Whether by nature or circumstance, today there is a diverse and extensive movement of people taking up a frugal lifestyle. Extreme saving has become a much celebrated ideal. But sometimes all the virtues that come with simple living and resource conservation are at odds with a person’s unhealthy attitudes and tendencies. If ignored, these supposedly money-saving moves can open up a Pandora’s box of unwanted consequences that outweigh by far any money or resources the person ended up saving.
So how can you tell if your frugal ways or those of someone you know may be going too far? Look for five of the most telling signs.
Five Signs of a Frugal Obsession
1. You avoid spending on life’s necessities. We all need access to adequate food, water, clothing, and shelter as well as essential health care in order to live. When you start making significant compromises in these areas then it could be a sign that something is off. Some examples of this in action include: buying insufficient or poor quality food even though there is enough money; eating expired foods to put off a food purchase; not having sufficient furniture in the house, such as a bed; putting off essential home repairs; and avoiding the doctor when medical attention is needed.
2. You have spender’s dread.
The whole point of having money is to spend it- whether now or at some point in the future. If you are constantly worried about every cent that leaves your wallet (even for normal, every day expenditures) then it could be a sign that your attitude towards money needs to be accessed.
3. You feel like there’s a “gun to your head.”
While it is possible that you may be living and working in a frugal way due to outside circumstances, such as the loss of a job, if you constantly feel compelled to save, save, save, yet at the same time resent those very actions, then realize it could backfire. You may be setting yourself up for bouts of “reckless splurging” or numerous stress-induced physical and mental health problems.
4. You’re fit to become Scrooge’s understudy.
If you find yourself constantly trying to take advantage of others in order to save a few bucks, then your mean and callous behavior may point to an underlying problem with the way you view money. Some examples of this include: not adequately compensating your employees for their work, and arguing about the quality of a product or service you’ve received in order to get an item for free or at a reduced cost.
5. You have enough… but you’re still worried.
One telltale sign that your frugal attitude is off is if you seem to worry constantly about money even though you have a significant amount of money saved up, you’re putting away money for retirement, and are sporting a manageable debt load. Putting money aside for a rainy day is commendable; stuffing bills into your mattress and refraining from investing in even low-risk products, such as bonds, Certificates of Deposit (CD’s), and even some money market accounts, may not be.
In short, living a frugal lifestyle should make you feel more free- whether it is free from debt or from mindless consumerism. If instead your frugality makes you feel like you landed in jail, then it may be time to take a good step back and consider why you’re being so frugal in the first place.