"You're Very Frugal"

I cannot tell you how many times people have commented on my frugality; some meaning it as a compliment and others being sarcastic and meaning it as an insult. For the record, I am never offended by being called frugal. But what I am offended by is the underlying thought by the majority that frugal means self-deprivation.

First and foremost, I'd take frugal any day over the lifestyle I see many others living. But, I wish (or maybe not) I could get people to realize that my life involves no scarcity. For example, I once had a conversation with a friend who is also a co-worker. We were talking about how we spent our extra paycheck (we are on the 26 paycheck pay cycle). She proceeded to explain all of the wonderful things she did and bought with her "free" money, but then she turned to me and said, 'I bet you saved your whole check, right?". To that question I responded, "No, I saved half and spent half". What confuses me is, I don't even know how people develop their opinion of my lifestyle because I never talk about it. The conversation about the extra paycheck was initiated by my girl friend, not me.

Any-who, I do not deprive myself in anyway--which is the main reason why I will never give up my handbag collection. It is my one indulgence and I would feel like "not me" without it. But, I also know the difference between frivolous spending or spending because of peer pressure. I cannot begin to tell you all of the crazy excuses I've heard from friends to justify their ridiculous spending--'But if I use my debit card, I have 'keep the change' and the change goes into my savings account'; or 'See, it was on sale, so I only spent $8 dollars for it (an item she bought solely because it was on sale, not because it would serve a purpose in her life).

Being frugal to me means evaluating whether or not I really need an item, will it serve a definite purpose in my life and how much use will I get out of it. Also, would I be better served borrowing the item if I would have limited usage for it. Additionally, when I do choose to purchase an item I will never spend more than I feel it's worth; whether the cost is $7 or $200. You see, for me, it is not about the cost, per say, but the value. I will definitely pay what an item is worth, even if it's an expensive item (even though I may be inclined to wait for it to go on sale). I've found that most people don't understand this concept--which is fine for them, I guess. But what bothers me (and I will admit I am bothered by this), is the underlying judgment that others have about people who refuse to spend their money mindlessly. It was part of my motivation for starting this blog.

So, what do you think? Do you sometimes feel judged by others for your frugal ways?


  1. Anonymous said...
    Maybe it's not so much frugality as it is minimalism. Though plenty of people see that as deprivation as well. It's foreign to most people so it's not viewed as positively as notions they are familiar with. Ignorance basically.
    Everyday Tips said...
    Actually, a lot of my friends ask for my advice about saving money, so I am not sure they really judge me. However, they may mock me behind my back, who knows. They will say 'well I am not a saver like you when I grocery shop' or whatever. They know I can whip out a coupon for just about any purchase at any store.
    Anonymous said...
    You know, I think people have it all wrong. It's like society has collectively "swallowed the Kool-Aid" handed out by the giant marketing machine, and has come to believe that "scarcity" is actually an issue for us!

    I mean, seriously, which is more "scarce" being up to your eyeballs in debt so you can finance a pile of crap that you really didn't even want, or having everything you need PLUS enough money in the bank to feel a sense of freedom? It's an easy answer as far as I'm concerned!
    Annienygma said...
    I feel incredibly judged for my frugality! I have been scolded for depriving the kid by not having cable (and now no tv), told I am cruel cause I don't have a couch (I traded most of my furniture for this trailer) and been called a lot of other things cause I don't go with the crowd...

    Sometimes it is better to keep the frugality quiet with the people I know f2f and just share it here... it is terribly lonely this way but I get tired of people treating me as if I'm some type of freak :(

    great post--keep up the great work!
    Anonymous said...
    They aren't judging you as much as your frugality feels like your judgment of them. Not that you are judging them, but I've found that some people are offended by others who refuse to share in their habits and beliefs even if you never express anything like that. The fact that you live your life differently somehow says theirs is wrong.

    I know some people that seem to be that way. Everyone that does anything different or believes anything different from them is "stupid". Their way is the "right" way and if you don't buy into it then somehow your saying they are in the wrong.
    Young Mogul said...
    I know the feeling. It's an ongoing issue for me in my family because my sister and I are so different. I have to deal with the judgment of them thinking she is 'living the life' and I am 'living the frugal life'. It certainly doesn't help when you come from a family that derives their self-worth from comparing their material goods to others' material items.

    As far as your daughter not having TV...I will never understand why people feel that such things are a necessity or that it is somehow abuse because you choose not to expose your daughter to such things. However, I bet she is bright and creative because she has to think of imaginative ways to entertain herself.

    But, I bet people don't acknowledge that part or the fact that your life is less stressful than theirs and you have more free time.

    People acknowledge what they want, so my philosophy is live and let live. Too bad others can't adopt the same philosophy.

    Thanks to all 3 of you ladies for your comments.
    Young Mogul said...
    Maybe next time I get an offensive comment, I will express your sentiment about which is most "scarce". That's a great way to handle it. Thanks for the idea.

    I never thought of it that way. The more I think about it, the more I'm sure that is at least part of the issue.
    Serendipity said...
    Oh, I know I'm being judged. My aunt who thinks it's all about her asked if I would go to the mall before I came down on my trip home and pick her up a pretzel. I asked if she'd pay me the five bucks when I brought it to her because I'm on a strict budget and then she said I had a job, she didn't, I could afford to buy her a pretzel. WTF! Just because I have a job doesn't mean I can supply the whole entire world pretzels. Whats really the kicker is she goes on to tell me her bf is taking her on vacation to Wisconsin for two weeks. And she can't pay me back for her pretzel.
    Young Mogul said...
    I've had my share of the "You can afford it more than I can" comments. Some people really have a nerve! How do they know what someone else can afford?!
    FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...
    They probably feel more ashamed of themselves spending the whole cheque than to be a disparaging comment against your saving nature.

    People turn outward onto others, what they feel inside themselves to begin with.

    I'd rather be called cheap and frugal than live paycheque-to-paycheque ever again.

    Not surprisingly, I'm happier that I spend less money & can live on less because I choose to
    FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...
    Oh and I just read the rest of the comments --- THIS is why I don't talk about money to co-workers or to friends.

    I will get comments like: "You can afford it more than I can."

    Very annoying.

    It doesn't mean it gives you a free pass to be a mooch. I worked hard for my money and I worked hard to save it too.
    Anonymous said...
    Agreed, it's all about choice.

    We just live in a society where we can have it now and pay for it later (aka the rest of your life), and everyone is OK with that. So when someone has an idea that makes sense- save for something you want instead of using credit - it boggles their mind.

    I think you're doing a great job. Keep it up and don't listen to the others :)
    The Asian Pear said...
    My friends often make comments about my frugality (ie: cheapness). I don't care. I know that I'm actually in a better place financially than the rest of them. I have a pension. I have savings. I have an emergency plan. I have a retirement savings.

    None of these sound that bad to me. :)

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