Is Your Frugality Making Other People Crazy?

crazy frustrated

I don’t like to spend money. There, I’ve admitted it. Even when it’s for something that I know I’ll love and can easily afford, something inside me clenches up and I don’t want to spend. (I blame genetics. My father and grandfather were the same way.) That’s good from the standpoint of saving for retirement and emergencies. I’m in a good place as far as my future is concerned. It’s bad, though, for those around me at times.

Even though my husband is frugal, he’s better at spending than I am. He has no trouble letting go and splurging on a trip or something for the house, or buying a car when it becomes apparent that the current one is on its last legs. I am not so mellow. I get all freaked out when it comes time to even talk about buying a car or a water heater, let alone actually writing the check. This happens even though I know the money is there and that we’ve saved for this very eventuality. I make him crazy at times.

I know I’m not alone. Many of my frugal friends report the same thing. Their frugality sometimes makes others around them crazy. It may be a refusal to spend, or it may be some crazy frugal activity that other people in the household don’t want to get involved with. (My friend who tried to go a month without buying toilet paper comes to mind. The rest of the household was smuggling TP into the house in their backpacks and briefcases because they really, really, weren’t onboard with her experiment.) Whatever the cause, a frugal person who cannot let go or who goes too far can cause other people to hate them. It can reach the point where the frugal person is actively driving other people away. At that point, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it or if you need to find another way to live.

There are two solutions to this problem, neither of which is easy to implement. The first is to find other, like-minded people to hang out with. This is a bigger problem if you’re married and have kids. You can’t just jettison them for a more frugal version. However, if you’re single and it’s just a matter of finding friends who understand you, it might be the way to go. If the people around you “get” your frugality, they’re less likely to run away and will probably support even your most insane ideas.

For the rest of us, it gets tougher. We have to learn to loosen the financial reins a little bit. We have to learn how to say, “Yes” when everything inside of us is screaming “No!” Obviously we don’t have to say yes to every single thing, but we have to learn to compromise and to make sacrifices for the greater good of our relationships. When your best friend really wants to see that new movie as a means of escaping her crappy home life, you have to learn how to say, “Sure, I’ll go,” when it means making her happy. When you need a new(er) car, you have to learn how to be satisfied once you’ve found the best deal you’re likely to find and write that check without complaint (it’s that or end up on the side of the road one night). When your husband really wants to take you on that anniversary trip to Hawaii, you have to learn to smile and say, “Thank you,” rather than saying, “Forget it. I don’t want anything.”

As hard as it is, there are times when spending is the best thing you can do. If it makes those around you happy, improves life, or keeps the peace you have to suck it up sometimes. If you hold tight to your money and refuse to enjoy life or, more importantly, to allow others to enjoy theirs, you become someone that no one wants to be around. Like Scrooge, you may eventually find yourself alone because you drove everyone off with your frugal ways. It’s a lesson I struggle with every day. I think I’m getting better, but it’s always going to be hard for me. Frugality is good, but not when it hurts everyone around you.

(Photo courtesy of porschelinn)

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8 Responses to Is Your Frugality Making Other People Crazy?

  1. daytime says:

    saving is fine as long as it does not get out of hand.

  2. James says:

    I have a friend who is a total tightwad. The guy doesn’t put on the heat in his apartment. So, the place is always cold when he has guests over. My friend is great, but his frugality kinda drives me nuts a bit.

  3. Minny says:

    Just as some people are compulsive spenders and spend to the point of destroying their lives, so it works the other way.

    If someone’s frugality reaches the point where they go to extremes, such as no toilet paper for a month when there is no need, they have a problem. Frugality then enters the realm where excessive hand washing or hoarding things to the point of being unable to use their home begins. It becomes obsessive compulsive and needs help.

  4. Blair Roberts says:

    I enjoyed your viewpoint. I have struggled with not wanting to spend what was required at the time too. However, I have found places when the option to be frugal does not exist-such as on vacation. I plan for this and work on accepting this reality so that I can enjoy the experience. For example, f

  5. Blair Roberts says:

    Oops! The rest of my idea is here.
    For this trip, I used credit card miles to buy my airline tickets. I used name your own price on priceline for my car rental after extensive research. We sit on the beach & enjoy the atmosphere we have paid for, but being in a hotel room means you pay for meals. So we rented a mini fridge to help offset this, but I take a deep breath & embrace the restaurant choice & order something that I will enjoy & that will keep me full. If the miles hadn’t covered the airfare this would have been a nerve wracking trip, I have to admit!!!

  6. Pete says:

    Well, I’m very frugal and have been criticized by friends and family members. I’ve been told to buy a new car, that I deserve it it. My 2003 Toyota Matrix still looks new and has 61,000 miles on it. I deserve to keep it- I’ve had no problems with it. I’ve been told by co-workers to spend some money- you can’t take it with you. I saved as much as I could so that I can retire early at 57 from a miserable job. Those same co-workers may never be able to retire- they live paycheck to paycheck. I have been fortunate enough to make profits on several properties I bought, fixed and lived in since 1986. I don’t regret any of the sacrifices along the way- no 50″ flat screen, no smartphone, no iPad, no xBox, etc. Now I do as I please and I have fun spending time hunting for bargains and trying to figure out how I will make my savings and pension last until I’m 100! Good luck to all the savers!

  7. Caesar F says:

    I drive my family nuts on how I am when it comes to spending money, like not driving too far to places because of gas. I just see it as being efficient with my money because I don’t get paid that well.

  8. JMK says:

    Our annual trip is the one splurge in our otherwise frugal lifestyle. Even with all the ways we cut the travel costs, we acknowledge that annual major trips now mean we retire 3 years later. We’ll still retire in our late 50s, but we are consciously choosing to travel now with our kids while they are still at home.

    We also fly every year on miles generated through our credit card purchases and my husband’s work travel. Last year our 4 flights to Denmark for our Baltic cruise would have been almost $5k. The cruise was bought on sale and is a very cost effective way to travel (all food, travel and accomodation included and the price known up front). I researched extensively to plan our pre/post cruise hotel and the activities while in each port to see everything we wanted while taking advantage of every available discount.

    We choose the frugal option in just about every other area of our lives so that we can travel every year and still retire early. Long ago our families accepted that regardless of our good incomes, we will never buy a new car and will drive them until they go to the dump (our current vehicles are 9 and 13 yrs old). I’m sure they think my 2000 Honda is long past it’s useful life, but I’m hoping to get another 2yrs out of it. On the other hand we are debating between Spain, France, Italy and Turkey for this summer’s trip. Once you have your personal priorities figured out, you don’t miss what you gave up, but you do need to remember to let go and enjoy what you chose to have instead. There are many who think we’re completely nuts to drive around in elderly cars and then head to Europe for several weeks with the kids. It’s not nuts, it’s just not where they put their priorities. If we drove newer vehicles and ate in restaurants all the time just because our family and friends choose to, we couldn’t travel the way we do and that would be far worse than any joy new car smell could ever give me.

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