A reader sent me a tweet awhile back asking me a simple question: Where does one draw the line at being el cheapo and living a bit?
He wondered if it was possible to be so frugal that you may be taking some joy from yourself.
For those of us who have run up thousands of dollars in credit card debt, we know that shopping can be an addiction and living beyond your means can cause many problems.
But what about savers? Can being frugal and embracing your inner cheapskate become a problem as well?
I think it can. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Extreme Couponing or Extreme Cheapskates on TLC, you’ve probably witnessed some unhealthy behaviors done in the name of frugality. If you’ve ever spent time with a real tightwad, you may have witnessed some actions that leave you scratching your head.
So where do you draw the line? How do balance your desire to save money with living a full and happy life?
Whenever I wonder if my efforts may be doing me more harm than good, I ask myself a few questions:
Are my actions helping me meet me goals?
If you’ve set some smart goals for yourself, then it should be easy to ascertain whether your actions are helping you meet those goals. If they’re not, then why are you bothering with them? Is it worth your time to wash your sandwich baggies? Maybe for you, or maybe not. The answer depends on your personal goals.
How do my actions affect others?
You are clearly crossing a line if your money-saving ways are affecting the safety and well being of others. There are some things this cheapskate won’t do, and that includes anything that would hurt another human being. I also ask myself what I am doing that helps others. If what I am doing only serves me, that’s usually a sign that I’ve taken things too far.
How do I feel about what I am doing?
If you are feeling deprived, suffering from frugal fatigue, and battling an endless hopeless feeling, you may be taking things too far. It is important to live within your means, yes. But it’s also important to LIVE. Find a way to budget some money to blow. And find ways to enjoy the things that you love for less.
It’s okay to be cheap… in moderation. The most important thing isn’t the money you save, it’s what you do with the freedom that saving money gives you.