments. As German readers can see the comments and reactions to this man, they are mostly (very) negative. There are only a few neutral to positive comments. Why is that I wonder? Is it the same in other german-speaking countries, like Austria and Swiss?

I think there is a cultural difference between european/conservative countries (e.g. Germany) and more open societies like USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand... This is I guess about living a lifestyle (in this case frugally and FIRE'd) against the current norm. In Germany it is about work, work, work, earn, earn, spend... And my feeling is that nobody accepts to live against the rules and expectations of the (german) society. Therefore I envy more open and individualistic societies, like the countries I mentioned above.

If you are interested reading it, you can find it here:
Mit Mitte 40 in den Ruhestand: Frugalisten sparen mit eisernen Methoden

I try to recite some of the negative comments.
One thinks he (the FIRE'd man) can't live happily because he doesn't spend as much as he could.
Another one criticizes, that he is single and childless and that a family isn't ever be able to live frugally.
Another one thinks, that he won't be happy in his 70s when he looks back to now.
Another one thinks, that he isn't living up his full potential.
Another one thinks, that when the next financial crisis hits, he will lose all of his possesions and therefore has to live on the cost of society.
etc. people sometime comment only on assumptions. Many of them have a very negative resentment.

When I read the comments, I think of the commenters with different wheaton-levels, envy, resentment, negative life satisfaction, unhappiness, less creativity, ... It is sad.

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Seppia
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Re: Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by Seppia » Thu May 10, 2018 2:07 am

I don't think you would get a much different reaction anywhere other than maybe in some 2.5th/3rd world areas where work and "owning stuff" is not considered a virtuous thing in itself.

If i recall correctly, the comments to the first mainstream articles on MMM / Go Curry Cracker and others on american media were mostly negative/dismissive/incredulous as well.

oldbeyond
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Re: Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by oldbeyond » Thu May 10, 2018 2:07 am

I think there is a scale of individualism <--------> collectivism with the Anglo-Saxon countries on the left, East Asia to the right and Europe in the middle(only considering advanced economies here). Germany is likely a bit further to the right compared to the Nordics, too. That said, those comments sounds a lot like what Jacob/MMM gets in US mainstream media, or what a lot of our fellow US ERE:rs report receiving from friends and family. It's part Wheaton-dynamics, part people wanting absolution from responsibility("there's no other way than the median, that's what you'll get"), deep down knowing they have a choice.

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Fish
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Re: Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by Fish » Thu May 10, 2018 2:37 am

It's very similar to the types of comments found in mainstream English-language media, see for example this article (click "view reactions" to show comments): https://finance.yahoo.com/news/26-old-b ... 16205.html

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jennypenny
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Re: Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by jennypenny » Thu May 10, 2018 3:14 am

For a while it seemed like ERE/FIRE/etc was becoming more mainstream. Lately, though, it seems like things are swinging back the other way. FW might agree with me.

I used to talk about ERE more but I don't mention it much now unless someone asks. I prefer being one of the stealthy wealthy to avoid any negativity. You can't win in those discussions anyway ... people are simultaneously angry that you have money yet think you're stupid for not spending it. :roll:

@Fish -- The comments in that article are nasty and ignorant. I don't know why I'm always surprised by that. :(

phil
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Re: Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by phil » Thu May 10, 2018 5:28 am

I think it is wrong to assume that comments to an article are representative of what society thinks. Comments tend to be negative, regardless of what the article is about. 'Positive' comments are usually just replies to negative ones...

As for the article, well, it mostly seems to confirm the stereotype that one can only retire early if one takes extreme measures and gives up on 'living'. Hence the example of the man asking his guests not to flush the toilet for too long :roll: No mention of not buying new cars, buying second-hand furniture, or other measures that actually make a big difference.

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Re: Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by jacob » Thu May 10, 2018 7:17 am

wolf wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 12:20 am
I try to recite some of the negative comments.
One thinks he (the FIRE'd man) can't live happily because he doesn't spend as much as he could.
Another one criticizes, that he is single and childless and that a family isn't ever be able to live frugally.
Another one thinks, that he won't be happy in his 70s when he looks back to now.
Another one thinks, that he isn't living up his full potential.
Another one thinks, that when the next financial crisis hits, he will lose all of his possesions and therefore has to live on the cost of society.
etc. people sometime comment only on assumptions. Many of them have a very negative resentment.
These were exactly the kind of Frequently Raised Objections I got back in the early days. Not just in mainstream media but even a lot of the rest of the personal finance community dismissed the idea. Now 10 years later, the tone in the US has changed a lot. More people have become familiar with what FIRE is, and the media (both mainstream and social) coverage has become relentless.

Presuming those objections mostly come from the "tl;dr-have opinion anyway" reader-types, it's one thing to dismiss the idea if they read an article about a person every couple of years. But now there's an article about new person or a new couple in the paper or on TV continually.

So it's possible that Germany is at the early stage of this evolution.

wolf
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Re: Negative sentiment in society against living frugally in Germany (Austria, Swiss)

Post by wolf » Thu May 10, 2018 1:14 pm

@phil: true, it is not very representative of what society thinks.
@jacob: there has been only a few articles about FIRE lately in the mainstream media, although there are many PF-blogs. There is a saying in Germany, that trends in the US will come to Europe some time later. Maybe it is the beginning of an evolution.

Either way, I am in "stealth wealth" mode.

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