Yes, I actually said that. 😉
I grew up learning to be frugal from my parents. Even when they had money to spare they were always very careful with it. We rarely ate out (like, a couple times a year) and didn’t spend money on many extras.
I got a regular job when I was fifteen and socked away all my money for college. I rarely spent on anything besides necessary clothes, etc.
When Pablo and I got married I quickly realized that he and I didn’t always have the same approach to money (though he was certainly still careful with it.) For example, when we stopped for fast food he ordered a regular combo instead of something from the value menu. I know you’re laughing, but at the time that bothered frugal little me.
Anyway, over the last few years I’ve learned that while frugality is important, there are times when being frugal can go too far (and I’m thankful for a husband who has helped to balance me out a bit!)
So, let’s talk about some of the times when you actually shouldn’t be so frugal.
When Being Frugal Goes Too Far
1. When the quality is even cheaper than the cheap price
You shouldn’t always buy the cheapest item. In fact, it’s not always the most frugal thing to do.
However, I’ve realized that for some things it just makes sense to pay a bit more and buy them new – like jeans for my active five year old (because he’ll wear holes through the knees of used jeans within a week!)
The same goes for clothes for me. Although I still enjoy shopping second hand when I’m able, I’ve been paying more attention to the quality of the clothes recently. It’s better to pay a little more for something that will last several years than to grab the cheapest thing that will pill after the first wash.
2. When you waste a lot of valuable time
I make an effort to save money on groceries and one thing I do every week is check the store ads to see what’s on sale.
However, when the sales I like are at three different stores, I often have to choose just one of the stores to shop at, simply because I don’t have time for them all.
It’s important to remember that time is money too.
It’s not worth my time to regularly stop at three different stores for groceries. If I have the time and freedom I’ll absolutely go to a couple stores to save money, but that’s not often the case, especially with kids in tow.
3. When you turn into “that” customer
If you’ve worked in fast food or retail you know who “that” customer is. The one who argues with you about the price, doesn’t understand why their coupon isn’t giving them the discount they expected, etc. Well, I have a vivid memory of being “that” customer once!
We took the kids to Baskin Robbins a couple years ago and the coupon I brought didn’t ring up properly (or at least I didn’t think it did!) We were charged a couple bucks more than I expected and I questioned the cashier a couple times and complained about it . . . and ended up embarrassing my husband a bit I think.
He reminded me afterwards that it was only a couple bucks – really not a big deal – and since then I’ve thought back to that time when I’ve been tempted to make a fuss about something truly insignificant.
4. When you and your spouse disagree
It’s inevitable – at some point or another you’re going to disagree with your spouse about a purchase. We all come into marriage with certain ways that we are used to doing things and certain expectations when it comes to our spending.
To give you another silly personal example, I always pack food for trips. I make sandwiches ahead of time and pack some fun snacks. I never buy anything at gas stations because in my opinion they’re way overpriced.
Pablo loves that I pack stuff for trips, but no matter how much I pack, he still typically buys something when we stop at a gas station. When we first got married I felt offended, like why was he buying an overpriced drink or snack when I’d already packed some things?
But then I realized that for him, that’s part of the fun of the trip – splurging a little bit – just like for me part of the fun is preparing everything ahead of time. I could either freak out about the extra three bucks that we spent, or I could accept that he is not me and go with it . . . and maybe even ask him to grab me something too. 😉
While that’s just a silly example, the point is that in marriage it shouldn’t be “my way or the highway.” Whether it’s something as little as a snack at the gas station or something more significant (new furniture instead of second hand, etc.) if a certain purchase is important to your spouse, try to see it from their perspective, even if it pains your frugal heart a little bit.
5. When you don’t actually need that amazing deal
This probably goes without saying, but while you may feel super frugal when you buy something for 80% off, if you don’t actually need it, don’t buy it.
In fact, one of the best ways to save money and stick to your budget is to simply shop less. I know, I know, it kills me not to capitalize on a good deal, but guess what, if you don’t need it, it’s not a good deal.
I’m sure there are more times when being frugal goes too far, but those are the five I thought of!
Now I want to hear from you: Have you had a time where you were probably too frugal? Are you typically a spender or a saver? Let’s chat in the comments!