Author Topic: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?  (Read 4988 times)

kasterborus

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Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« on: March 19, 2019, 07:32:14 AM »
So... I spent some time clearing all my debt, stripping expenses, living frugally, and investing as much as I can.
I'm a couple of hundred grand off 1m net worth, and slowly making progress towards that.

I am, however, starting to question my lifestyle choices.

I was at a party hosted by a friend of mine and we were all talking about finances, I mentioned my situation and initially the response was one of congratulations.
But after a while it started to feel like I may have lost something along the way with all the frugality.

The majority of the people I was talking to spend money when they feel like it, carry no debt (but have no assets), everything major is rented (house, car etc)
I looked around the host's house and noted that she had spent considerably on furniture/electronics/myriad cooking appliances. She eats out every day, and constantly orders
in food for the family. I went shopping with her once and watched her spend $300 on less than a week's worth of food. Her argument was that she likes to have parties, and
invite people over, and generally enjoy herself. Something I could not really debate without coming across as curmudgeonly. I know she has no loans, or even a credit card.

I just completed all my financial goals for the year, 401k maxed, Roth maxed, and everything is good in that respect. I do however live in a house all by myself, with just
the basics, and never really have guests over.

I think it's easy to see that if you have debt, you need to get out of it. But more and more I seem to be encountering people that do not carry debt, but
spend a seemingly never-ending supply of money. They argue that if they lose their jobs, they just cancel everything, and move into a tiny apartment.

It's starting to make me feel like I might be missing out on my own life.

Has anyone else experienced this feeling?
Is it possible to get too obsessive about frugality and stop... living?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2019, 04:58:31 PM by kasterborus »

Cool Friend

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 08:06:56 AM »
I expect every human being experiences this feeling, because we can only make the choices we make in life once, and we have no way of knowing whether they were the best choices.  It's normal and healthy to reflect on your choices and consider whether they served you and are continuing to serve you.  Sometimes our decisions are useful for a while, and then stop being useful.

Your friend who hosts parties and has people over is celebrating her relationships, and what I'm hearing is that you're feeling left out from that celebration.  But that celebration doesn't come from spending money on delivery and expensive grocery bills.  It comes from bringing people together and sharing, which most human beings get satisfaction out of because we evolved to be social and cooperative within our little "tribes."  I like to have people over and feast too.  I do it a little differently from your friend though, but hosting potlucks.  I make the big main course (usually a big, cheap, tough piece of meat that I braise for a million hours) and maybe some beer or wine, and I ask guests to bring whatever side dishes they like.  It's less work for me, which means more time actually enjoying their company.  My friends like contributing something, it makes them feel connected and helpful.  I don't obligate them to, I make it clear they're welcome to come whether they can bring something or not.  But they always do.  What really matters isn't how much you spent hosting a party.  What matters is that you brought people together and shared something.

It's possible that it would be useful to you to loosen up your saving and give yourself a little room to spend.  It's also possible that the enjoyment of Living might have less to do with spending money than you think.

ender

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2019, 08:10:00 AM »
Money is a means to an end.

What is the end your frugality gets you? If you don't have an answer, that is the problem.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2019, 08:13:08 AM »
Sure it's possible to get too obsessive. I wouldn't exactly use your friend as an example though - sounds like she's headed for catastrophe if she loses her income.  Picture her eating cat food in old age.

If you read Mr Money Mustaches blogs you'll see he lives a full life with an active social life. This can be done without overspending - host a potluck, or a byob spaghetti dinner, or a wine tasting where people each bring a bottle and you supply cheese and crackers.

If entertaining isn't your thing but you'd just like nicer stuff - I guarantee you that you could fill your home with nice things at a fraction of the cost that she paid. Freecycle, thrift and consignment shops, yard sales, creativity are all your friends.

Sounds like you are well on your way to your savings goals; what about setting a monthly "fun" budget to spend on entertaining or slowly decorating your house or travel or whatever you most enjoy? A little balance that doesn't severely impact your FIRE goals.

Spitfire

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2019, 08:13:31 AM »
It IS possible, but I think the goal of this blog and the people here is to spend where it's most important in their life and cut the waste. Spending is not always the solutions to things. For example, if you want to see your friends without spending a lot, you could have a pot luck at home.

The balance between spending and saving for FIRE is really up to you. Some people here FIRE on $15k a year, some $50k, some $100k.

The important thing is to be aware of what you spend on and whether it really brings value to your life or if it provides a temporary rush of something new that fades quickly and leaves you in financial trouble.

HipGnosis

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2019, 08:20:15 AM »
I do (too).
When I divorced at 40(ish), I went from 5 figures net worth to almost 5 figures negative net worth.
I grew up low income, so I knew how to live frugally.   I did that as I paid off the debt (and rebuilt my credit).
Once I paid off the debt, I decided to buy a small house.  That took longer than I wanted it to, because I found that I was spending un-frugally.  I tried a couple ways to deal with it, and finally re-adopted the attitude that "I'm broke". 
My net worth is now over $500K.  I'm still in the small house, alone.  I have two cars and two motorcycles.  They are older, high mileage and in good / nice condition.  All were bought used, with cash.  Other than that, I still live frugally.  My kitchen table has three kinds of chairs.   The nicest piece of furniture in my house is the couch.  My ex bought it just before the divorce. It's nice because I seldom use it.
I say all this because...
People are confused by my life style. 
People that I have to my house think I'm in deep debt for the vehicles. 
People I meet outside of home, and find out about my vehicles assume I'm doing quite well, and I have very few of them over the the house... because I don't know how to explain it.


kasterborus

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2019, 08:53:23 AM »
(I just typed a reply, then lost it, so this is the short version)

>It's possible that it would be useful to you to loosen up your saving and give yourself a little room to spend.

Yes. This.

I seem to have a hang up about spending now. I love woodworking, I just put a $1000 bandsaw in my shopping cart, then freaked out and closed the browser. I already have a bandsaw, but it's barely good enough.

I think I might have lost track of the "why" along the way.
I don't really know why I am saving any more.

1m was just an arbitrary goal.

Thanks to those who responded, sometimes it just helps to talk things through.


wenchsenior

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2019, 09:20:40 AM »
Too lazy to dig up links, but I've seen quite a bit of research into 'happiness' and life satisfaction, and most of it seems to indicate that experiences (esp new experiences) contribute far more to happiness than 'things'.  So when prioritizing what to spend money on, you might consider spending more on experiences that you enjoy. 

Obviously, depending on what experiences you like, some 'things' can serve as tools to give you the experience. For example, I have zero interest in cars for themselves (gearheads baffle me). However, nature-based experiences contribute most to my happiness, and I live about 4 hours from anything naturally beautiful and 'spiritually nourishing'.  So I spend a fair amount of money on keeping a newish, reliable car available at all times (though our second car is always a beater) so that I can safely and confidently travel the minimum 4-hour drive time to have the experiences I need.

thesis

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2019, 09:36:51 AM »
Your friend seems to be on the healthier side of today's "average", but $300 per week for food is a little crazy. I think the key takeaway is that you could easily afford to drop maybe $30-50 on food for a party once every month or two, if you wanted :)

Are you 'missing out'? Probably not. But spending money isn't bad in itself. Like the others have mentioned, you have to keep the purpose of money in perspective. Being able to save as much as you have is awesome. But I don't envy people who have extremely expensive hobbies, I've just allowed myself to stick to a 50% savings rate instead of a 60% savings rate because I do like having fun and buying things every now and then (and frankly, I still save more than this).

If you're wondering if you're missing out, there's a good chance you aren't completely satisfied right now. Which doesn't mean your life needs to look like anybody else's, but some soul-searching may be good :)

Dicey

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2019, 10:33:41 AM »
Three things that helped me:

1. I made it a game to not appear frugal. Even if my clothes came from thrifts and my car was second hand and I had to have roommates to make my mortgage payments, I always presented reasonably well. Others may not agree, but it prevented a lot of criticism from ever happening. Funny overheard comment at a business meeting, "Gee, I'd hate to pay her Nordstrom bill." It took a while to realize they were talking about me. Hilarious.

2. When I saw someone with way more that I had, I just assumed I had more savings and didn't let it bother me. I may have been totally delusional about their savings level, but the trick did help me not envy what others had.

3. I always budgeted for Big Life Things that were important to me. I've had cancer and know the future is a promise, not a guarantee. I figured out ways to do those things on a shoestring budget. If CC hacking had existed back then, I could have done even more. These things kept me from feeling deprived.

Rimu05

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2019, 02:14:53 PM »
This is one of the reasons I take certain things from Mustachianism and let others go. I am in my twenties and have never been a spendy person but I am not even going to lie, I have things that are definitely not mustachian approved but I do them anyway because they bring me joy. I am sure there's an easier way to eat out and all that jazz, but  last week I went to happy hour with my friend and paid for the drinks. A $40 not Mustachian approved type of affair and it was super fun. I tend to largely though spend on experiences more so than things.

I have a list of anti Mustachian things that I plan to do some day like eat at a three star Michelin restaurant.

NV Teacher

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2019, 06:19:52 PM »
Yes, Iím too frugal.  I havenít been on a trip or vacation for years.  I havenít seen a movie in the theatre or gone out to eat with friends because I tell myself itís too much money.  I donít do anything with friends or family that costs money.  My birthday dinner was the 4 for $4 from Wendyís because it was cheap.  I work and I go home and itís a crappy way to live.  Everything has been centered around paying off the house, maxing out the retirement accounts, and building the savings account.  Itís not a good way to live but when I think about spending money it almost brings on a panic attack.  I think I need therapy.

seemsright

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2019, 08:12:00 PM »
2015-2017 we buckled down and tried to build our networth. We were trying to get to the magic double commas. I was never more depressed in my life. We did not go out, we did not do a damn thing except sit in our house and breathe. I did not buy a jigsaw puzzle...one thing I enjoy. I did not buy new books, I did not buy fancy tea or coffee to enjoy. It was bad. I also gained a bunch of weight and hated life in general.

We did hit that magic double comma...and we both decided that if we had to be that depressed it was not worth it. In 2018 I called the trainer I enjoyed working with, I made it a commitment to do the small things that brought joy into our life. If that was going to the driving range, buying the jigsaw puzzle, enjoying the cup of coffee. We no longer think about if we go out to buy coffee...we just go. We go hiking, walking, I go to the mid cost gym instead of the cheap one I hated. I do not think, if I want small things. With spring break coming up I am thinking of some fun things to do with my kid...bowling, the driving range, maybe the kid movie at the theater. I am planning on getting tickets to the local theater group. I have not budgeted for these things. I know the it will all work out. I would have to really go out of my way to spend willynilly. I did the work to create the spending patterns. I am no longer going to stress for anything. If going out to dinner cost us $90 then it costs us $90. There is 3 of us and our 8 year old eats more than we do..so $30 each for dinner is not bad. There is no stress.

There is no point of money in the bank if the journey to get there is not worth the ride!
 

Malkynn

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2019, 05:51:19 AM »
Money isn't anything in and of itself, and that is really critical to understand.

Spending is not "bad" and saving is not "good" and thinking of money in those terms is highly pathological.

Money in the bank literally isn't anything unless you do something with it or decide that it is something to you.
Let me unpack that: money is just a placeholder for time and energy. Time may be defined, but it's value changes depending on how you feel about it. Energy is also self defined, it can be physical energy, motivation, emotional energy, etc, and it's value changes constantly as well.

The time and energy it takes me to make eggs at home is minimal compared to the $16 dollars and time I would have to spend at a brunch place. It's an easy trade off. However, there have been times sitting in a clinic waiting room waiting for biopsy results where I would have gladly paid thousands to experience less nervous energy and waiting.
Time and energy have relative values, which means that money does as well.

"But Malkynn, my FIRE number is 1M with a 4% WR of 40K/yr! That's a clear and definable set of numbers. Certainly that's not relative, it's math!"

Sure...it's math...but it's made up of numbers you made up for yourself based on completely relative metrics. You decided for yourself that 40K/year was the number that would be "enough" to live a "happy life" indefinitely. Well, what defines that number? What do you need to be happy? Your housing costs? Your healthcare? Your diet? Your travel plans? These are all flexible numbers that are products of a series of lifestyle decisions you are making for yourself. They are all exchanges between time/energy/money.

All of these calculations, budgets, and tracking of numbers are great. Learning to be frugal is great. Setting achievable goals and working towards them is great. It's just not the whole picture, and it's not the end of the work that needs to be done to achieve A Happy Life.

Dave Ramsey may be the elementary school version of personal finance, where his baby steps are amazing for helping people get out of debt and start saving, but we all know it kind of falls off of a cliff from there. Well, savings rates, budgets, and FIRE targets are the same way. They're great first steps for learning how to live much much better through spending less, but once you remove any "consumer sucka" spending from your life...well...the savings is not the end goal. In fact, it's actually just the beginning.

Having a solid handle on your finances is a *pre-requisite* for living A Happy Life, but that's it.
Money will never do the heavy lifting of happiness, neither spending it nor saving is can compensate for not doing the work yourself.

Money is a critical tool of building your best life, but you still need to do the very intense work of evaluating every trade off of time/energy/money in order to find the right balance, and you also need to be able to adjust that balance constantly as the values perpetually change.

Look at MMM's life now, he didn't save to $X and then live annually off of $Y at Z% WR. He possibly works more and makes more money and hasn't withdrawn a penny for living costs. However, his time/energy/money exchange is much better designed for happiness than his life working his day job. In his current situation, his day-job years and their earnings are essentially irrelevant. That money meant A LOT before, and now it's virtually meaningless other than the meaning he emotionally assigns to it.

So look at your own life. Look at your own time/energy/money exchanges
If you find some things that you want to exchange money for because they're a good deal, then go ahead and spend. If your job takes too much time and energy relative to the money it pays, then look into changing your work. If an activity takes a lot of time and energy, but gives you a net psychological energy increase, then do that hobby. If a friendship takes too much emotional energy from you, end or modify that friendship. If making extra money at work puts a strain on the energy you have for a spouse, cut back on work and trade some income for a better home life, etc, etc, etc.

Examine every aspect of your life carefully for what kind of exchanges you are making and evaluate every single on of them in terms of whether or not they are a good trade. If they aren't, then change them. Never forget that the whole goddamn point of this is to live your best life. Your best life isn't defined by the numbers, your best life DEFINES the numbers.

mountain mustache

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2019, 06:41:17 AM »
I am really frugal, but I refuse to be frugal to the point of misery/loneliness. I don't say yes to every invite that I get to go to happy hour or dinner, but once every couple of weeks I will. I don't get 3 drinks, and a big dinner, but I'll get 1 drink, and hang out as long as possible to maximize the social time. I have friends over for dinner, and they have me to their house and we share cooking duties. I probably spend $10-$15 more to have friends over for dinner, and that is totally worth it to keep community.

I think if your fixed expenses are optimized (rent, health insurance, car insurance, etc) then there is a little wiggle room in those variable expenses to keep frugality from being miserable. I know I don't NEED to buy a bar of chocolate, or fancy coffee beans, but that $15 a month gives me a few of my favorite things, and I enjoy my coffee/reading time in the morning. I'd never cut it out to save that money, the enjoyment is worth far more than the $15.

I also buy expensive bikes, and bike gear, camping gear, ski gear, etc...amounts of money that would probably make the true mustachians cringe. But, I feel like life is short, and my whole existence is centered around being an athlete, before anything else...so it's worth it to sacrifice a higher savings rate for equipment that enables me to have the experiences I will cherish and remember for a lifetime. 

PoutineLover

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2019, 07:19:09 AM »
I think its a constant re-evaluation and adjustment to keep my spending and saving optimal, while taking into account new opportunities and changes. For the most part I am comfortable with my spending, although sometimes I do feel guilty about an unnecessary but enjoyable purchase. There are also things I regret not buying or doing when I had the chance. I would be miserable if I didn't get to travel, do hobbies, eat good food, etc. But it's possible to do all that and still maintain a high savings rate, even with a modest income. Because I genuinely enjoy biking, cooking, trading, and finding ways to get good value for cheap, I can afford to live a really great life for very little money, so overall I feel like I'm frugal, but not too frugal. It's definitely possible to go too far with the whole savings thing and its not worth it to live a life you hate just to retire to a life you hate. It can't be a race to the bottom, it's important to evaluate the value of everything you are spending and make room for what makes you happy.

APowers

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2019, 07:43:06 AM »
*I* don't feel like I'm too frugal. *Other People* do, though. Whatever. I'm the one that's going to be rich, and I'm not going to take any "Oh, well, you're just lucky" flack about it.

Imma

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2019, 08:19:15 AM »
We are super frugal - we spend about 15-20k every year. Still we have lots of people over. If you want to have guests over, you don't need to spend $300 on groceries. You can also spend $15 and bake a cake and a simple dinner. My family never had money, but we always had guests and served them simple wholesome food.

We have a guest bed and that's a conscious choice because we have overnight guests almost every week. I like to bake pancakes or waffles in the morning and people seem to love that. Many people don't know how to cook anymore so they don't have a fresh hot breakfast often - meanwhile it only takes me 15 minutes and costs me Ä2 or something.

We are far from FIRE but spending money on fun is a high priority for us. We just prefer cheap fun over expensive fun.

JanetJackson

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2019, 08:30:58 AM »
I've actually been thinking about making a similar post.
I am a person who is recovering from over-optimizing and several lengthy dips into poverty, including my whole childhood, and living in a camper (not for fun) in my 20's. 
I over optimized myself into misery the last 5-10 years on my way up the ladder out of poverty. 

I'm secure now, and things are moving in a good direction (full EF, some investments, an IRA, a living wage and skills etc.), but I was the person who never did anything social, worked every possible moment that I could, and dipped into obsession about things like using less toilet paper (I already use 1-ply).

I have very very mixed feelings about it, because this behavior allowed me to climb my way up, but it also progressively made my life worse and worse.

It's very hard to find the point at which you can let go of some frugalizing and make choices related to happiness instead.  It's VERY hard.  You're constantly worrying that you're going to let things slip, lifestyle inflate, and that you're going to slip back into poverty, or lose your hard-earned growth, etc. 
I have to say, even though I stay engaged here on the forum , finding this forum was not particularly good for me.
The "face punches" (eye rolls) for spending, the "atta boy" you can get here for optimizing something... it REALLY fed my over-frugalizing.  I would say I have never been deprived- I've always had food, a job, and a roof over my head, but when I found out about FI/RE and the related community it kind of tipped me toward justifying a life of living way way too frugally.
I felt so proud every time someone cheered me on when I overpaid on my student loans, yet I was doing so by eliminating my gym membership, which was really really good for me.  I made all of my friends at the gym.  But when I wiped it out, members on the forum cheered me on, which was addicting. 
When I posted a case study including a gym membership and spotify, people immediately told me to cancel those.  My only two luxury spending points really... 
And I did it! 
Yet I love music, and always found joy in listening to it.  But I went probably two full years without listening to ANY music.  None.  The music app made it easier to listen and to find new things- the free options were just too clunky and full of commercials, so I just stopped listening.  And WOW did that take some joy out of my days (I didn't realize it until recently when I signed up for YouTube Music and have been dancing around my house while I do chores).
I also cancelled my gym membership for 15 months.  I've been an athlete my whole life and I took that away from myself.  I spent those 15mo with literally zero friendships locally.  I did nothing social for 15 months.  Nothing.  I worked, came home and went for a run and then lifted alone while listening to finance podcasts.  I also gained 35lbs because I just hated training at home by myself and I was eating crap food, working 60 hours a week, and stressed to the max.

I could go on and on with examples.  I really could.
 
For me, it's taken some therapy (which I was incessantly reluctant to do because = $$$), and some goal-setting (like, why am I even saving?).  It's never going to be perfect, but I'm progressing.  Also some days, I'm not progressing, and that's fine too.  Balance is hard.

I have to say, there's absolutely, at a certain point, for some folks, a disastrous emotional outcome from being too frugal.

Poundwise

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2019, 12:09:42 PM »
Sometimes frugality keeps me from making the right decision, or causes me to agonize too long over big ticket decisions.

For instance, our habit of trying to delay replacement of systems in our 1980s era home, has led to some catastrophic failures recently.  It has been very painful to dig into our savings, and also to see that our house expenses this year are going to wipe out most of our savings rate for this year.  But I should be happy that we have the ability to pay cash.

Also, our yard has looked like a war zone for a half year (a bulldozer had to dig part of it up and knock down a fence, long story), because I can't bring myself to hire a landscaper, but ill health has kept me from doing the gardening myself.   Another person would have made a few phone calls, done.

I think I'm unnecessarily making decisions from a place of scarcity, which can mean bad, short term type decisions. Whereas the point of being frugal was to give us the wide margins needed to make good decisions.

thesis

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2019, 01:30:21 PM »
JanetJackson, thanks for sharing. Your thoughts are really making me reflect on all of this....

On the one hand, the FI community is very much focused on frugality and cutting out as much as possible. It has to be, in some ways, or it simply wouldn't be the FI community. It'd just be a bunch of internet trolls congratulating each other on their purchases, which is the opposite of not spending. On the other hand, it does have some of that legacy along the lines of EarlyRetirementExtreme (disclaimer: I have a ton of respect for Jacob), where not spending is actually a goal in life, but that takes an incredible amount of motivation/drive to internalize, and really isn't necessary (but certainly isn't wrong if you're into that).

Makes me question some things about my own perspective. Optimization can be exhausting. My occasional wastefulness gives me a degree of sanity, I suspect.

Candace

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2019, 02:21:35 PM »
Yes, Iím too frugal.  I havenít been on a trip or vacation for years.  I havenít seen a movie in the theatre or gone out to eat with friends because I tell myself itís too much money.  I donít do anything with friends or family that costs money.  My birthday dinner was the 4 for $4 from Wendyís because it was cheap.  I work and I go home and itís a crappy way to live.  Everything has been centered around paying off the house, maxing out the retirement accounts, and building the savings account.  Itís not a good way to live but when I think about spending money it almost brings on a panic attack.  I think I need therapy.
@NV Teacher , I think you might find it useful to read @JanetJackson 's response up-thread. From what she wrote, it sounds like she's been in a similar place to where you are, and has found ways to revise that have made her happier without derailing her financial journey.

Please get yourself whatever help you need. You sound like you're white-knuckling your way through life and I couldn't read your post without responding. I sincerely hope you can find balance and end the feelings of panic, and increase your feelings of happiness. Can you get outside? Can you bring a thermos of tea and a picnic lunch and meet a friend in a park? Do you have free time at home? If so, can you find an inexpensive hobby to enjoy?

kasterborus

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2019, 05:09:50 PM »
I just finished catching up with the thread.

It's been really interesting to read everyone's experiences, I'm glad we're not alone in this.

Yes, it's really important not to lose the "why".
I've made a conscious decision to relax the purse strings for the rest of the year, and only check statements once or twice a month.

Oh... and have some people over to the house.

...And finally buy a new telly.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2019, 05:40:23 PM »
OP, you are seeing the carefully curated image of your friends like what they present on social media and not the actual picture. The reality is that they are slaves. Slaves to their jobs and slaves to circumstance. If they run into a disaster -- a major illness, a job loss, a natural disaster -- they are well and truly screwed. Meanwhile, because you live frugally, you will be completely fine. No matter what happens.

So chin up. In the meanwhile, start scheduling some potluck dinners and board game nights at your house. Mustachianism doesn't mean you have to be a hermit.

Cassie

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2019, 05:47:46 PM »
Maybe work some treats into your budget. Also it doesnít have to be expensive to have people over. I make homemade spaghetti which is delicious and even with salad, rolls, drinks a cheap way to entertain. Plus people always want to bring things too.  We sometimes go out for happy hour food and drinks which can be cheap if you know the deals. Your friends that are spending all their money are foolish. Balance is key.

crispy

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2019, 08:19:50 AM »
I do think you have to find balance. There are some things which don't appeal to me at all like fancy cars and restaurants so being frugal is super easy.  Things that I prioritize are travel, having a nice home, and nice clothes. I get a lot of enjoyment out of finding frugal ways to get what I need and want instead of depriving myself because that just leads to other issues.

Deprivation shouldn't be the goal. For me, the goal is to be frugal and save so I can spend on the things that I enjoy and to have freedom to pursue them.

kasterborus

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2019, 08:22:26 AM »
I guess there was a certain degree of "curatedness" to their image, but they all had really solid ways of dealing with the potential pitfalls.

Most of the them were ex military, and so they had pensions, kids college, and medical seemingly taken care of. (If I had known what I know now, I think I would have signed up too) - the most risky thing any of them did in the "theatre of war" was carry too many computer back-up tapes. :D

I guess there really are other ways of dealing with life, than being frugal, or going into debt.

I did have to give my friend a loan recently so she could move to a new rental, but she paid me back... then went out and spent $8k on new electronics, which kind of left me scratching my head on why she needed the loan in the first place.

I spent some time with my "rich dad" the other day... he said "Dude you are so far ahead of the pack, you don't even realize, when one crash, we ALL crash. You will be able to pick through the wreckage and get back on your feet much faster than you know."

I said, "Yeah, but even the first-class passengers drowned on the Titanic"
« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 08:26:58 AM by kasterborus »

Budgie

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2019, 10:34:12 AM »
Yes, Iím too frugal.  I havenít been on a trip or vacation for years.  I havenít seen a movie in the theatre or gone out to eat with friends because I tell myself itís too much money.  I donít do anything with friends or family that costs money.  My birthday dinner was the 4 for $4 from Wendyís because it was cheap.  I work and I go home and itís a crappy way to live.  Everything has been centered around paying off the house, maxing out the retirement accounts, and building the savings account.  Itís not a good way to live but when I think about spending money it almost brings on a panic attack.  I think I need therapy.

I will gently nudge you to consider it, not because you have a "problem" but because, as Malkynn says, money is a stand-in for other things--time, energy, security, power, freedom--different things for different people and different situations. In your case, the anxiety around spending may have gotten attached to some other things. The anxiety likely isn't really about money. Working with a good therapist can help you sort through those other things and feel better about evaluating the difference between spending money where you value it and "wasting" it.

remizidae

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2019, 10:36:40 AM »
So... I spent some time clearing all my debt, stripping expenses, living frugally, and investing as much as I can.
I'm a couple of hundred grand off 1m net worth, and slowly making progress towards that.

I am, however, starting to question my lifestyle choices.

I was at a party hosted by a friend of mine and we were all talking about finances, I mentioned my situation and initially the response was one of congratulations.
But after a while it started to feel like I may have lost something along the way with all the frugality.

The majority of the people I was talking to spend money when they feel like it, carry no debt (but have no assets), everything major is rented (house, car etc)
I looked around the host's house and noted that she had spent considerably on furniture/electronics/myriad cooking appliances. She eats out every day, and constantly orders
in food for the family. I went shopping with her once and watched her spend $300 on less than a week's worth of food. Her argument was that she likes to have parties, and
invite people over, and generally enjoy herself. Something I could not really debate without coming across as curmudgeonly. I know she has no loans, or even a credit card.

I just completed all my financial goals for the year, 401k maxed, Roth maxed, and everything is good in that respect. I do however live in a house all by myself, with just
the basics, and never really have guests over.

I think it's easy to see that if you have debt, you need to get out of it. But more and more I seem to be encountering people that do not carry debt, but
spend a seemingly never-ending supply of money. They argue that if they lose their jobs, they just cancel everything, and move into a tiny apartment.

It's starting to make me feel like I might be missing out on my own life.

Has anyone else experienced this feeling?
Is it possible to get too obsessive about frugality and stop... living?

It sounds like you may be envying aspects of your friend's life, which you could imitate without imitating all of her financial choices. Hosting parties is always going to be more expensive than not hosting, but it doesn't have to be that much, and guests won't really care how expensive your furniture or stove are.

(I try to discourage people from bringing food & drink when I host as it's not the traditional etiquette, but generally they do anyway--potluck has become so much the norm. :(  )

kasterborus

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2019, 01:33:59 PM »
>It sounds like you may be envying aspects of your friend's life, which you could imitate without imitating all of her financial choices.

Yes I think that's fair. My re-examination of my life choices came about from a fear I was missing out on certain things. That can certainly feel like envy. I found myself thinking, "I could do that too, so... why don't I?"

She may have a problem with over-consumption too - I have seen her buy things that never ever get taken out of the box.
That's not something I feel envious of.

But I think I really was envious of her relaxed attitude to buying "stuff".
And the pleasure she seems to derive from owning things.

It really had me thinking about what I was saving for. How much is enough?
« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 01:51:14 PM by kasterborus »

better late

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #30 on: March 23, 2019, 01:46:35 PM »
Even back when I wasnít particularly frugal (mostly broke spending more than we earned) I used to use frugality as an excuse to indulge my social anxiety and not do anything social - no entertaining no organizing a meal with friends, etc. I spent money easily on stuff but used $ to keep myself from putting myself out there.

kasterborus

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #31 on: March 23, 2019, 01:54:04 PM »
Even back when I wasnít particularly frugal (mostly broke spending more than we earned) I used to use frugality as an excuse to indulge my social anxiety and not do anything social - no entertaining no organizing a meal with friends, etc. I spent money easily on stuff but used $ to keep myself from putting myself out there.

That's a shrewd observation... I began to think that maybe that had been my motivation all along.


aceyou

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #32 on: March 23, 2019, 09:13:31 PM »
Never.

My outlook is that there are no sacrifices, only trades. 

Another outlook is that for every time I wish I had something that I don't have, there are ten times that I look around my house and still see shit I'd like to get rid of. 

Times when we choose to spend now:
 - Trip with just DW and I each summer for 5 days to pretend we are not parents or teachers for just a short while($1500)
 - 3 to 4 short trips each year with our young children (under 2k/year total)
 - season family passes to the zoo and several other cool places in town where we can take the kids over and over to see and do cool things outside. 
 - we host neighbors and friends and family just about weekly for impromptu dinners/drink/socialization.  Every day about half the neighborhood kids are running through our house and we make them snacks and have things like pearler beads, paint, craft supplies fully stocked up..you know, all the stuff that 4-9 year olds like to be creative. 

All those things probably add up to an extra 5-7k per year, but those are the things that make us happy and enrich our lives. 

But b/c DW and I make 160k/year and drive vehicles that are worth about $3500, rarely go to restaurants, shop at aldi, etc...we can easily do the stuff listed above and still maintain a 50% savings rate. 

No sacrifices, just well thought out trades.  I'm the happiest I've ever been. 

Linea_Norway

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2019, 04:28:18 AM »
>It sounds like you may be envying aspects of your friend's life, which you could imitate without imitating all of her financial choices.

Yes I think that's fair. My re-examination of my life choices came about from a fear I was missing out on certain things. That can certainly feel like envy. I found myself thinking, "I could do that too, so... why don't I?"

She may have a problem with over-consumption too - I have seen her buy things that never ever get taken out of the box.
That's not something I feel envious of.

But I think I really was envious of her relaxed attitude to buying "stuff".
And the pleasure she seems to derive from owning things.

It really had me thinking about what I was saving for. How much is enough?

In general, buying new stuff makes you happier, for a short while. Shortly after you feel back to normal, but your bank account is a lot emptier.

You can also buy some of the things you think will make you happy. If you buy them used, you might even not empty your bank accout that much, while still becoming happy.

pab88

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #34 on: March 25, 2019, 04:37:15 AM »
This thread kind of resonates with me.

I finally bought a more modern phone after one of my students looked at me getting frustrated with the slow old gs5 i had and said "sir, you need a new phone". So i upgraded modestly to a 2 year old design thats way faster. That student was right - its great having a phone that can load google maps without 5 second input delays.

It happened again this year. My 7 year old laptop was fast (an Ssd and extra Ram gave it decent performance) but it was battered, really noisy and had a 1hr battery life. I use it a lot for work, so my students and colleagues see its beaten up appearance and hear its jet fan whine.

The same student said, "Sir, just get a new one". Then I read this thread and thought, yeah thats me.

So I ordered a new Laptop yesterday. I paid an extra $600 to get the one with the bling, upmarket, lightweight chassis and design too.

When I first bought my place and moved in I figured I had four options in descending moustachianism:
1. No car, flatmate
2. Car, flatmate
3. No car, no flatmate
4. Car, no flatmate.

I told myself if i went with option 1, I'd have so much extra fat in the budget that I could easily splurge on things I needed without worrying. Well its been 18 months with option 1 and I've been living happily like a Spartan (80% of net salary went to mortgage in 2018); very little splurging apart from one-off or recurring bike maintenance items and a yearly bike tour that costs me <1k.

So F*** it, i bought myself that sweet $1700 laptop.

Dicey

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #35 on: March 25, 2019, 07:44:18 PM »
I said, "Yeah, but even the first-class passengers drowned on the Titanic"
I thought that the first class passengers survived at a significantly higher rate. Access to lifeboats and all...

bogart

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #36 on: March 25, 2019, 09:27:51 PM »
I said, "Yeah, but even the first-class passengers drowned on the Titanic"
I thought that the first class passengers survived at a significantly higher rate. Access to lifeboats and all...

Indeed.  According to the internet (which as we know is never wrong) 25% of third class passengers survived, whereas 62% of first-class passengers survived.

https://www.dummies.com/education/history/titanic-passenger-survival-rates/

Dicey

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #37 on: March 25, 2019, 10:27:18 PM »
I said, "Yeah, but even the first-class passengers drowned on the Titanic"
I thought that the first class passengers survived at a significantly higher rate. Access to lifeboats and all...

Indeed.  According to the internet (which as we know is never wrong) 25% of third class passengers survived, whereas 62% of first-class passengers survived.

https://www.dummies.com/education/history/titanic-passenger-survival-rates/ .
While we're meandering off topic, I'm going to vent a bit. I abhor that fucking stupid song "It Takes A Little Time" with the lyric "It takes a little time sometimes to get the Titanic turned back around." WTF?? No. It sank.

Amy Grant sang it, but it was written by Matthew West & Cindy Mizelle. Ugh.   /End rant.

JanetJackson

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #38 on: March 26, 2019, 06:19:57 AM »
I said, "Yeah, but even the first-class passengers drowned on the Titanic"
I thought that the first class passengers survived at a significantly higher rate. Access to lifeboats and all...

Indeed.  According to the internet (which as we know is never wrong) 25% of third class passengers survived, whereas 62% of first-class passengers survived.

https://www.dummies.com/education/history/titanic-passenger-survival-rates/ .

I think I *mostly* already knew this, but gosh, how sad.  And how reflective of society in general.  Sheesh. :(

Maenad

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #39 on: March 26, 2019, 08:52:14 AM »
But I think I really was envious of her relaxed attitude to buying "stuff".

This was the thing that jumped out at me, since I feel this way sometimes too. There was another poster here who had never earned a lot and envied people who could just blow a ton of money without blinking.

I think a lot of that feeling comes down to "I wish I could just be carefree". To just spend at whatever level and not have to worry about it. I think that's easier when your spending is matched well with your values, but some of that is the nature of being analytical.

A lot of "carefree" people are happy-go-lucky only as long as the money keeps rolling in, some are truly adaptable and are happy regardless of their financial circumstances. It's hard to know which until bad things happen, which isn't so great in itself.

debittogether

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #40 on: March 26, 2019, 11:00:25 AM »
Someone gave me advice on this forum that was basically, they'd rather work 11.5 years in a job they liked vs. 10 years in a better paying job they hated.  I love this line of thought!

If you could buy maybe a few extra things that would delay your FIRE date by a little bit, but they'd make those years much more enjoyable, perhaps it is best to move that end date out.

honeybbq

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #41 on: March 26, 2019, 11:09:50 AM »
My father scrimped and saved his whole life. He died of cancer at 50. Never got to enjoy it.

My mantra is to save what I need to or should (max 401, extra to VTSAX, 529, etc) and don't feel guilty about the rest. I do not have the 70% savings rate that many on here do. But I am happy with the amount I save.

I try to not spend foolishly: old car, use the library, few/no new clothes. But when I want to I just buy it or spend the money or do the thing that costs extra.

You have to find the balance for YOU. Remember, you could be dead tomorrow.

Zamboni

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #42 on: March 26, 2019, 11:11:50 AM »
In that past few years I've had to interact with too many desperate elderly folks for my FOMO on carefree spending to be more than a passing flight of fancy.

Bottom line:
I don't want to be stressed out when I'm old. My Dad always just bought most of what he wanted, and now he's facing the harsh reality that he can never stop working. He will have to work until he dies. The only upside is that he likes his job. But his health is failing and he would be better off pursuing his fun job as a hobby at this point (for most people his job is a hobby, so that wouldn't be a problem at all.)

I have a lot of friends who are setting themselves up for pretty bleak elderly years. For now, I prioritize what I really think is important (my kids, my beloved, my dog, our health, travel, social justice) and skimp like a MOFU on everything else. Sure, would it be nice to just drop $9 on something mundane like batteries at CVS, or splurge on fancy cocktail? Nope, making a list for the dollar store, and I can make that cocktail at home, thank you very much.

Remember, it seems like she gets lots of special treats to you because you deny yourself, but the special treat aspect wears off quick. Keep some things as special treats, but stick to your spending plan most of the time, and you will enjoy the special treats even more!

Edited to add: the odds that I will be dead tomorrow are higher than normal, it turns out. I still don't bank on it. If I live to be 100, those years from 70-100 will be perfectly comfortable.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 11:14:29 AM by Zamboni »

kasterborus

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2019, 12:23:45 PM »
I said, "Yeah, but even the first-class passengers drowned on the Titanic"
I thought that the first class passengers survived at a significantly higher rate. Access to lifeboats and all...

Indeed.  According to the internet (which as we know is never wrong) 25% of third class passengers survived, whereas 62% of first-class passengers survived.

https://www.dummies.com/education/history/titanic-passenger-survival-rates/ .

No, they just drowned later... :)

Yeah, it does not surprise me that happened, but if the economy collapses, my 401k may not save me after all.
This topic came up during the party, as if there is a collapse, then my 70% savings rate will have been for nothing. Couldn't really argue.

What became clear, as the night went on, was that no-one believed they were in a position to save enough to make a difference. So they favored spending bonuses, and tax returns whenever they came along.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 01:25:09 PM by kasterborus »

StarBright

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2019, 01:37:45 PM »
Unless you are a natural minimalist who easily ignores peer pressure I think you should think about (and plan for) how your commitment to frugality might ebb and flow. I think a lot of us on these boards have times when we are cruising through being frugal and then we sort of burn out, loosen up the reins a bit, and then end up pulling back again.

I think that is natural and okay. There are also people on these boards who seem able to buckle down and save 70% for years on end - that is great too!

I think you should definitely listen to yourself. If you are feeling too deprived you might not stick with it. If some of this is stemming from anxiety, pay attention to that too.

I've been reading these boards (and before that Get Rich Slowly, and Dave Ramsey and others) for years, and we still don't feel like we've struck the right balance. But some saving is better than no savings, contentment is better than stress, and we keep working on finding what works for us.

ETA - Just saw the post that you decided to loosen the purse strings for a bit, I think that is great! If it doesn't make you happier you can always adjust again.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 05:57:07 PM by StarBright »

Cassie

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #45 on: March 26, 2019, 02:33:43 PM »
Zamboni, does your dad have a home he can sell? Why doesnít he apply for a low income senior housing so he can live on SS?  He should look at everything he qualifies for.  He wonít be able to work forever.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #46 on: March 26, 2019, 03:33:51 PM »
Was reading this https://thefinancebuff.com/absolute-value-vs-relative-value-true-alternative.html and made me want to share.  Hopefully this is a reasonable place.  I think like this all the time, also when investing (buying or selling).  What are the alternatives?

Quote
The business school professor there needed a new mattress. One model that came into consideration costs $3,500. Someone commented that considering that you spend around 1/3 of your life on the mattress, itís worth spending $3,500 on a good mattress. The professor replied:

These thoughts have gone through my mind as well. But I also spend around 95% of my life wearing socks and canít justify paying $3500 on them. The trade-off Iím making with this purchase, as with all purchases, is to maximize value by maximizing marginal benefit divided by the marginal cost. In the case of the mattress, Iím trying to figure out what the marginal benefit is of a $3500 mattress relative to a $500 mattress (does the marginal benefit exceed the marginal cost of $3k). But, overall, Iím sympathetic to the idea of not cheaping out on a mattress given that it will affect the quality of my life in a non-trivial way for at least 10 years.

Zamboni

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #47 on: March 27, 2019, 02:33:22 PM »
Zamboni, does your dad have a home he can sell? Why doesnít he apply for a low income senior housing so he can live on SS?  He should look at everything he qualifies for.  He wonít be able to work forever.

Perhaps eventually it will come to that, thank you for the idea.

He does have a home but it got used as a piggy bank at least once I think, so the equity on it is not super high according to his wife's reports. He was self employed most of his life, then took SS early at the first possible instant, which sort of made sense the time because he'd had a couple of bouts with cancer, so I don't think his SS checks are very big at all.

He seems to have made peace with not being able to retire. I'll help him if it ever becomes apparent that he needs it. For now I'm going to let him amble along.

MaaS

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #48 on: March 27, 2019, 09:09:21 PM »
I do. Not with stuff, but with experiences. I've done a some of traveling for example, but I've also passed up some great opportunities because of the cost (although I likely justified it with something else).

I'm working on loosening up in that area.  I've came to the realization that a few grand here and there is a bargain to minimize regrets.

Cassie

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Re: Do you ever feel like you are too frugal?
« Reply #49 on: March 27, 2019, 10:36:19 PM »
Z, when he canít work he should apply for everything he qualifies for.