Are you too frugal?
Sometimes you need to buy things you enjoy. Frugality is about being smart with your money – using it wisely. However, you can make yourself miserable if you are too frugal.
The key is to wisely choose what to buy and what not to buy. What purchase might add to your enjoyment of life? Can you afford it? These are important questions to ask when deciding if you you are being too frugal when considering a purchase for pure enjoyment.
Make Your Enjoyment Count When Buying Things
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. ~ Albert Einstein
I am a big fan of being frugal. I think it is very wise to weigh every purchase carefully. After all, we work hard for our money and it is foolish to throw it away on worthless crap that winds up being clutter.
However, I also think Albert Einstein was a pretty smart guy and his words above are very insightful. Money is a tool. We manage it closely so we can use it to make our lives more enjoyable. Not everything that counts can be counted.
If your frugality is making you miserable, then you might need to rethink your stance. You might need to start factoring your enjoyment into your buying equation.
When to Sacrifice and Be Really Frugal
There are times when you need to be very tight with your money. Here are some examples of when it is smart to sacrifice now so you can enjoy life later:
- When you are in debt – I believe strongly in being debt-free. If you owe on credit cards, student loans, automobiles or anything else besides your mortgage, then you need to be really frugal until you pay off what you’ve already bought.
- When you lack an emergency fund – Things break. Cars need maintenance. Homes require upkeep. People get sick. Jobs end unexpectedly. You need 3 to 6 months living expenses in a savings account so you can pay cash for emergencies. Don’t buy anything for pure enjoyment until you have this done.
- When things are uncertain – If the future seems especially uncertain for you right now, then you probably want to tighten in the reins until things clear up. A little extra money in the bank can make you feel more secure and help you to deal with an uncertain future.
- When your spouse thinks you should – Married couples need to be on the same page financially. If your spouse thinks now is a time to be especially frugal, then listen to them. They might just save your bacon. It is always better to err on the side of being extra cautious for a period to preserve marital bliss than to find out later you should have listened.
I’m sure the list above is not all-inclusive of every circumstance where you need to be really frugal, but I think it gives you a pretty good picture of situations where you should avoid buying for pleasure. Now let’s look at when it is okay to loosen the purse strings a little.
When to Buy Something for Your Enjoyment
Again, your enjoyment needs to count when you are making buying decisions. Here are some times when it is okay to spend a little just to make yourself happy:
- When you have the cash – This is the biggie. You have to pay cash for all pleasure purchases. If you don’t have the money, then you don’t buy it. “90 days same-as-cash” or any other similar financing schemes is not the same as paying cash. If you don’t have the cold, hard cash in your hot little hands, then you can’t afford it.
- When you have thought about it overnight – I’d suggest not being too impulsive. If you sleep on it and still want it in the morning, then it is probably okay to buy.
- When it won’t break the bank – You need to have the money set aside to make this purchase above and beyond your emergency fund. A new boat or a really good deal on a pair of shoes is not an emergency. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to financial mishaps when making a purchase for pure enjoyment. On the flip side, when you have a real emergency, then it is okay to spend your emergency fund. That’s what it is for.
- When you have the time to enjoy it – Timing is everything. Be sure that you are going to have the time to appreciate your purchase when you make it. There is no need to buy it now regardless of the sales price if you are too busy for it. You need to wait until the time is right.
- When your spouse agrees – Again, I’ll bring up the spouse thing. Your spouse doesn’t have to agree with what you are purchasing. I believe each partner needs their own slush fund, but they need to agree that you have the discretionary money to make the purchase now. You’ll never enjoy it if you spouse strongly disagrees with your timing.
If you can afford it and it is something you’ve thought about, then buy the thing that will make you happy. It is okay. You’ve been smart with your money. You deserve to splurge a little.
It Is Not a Sin to Buy Things You Enjoy
By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest.
Frugality is good, but anything overdone can suck freedom right out of life. Your money should serve you not the other way around. As long as you are being smart with your money, then it is perfectly fine to spend some once in awhile on something that is for pure pleasure without beating yourself up over it or feeling guilty about it. Your frugality should give you more liberty and not make you a slave.
Photo by r-z