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August 01, 2021

Is it possible to be just a bit too frugal?

Being frugal is smart, and these days, it's fashionable too. Witness this couple that claims to live pretty well on $14,000 a year.

Sometimes though, it just doesn't make sense to squeeze every last nickel out of every situation. Going too far in your attempts to save can quickly backfire. 

If you’re spending more time on being frugal than enjoying your family, for instance, you may want to re-evaluate the situation, suggests psychologist Lesley Lacny. This is particularly true where one partner has a different approach to saving or managing money.

"If your spending views or habits are on opposite ends of the spectrum, it may be important to find more of a balance. If a spender and a saver are in a relationship, this balance becomes crucial; they will need to blend two different ways of managing finances."

"Unfortunately, instead of bringing balance to the other's approach, they tend to end up arguing and feeling threatened or pressured to change," she says.

Sound familiar? Here are a few other signs suggesting that your frugality has morphed into something that may be a tad unhealthy.


* You go without things that you need. Frugal living isn’t meant to make your life uncomfortable. If you don’t have what you need, you’re likely off track.

* You feel isolated or put upon. When frugal choices prevent you from living a social, active life, something has gone wrong.

* You hoard items just because you get a good deal on them. It’s not really a good deal if you buy something that you don’t need and won’t use.

* You can’t let things go because you might need them someday. But what you’re really doing is cluttering up your life today.

* You hate being frugal but feel like you have to. You're looking for trouble, if you resent the activities that you’re engaging in to be frugal.

* You compromise your safety. Choosing to eat expired foods without knowing if they’re safe, for instance, is an example of dangerous frugality.

* You compete with others about how frugal you can be. Comparing notes and tips on frugality is great, but trying to top people by saving more than they do probably isn't.

How does your household work? Are you or your partner trying too hard to be frugal? Or is that even possible?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...