Don’t Let Frugality Take Over Your Life

For many people, finding ways to cut costs is essential for surviving a recession.  Many people take frugality to heart, but it is possible to go overboard.  Some people end up making sacrifices that don’t end up helping them in the long run.  Here are some things that you should think about before you become too obsessive about saving money:

  1. You don’t want to pay more by being frugal. This sounds counterintuitive, but many people feel that they can’t pass up a sale.  They end up hoarding or wasting many items they will never use.  Sales are great, but they work against you when they trick you into buying something you would never want otherwise.
  2. You compromise your ethics. We need to do what we can to get through the recession.  However, you need to know where to draw the line.  There are more important things than saving money.  Some people try to mooch off their friends who are even worse off than they are.  Others will do anything short of shoplifting from a goodwill store to get by.  We are in the middle of recession, but we haven’t devolved back to the Dark Ages.  Things aren’t so bad that you need to lie, cheat or manipulate people to be frugal.
  3. You put your health at risk. Do you eat foods that are past their expiration dates because you can’t stomach the thought of throwing them out?  These are choices that you need to cut out of your life right now.  Saving 80 cents on a can of beans is not worth a trip to the emergency room (especially if you don’t have health insurance).
  4. You forget the value of your time. I have heard stories of people who will literally clip coupons for hours on end.  After thirty hours worth of work, they may be able to find a hundred dollars worth of coupons off of products they intend to buy.  Surely, their time is worth more than three dollars an hour.  If you’re unemployed, it makes more sense to spend those hours trying to find a job.  If you have a job, it would make more sense to work overtime, pick up shifts or even a second job than to spend that much time cutting coupons.  What about your family?  Surely, your time with them is more important than a handful of coupons.
  5. You no longer find pleasure in life. Working on small budget doesn’t mean that you have to become depressed.  Sure, you need to make major changes when you have a new budget, but your budget needs to include pleasurable activities in your life.  It isn’t healthy to give up your social life or stop indulging yourself once in a while to save a few bucks here and there.  Just know what you can afford to spend and let other people know that you can’t get carried away if you go out.

Frugality is meant to make your life better.  Ideally, you would be able to cut costs without comprising too much of your happiness.  You need to assess your lifestyle and know if you are making unhealthy decisions just to save money.  Saving is great, but don’t go overboard.

Kalen Smith writes advice on insurance, finance and similar topics for the Homeowners Insurance Blog.

Comments (7)

  • I almost feel like that’s what’s going on with those Extreme Couponers. They have let frugality take over their lives (and their homes). They spend hours at a time looking for deals, hours with their shopping trips, and hours putting the things away. It gets out of hand.

    • Thank you for your reply. It does get out of hand and can both get in the way of their lives and affect their finances at the same time. Pretty counterproductive if you ask me. I appreciate that someone else sees this.

  • The health aspect is so true! I mean its great if u can get a $5 hot-n-ready from Little Caesers instead of a $15 from Pizza Hut on a night your family is going to eat pizza anyways…but if you start buying $5 pizza 7 days a week, you are going to destroy your health to save a few bucks! Dont always eat cheap!

  • You bring up a good point. People will take anything to compulsion and being frugal is just one more way. I would think that if you have this problem just focus on value rather than cost. If you get the best value you are not necessarily paying the lowest price but still are getting the best deal.

  • Good Topic!!! I just wrote about this myself… I truly feel that frugality is putting the health of Americans at risk. We need to be conscious of our spending, but within reason!

  • I enjoy a frugal lifestyle, but agree that it is easy to go overboard and get carried away with trying not to spend money. When I focus on my financial goals through the lens of simple, healthy living, I find it easier to be frugal without being miserly.

  • Recognizing the value of your time is so important. I tried using coupons for some time, but the amount of time I spent searching for coupons, clipping them, sorting them, matching them up with products in the flyers, and then cleaning out the expired coupons was ridiculous! If you spend 5hrs/week to save $5… it’s just not worth it!


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