Do You Live Frugally Just To Buy Fancy Luxuries For Yourself?

by David Ning · 12 comments

I’m definitely someone that likes gadgets. So much so that my boss even called me “a hardware type guy”. Back in college, I had a very frugal lifestyle in some ways – eat home cook meals, seldom go out, buy very little clothing. However, I bought expensive gadgets like PDAs, MP3 players, and golf clubs.

I didn’t think much of it at the time because I just thought that was how everybody lived. I didn’t really taste expensive food, so home cook meals were great. It still didn’t help my financial bottom line though, because I ended up spending all my money on luxuries.

Looking back, it was something I wish I didn’t do because I either could have lived a richer lifestyle or saved even more money. Just imagine if I didn’t buy all those PDAs, and or computers and bought stocks in Microsoft (MSFT), I probably would not need to work anymore by now :)

My situation is very typical though. There were many of my friends that did something similar. I’m not sure if they thought about whether or not it was the right choice but they did it nonetheless. They saved and saved and saved until they had enough money to purchase the next gadget.

When I started working, things were a little different because:
a) I had more cash coming in every month.
b) My thirst to buy things died down.
c) Not that going into debt is any good, but my credit limit got higher as well so if I really wanted to buy something, I could also buy it without much thought.

I’m sure many people can relate to this. How many of you live a otherwise frugal life but spend a huge amount of your money on luxuries? Is this trade off worth it? If not, how do you avoid the spending temptation?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Modern Worker September 26, 2007 at 10:45 am

As I get older, I enjoy saving and investing more and more instead of making purchases :)

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plonkee September 26, 2007 at 11:46 am

I do this to some extent, and I think its ok if its makes you happy. You need to live your life now as well as in the future, and not beat your past self up about decisions made in good faith.

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MoneyNing September 26, 2007 at 2:22 pm

Modern: Yeah me too. I’m sort of addicted to seeing my networth increase so I start spending less and less.

plonkee: It will be okay but I cannot help but think what would happen :) I guess I’m a little ahead of the curve at this point already so I should be good down the road.

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Thrifty Gal January 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm

It’s a balance. I pinch pennies on everyday things like groceries and drugstore items so I have more for other things like vacations.

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Jewelsmom February 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Note: This is NOT an exaggeration.

A sad cautionary tale…

I know a woman who worked a second part-time job (swing shift) so she could afford a two-week trip across Europe ALONE and years later saved for breast enhancement/tummy tuck/full body lift surgery.

She had a husband that worked outdoors doing manual labor 12 hours a day to keep a roof over their heads and ensured his availability to care for their two school-aged sons while she worked her second job purely to enhance herself.

Not surprising–
they’ve since divorced,
the kids never went to college or learned a trade (one dropped out of HS), and
they all have an extremely poor relationship with her.

In her selfishness, she denied the family security-building savings, a college plan for the kids, and necessary home improvements (replacement of a 40+ yr old furnace and leaking roof that caused the living room ceiling to cave in, barely missing one of the kids sitting on the couch).
Not to mention the lost hours she could have spent with her family when she was otherwise working, or sleeping before/after her night shifts.

The last big purchase [after the divorce] that she scrimped and saved for, was an addition to HER master bedroom, adding a floor to ceiling tiled bathroom with a huge hot tub sauna. To afford it, she again worked an overnight second PT job & rented out her kids’ bedroom to university students. In their late teens by then, the boys opted to moved in with their Father. Who could blame them.

When the low-bid contractor [unlicensed workers] took the back of her house off and then left town with her cash only 70%- down deposit, Habitat for Humanity stepped in to complete the project, and gave her a low-interest loan on the building supplies [labor was provided free by volunteers].

There is a point at which this person sidestepped what was truly important.

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Anna February 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

It depends on what you mean by “luxury”. I prefer to analyze my budget and downsize where I don’t care (laundry detergent?) and upsize in the places where it really matters.

“Where it really matters” is a key statement. This will differ for all individuals. I don’t mean buying a ‘want to’ item that you’ll forget about 1 month after opening the package and being on to the next big thing. But if you are an avid golfer, that’s a luxury that matters. We love to travel – we are frugal so we can save for retirement, not be stressed for money, and yes to spend money on travel.

So your question takes on a new meaning when you discuss what you really mean by “luxury”. Is luxury a meaningless item you can live without…..or is luxury a meaningful item you find is truly worth the money you spend?

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Shawna July 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

If your writing is going to be sent out for public consumption, I would encourage you to employ proper grammar. Frugal is an adjective, frugally is an adverb. Use as directed.

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Bridget February 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Lighten up. Blogs are personal. This is not an English class.

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mmm March 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I hate when people do that too! Who cares if there is a spelling error,ideas are what matters!

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Bridget March 18, 2012 at 8:42 am

Agreed!!

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Adrienne August 29, 2012 at 6:23 am

There is no error in this post anyway! ‘Frugally’ in the title is used as an adverb. It answers ‘how’ you live, which is an adverb word. The word ‘frugal’ is used correctly in the body of the article as an adjective describing ‘what kind’ of lifestyle. Please know your grammar rules before you accuse someone else of misuse.

sepa January 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm

This would be THE reason why I’d live an extremely frugal life. Like cutting out things that aren’t necessary but because of where we are technologically you almost have to have them. But I would do this to take a vacation and schedule vacations at regular intervals. If I downgraded one thing, I would upgrade something else.

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