Sometimes, being a staff member of Human Diaries is even more wonderful than usual. Monday, 8/10/15, was one of those days for me. I enjoy writing on its own, but that day I had a rare opportunity to interview one of my idols. Jeff Yeager was named “The Ultimate Cheapskate” by Matt Lauer, and for good reason. Despite the negative connotation that some ascribe to the term, being a ‘cheapskate’ is really just being smart. Really smart. We all work hard, and almost no one ever has ‘enough’ money. Why should we waste our hard earned money that we spend so much of our time and effort to obtain? Also, why spend all of our time either making money, or worrying about money? This is why I really admire Jeff Yeager. He’s made a name and a lifestyle out of pretty much the opposite of what the majority of people do!
As a representative of Human Diaries, I was honored to be the one to receive Jeff’s call for the interview. The man, despite his fame, is very personable and down to earth. He talked with me, not to me. He shared his philosophy, and it made me want to emulate him even more than before. He made me laugh, and even laughed at my jokes and anecdotes. I felt more at ease, and less nervous than I had expected. He seems to be a very genuine person, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.
Jeff Yeager has done many things. He is an author and public speaker, and has been featured frequently in the media. He’s been on tv and radio shows, and has dozens of videos on his YouTube channel. He served various nonprofit organizations. He teaches us how to have a better life by spending and consuming less. He is both informative and entertaining!
Normally, we start our interview with, “Please tell us a little bit about yourself”, but I told him it seemed unnecessary in his case. I asked if there was something he wanted people to know about him, though, that wasn’t already common knowledge. He said he likes to use his sense of humor to hopefully engage people to spread his message. He said he believes that most Americans would be happier and have a higher quality of life if they spent and consumed less. He said he thought about his grandparents living through the Great Depression, and how they seem happier with less stuff. He said it’s not really about sacrifice and depravation.
I particularly loved one thing he said; something that really spoke to me. It seems so simple, yet incredibly profound. He said he encourages people to ask themselves, “What would ‘enough’ look like for you?” It’s best to ask yourself that earlier in life. How will you know if and when you will ever ‘arrive’? I agree when he says that people endlessly race after more and more.
I asked him if he enjoys what he does. He said he does, or he wouldn’t do it. Think about that for a minute. How many people can say the same thing about their lives? Mr. Yeager calls himself “selfishly employed” because he isn’t exactly retired, but he has enough financial freedom to do what he wants – and he added that sometimes people pay him to do it! He said it’s best to do something that you love. You don’t have to try to make good things happen – they’ll come to you.
Mr. Yeager loves to travel, and is currently spending precious time with family. He hopes to travel more in the future.
He said it’s good to have more control over your life, and that people have more control over their lives than they realize. Too many choices we make are driven by money. He says that people are driven by a desire for more things. People claim that everything costs more, but he says that is false. Adjusted for inflation, most things actually cost less than they did 20, 30, or 40 years ago, but we want bigger houses, and more things. He said that he’s no social scientist, but we’re less happy than we were when we had less.
Pinching pennies isn’t the same as what he’s telling us. Saving money is a good thing, but perhaps we should consider just not buying things in the first place. Not only does buying fewer things save us money, but it’s also good for the environment.
I think his philosophy is a very good one, and one that can be eased into gradually. We can all make small changes over time, and let it gain momentum.
He talked about two other interesting topics. One is the fear tactics that are used to make people so afraid of everything and everybody. He asked what if, perhaps, the world is not as scary as we think? Of course there are exceptions to that in some areas, but statistically, the world has never been safer than it is now. He said that we’re sold this bill of goods about safety and protecting ourselves. He said it’s a myth that the world is scary. Of course there are some exceptions, but I agree with him.
The other topic he mentioned was cell phones. He’s never had one, and never plans to get one. He said that he’s been fine without one, despite traveling all over. People claim they get them for safety reasons, but he said he’s never overheard any important conversations. He’s never heard people calling for an emergency; most conversations start with something like, “so, what’s up with you?” – which made me laugh. I admitted that my cell phone makes me feel safer, but that the closest I come to an important conversation is something along the lines of letting my husband know we need bread, too, when he’s at the store buying milk! That got a little laugh out of him. His story beat mine, though. He said once when he went to vote, he noticed a lady talking on her cell phone. The poll worker told her it was her turn to go to the voting booth, but she’d need to hang up her phone first, because it’s against the law to be on the phone in the voting booths in Maryland. He said the woman argued with the poll worker, finally saying, “but, but, but,… how will I know who to vote for?” I agree with him that it’s not good that people feel they can’t make a decision without input from others! He also made a joke that maybe she thought she was on a game show, and was calling a friend for help with a question!
I recommend doing some research about Jeff Yeager and his ideas. I have long been a fan, but I would like to dive more into his philosophies, and incorporate more of his techniques into my life. I feel we could all benefit from his advice!