Author Topic: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt  (Read 2769 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« on: September 03, 2017, 08:41:21 PM »
Hi, I am relatively new to the MMM site but in the last 6 months I have made drastic changes to my spending. However, I find myself being a bit obsessive and when I'm biking I can't even be in the moment because I'm feeling guilty of not doing more.  For example, I am struggling to give up my SUV because it has a 3rd row and I volunteer to drive people 2x a week to somewhere they need to go, it's a newer car so did well in all safety tests and is bigger so I feel safer, and it's a hybrid so gets decent gas mileage. But it has a 24k loan and I feel like all my money is going towards this car.  I also have a cheap boat (I live on a lake) and we don't go on it much but when we do I feel guilty about spending the money on gas. So things I used to do that were enjoyable now I can't enjoy because I know it's taking away from my FI but I want to be able to make some changes and be ok with not making others. Thoughts?


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2017, 09:04:43 PM »
$24k in a car loan is enough to feel guilty about.   Irregardless of the car and how you use it, you can get rid of the $24k loan and find a much cheaper car you can afford to pay off within 1-2 years... right?

For the boat -- if your only costs are the fuel, just ask for others to buy fuel when you take them out, and you pay for your own family trips.   You are supplying the boat and maintenance and all, so this is fair.

After you get rid of the $24k car loan, give yourself a break.   If you have no CC or other debts, then create a small allowance of free spending for your monthly incidentals.   Spend that on anything fun that you want, including fuel, an upgraded bike seat, or well, anything.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2017, 09:42:58 PM »
The point of MMM is perspective. Establish pride in living and spending like a badass and it's not starvation, it's growing satisfaction.

Why a gas-powered boat? What about a canoe or a kayak?

Can you get the same car used? Can you get past feeling unsafe in smaller vehicles? Mid-size sedans are actually safer than SUVs, generally.

Ultimately, what are you sacrificing, and do you want to sacrifice that thing? If you're FI 1% slower because you buy a tank of gas occasionally and that really makes you happy, you'll probably be ok. If you're spending your last 10 bucks on a boat you seldom use and you're underwater on your car and credit cards are late, the boat's a terrible idea. Ultimately, your goal isn't to cut out whatever you like that costs money. It's to evaluate, for example, in the case of the boat:

How much does this cost?
How much of a sacrifice is the cost, vs not having the thing?
Can I spend this much money acquiring more happiness for the same price, or more of the same happiness for a longer time for the same price?

The point is to change your perspective, not be miserable. Where you choose not to change perspective, don't sweat it too much - you can't succeed with frugality if you're miserable over it.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 09:46:21 PM by Hargrove »


  • Stubble
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2017, 04:15:40 AM »
What is your plan? Frugality is a tool to help reach financial goals, and thereby life goals for you and your loved ones.

Without a plan, frugality become miserly cheapness where building a bigger account balance becomes the end rather than living.

That said, SlowMustachian, its FACE PUNCH TIME. Your car expenses are out of control. It's time to check your priorities and understand the impact of having so many hours of your life tied up in a fancy pants SUV depreciating asset rolling down the road to rust & ruin. Calculate the hours of your life that you (and any significant other) must work to purchase, finance, insure and maintain this montrostity. Is that how you want to spend your heartbeats?

The poet Mary Oliver asked: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I hope it's not spend a year paying for an SUV.


  • Stubble
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2017, 06:23:54 AM »
With all due respect, you aren't that obsessed with frugality if you have a 24k$ car debt.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2017, 08:38:44 AM »
Well, for most people, feeling guilty is your conscience telling you that something is not yet resolved in your head.  So either you know you need to dump the car and boat because they are interfering with your plans, but you are clinging to them because it's hard to let them go; or you are re-evaluating whether you get sufficient value out of these things for the cost.

And that is all ok, btw; big changes are supposed to be uncomfortable, or you're not doing it right.  That guilt is just a signal that there is something else going on in your head that you haven't yet paid sufficient attention to.  Once you figure that out, you will either be able to let these things go (with a little regret but confidence that you are doing the right thing), or you will happily be able to tell anyone who says those things aren't sufficiently Mustachianism to fuck off, because you know they are the right splurges for you and are willing to work longer to pay for them.

FWIW, I kind of think you're in the first category, because your reasons for keeping the car read like a bunch of excuses, and you don't seem to be spending a lot of time on the boat.  But that's for you to assess.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2017, 09:01:46 AM »
Thank you all so much, great insight and great ideas. I think it is scary for me to let go but already found older versions of my car where I would have almost no loan and be able to pay it off in a month. The boat is paid for, it's just the gas but that I think is just a mental state. Thank you again!!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2017, 09:49:52 AM »
Glad to hear you're going to sell the car and get rid of that debt. IMO frugalness works best as slow and steady continuous improvement rather than an all consuming obsession. You want sustainable lifestyle change rather than a starvation diet, something like:
  • Evaluate the most inefficient, wasteful, and/or environmentally unfriendly thing in your life at the moment.
  • Make a point to focus on this one thing, don't worry about the other lesser issues for now.
  • Fix the thing
  • Give hedonic adaptation time to do its thing.
  • Once the change becomes normal or a new habit, go back to step 1 and repeat.
Even if each iteration takes months, you'll be moving in the right direction and over a period of years the cumulative change will be significant yet you won't feel like you're depriving yourself, it will feel normal.


  • Stubble
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Re: Obsessed with frugality causing stress and constant guilt
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2017, 11:14:32 AM »
If it's helpful, quite a few people feel like this.

You discover the concept (and achievability) of ER, get excited, start thinking about it constantly and sweat every penny.

Eventually, you'll probably calm down and find a happy medium.

With that said, yeah, you should probably ditch the SUV and boat.