Friday, October 8, 2010
You’ve been called penny-pincher, cheapskate, tightwad, skinflint, stingy, miser, Scrooge, and un-American. But is it really possible to be too frugal? In this day and age, with the economy continuing to swirl around the drain, layoffs ongoing, foreclosures at all-time highs, banks tightening the purse strings, and consumers tightening their belts, you’d think people would be a little more understanding about your desire to save every red cent. And yet, despite the fact that being frugal is actually a fairly desirable disposition, there is such a thing as being too frugal, and here are a few signs that you may be a little too obsessed with saving money.
Safety issues. Saving a few bucks where you can is one thing, but when it gets to the point where you’re putting the safety of yourself or others at risk, there’s a problem. For example, if you neglect to attend to car problems because your automobile is “still working just fine”, you could be putting your life and the lives of other drivers on the line every time you leave the garage. Just pay the money and get it fixed. Or if you simply can’t do it, take the bus instead. No amount of money is worth your life.
Health issues. Just because you can buy Top Ramen at 10 packs for a dollar doesn’t mean you should eat it for every meal. Yes, it may sustain you indefinitely (or at least keep you full), but you need a lot more nutrients to be healthy than you can find in noodles and broth. The inevitable hospital bills you will face when you’re suffering from malnutrition will more than cancel out any dough you might have saved on your grocery bill.
Illegal activity. Stealing is stealing, plain and simple. Although it can be tempting to use rebate coupons multiple times by putting in different names and addresses, you can actually be prosecuted for mail fraud if you get caught doing so. Same goes for mail order freebies, contests that only allow one entry, downloading pirated music and movies, and so on. Cheating the system is never a good way to get ahead and it can have dire consequences.
Unethical activity. Eating half your meal and then sending it back, complaining ad nauseam until you are given a rebate, or insisting that a store take a coupon with a sale item even though it is expressly prohibited are all ways to save a few cents, but they’re not really very ethical (or attractive). If you want people to remember you as that jerk who always tries to get stuff for free (which, by the way, most retailers will spot a mile away), then you can expect commensurate treatment the next time you visit their establishment. And don’t imagine that they’ll do it twice.
Quality of life issues. While saving money can often help you to pay the bills and reduce the stress of debt management, you don’t want to go so far that you make yourself suffer unnecessarily. For example, limiting yourself to three squares of toilet paper per bathroom visit is not only kind of creepy, but also a bit un-hygienic. And sentencing yourself to only eating at home can be rather antisocial. Saving money is only worthwhile if it helps to make your life better, so consider that before you turn down an invite to a movie or a night at the bowling alley. You’ll find that a pile of coins, while pretty, makes for a very cold bedfellow.
Kyle Simpson writes for The Best Degrees where you can find information on the top online schools and find out which fields offer the highest paying jobs upon graduation.