Are You Tired of Being Frugal?

by David Ning · 27 comments

Nurturing, even when you wouldn’t have it any other way, can be tiring.

Sara is over two weeks old already, and I can’t believe how tired I am. I knew beforehand that there will be sleepless nights, but nothing prepares you like real world conditions. I actually just woke up, but I thought I had more energy when I went to bed. Everyone tells me that it gets better after 3 months, and hearing that makes me feel better. So today, let me repay the favor and tell you this:

Frugal living can be tiring sometimes, but it gets better and easier with time. At first, you need a conscious effort to save. Eventually though, decisions seem to become second nature and pretty soon, you will be scratching your head and wondering why other people need to spend the way they do. Emma and I always ask ourselves whether we are being a little too frugal (no doubt everyone’s comments about our lifestyle contribute to this), but our discussion always ends with “but we are happy being the way we are”. And… isn’t that the end goal? To be happy?

To be honest, we don’t even feel like we are sacrificing for a better tomorrow. Sure, the future is why we are frugal, as there is little reason to save otherwise, but there aren’t many reasons to spend either. We have everything we want and we are happy. We may want a nicer car, or perhaps a bigger house at times, but how does that make us happier? Everyone thinks I save because I care too much about money, but they are wrong.

There is no need. We don’t:

  • feel deprived.
  • need to prove to others.
  • need more stuff.

Why do we need to spend?

Actually…

Wealthy ones aside, many of our friends think that we are pretty well off. We live in a good neighborhood, we drive decent cars, and we don’t talk about having money troubles to our peers. What they don’t know is that we actually save quite a bit too. Yes, having good income, which we are fortunate to have, absolutely helps. More importantly though, our habits help us spend much less than what’s deemed normal.

Money comes from somewhere. You can either spend it on small things, or save it for something bigger.

  • Our friends change their cars every couple years, while I am still driving my Acura I purchased when I came to the states. (Though to be completely honest, my two door sporty ride is becoming a less desirable option as my family grows in size.)
  • Our friends have $100 cell phone bills, while ours cost half as much.
  • Our friends keep the same insurance for years, while we keep calling (and getting) a lower rate every 6 months.

Everyone’s heard all these points before, and it doesn’t seem like much. Yet, we save a good amount AND we spend on what we like. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but there must be a hole in everyone else’s wallet.

Where is the sacrifice? I don’t see it. Frugality lets me live more. How can I be tired of that?

Like a new born, frugality will change your life, but in the best possible way.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Griff March 25, 2010 at 5:05 am

It’s amazing how we get sucked into the lie of believing that we need more stuff in order to be happier… When will we ever learn. Being frugal and simplifying your life bring much more satisfaction. Thanks for the encouragement.

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Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black March 25, 2010 at 5:23 am

What a wonderful, exhausting time in your life. As the mother of three, I can attest that it does get easier with time. (It’s amazing how accustomed you become to getting woken up in the middle of the night:)

I totally get your point. It’s a frame of mind, and it’s about habits and routine. We all have those, for better or for worse. For finances, why not have them be for the better? It may require more effort to develop those habits — just as it requires effort to start a new workout routine or to learn how to prepare a new recipe with foreign ingredients. But once we have learned them and practiced them and incorporated them into our daily lives, they become second nature.

Just as you will not be able to remember a time when your night’s sleep was not dictated by the needs and whims of the new little life you brought into your world. (And you wouldn’t have it any other way.)

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marci357 March 25, 2010 at 7:25 am

You said it….. and I repeat it…. I have all I want and I am happy…. :)

It’s not so much about being frugal – it’s just there is NO reason, no want, no need to spend :) When one is content and happy and all needs are covered, what is there to spend on? Makes it so easy to save…. and it’s not that it feels like one is saving money for a reason… it’s just that one is NOT spending the money for no reason. So the money automatically saves itself. Easy.

It’s not tiring being frugal…. it IS tiring spending money …

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Budget Gal Angie March 25, 2010 at 9:17 am

I’ve never thought about living frugally in the same terms of being a new parent. It makes so much sense though. There are some big adjustments with both, some bumps along the way, but the end result and the reward you feel is so worth it.

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Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom March 25, 2010 at 9:50 am

It does get better. Trust me. My little one refused to sleep unless I was holding him. I slept sitting on the sofa for several weeks until he finally went to sleep on his own. I wouldn’t want to do that again. Good luck.

I have learned that “frugality” is relative & different for everyone. Some may think I’m frugal, other may think I’m not. We spend on what we care about & try not to waste money on stuff we do not care for.

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Early Retirement Extreme March 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I ask the counter question: “Are you tired of going to work every day?”.
If they say yes, I say this is why I am frugal, so I don’ have to.
If they say no, I say I feel the same way about being frugal as you do about work.

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Cd Phi March 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Good analogy. Honestly, living frugally is your decision and no one should change your opinion about your lifestyle. However, I have a relative who will go to every single family function and not bring ONE single dish to contribute to our families’ potluck. Yet, on their child’s birthday they expect everyone to give their children lavish gifts but on others’ birthdays (like nieces and nephews) they’ll just give them a pair of socks. That’s quite frugal and that definitely crosses the line. That kind of manner will spark people to talk but I feel that the way your family is living is perfectly fine. You’re just living within your means.

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justus December 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm

That’s not frugal.

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Donna March 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Great article. I have recently ramped up my frugality quotient due to a job loss after running out of medical leave. Articles like this keep me encouraged to keep this up even after I find another job. Thanks again.

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UH2L March 25, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I agree with this post to a point. I don’t need a lot to be happy, and in the words of a Canadian singer Mae Moore, “all the things I don’t have set me free.” But, to be frugal often requires tracking expenses and budgeting. That takes time and time is money. I find it stressful to keep worrying about how much I’m spending. (I don’t spend outrageously and I do save a lot).

Also, a lot more is done by the frugal to save money at the expense of time. My motto is, “you can always make a dollar later, but you can’t make an hour later.” Why should I spend time doing some car maintenance when a mechanic can do it for me at a rate that is worth less than the value of the time it would take me to do it? As for driving an old car, you are sacrificing your safety and your family’s safety. New cars are significantly safer than old ones and as any vehicle ages, its structural integrity is compromised by corrosion and vibrations due to potholes, bumps. Newer cars have life-saving features like stability control and side airbags. I choose not to save money on protecting my life and the lives of those I love. Environmentally speaking, newer vehicles also pollute much less, and they can often be more efficient relative to a similarly sized older vehicle.

In the end, once you donate a fair amount, save enough and take care of financial goals like retirement or a kid’s college education, what are you saving it for? Once you die, (which could be next week or in 2 years or in 50 years), a pile of money doesn’t do you much good. You could be enjoying it before the inevitable happens or before you become immobile. If you leave it for your relatives, then you have no control over what they do with it. They might save it until they die and the cycle will continue. Who better to judge how to spend (or donate) money than yourself?

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John C. March 26, 2010 at 5:23 am

Yes, i am totally agreed with Donna.

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savvysavingbytes March 26, 2010 at 6:04 am

I like simplicity. In my surroundings…in my life. This leads to a frugal life style. It also leads to saving money and the nice thing about that is one day you’ll have enough, so that you no longer have to worry about money problems. And this frees you up to think about a lot more interesting things.

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Monroe on a Budget March 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm

We have been in frugal habits for so long that I didn’t realize our lifestyle was so out of the mainstream. And yet, there are people who are far more frugal than my family.

One example: when I was helping to clean a relative’s house a couple of weeks ago, I went looking for the cleaning rags. It didn’t occur to me that it was still normal in other homes to use paper towels with the spray.

Another example: I’ve been using coupons for 20 years. This is normal shopping behavior to me. On the rare occasions I forget to bring my coupons to the supermarket, I keep to the products that I know are not coupon-able. And yet, behind me in the grocery line today, was a lady who seemed very annoyed that I had a handful of coupons to give the cashi9er.

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Stephan April 19, 2010 at 7:31 am

Awesome article, and definitely something that most of us can relate too. It is a shame that we as a country do not save more, as it ends up hurting us the most when we are the weakest, old, retired, and in worse health than you are now. Living frugally doesn’t mean you cant have fun or enjoy life, it just means you look at your financial decisions and ask yourself, is this really worth X # of dollars or is this really worth one days work? And as stated above, why wouldn’t you want to live comfortably and worry free when you are older? Those are supposed to be your golden years, make sure you get there and can enjoy them with the people you love.

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Hammer October 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm

We refuse to get a debit card. It sounds strange but it has helped us save so much money. There are less places that take checks which prevents us from going there. Most restaurants do not accept checks . So all of our purchases other than the grocery store must be planned in advance. We don’t let ourselves have the option of eating out if we don’t feel like cooking. We don’t have the option for a movie out if we are bored, unless its all planned. At that point is it worth dealing with waiting at the bank for cash and usually its not.

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TrueDisbeliever January 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm

A debit card is the same as using a check or cash! As long as you have a very good idea what is in your checking account (I do this by using Quicken online every day), a debit card — mine can also be used as a “credit card” but the money is also withdrawn from my checking account — saves time/money/gas, writing checks, buying stamps, running to the mailbox, and driving to the bank. I also get very few bills in the mail!

As my late great husband used to say “There are some things that we can “afford” (e.g., a good education) and some things that we can’t “afford” (e.g., a fancy sports car).” It pretty much depends on your values.

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Will December 19, 2010 at 4:38 pm

HAMMER- Your method of living with no Debit Card sounds extreme. However, WHAT A GREAT IDEA…
I don’t have credit cards for the same reason plus their practices and charges are stupid. That is stupid to those that contribute to their financial Empires.
And you are right about checks, not many places accept them now.
I am in full agreement with your method regarding keeping ones self from over spending .
I try to use CASH as much as possible but also use a Debit Card.
I could live without the debit card and it would no doubt save me money. Heaps. Especially in those little nasty bank charges.
But I also use PrePaid cards.
I believe if I threw out the Banks debit card and only used cash and one pre-paid Green Dot card I would have access to any thing I needed to buy with either cash or a credit card which only has as much money as I want deposited into it.
Cheers
Will

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Sasha Hasani December 23, 2010 at 6:01 pm

If you are only frugal now that there is a slump, it’s probably better late than never. Still, you are late in the game. Those who have seen this coming are now reaping the benefits by not being hit at all by this crisis. So let this be a lesson to all spendy grasshoppers…

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FairnessMan January 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Being frugal is truly and actually life’s most rewarding hobby.

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Mary Ann January 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I am happy to say that our family lives with a frugal mentality.

I agree with another poster, that many of our friends may not know this about us as we live in a wonderful neighborhood, have good jobs and drive a nice (albiet nearly 10 year old car).

My husband and I made a choice long ago to live within our means. We buy what we *need* and save our money for special occasions. We are never sucked into having to buy the latest new item, be it a car, clothes, electronics etc…and have enough confidence within ourselves that we don”t have to “keep up with the Jones’s”.

Over the years this has afforded us the luxury of savings, living debt free, while putting money aside for special things like occassional family trips and now renovating our home without having to take out a loan and paying down our mortgage.

Done right, it’s not about depriving yourself more than setting financial goals and the satisfaction of managing well one’s finances.

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Kathie February 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I would LOVE to figure out how to live being not quite as frugal. Our car loans and mortgage equal about 13% of our monthly salary and is really the only “debt” items that we have (or that has potential interest). We pay off utilities/credit cards/ everything else on a monthly basis and put a good deal of our paychecks into savings. In fact, if we both lost our jobs, we could support the same lifestyle we now live (including vacations several times a year) for a couple of years.
My problem: I have an extremely hard time parting with my money. It is easy to tell my in-laws and parents that nothing would make me happier than to have no inheritance because they spent their money on things that made them happy. The only thing, I can’t seem to follow that advice myself. I would love to be a little less frugal, I can certainly afford it. The first step will be the hardest, I think…

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Mary April 3, 2011 at 6:14 am

I enjoyed reading these comments on being frugal & have come to the conclusion it is an individuals choice as to how they want to spend there money . I have worked two jobs since I was 20 and am now 48 have been forced to move 15 times in 26 years and have gone without all of those years. I have kept my heat off in my apartments because I felt there was no need if I was only there to sleep and get a shower, gone without vactaions and so many material things and the cost of having to move all those times monetary wise is close to 1/2 a million dollars along with all the other crazy things that have happened so to be frugal sometimes doesn’t pay because no matter what I have done to save I don’t have any of it now and because I had to work so much I have also lost touch and contact with the people I cared about in my life but upset that none of them did anything about what went on – so I learned that working so hard to save and have a future didn’t quite pan out either and a persons circumstances as to whats important in life should be left to them to decide -buy now save later or save now buy later whats better I don’t no – I have had two brothers who have passed away one in his twentys and another in his 40’s now they are not here they don’t have anything now either I think whats most impotant is balancing the people time and money in your life however you can make that work.

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Aha April 8, 2011 at 10:13 am

I AM tired of being frugal. I go to work. I come home. I max out my savings. I am so bored and so lonely and so cold. It isn’t worth it.

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ROZA September 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm

It is worth it! You should try to reward yourself once in a while. Try to think of something you will love to do and save to be able to do it.

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Liz June 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm

It doesn’t sound like the author is tired of being frugal. I think this is why, “Yes, having good income, which we are fortunate to have, absolutely helps.”

It’s one thing to be frugal because you want to be. It’s another thing to be frugal because you have to be. It’s one thing to go vegetarian because you want to experiment with different types of cuisine. It’s quite another thing to go vegetarian because you can’t afford meat. A solid week of rice and beans can get old fast.

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shelly December 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Being frugal can be a learning experience and you can find out what will work and what not for you. Do start slow, just like work out. Finding out ways and activities you can stick to and enjoy and then you can see the benefit. Life is not an easy and fun ball all the time but it can be a rich experience. Take it a step at a time.

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brendaag September 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

I gave a large part of my income to my family , they were needy now due health problems ( severe stoke and other issues) it’s necessary to live frugally of course family does not understand after all I trained them to expect more from me. Knowing what I know now things would have been a lot different over the years. It is necessary to save and put aside from when working is no longer possible. Fixed income is very possible to live on but it is no fun when you can do better.

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