The following post is from Melissa Batai
Benjamin Franklin espoused frugality when he said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Indeed, many people from generations past set stock by frugality. While our generation tends to be spendthrifts, there are still the frugal among us. However, you can be too frugal, especially when your penny-pinching ways interfere with the quality of your life.
How Frugality Can Negatively Affect Your Life
Frugality is generally a positive trait that can help you live a financially secure life. Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette in the ‘90s famously pinched pennies so she and her family could afford a house in Maine (with attached barn) while living on a tight military budget. However, you may be taking frugality too far if you experience any of these symptoms:
Feel Anxious or Depressed When You Spend Money
My daughter is like this. She rarely spends money, but when she does, she thinks hard and long before doing so. After she has bought said item, she ALWAYS has buyer’s remorse and feels bad about buying it. Sometimes she’ll even cry over the purchase. She’s only in middle school now, so hopefully she will outgrow this as she gets older.
Reflecting carefully before making a purchase is a good trait, but if you agonize over a purchase and feel sad afterward, you may be too frugal.
Avoid Meeting Basic Necessities
Some extremely frugal people try to avoid spending money by not meeting their basic needs. They may do without three meals a day to save money on food. When they do buy food, they may not have a well-balanced diet because they limit themselves to the cheapest foods they can buy. They may not make repairs to their house because they cost too much money. This can eventually result in their homes becoming unsafe.
If you live like this, you’re too frugal, and it is likely affecting your well-being.
Avoid Meeting Social Expectations & Doing Your Fair Share
We’ve all experienced people who don’t do their fair share. Maybe it’s a friend who always wants to car pool with you but never offers to drive his own car or to give money for gas. I had a relative who would come to every family potluck and bring a sliced cucumber as her dish. Not a veggie platter, but one sliced cucumber. Meanwhile, she enjoyed the foods that others brought.
These people are not recognized as frugal, but rather as cheap. If you go to a potluck, you don’t have to bring the most expensive dish, but you should contribute fully like everyone else.
Avoid Spending on Life Experiences
Life is meant to be enjoyed. That doesn’t mean you should embrace the YOLO (you only live once) mentality and throw all caution to the wind. However, you should get out and enjoy life within your frugal framework. If you can’t do that, you may be living too frugally.
Frugality is an admirable trait that can bring people financial independence. However, if you’re frugal just for frugality’s sake and you can’t enjoy your life or choose not to meet your basic needs and social obligations, you may be too frugal.
My Question for You
What do you consider too frugal? Have you ever struggled with being too frugal or known someone who was?