Can You Be Too Frugal?

Can living frugally be addicting? Better yet, can it be too addicting? Have you ever found yourself being so frugal, that you are calculating not only every single way that you are saving money, but also when you lose money? As a personal finance blogger, I strive to find new ways to save money. I absolutely enjoy finding creative ways to cut costs as well as sharing them with my readers. In some ways, I wonder if it will be the end of me.

A Tough Economy Increases Frugal Living

I imagine that people love to find new ways to save money, especially in such a horrible economy. In fact, I think the recent recession-like economy has had a positive impact on individuals’/families’ choices to live within their means. I wouldn’t say that the current economy pushed me to be so frugal. I’ve always been one that has enjoyed financial responsibility. Starting this personal finance blog has led me to be more conscious of my personal finances. After all, I do, on a regular basis, offer financial tips to my readers. This includes calculating investment returns or how much money can be saved by doing some task, etc.

Knowing Where I Lose Money: The Cost of Rain

September has arrived and brought rain along with it. For the entire first week in September it rained. While my family likes to contend that they are getting more rain than me, our region is now on record-setting pace for rainfall. This rain-filled week immediately following Hurricane Irene as well, one of the strongest hurricanes to reach the Northeast in recent history. Okay, before I rant too long about the rain, I will get to the point. As I have published already, I decided to start biking to work to save money. I am not committed enough to ride the 5 miles to work in the rain, so when it does happen, I am forced to take the train. The train isn’t any major inconvenience, but I know too much for my own good.

Because I calculate my the savings by riding to work, every time the rain prevents me from biking to work I know that the price of rain is quite high. In fact, each and every time it rains, it costs me $4.50. That may not sound like a lot, but there are so many other things I would rather spend my money on. Even better, I would rather use this money to invest for the future. This is turning into an obsession. It controls my thoughts. Instead of merely embracing the change, the numbers immediately pop into my mind.

Do You Obsess Over Saving Money?

This leads me to ask whether I am focusing too much on saving money. And so I turn to my readers. I think it is important to track your expenses, but am I focusing too much on how much I save? Am I a living example of someone who takes frugal too far?

*featured image provided by: AMagill via Flickr

28 Responses to Can You Be Too Frugal?

  1. Aaron Hung says:

    I don’t think being too frugal is bad at all, being a shopping addict is bad, but it’s okay to splurge once in awhile because you only have one life to live, don’t live with constantly thinking about how to save money :D

  2. Hank says:

    I think that you can absolutely take it a little too far. I find myself doing this with entertainment. I will try and cut out buying expensive cable tv channels for instance, but then I find myself lacking entertainment and seeking out expensive trips to the movie theater, etc. Great article!

  3. I think you can go to the extreme with anything, including being frugal. Being frugal has it’s place and is good when it comes to saving money and reducing the waste we generate. However, one can get to a point where they put so much restriction on themselves that they end up miserable. They realize they are only living life and not enjoying it. I am a big fan of saving on the things that don’t matter as much and spending on the things that do. It seems to help us keep our spending balanced and our happiness in check.

  4. Buck Inspire says:

    Thinking about how much you would have saved if you took the train isn’t taking it too far. I would say if you cut your insurance or don’t see the doctor to save a few bucks, that’s bordering on dangerous and gambling. Like the others, a happy medium may be ideal. In the end, you need to enjoy some of your hard earned money, too. Can’t take it with you.

  5. I think it’s possible to be too frugal, but then again, I sometimes spend too much. It’s better to have a balance and enjoy life while you’re young.

  6. All in all, I prefer thinking of ways to generate new cash rather than focusing on more ways to save it. With frugality, like with anything else in life, after you’ve picked all the low hanging fruit, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. I like generating cash because it affords me a better quality of life. I wouldn’t want to stamp out that quality of life for the sake of some small return.
    I totally agree though in that it can be addictive. I’ve been known to deny myself things because I’ve over-invested :)
    As long as we’re still being generous to others in terms of time, help, care, gifts and all that good stuff, there’s nothing too wrong with being a bit stingy if it helps us achieve the things we want in the long term.

  7. There nothing wrong being frugal but you need to watch yourself when you are being frugal in front of other people that you know, i.e. in front of your friends or people that you know. People’s tendency is to stay away from frugal people. Generally, people tends to like others who’s willing to spend money not the other way around. Being too frugal in public can cause you to lose friends (obviously I’m not talking about close friends here…)

  8. You cannot give up life enjoyment by excessive worry and penny pinching. Yes you can be too frugal.

  9. I would agree that you can be too frugal. Knowing that you could have saved $4.95 by cycling is just sensible money management. If you spent all day obsessing about it then that would be another issue.

  10. I used to obsess about saving money before. Now I don’t. As long as I have my year’s worth of expenses tucked away nicely in an emergency fund, I’m good.

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  12. Niki says:

    I don’t think you took it too far by realizing how much it cost when it rains. I think purchasing an umbrella hat and rain gear and calculating your savings that way might be taking it too far. :)

  13. 101 Centavos says:

    This may sound close to heresy to some PF bloggers, but couponing to me is being too frugal. There’s more value in other activities.

    By the way, if you set up a rain barrel, you could calculate the value of the extra rain water and how it offsets the cost of the train… no wait, that *would* be a little obsessive ;-)

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  17. My husband says I do, he also makes fun of me for it. He means well though and is just giving me hard time. I don’t really think I’m too bad but more pleasantly aware. :-)

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  19. This ia a great post. I would agree that you can be too frugal, but being aware of how much it costs you when it rains would not be one of those scenarios. Rather it shows the hard work you have put in to become aware of your financial situation. I work from home but the few days a month I head to the office I definitely think about all that gas guzzling on my long commute!

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  21. Corey, I think having a frugal attitude is not a bad thing to have spread to all areas of your life. When I see that I’ve not saved on something (like your train ride) I just let it go. You can’t control every aspect of your life. If you allow yourself to stress over things you can’t control it will affect your health eventually. I just tell myself that I save in other areas to offset some of these situations. If you budget won’t allow for these savings deficits, try to cut back in some other area to compensate for it. Mainly I try to give a positive spin to my efforts in that I’m learning more all the time how to save money. Good luck to you and try to not worry about every single thing.

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