Being Frugal With Other People’s Money

By Staff

I am always amazed to learn how many business executives are quick to spend “the company’s money,” but more frugal when it comes to their personal household budgets. But this phenomenon is certainly not limited to business people.

In fact, politicians probably do a better job (or worse, in this case) of spending other people’s money than anyone. I’ve even known some churches to operate this way, as well, with a church board or council quick to drive a congregation deep into debt by expanding their building, and then using tithes to serve interest payments on the debt.

This seems to be the ultimate hypocrisy to me, which is probably why I will never be asked to serve on any church boards!

I am frugal by nature, and save a few luxuries, don’t spend a lot of money on myself. But I am much more frugal with other people’s money.

I would much rather work in a spartan office than a lavish one.
I don’t expect a company to pay for my personal expenses that I’d have to pay anyway if I didn’t work there.

I have a theory that the less people have to work for the money they get to spend, the less frugal they are spending that money.

In other words, the general contractor out the door at 6:30am and hustling until dark to renovate properties for a living will be much more careful with his expenditures than a government agency funded by tax payers’ money negotiated by a 3rd-party lobbyist.

The Company Men

The other day I was home sick with a touch of flu. The only bright spot was getting to catch up on a couple movies. I didn’t remember hearing about The Company Men when it was released, but the cast seemed good and I liked the storyline.

The movie’s plot is taken directly from the headlines around the beginning of the financial crisis back in 2008. A large conglomerate with divisions in manufacturing, ship-building, healthcare, etc. is looking for ways to boost their stock price and turns to massive layoffs as a way to reduce costs.

While I understand layoffs are sometimes necessary to survive a downturn, or to eliminate “unnecessary reduncancies,” I think it should be a last resort. In the movie, the company’s CEO is in the middle of purchasing a renovating a new corporate high-rise, complete with an “executive” floor dedicated to the CEO/CFO offices, etc. He runs down the list of lavish amenities just after agreeing to lay off another 5,000 employees.

Related Reading: How to Survive a Layoff

I suppose some level of greed is part of human nature. Or maybe it is true that power does corrupt. Regardless, I think we all have a responsibility to be good stewards of money, especially money that doesn’t inherantly belong to us.

Do your frugal ways carry over to the office?