Living with frugality mindset (without being cheap) is something I’ve consciously tried to do for many years now, but is there such a thing as being TOO frugal?
For the most part I love frugal life, much prefer it to extravagant life. It’s great, I’ve saved so much money. But let’s talk about the downsides, shall we? Roses still have thorns and all that.
This is not an article to deter you from frugalism – no, not at all. I have zero regrets adopting this lifestyle. I just want to share the bad that comes with the good. I want to let you know when being too frugal *might* be a problem.
#1 – Embarrassed by old stuff
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on an IKEA couch purchased almost five years ago. There are stains that won’t wash away. The sides bore scratch marks artistically done by the cats. They’re particularly proud of the bits of thread coming out.
My coffee – black, like my heart – have since cooled. The mug was RM2, bought from a thrift shop. There’s a couple of chips around the edges. I’m a daily coffee drinker, and the coffee stains don’t quite wash away, no matter how hard I scrub.
The drying rack is right in front of me, loaded with laundry I did yesterday. I’ve owned that nightdress for about five years now! Hey, I never noticed that hole in that shirt before…
Sometimes, particularly after I had a round of mindless Instagram or Pinterest, a part of me cries out for an overhaul. Clothes overhaul. Home decor overhaul. Kitchenware overhaul. While we’re at it, accessories and bedding too.
I, too, like the idea of being surrounded by new, beautiful things. Then the internal dialogue starts, and I start to reason with myself why complete overhauls will NOT make me happy, there MUST be an underlying reason for all these feelings, am I simply feeling bored instead?, and I forget about it until the next time I open Instagram and Pinterest again.
#2 – Unable to share much on Instagram
See, I take digital marketing for Ringgit Oh Ringgit seriously. I want as many people as possible to talk about money candidly. That’s how I view my role, anyway.
I’m active on Facebook and Twitter. But not as much on Instagram (my handle). A lot of Malaysians are there, and I’d love to reach them, but most of the time I simply don’t know what picture to snap and share.
I can’t do #OOTDs – my style is really nothing to shout about. Plus, see Point #1
Showing off new stuff I bought is a no in most cases, too, unless it’s an absurdly good deal or there’s a story behind it. Also, I don’t want to advocate for consumerism too much, you know?
I’d love to be more active on Instagram. Maybe I’ll start to post more grocery hauls? Any other ideas?
#3 – Procrastinate on things you’re too stingy to delegate
Oh man, what a big one.
DIY culture goes hand in hand with frugalism. If something breaks, you fix it yourself. Clean your house yourself. Prep your food yourself. Paying premium for conveniences should only be done sparingly, a treat.
I agree, yes. But it’s not like I have eternal motivation to do everything, you know? Especially cleaning – what a never-ending chore! Broken things in my house takes forever to repair, too. I’d wait until I can’t ignore it any more. Like that time I waited forever to get someone to fix the ceiling leak, until it turned moldy!
And these are services you CAN delegate. Things that I can’t delegate, I procrastinate even more. How I wish someone could just come and declutter my house, and help me donate/sell the stuff I no longer need!
#4 – Not being an early adopter of technology
I subscribe to this frugal advice: never get the latest gadgets.
Last time, I used to be SO snobby about this and pooh-poohed the people who regularly update their gadgets to the latest versions. I felt superior to them, thought of myself above them. I mean, it takes a lot of financial commitment to be an early adopter of technology. I used to think they had low self-control.
How judgemental, right?
Now, I have a different take – I value the contributions of early adopters. They are the ones who are brave enough to test new technologies and vote for a gadget’s future with their own money.
Without early adopter’s initial demands, I don’t think the gadgets I use and love now will ever get into higher production, thus reducing the cost of ownership for me. They’re also among the first to support smaller startups and businesses that work with new technologies: drones, VR, 3D printing, etc.
If it weren’t for them, those industries wouldn’t grow. They’d just die off, taking technological advancements with them.
I read a thoughtful opinion piece from an early adopter a while back (lost the link unfortunately). They are very much aware of the financial damage they do to themselves. They are also online-shamed a lot. But they do it anyway, because they are passionate about technology and enjoy testing out new features never tried before.
So yeah, thank you early adopters. As long as you don’t get into unnecessary debt or anything, go for it.
(Side note: I guess you can also apply ‘early adopter’ broadly to other fast-changing industries too, like fashion).
#5 – Loneliness
Relationships are important and key to a happy, fulfilled life. That’s a fact.
Rationally, I know I shouldn’t be stingy when I want to develop new friendships and maintain old ones… but it’s still hard for me to justify the expenses.
Right now, I’m trying to balance and hit the sweet spot between these two options:
- Option A: Don’t go out too often. If I stay in I’d save on transportation, food and other going-out costs. Plus, reduce impulse spending and peer pressure-related spending. That’s good for my wallet.
- Option B: Feel bouts of loneliness when I decide to stay at home.
Friends in my personal life reading this, I miss you ;_; I’m sorry I don’t get to see you more often. Will try my best to make more effort.
Those of you who have a good social life AND reasonable social-related expenses, how do you do it? I need help with this.
Last thoughts on downsides of being too frugal
Even though there are downsides of being too frugal, I think I’ll continue at it. It works for my lifestyle and personality, and I think the pros far outweigh the cons. Plus, I like the lifestyles that complement frugalism – minimalism, DIY culture, zero waste, capsule wardrobe, small home movement among others.
Would you consider yourself frugal? If yes, do you relate to any of the above? What downsides do you personally experience?