I discovered the wonders of frugality when I was paying off debt. In my previous life, I spent money on any whim that surfaced. Whether it was large or small, I made the purchase with little thought to how I could pay for it. After a few years, my spend crazy ways forced frugality into my life.
All of a sudden I had to live by a budget. I had to find ways to save money on virtually everything. While a shock at first, I learned to embrace frugal living and all the benefits it brings. What I’ve learned over the years is that frugality can often be a fool’s errand. Here’s why.
You Can Only Cut So Much
Frugality, at its core, is being economical or sparing. That sounds great. I like to save money like everyone else, but you begin to learn something along the way – you can only save so much money. At a certain point, you’re unable to save anything of significance.
The value received begins to deteriorate, and your return is minimal. This is not to say you shouldn’t find ways to save money on your bills but realize it is possible to have a happy balance.
You Give Up Too Much of Your Time
This is something I learned early on in my new life. Frugality, when taken to an extreme, takes a lot of time. You become consumed with finding the cheapest price or best value. Saving money is great, but when you give up too much time to get that savings you end up losing.
You Sacrifice Quality
This is a commonly overlooked area of frugality. You need to buy an item and find two possibilities – one is significantly cheaper than the other, so you choose that item. To your dismay, the item you bought breaks down within a few months, not lasting the expected duration, forcing you to buy a replacement. This is not a guarantee, of course, but often times the cheaper item is of lower quality and does not last – costing you more money in the long run. I know it hurts to spend more at the outset, but the quality of the item must come into question in many cases.
Growth is Overlooked
This is the key argument against frugality. You spend so much time finding ways to cut back and save money you forego finding ways to earn extra money and grow your wealth. This is the “big win” mentality that so many promote in the personal finance world. These individuals want to save money but they also realize you don’t become rich by cutting your spending.
Cutting expenses has its place and time, but it should take a backseat to growing wealth. By no means should you spend aimlessly, but combine efforts to save money with wealth production to get to the next level.
Balance is Possible
This is something I learned after a few years of frugal living. Saving money and wealth production can live together if you seek balance. This is when the pursuit of financial independence becomes clear.
Frugal living is noble to pursue. There are many ways to save money that take little effort. Pursuing it to an extreme, however, will only take you so far.