Ask the Readers: Is It Possible to Be Too Frugal?

By Ashley Jacobs on 17 January 2012 (Updated 24 January 2012) 121 comments
Photo: Ken Teegardin

Congratulations to frugalportland, Kristin Haffey, and Bob Muller for winning this week's contest!

Being frugal is typically something looked upon favorably nowadays. From clipping coupons to buying on sale, most people practice frugality in their day-to-day lives. But is there ever a point where someone can be a little too frugal?

Is it possible to be too frugal? At what point does being frugal become cheap? Or is it impossible to take frugality too far?

Tell us if you think it's possible to be too frugal and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, January 23rd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after January 23rd on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Paul

YES!! My biggest pet peave is when you are out to dinner with a group, and certain friends put in money but dont include tax or a crummy tip. I guess those people are more cheap than frugal.

Also, sticking to a budget is important. But if it means that you are sacrificing all your fun because you dont want to "waste your money," I find it rediculous.

Saving is important, but so is enjoying life.

Guest's picture
kristina

Probably

Guest's picture

I don't think so. Think of all of the people in this world who truly have nothing. If you're so motivated, be as frugal as you want. Your savings can always go to help those in need worldwide.

Guest's picture
Verl

If you're in debt to the point where it's difficult to make debt payments and cover your necessary expenses, I don't think it's possible to be too frugal until that pressure is relieved by paying off debts, following a budget, and/or making more money.

But once that point it reached, you should loosen up a little to enjoy life and the results of your frugality.

Guest's picture
Kim

I think if you're not enjoying life, then you're too frugal.

Guest's picture
Raina

I think too much of anything can be bad. If you feel deprived or are not even getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor, you're probably too frugal. I choose to pick my battles with frugality -- would argue over a dime for one thing but drop hundreds of dollars for something else.

Guest's picture
Wesley Davidson

Liked your page ;)

It's definitely possible to be too frugal! I have a sister who never throws away *anything*! I had to prevent her from washing the paper plates in my house, instead of just throwing them away. Sure it would save a few pennies, but why exert all the extra effort?

Guest's picture

If your family is starting to hate you because you're frugal, you might be too frugal.

Guest's picture
Don

It is definitely possible to be too frugal. Where I live there is a "cheapskate" column in the Sunday paper. Most of the tips in the column will save the reader $300 over 20 years. To me, that is simply being too frugal. Instead of focusing on cutting such small amounts, you should focus on your career or starting a side business; something that will earn you much more than $300 over 20 years.

Guest's picture
Dee Dee

Too frugal, I am not certain you can be since frugal is about getting value and enjoyment out of your money and not hurting others. So if you get the value and enjoyment go for it. Cheap is a totally different story and can border on being plain foolish.

Guest's picture
Amecoy75002

I liked on FB and retwittered. Frugal is not only a way of life, it is a mindset. If your mindset is not in sync with the way you are living, you can become "too cheap". "Too cheap" happens when you spend too much time worrying about money and not enjoying the simple lifestyle of frugality

Guest's picture

Yes! I was frugal and bought the "cheaper" shorts online. Turns out the fit is TERRIBLE. So instead of saving 10 dollars, I actually lost 16. Sometimes it pays to buy the one you can try on!

Maria

Guest's picture
April

I can't help it, I'm a very literal person: It is impossible to be too frugal since frugal means to 'not be wasteful'. However, I will say that there is a big difference between being frugal and cheap - being frugal means that you shop with care and consume with care so that your efforts and money aren't wasted. Being cheap means you don't care what you get as long as it is cheap.

Guest's picture
Carl Huber

It absolutely is possible to be too frugal. There's a nebulous line that crosses over into miserly pennypinching. When you are denying yourself basic care (relaxation, happiness, health!) that is just missing the entire point of frugality. It's not to save until it hurts. And anyway, you are probably hurting yourself in the long run as stress, depression, anxiety and poor hygiene can ruin your health.

However, I'm liking this on Facebook for an extra entry. ;)

Guest's picture
Lisa

My aunt was so frugal (in her case afraid to spend money) that she was diagnosed with being malnourished. At the time, she had 10K in a trunk in her bedroom. So yes, all good things can be taken too far.

Guest's picture
Carol

If you are able to maintain the roof over your head, feed yourself, save some money and maintain good health and cleanliness, you are frugal enough. I see and hear from many people (for instance) that they "can't afford" to go to the doctor, but they have the latest gadgets like a Wii or iPad. That's not prioritizing correctly! In my household, we are frugal in some areas to have the extra money for other areas where we choose to spend more. Neither of us care that our clothes are a little stiff from drying on the clothesline, but the savings allow us to spend more on our groceries for tastier (better) meals.

Guest's picture
Rose

Using coupons at a restaurant is frugal. Tipping on the reduced bill is cheap.

Guest's picture
Carmen

If you've ever watched the show "Extreme Cheapskate", you'd know it *is* possible to be too frugal. Asking other people for their leftover food from restaurants? Not just gross, but a safety hazard. (although I've seen other ideas from the show I don't consider extreme)

Guest's picture
Carmen

I have "liked" you on Facebook

Guest's picture
bryan

You can only ask yourself that question. One persons frugality is different from another persons frugality. If you feel you are being too frugal, then that is your answer. If not, then you have acheived a comfortable balance. Personally I believe, being frugal to the point that it negatively impacts the quality of your life, your liberty or the pursuit of your happiness--is being too frugal

Guest's picture
Sam

If you're quality of life is pretty much non-existent... yes, you are too frugal.