Friday, August 26, 2011

The Frugal Thinker in Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs will always be remembered for the consumer revolution he led at Apple, creating new markets, new marketplaces, and new objects to market. He will be remembered for making Apple one of the most profitable enterprises ever. What he probably will not be remembered for is the frugality he practiced at a personal level, not in terms of his cost of living or allowances he drew at Apple, but in terms of his business concepts and design principle. While his 1$ paycheck will be taken by many as a pointer toward frugality, no one is going to miss the several hundred thousand that has been spent annually as his personal expenses. However, there is frugal madness in his method that we can adopt in our personal lives, something that is easy to miss in the glitter of the iThing story.

From the early days of the Mac, his focus has been on simplicity, minimalism, and frugality - inside, outside and in the packaging and presentation of each of Apple’s offerings. He has taken the principles of modern marketing and used them in conjunction with his personal style to deliver product launches and presentations in a truly simple and minimalist style. Even at a product development level, he has eliminated complexity by making himself a single point of approval for all design related decisions. He has established the value that can come even to a profit oriented corporate entity by adopting the principles of frugality and simplicity.

While frugality might be a theory that we wish to practice "some day," we can start by adopting the principles of frugality in our daily lives. Here are a few things we can do without appearing to adopt frugality as a way of life that will add value to our time and energy.

1. Declutter
Keep an hour aside this weekend to attack the physical clutter that is around the house. Do a quick sweep of each room, spending no more than five minutes picking things up and putting them back where they belonged. Identify stuff that has been lying around and will never be used and either give them away or trash them. Start by taking a small step each weekend to sort out one clutter area, and you will be surprised by how it frees up space in the house, as well as frees up your mind!

2. Unsubscribe
Look at all the subscriptions you have, magazines, newspapers, journals, electronic newsletters, RSS feeds, messages from groups and forums. Much of it piles up waiting for that "some day," and eventually gets trashed or deleted. Take a few minutes out to unsubscribe from the ones that you do not read. Your mailbox will breathe easier, and you will feel under less compulsion to do justice to them some day. You can do the same with your cable subscriptions. Review what you really watch and unsubscribe from the rest. You can do it right now.

3. Donate
Most people end up with stores full of stuff that are working but have fallen prey to the law of diminishing utility. Old gadgets, computers, laptops, peripheral, kitchen appliances, games that the kids have grown out of, the list is endless. You don't have the heart to throw them away, but neither do you have any use for them. You will be surprised to know that there are countless charities and NGOs that can use these items to help uplift the underprivileged.

Use these steps to simplify your life, your space and your thinking. As you persist in reflecting on your role in the future of the planet that you are going to leave for your kids, you will be strengthened in your determination to adopt more concrete steps to practice sustainable living.

If you liked this, you may also like:
5 Small but Significant Steps to Save Money
Save Money and Gas by Driving Efficiently
The Budget Kitchen

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