The Trouble With Being Cheap

by Mike Holman


Quite a few people have been expressing their admiration for my frugality to me, so I thought it was time to rein in the enthusiasm and talk a bit about the downsides of frugal living.

1. The most obvious downside, and what I don’t actually consider a downside, is frugality makes you question your buying decisions. We live in a society that wants to sell us stuff all the time, and it’s easy to just immerse yourself in this, buy buy buy. It’s harder to resist this and decide for yourself what is of importance and value.

2. Meager living spaces are a downside which would bother a lot of people. Small space without amenities definitely leads to a different lifestyle compared to mansions with indoor pools. When I was a kid growing up, like everyone, I thought about living in a big house as an adult. The reality of having to maintain so much space makes it utterly unappealing at this point in life (I doubt I’d have a mansion if I was the richest man on Earth). My brother dreams of a house on the water and being able to do outdoor activities all year round. My father wanted to buy a house with a big lot. All these things cost money, and if you’re serious about being cheap you may have to give some of them up.

3. It’s hard to be cheap. There’s constant social pressure to just drop coin like it doesn’t matter to you. Evaluating buying decisions certainly doesn’t make you a lot of friends. My ex was debating a limit of what she should spend for a wedding gift for a co-worker, and her mother told her “don’t be so cheap”. This can hurt sometimes.

4. Family and romance can be tough. If you really want to live cheap, you’re going to have to lose the kids. As a guy, you’re going to have a tough time dating if you’re trying not to pay for dinner and a movie too often (“come on baby, I’ll take you for a walk in the park followed by free samples out at Costco!”). I’m not too sure if being cheap would make romance harder for a woman, since the ultimate seduction hardly costs anything at all (show up naked with a sandwich). In all seriousness, I wouldn’t try to live the way I do now if a wife and/or child was involved.

5.  Eating cheap food can be bad for your health.  Try to remember that health is VERY valuable, if you find yourself grappling with food expense decisions (my beloved cheap, chicken hot dogs are delicious, but deadly!).

So there you have it, the only cost of being cheap is you’ll have trouble making decisions, be lonely (no friends or family), live in a hovel and slowly sickening of malnutrition. Any dangers I’ve missed?

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