I was having lunch with a group of people recently, and the conversation spanned different topics. Given that the group was big, there were several conversations going on simultaneously in different subgroups. A few of the people were talking about money, and believe it or not I was not one of them!
However, it did catch my attention when they were talking about saving money and making characterizations about people that are frugal. I couldn’t help myself, and just had to chime in.
So, they were talking about some furniture one of the women in the group had recently purchases. As a deal-seeker, she had apparently combined a coupon and another discount, along with timing a sale, in order to get an extreme deal on a furniture purchase. I think it was a kitchen table for $30 or something crazy like that.
The person telling the story – we’ll call her “Amy” – was telling another person we’ll call “Jessica” about how she managed to pull it off. Jessica was a captive audience, with eyes wide and an eagerly attentive expression as she listened to the story.
Jessica was praising Amy for her shopping and deal-finding skills, seeming impressed and more or less saying that she didn’t know anyone who could get bargains like that. Amy then proceeded to say that she knew another person like that, and it was a guy she once knew. She shared a story about how he was very conscious of turning lights off in his home unless he was truly using them, in order to save on electricity.
However, she said that it annoyed her that he was so focused on saving – that he made enough money that he shouldn’t have been so much of a penny pincher. At that point, Jessica seemed to clock on to an important detail in Amy’s story
“Wait – a GUY did that???” Jessica exclaimed, seemingly stunned.
“Yeah, he did! And it was totally annoying after a while.” Amy responded.
At that point, I was intrigued by the conversation. So I turned from the side conversation I was having, and jumped into ask with a friendly smile, “why did that annoy you that he was so interested in saving money when you’re that way too?”
After all, it would seem like a match made in heaven, so to speak! Frugal woman meets frugal man, to live happily ever after in penny pinching bliss!
Amy said that it was annoying because if he was that picky about spending money, then what else would he be picky about? She said that it just seemed like he might be more likely to be “mean” than a guy who was less uptight about a few dollars.
“Really?” I responded.
At that point, Jessica jumped in with a look that an aunt would give her young nephew, when trying to explain some life lesson that he should know. Never mind that I think I’m older than the two people I was speaking to, but that’s beside the point.
Jessica proceeded to say, “It’s just…really unattractive for a guy to be so interested in saving money like that.”
“Isn’t it the same then for women to be like that?” I asked.
“It’s not that simple” exclaimed Amy. “It’s not an apples-to-apples thing” she added.
At this point, I realized that I should just drop the topic and move on with a smile, which I did.
You can understand why this caught my attention: I’m clearly a frugal guy! You might remember a recent post how I said that a better term for frugal or cheap is “smart“. And I enjoy being this way, and think that it’s no different for a man to be interested in saving than it would be for a woman to be the same way. But naturally I’ll say that, right?
It got me thinking though….while most of us realize that it’s good to be smart with money, and part of that includes sensible spending, why is it that guys who watch dollars are perceived this way? As I said, I’m one of those guys : )
Most guys that I know would view it as a real positive quality if their girlfriend, or wife, was careful with spending. Not over the top, and not averse to having fun. But simply sensible. Which is why it’s quite interesting and amusing how these ladies saw it as annoying when the shoe was on the other foot.
My Questions for You
Why is it that there is stereotyping when it comes to gender roles and money?
What do you think of men or women that are frugal?