A Warning to All TightWads
|October 9, 2009||Posted by Roshawn Watson under Uncategorized||
Frugality is supposed to be good; however, when taken to an extreme, it can be disastrous. Some have destroyed relationships, become selfish, and lived relatively miserable lives all in the name of saving a buck.
Frugality Is Not the Only Characteristic That’s Important
Frugality is an important proponent of almost any financial plan. As you know, there are only two sides of the money equation: income and expenses. If you have done due diligence to increase your income, then appropriately managing your expenses is a critical factor in your ability to build wealth. Nonetheless, there are other desirable character attributes that one should consider as well, such as generosity and unselfishness. Sometimes a tightwad completely ruins the spirit behind a kind gesture. For example, if the office agrees to go in on a gift together, but when it comes time to collect the funds for the present, the tightwad conveniently “forgets” to bring his money. I definitely know cases where the “money collector” for the gift tires of dealing with excuses and just uses more of her own money to make up for the lack of participation by coworkers who initially agreed to contribute. What’s more unfortunately is that cheap people are often not poor but middle-class instead. Incidently, it’s their obsession with pinching pennies that strains their relationships not their lack of funds.
Just recently, I received a gift that looks like it’s been in the bottom of someone’s closet for a few years. Yes it was tacky, and no I don’t feel bad commenting on it. I would never give someone that mess.
My intention is not to criticize frugality because I think it is inherently a good character trait. I consider myself to be frugal, and there are often misunderstandings as to what frugality really means. Frugality is concerned with trying to obtain added value. A notable distinction of frugality from cheapness is that cheap individuals are focus on saving a buck at the price of quality, relationships, or time. A frugal person may not always buy the cheapest version pair of jeans because the quality may be poor. Instead, the frugal person would look for deals on a pair with the best value and make sure his budget can accommodate the purchase. Similarly, most frugal people I know would not drive across town to save a buck because they value their time (and gas) too much. The stigma of frugality comes when some equate frugality to saving dollars at almost any cost. However, being a miser, stingy, hoarder, and cheap is not the same as being frugal.
Let’s be clear, there is no conflict between generosity and frugality. Some of the most generous people I know are also frugal, and that’s one of the many reasons they have money to give. I know people who will search for deals on quality food and will buy food for both their families and their local food pantry. Contrast that to the person who is so tight with their money that they resort to taking from others. Using the aforementioned office example, the coworkers who didn’t contribute to purchasing a present are taking credit without giving their fair share. Some people will even steal to save a buck. It’s quite unfortunate.
“Frugal” People: Examine Yourself
Somewhere we may have lost our ways under the guise of frugality. We should be concerned if we will barely go out to eat or have fun with others because we’re too cheap. The warning bells should go off if we stock up on napkins and utensils that we stole from the condiment bar at McDonalds. We are not right if we’re “regifting” crappy stuff that we don’t want ourselves. Of course, it is incredibly important to be responsible by budgeting for purchases and investing for the future, and eliminating debt if you have it. Indeed, if you have consumer debt, your financial primary concern should be getting rid of it. Nonetheless, it is also important to be a giver, to not steal, and honor your word when you say you’re going to do something. Somewhere in the quest to save a buck, the miserly have lost sight of moral integrity, honor, family, and friendship. Avoiding unnecessary expenditures is admirable; however, when this behavior becomes an obsession, you’re not frugal, you’re miserly and may need help.
Copyright 2012, Roshawn Watson, Pharm.D., Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.