5 Downsides of Being Frugal

downsides of being frugal

Living with frugality mindset is something I’ve consciously tried to do for many years now. For the most part 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.

#1 – Embarrassed by old stuff

downsides of being frugal
mintchipdesigns / Pixabay

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on an IKEA couch purchased almost two 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 threads coming out.

My coffee – black with a splash of cream – 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. I, too, want a glamourous-looking life. 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.

Related: 23 Things That I Can Do At Home, Instead Of Spending Money

#2 – Unable to share much on Instagram

downsides of being frugal
USA-Reiseblogger / Pixabay

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 in 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?

Sometimes I do share what I cook. Not often, though. My meals don’t vary much nowadays (in food as fuel mode). I rarely eat outside so #foodpics are out of the question too.

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

downsides of being frugal
SarahRichterArt / Pixabay

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, lagilah I procrastinate. How I wish someone can just come and help me declutter my house, and help me donate/sell the stuff I no longer need! #randombusinessidea

#4 – Not being an early adopter of technology

downsides of being frugal
namair / Pixabay

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 more superior than them, thought of myself above them. I mean, it takes a lot of financial commitment to be an early adopter in technology. I used to think they have 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 the 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

downsides of being frugal
RoyBuri / Pixabay

Relationships are important – 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 frugal

Even though there are downsides of being 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 agree with my points? What are downsides you personally experience, aside from the above?


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  1. #1 re coffee mug stains – baking soda works wonders for my decade old FOC red & white Nescafe mug
    #4 interesting POV. I’ll reassess my opinion of early adopters
    #5 thank God I’m an introvert . I do spend with selected ppl. Helps to cultivate meaningful relationships even if few.

    1. The way you choose to live demonstrates strong core values and I find myself nodding furiously to each of your points. On instagram, I think you will shine by sharing your frugal way of life, I think it is very inspiring. I too struggle with trying to spend more time with friends and spending more money vs staying home. Some months back I find a sweet spot to inviting friends to my place for a dinner and gossip sesh or just to hang by the pool and relax. After all, meeting friends is because we miss each other’s company. Occasionally I will also ajak a friend to just walk and talk, this is a great way to get some exercise in, feeding the body and soul. Love your blog, keep up the great contents! 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for your kind words, TS Chan! I’m going to try invite friends over more often 🙂

  2. #5
    What I do:
    i. hang out with poor people, spend <RM5 at mamaks and gerai tepi jalan
    ii. hang out with rich people, they will belanja everytime.

    May sound like I'm joking but I'm actually serious.

    p/s: Have to use a pseudonym so that my friends don't leave me.

  3. Nice post! I am trying very hard to convert my lifestyle into this way because I wanna save more money. And when I say I try very hard, I recently relapse to the old ways i.e. spending too much because my self-control is soooooo baddddd *smacks forehead* wonder how long it takes you to finally settle into this lifestyle? Mind sharing?

    1. Hey CheapoWannabe,

      Personally, I noticed a mindset shift once I delve more into the emotional side of spending, the one responsible for auto-pilot behaviours.

      In no way I’ve mastered spending – I still do the sporadic impulse purchases – but much less than before.

      I guess I have 2 strategies:
      – intentionally avoid myself at places with high temptation, and
      – try to understand what emotions I go through, so while the damage is done, at least I’ll learn something from it

      I wrote about the emotional side of spending in this post:

      All I can say it, I’m still a work in progress, but enjoying the journey 🙂

  4. Hey Suraya!

    I chuckled when I saw you sharing this post on Facebook because it was exactly what I’ve been pondering within myself lately- have i been overly frugal?
    I dived into a semi-minimalist’ish, budgeting lifestyle when i came across your blog some months back.

    Certainly help to grow the numbers in my bank account to the point I once saved 70% of my income after expenses that was parked purely for savings! what a thrill that was! (2nd hand myvi,paid off ptptn)
    Gah at one point I went to the extreme by opting to find an open air parking for free instead of paying 2 bucks for 3 hours parking rate! yeah,ridiculous i know! but I’ve mellowed down since.LOL

    Anyway, I completely agree with you on the ‘going-out cost’ it has gotten the best of me and i’m on the road to recovery. Perhaps, I could be coined as an extremist at one point but really I blame myself for calculating every single penny I saved daily to the point where it consumes me for everything else.

    Instead of the usual weekend dating with movie and a meal at the mall with overpriced noodles, I’ve introduced myself and partner by going hiking each weekend and brunch/dinner treat at local eateries which we equally enjoy for the price we pay and save Wednesdays for movie dates with cheap tickets that seems friendly to our wallet and budget speadsheet. Somehow this approach works very well the ol’ frugal me.
    Other than that, i’m an introvert so I have a handful of friends to deal with lol

    Things I’m working on:
    to say, it is okay to get (blank)

    1. Hey Fru-gal,

      Saving 70% of your income is awesome! Good job! Looks like you’re managing your money well!

      LOL I can relate with the extremes – used to obsess over everything and mellowed down a bit, too. I used to keep all my vege scraps to make vege stock HAHAHHA

      Glad to know you found happy mediums 🙂 Thanks for swinging by!

  5. #1 – sometimes if buying certain things will makes me happy means i would just tell myself that i have emergency fund + a bit of savings aside. Once a while splurge a bit more is nothing wrong. how if i die too soon? i cant take the money to my coffin…(yes i go to that extend and think just to convince myself) haha 😛
    #5 – try potluck at home and invite your friends / siblings . you will spend lesser by cooking just 1 – 2 dishes.

    1. Hahaha I also have those ‘what’s the point of having money if you can’t enjoy it Suraya’ moments loool

  6. Got a free coffee machine by signing up for a cashback credit card. Bought coffee capsules, invited friends to come over for cheap coffee 🙂 Other than that, I’m super bad at savings and not to mentioned being frugal. Learning from you. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That sounds like a nice evening tbh, thanks for sharing that idea!

      And no one is bad at saving money, they’re just learning and not there yet 😛 You can do it!

    1. Hahahahah Charmaine thank you, you’re sweet. Happily I’ve just bought two pretty mugs to replace them ^_^

  7. Last time i am frugal and very stingy… but i hate it a bit so i changed to balance lifestyles …

    I love beautiful and high quality things and i do very much research to get the best with lowest price … i fact i have to browse several shops before buying the things… i make sure the things i bought i well kept and maimtained and it will not broken easily…

    It works for me…

    1. Hi Khairul Hazwan,

      I think I’m at that stage now, balancing between frugal and cheap, learning the difference in practice and everyday life. Sounds like you have a good system going on, keep it up!

  8. Good Post.
    Helps to refelect why you do certain stuff kann..
    1. Cofee cup stain baking soda with bit warm water. Burnt stuff in pan.. baking soda +vinegar.
    2. I just think am gypsy with all thd mismatch stuff. Its the awareness especially with impact of trash we produce and then trying la here n here… Exchange with friends. Beli nothing buy bulk.
    3. Insta does not hv to be food pix or home pix.. Maybe quotes with great tips and some cute cat in background. (your own cat) hehe
    4. Make duit stretch.. Mmm like dis.
    A. Miss that fancy orchestra bought tix for the evening rehearsal one. Budget one rm30
    B. Yoga. Try the free ones at the park on weekends. And buy tht bulk class pass for 6 mths etc. Family package n share accounts like spotify/netflix.
    C. Really swap clothes n go bless shop.. Freeze food kalau masak extra..

    1. I laughed at the ‘just think am gypsy with all the mismatch stuff’ ahahahha

      Thanks for the tips, Juju Nathan 🙂

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