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Can You Be Too Frugal?

Updated on February 18, 2008

I have been wondering lately if a person can be too frugal. The answer, to me, is not as easy as it seems. There are many people that will automatically say yes to this question. Those are probably going to be people that don't live the frugal lifestyle or do to some extent but don't like it. As frugal as I am, I do think a person can be too frugal sometimes. But on the other hand sometimes the answer will be no.

If frugality as a way of life is necessary in order to live then I don't think a person can be too frugal. If you can't pay your bills or have no money to pay for food then I think a person should definitely be as frugal as possible. I think that when you are struggling to get out of debt you should be as frugal as possible to get out of debt as quickly as possible. In these examples a person should do everything that they can to change their situation. The frugal lifestyle will help a person do this.

On the other hand I think people can be too frugal. If you are miserable living frugally and you don't have to live this way then you are probably living TOO frugally. This does not mean that you have to stop living frugally completely. You can cut back on the extent of your frugal lifestyle. Also, if there is one particular area of frugal living that you just can't stand to do and you really don't have to live frugally, then stop doing that activity. For example if you really don't like to line dry your laundry, but enjoy the other aspects of frugal living, just stop line drying your laundry.

If you don't have to live a frugal lifestyle then living frugally should be something that you enjoy. If living this way is a necessity then you are just going to have to do the best you can right now. When you get past the point of necessity back off to a level that you enjoy. You might be surprised to find that a lot of the aspects of frugal living would be like second nature at that point.

I have found that many aspects of a frugal lifestyle are not harder than an unfrugal lifestyle. It is just different and once you change your habits it isn't something you even think about anymore. If you haven't tried living frugally before, why not try it now? You might really like it.


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    • MomK profile image

      MomK 9 years ago from Rural Arkansas

      I love the challenge of living frugally. Even if my husband and I earned twice what we now earn, I wouldn't change our lifestyle that much. We live happily and simply, but we are very fulfilled. Glad to know there are others who have embraced the frugal lifestyle.

    • shawna.wilson profile image

      shawna.wilson 9 years ago from Arizona

      I am an overly frugal person, and sometimes I definitely overdo it. I don't want to look back on my life and see a person who spent every waking minute trying to save a dime here and a nickel there.

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      Joe Finance 9 years ago

      Like Linda, My wife and I have had to learn to live frugally to pay off debt. I'm happy to say we have no credit card debt or car loans because of our shift to frugality.

      I would also like to point out that there is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Frugal (to me) means knowing the value of a dollar and spending it wisely. Cheap is just buying the lowest priced item, when it may turn out to be costly in the end because it is not made well, for instance.

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      Marie78 9 years ago

      I live frugally because I like to and because I need to (in order to pay debt off quicker). Initially, a few years ago I started living frugally because I had to and it made me feel poor and pathetic. Then my attitude about living frugally totally changed and I liked thinking of ways to spend less and when that worked I wanted to try even more, without changing the quality of my life too much. Much of what I do now is second nature for me and I could not imagine going back to my old ways...I remember a time when I used to buy garbage bags and cat litter liners and would have to scrape together money for food and gasoline for the week. I shake my head at how I used to live and feel proud for how far I have come thanks to a frugal mindset :).

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      dafla 9 years ago

      Too true, Jennifer. I have to live frugally, but if I suddenly won the lottery, although I would not go crazy, I would definitely live better. I get tired of pinching pennies sometimes. Then I'll get a real bargain, like the other day when I got three bags of $4.49 ea. cat food and two boxes of zipper bags for less than $6 with coupons, and I know it's worth it. But if I made like double what I make now, and didn't have to worry about retirement, I'd definitely live a little better.

      I think some people who have always been frugal feel guilty when they spend money. It's a lifestyle, sort of like when you need to lose weight, you change your lifestyle, not your diet. When you cheat, and gain some weight back, you feel guilty. When you're burdened with the weight of a lot of debt, and you're on a debt diet, you feel guilty when you spend anything on yourself. Today, I was feeling guilty for buying a $6 chinese food dinner, even though it was two meals for me. I feel guilty at work if I spend more than $2 on lunch. I wish there was some way I could get rid of the guilt.

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      linda 10 years ago

      I totally agree with you. We are living frugally to get out of debt right now, and honestly, I find myself really kicking myself for not doing this sooner. I use to be a person who would spend easily a hundred dollars at the grocery store every week, faithfully!!! Now, using coupons, taking advantage of CVS I rarely spend even $50. I think even when the credit card is gone I will live like this. I enjoy finding the deal and I like to know I can do this. My plans after we get out of debt is to save up and pay cash for a car, not a new one but a good used car. Also, to pay off my house. I think its important to pass this lifestyle on to my girls.