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.

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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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.

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

Post by wolf » Fri May 25, 2018 12:42 pm

Wie man mit 30 nicht mehr arbeiten muss

another news article on a widely spread media website. The title of the article could be translated with "How you don't have to work by 30". It is about MMM.

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

Post by Campitor » Sun May 27, 2018 10:46 am

I'm not surprised by the negative comments. I suspect a lack of negative comments would be unusual in any country or culture. It's common to hear and see accusations of negative actions and outcomes levied against people who've amassed enough capital to give themselves choices.

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

Post by sky » Sun May 27, 2018 4:28 pm

Identity is closely tied to profession in Germany. One's status and place in the hierarchy of German culture was based on one's union or professional organization. Pension and health insurance programs were originally managed by one's union or professional organization, as were one's housing and social opportunities (in many cases).

In this culture of identity by profession, a person that dares to step out of the working world is not only turning his back on the 9 to 5 workday, but also turning his back on membership in the common social groups that make up traditional German culture. The culture has changed and is rapidly changing, but peoples minds are still in the same mindset of looking at a person and defining that person by their profession.

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

Post by Sarouel » Mon May 28, 2018 7:22 am

Actually i think it's starting to change...
You know, within the last month there were three articles of fire in mainstream media (focus, welt and bento i think), while last year we had none?
And you start to meet fire-interested people on parties etc. (mostly digital nomads/fire in asia-types)

I guess it might change, if there is wall street crash.

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

Post by thrifty++ » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:15 pm

I am a little surprised you consider those countries more conservative and USA less so. I would have thought it was more the other way around. USA seems more conservative than other western countries to me in so many ways. The prevalence of religion stands out. Also the connected very high prevalence of male circumcision which is truly bizarre.

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

Post by I(E)reland » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:26 pm

Couldn't agree more. Definitely seems wrong way around.

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

Post by Chris » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:18 pm

thrifty++ wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:15 pm
USA seems more conservative than other western countries to me in so many ways. The prevalence of religion stands out.
Depends on the lens you look through. True, no country has more megachurches than the US. But it's also the birthplace of Tinder and Grindr. And also the the global porn delivery network known as the Internet.

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

Post by thegreatvoid » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:20 am

I live in one of the three countries described above. I would love to share my progress in this forum , but I am pretty sure the authorities are monitoring my posts and as there is no free-speech in Germay/ Austria , I dont feel safe sharing my thoughts.

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

Post by wolf » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:16 pm

And there is another article about FIRE in the news. This time without comments. Slowly, FIRE becomes mainstream in the media.
http://www.general-anzeiger-bonn.de/new ... 63595.html

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

Post by wolf » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:24 am

... and "they did it again". Another article about FIRE. If anyone is still interested to read it ;)
It is even so popular that they build a blog around it, called "Young-Money-Blog".
Mit 45 aufhören zu arbeiten? So könnte der Ausstieg klappen

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