Lately I’ve read several articles about the extreme things people do to save money. Take this article about a “dumpster dive café” or this one about eating roadkill, for example. OK, so obviously not everyone finds these ideas to be too extreme, but it got me thinking – where is the line between being frugal and being too frugal? I’m all for saving as much money as I can, but here are a few situations where, for me, it’s okay to splurge.
Comfort. Being uncomfortable just doesn’t make me happy, so I’m willing to pay for it. I don’t mean I’m going to go buy satin pillows and 800-thread-count sheets (do those exist?). But if my pillow has gotten too flat, I’ll buy a new one, for example. Similarly, while I do keep my apartment a little cool in the winter to save money because I can add layers, you’ll never find me keeping the thermostat on 80 degrees in the summer. That little bit of savings on the power bill simply isn’t worth it to me. Keep in mind, I’m not splurging on anything here – I’m just not going to make myself uncomfortable to save a few pennies.
Groceries. If you’ve read my blogs before, you know that I am an avid couponer so it should surprise you that I’m willing to splurge on groceries. But what I actually mean is that I’m occasionally willing to splurge. Couponing doesn’t take too much time for me anymore, but sometimes I am simply too busy or don’t have enough energy to spend an hour preparing for a shopping trip. Sometimes my time is more valuable to me than the savings from coupons, and I’d rather go pay full price (all generics, of course!) for a week’s worth of groceries. The best part of the occasional full-price grocery trip is that it’s great motivation to get back to coupons the next week when you see how much your bill is.
Dining out. As much as I love to cook, I really love to eat out. And sometimes I don’t have the right ingredients, or I don’t have energy, or I just don’t feel like cooking. So every now and then, my boyfriend and I will go out to dinner. Since we save money in other areas of our budget, we have a little wiggle room for things like this, but we still try to use restaurant coupons and we don’t make it a habit to eat out often. But it’s just not in my lifestyle to completely avoid eating food out – kudos to those who are willing to do so. Here’s the thing, though. I have heard of people who absolutely refuse to eat out for any reason – maybe it’s a close family member’s birthday and the whole family is celebrating together. They still choose not to go. If that works for them, then awesome! But for me, the experience of spending time with my family to celebrate is worth more than the price of the food, so you will never find me missing out on a dining out experience like that.
Travel and other experiences. This is all about the experience for me. I’m not going to learn anything about the world by sitting at home doing nothing. I want to experience things – adventures, travel, the world, anything! Unfortunately, these experiences do have a price tag. I won’t go out and book a 7 day cruise to the Bahamas because I can’t afford it, but the occasional weekend getaway is within reach, and again, the experience and memories are worth more to me than the cost of a hotel room.
Although I describe myself as quite the frugalista, I am afraid that by sitting at home afraid to spend any money at all, I will miss out on experiencing the world around me. And that, to me, is being too frugal.
Where’s the line between frugal and too frugal for you?