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In this video, Chelsea shares her unfiltered thoughts on the seemingly increasing trend of being not just frugal, but cheap. Click here to join the $4.99 tier of The Society at TFD and get immediate access to our members-only bonus content:

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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is brought to you by my own fabulous tweets.

Now, you guys know that if I love one thing on this channel, it is taking a thought that I randomly shared on social media or in a passing comment and another video and making it into a full fledged rant. And this is actually one of these topics that I come back to frequently on Twitter. I recently tweeted about it, which is what kind of inspired me to have this talk today because it did kick off a little bit of discussion.

When I tweeted it but I've also tweeted about similar things before, and it is something I think about a lot. Because in all of the sociological research that we do for TFD, in all of these videos and all of the content we create, a very common theme has started to stick out to me, and that is how increasingly lonely and socially isolated Americans are. Now, there's a whole lot to unpack in this data and we'll get into that a little bit in the video.

But I want to talk about what I feel like is a pretty under explored aspect of the phenomenon of isolation. And that is what I personally believe is our increasing social validation and even kind of fetishization of being quite frankly pretty fucking selfish, and also in many ways stingy and cheap. And not cheap just in terms of money, although sometimes that is the case too and we'll get into that, but also cheap with our time, cheap with our energy, cheap with our consideration, cheap with how we're happy with others, how we make them feel, how we lift them up.

And I want to talk today here about what I believe is the sort of living generously mindset, not to be confused with stuff like The Secret or whatever or Money Manifesting or prosperity gospel because that doesn't work and it's not a replacement for financial advice, versus what I would consider to be a cheap mindset. And again, cheap spiritually, not just cheap in terms of money. Over the past several years, and I would consider this like somewhat a bit of the nuclear fallout from Tumblr and that whole approach to mental health, but it's rampant, there has been an enormous focus on what I personally consider to be extremely self-centered visions of human relationships.

We have all kinds of articles and viral tweets referring to things like just having basic compassion and presence for a friend as performing emotional labor, which like just let's be clear that is not what emotional labor means. Emotional labor is like the fact that service workers have to smile and pretend to be your friend while you degrade and hit on them and then still leave them with a terrible tip at the end of their service because otherwise they'll get fired. That's emotional labor.

Going to visit your friend because her cat died is just called being a human being. But we also have, and I would consider this a partial outcropping of the huge like introvert industrial complex that was also massive on the internet in the mid 2010s, which by the way, I was writing for like a viral internet website at the time, and let me tell you that introvert content was worth its weight in gold at that time. We have all kinds of relatable viral content about how it's not just awesome but somehow quasi-holistic to do things like cancel plans at the last minute, not show up to events, not return phone calls, or even get on the phone with someone who needs to talk to you.

Now I can already hear you guys cracking your knuckles to type at me in the comments about how some people have various mental health concerns that lead them to have a very difficult time with things like punctuality, or speaking on the phone, or being in crowded spaces. I get all that. I want to be clear that we need to make a distinction here between preserving one's mental health and just kind of being a dickhead, and that we need to be a little bit more honest as a society about when we're conflating the latter with the former.

Because even if there are a lot of social situations and contexts that give you a lot of trouble, the entire concept of consideration and caring for another person is that you find workarounds that work for both parties so that the other person knows that they are being seen and cared for while you're also protecting your own mental health. And I'm sorry, but bailing on a friend at the very last minute for something that was important to them, and then talking on Twitter about how awesome that feels to do is not mental health care. And we haven't just gotten into this valorization of being incredibly selfish with your time and energy.

We're also in a generation that has seen the meteoric rise of money transfer apps like Venmo and PayPal, where we've gotten into this habit of constantly charging each other for everything and counting every dollar between friends and loved ones down to things like people charging their friends for ingredients after they invited them over to what appeared to be a normal dinner party, or send them itemized bills for trips that you invited them to, or going back and forth charging each other for the same cup of coffee over and over again until you both die, I guess. And, again, to be clear, I work in personal finance. I understand how valuable these kinds of apps are I use them all the time for all sorts of purposes, some of them social.

And obviously, they're very helpful to helping us pay each other easily or minimize how many checks the poor overworked waiter has to divide your bill into, or more intelligently split costs of people are working with different budgets and buying different things and not having to pretend like it's all even when one of you had literally a soda and an appetizer and someone else had four courses and four alcoholic drinks. I get all that. But the culture of charging each other for every little thing and itemizing almost every single purchase between loved ones similarly erodes what is, in my opinion, a very important, yes I have to be honest, quasi-spiritual practice between loved ones which is the joy of being able to treat each other.

In a good and healthy relationship over the course of time, this act of treating each other will generally balance out, especially to be representative of people's relative financial privilege. And if it's not and one party is constantly being exploited or expected to pay for things, obviously that's a separate issue. But in a good relationship, the goal shouldn't be to make sure that everything is perfectly even at all times.

Treating one another is about showing each other a spontaneous sense of love and affection, wanting to make sure that the other person feels special and cared for, even over something small. Just the other day, I was out with a good friend and I went to go get the bill. We had a pretty decadent lunch honestly, and she was like absolutely not, I won't hear a word of that.

You've been treating for several things lately, it's my pleasure. I want to get this. Is it exactly even to the cent of how much we've paid for each other?

I don't know. Did it feel awesome to have that moment of being treated just like I knew it felt awesome the times I treated her? Yes, absolutely.

And if everything were constantly a matter of charging each other over every little penny, which for the record, we also do money transfers all the time for other things, like when we go on trips together, or going in on a gift together, or have a birthday or some other event, we would lose the magic and what is ultimately again a display of affection. But I do believe that miserly attitude isn't just limited to the financial or the social like we talked about before. I think all of these things are starting to coalesce into what I consider to be, again, through the large amount of sociological research we've done here at TFD, to be a bit of a rising American culture of hyper self-centeredness.

Now a lot of this is a response from us all living under capitalism with diminishing economic prospects and limited time to offer. And I totally understand that financial privilege, as well as things like your current lifestyle, for example, if you have several kids or dependents versus if you don't, all of these contribute to the amount you're able to give of yourself or think of others. But I'm someone who I'll admit I think errs quite a bit to the side of being a little bit overly generous or accommodating.

Giving gifts are my love language. I have a calendar full of other people's important days that I like to remember. I generally love to make other people feel welcomed and special.

I love to host people. All of that is very important to me. But I would actually make the point of it that I do believe that attitude is not inherently financial in nature.

I am more financially privileged now but I didn't used to be. And trust me that I was in some ways even more generous proportionally with my stuff when I was broke. And I do believe, and a lot of the studies actually bear this out, that part of the reason these things have been important to me is because I grew up low income.

It was instilled in me from my absolute youngest age that although I might never have the designer clothes another person might have or go to the fancy schools another person might, that one thing that is always free and accessible is having good manners, saying thank you, making other people feel seen and listened to and remembered, being considerate. And it actually isn't anecdotal that in general, people with less to spend actually do tend to be more generous proportionally. They share more with their neighbors.

They give more to charity. And we dive into that in a huge way in our recent video about why rich people sociologically become assholes. And it is hard sometimes to tell what is the chicken or the egg in this scenario because, like I mentioned, we are living in a generation where economically we're worse off than our parents.

We have diminishing wages and rising inequality and in many ways we're sold huge lies about things like taking on student debt or entering into a housing market that has hugely outpaced our ability to save. And in fact, many people who grew up low income often enter a hyper scarcity mindset for themselves while still allowing themselves to be generous with others because they've accumulated such negative ideas about spending on themselves through their childhood. We did a whole members only bonus video just on the scarcity mindset and how to combat it.

It's our bonus video for this month and you can check it out at the link in our description or by hitting our join button and joining our society at TFD at the $4.99 a month tier. You'll get access to all kinds of other awesome perks of being a member, including things like all of our other bonus videos, our live monthly office hours with me, and plenty of other awesome stuff. So check it out.

But we also in an increasingly atomized society. We don't live as much intergenerationally. We stick to our nuclear single family homes that are getting bigger over time even as our families are getting smaller.

Statistically, Americans are having fewer and fewer close friends as they age, especially men. And it's very easy to see how under these conditions, the easiest response socially, financially emotionally could feel to lean into being even more self-centered and even more cheap, and to really focus on the self and perhaps maybe your immediate nuclear family as the ultimate entity to care for or think about. But there is also a self-fulfilling prophecy in that spiritual stinginess ultimately manifesting in fewer connections as we age.

This is also one of the primary reasons as we discussed in that recent video why the wealthier tend to have way less empathy. They just don't need connections as much. They don't have to give a shit about anyone with themselves and their little kids.

But it is only in accepting that we as individuals are not the most important thing and that the greater community that we belong to and the connections that we have are just as important as we are that we can start to implement the social policies that we desperately need to combat all the massive economic and social erosion that we've seen over the past 40 years. Becoming more selfish and atomized only helps capitalism. And we can also see this so clearly in things like the girlboss phenomenon and the Instagram self care industrial complex, which I previously did a rant on because that sucks.

Because both of them are all about hyper centering the self, and not just the self generally but the immediate self at the expense of basically everything else. Doing what feels good, getting ahead, being super self motivated and interested in opportunistic. And it's not just about doing those things but about reframing them as a kind of moral good.

In the girlboss realm, a woman pursuing an executive title is in and of itself some kind of a win for women as a whole even if women overall at that company are materially worse off with her in power, which happened at a lot of those girlboss companies. Or in the world of Instagram self-care, where it's all about centering yourself in every emotional and social interaction, and thinking in terms of what you want and how you feel, and never about considering the other person. And both of these things rarely take into consideration how often our biggest moments of professional and personal growth come specifically when we de-center ourselves and center other people.

For example, the best opportunities for work often come in things like facilitating, networking, mentoring, advocating for others, putting other people up for opportunities, on top of-- let's be honest-- the good that it does for your actual soul. And many times the biggest moments of growth that will realize in our emotional lives come from when we accept that we're not the only person in a given situation, and that it may be just as important for us to accept and learn what we might have done wrong as it is to call out what someone else might have done. In general, I do feel that we have created a cultural obsession with the self that comes at the expense of basically everyone else and everything else if we're being honest.

And I do think that all of this is connected, the hyper-stinginess with money, the erosion of things like gift giving or having vibrant social communities and living intergenerationally. And again none of this is to dismiss all of the real economic concerns or the fact that for many of us, we simply have a lot less time to work with. We have to work longer hours to make less money and that's doubly true if you have children where in most cases parents are increasingly both forced to work outside the home.

But our sense of community in the United States has in a very real way been decreasing over the past 40 years. We are losing connections with each other. And centering people other than yourself and thinking of how you can be generous with others as much as you are generous with yourself is not just about feeling like a good person or having a lot of friends.

It's also about feeling like part of a community, which is the bedrock of good social policy. For example, you're a lot more likely to care if all of the women around you are able to access comprehensive and humane maternity leave if you actually talk to some moms every now and again. I'm not a mom, don't plan to be a mom.

But mom's problems are my problems because I live in a society with these women and I want them in their children to be well taken care of. But I also, and I must be honest here as I said in my initial tweet, I do believe that switching to a more generous mindset leads you directly to a more abundant life. We are often not asking ourselves enough questions.

How am I making someone else feel special? Are there skills and resources I have professionally that I could be helping others with? What are ways in which I'm showing up or being a reliable friend or loved one?

Am I the type of person that people can trust or feel will actually listen to them to be empathetic or to apologize when I messed up? Do I remember people's special moments and treat them in a way that's affordable to me? Am I being a generous person in ways that extend well beyond money?

And as I said in that tweet, if you do have a lot of financial privilege, that better be applying to money itself as well. There are many spiritual traditions in the world that believe that the truest forms of joy and fulfillment come from when we absolutely de-center ourselves. And capitalism, girlboss-ification, Instagram mental health, Venmo, and all this other stuff has really come together to make a noxious cloud of what is in it for me as general mode of being.

It's not The Secret, it's not Money Manifesting, it's not any of those things. But live generously and live considerately and I bet you you'll start to see that coming back to you in spades. Also don't be cheap.

If you have the money, don't be cheap. It's so tacky. I have so many anecdotes I'm not going to go into here.

But trust me, someone recently in my life who has a eff-ton of money did the cheapest thing to someone I also know very well who doesn't have as much money. And I was like, I will lose sleep over this for a month. This is the tackiest thing I've ever heard.

I'm going to call the cops on her. Anyway, that's my rant. Live abundantly.

Bye, guys.