happiness money management

EXTREME!!! frugality isn’t the answer

286/365+1Being a PF blogger, I’ve had people ask me what I think about the “extreme” frugality trend, as seen on shows like Extreme Couponers and Extreme Cheapskate, where people go to ridiculous lengths to save a few extra bucks (or even cents).

How extreme are they?

If you haven’t watched these shows, brace yourself. One man on Extreme Cheapskates had to buy his wife an anniversary present, so he dumpster dove and visited thrift shops. (The thrift shop I could almost get behind if you were on a limited budget, but like the show’s title says, he just does it because he’s a cheapskate.)

Oh, and this same guy? Eats off of other people’s plates in restaurants! That’s right, when people leave a table after they’re done eating, he goes over and starts scraping the leftovers off total stranger’s plates. They could be bitten-into burgers, he doesn’t care.

Needless to say, his wife is embarrassed to go out to eat with him.

Or consider Extreme Couponers. I admire people who regularly coupon. (I don’t do it religiously, and I know I could be better.) But these people will spend hours and hours clipping multiple coupon inserts, sometimes enlisting their entire family. They’ll spend an entire day inside a grocery store trying to pull off the ultimate savings heist. They’ll even steal coupon inserts off their neighbor’s porches.

There’s frugality, and then there’s this.

A more balanced approach

While I’d be the first to applaud money saving strategies, it gets to a point where your “return on investment” (as the business people say) just isn’t worth it.

Are you willing to waste an entire day if it only nets you a few extra dollars in savings? (You can’t get a grocery bills that’s 99% discounted like the couponers on the show do…no grocery store would let you split your order up over 7 registers unless you had a camera crew of your own along with you.)

Are you willing to eat the food off other people’s plates (germ risk (to say the least)!) to get a little extra bang for your dining-out buck?

As with anything in life, it all comes down to balance, balance, balance. Being an extremely frugal person can make you just as miserable as being a shopaholic eventually will.  It’s just a different kind of misery.

It’s OK to allow yourself little splurges…or even to go so far as to only eat only your own food in a restaurant! It’s OK to buy yourself a few pretty dresses for the summer, or dare to buy only one of the on-sale cereals instead of 12 with multiple coupons. Happiness is all about striking that balance between frugal and enjoying your life.

And dumpster diving? I’m sorry, but I’ll never understand that…

What do think of “extreme” frugality like these shows display? Do you think you’d be happy living like that?





photo credit:  meaganmakes

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  • I wish I was a bit more frugal and certainly spend too much eating out, but would never consider eating someone else’s restaurant discards.

    The problem with couponing usually is that the food is processed and I really try to eat whole foods as much as possible. Second, rarely is it organic. Third, I even go natural for hygiene products so a Crest coupon is worthless to me. I’d like to find reliable sites for coupons I’d actually use!

    • Yeah, I think that’s part of my problem with coupons, too. For whatever I clip, there aren’t that many products I’d consider buying, even if they were on sale. We’re the same way about trying to avoid too much processed food.

  • Oh, I most definitely agree with you. We like to think about it like a job. If what you are doing to save money is going to have a lower payout than you would receive working for $10 an hour, then it probably isn’t worth your time and trouble. Return on investment is logic that the extreme cheapskate’s are clueless about!

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