Adjust Text Size

Being Too Frugal Can End Up Costing You Money

Written by Hank Coleman - 26 Comments

Being Too Frugal Can End Up Costing You Money

I recently came across a coworker who was burning the midnight oil. I thought that I was the only one who had to work late that night. When I asked him what he was doing, he told me that he did not have an internet connection at home, so he was using our work internet after hours.

Setting aside the ethical implications to this scenario, I decided to delve deeper into his life and frugality. Come to find out, he does without a lot of things to cut costs — cable television, internet, phone service, and he even drives across town for cheaper gas.

There’s difference between being frugal and simply being cheap. Which side of the line is he on?

Believe it or not, you can take frugality too far, to the point of being miserly, unethical, antisocial, etc. While frugality is perhaps more socially acceptable than in the recent past, it still has its limits.

Aside from the social implications, being overly-frugal can wind up costing you money, too. Let me give you a few examples of how frugality may hurt your wallet.

Ditching cable actually kills my budget

I love having 200 cable television channels at home on my TV. I enjoy having seven different channels from providers like CNN, MTV, and others that cover the exact same things. But I will let you in on a little secret. Having 200 channels on my television actually saves me money too.

For me, it is totally worth the money I spend on having so many channels. It keeps me at home on the couch instead of out on the town looking for something to do and spending money. This isn’t true of everyone, but I know that I personally get bored and distracted easily.

I would quickly find myself inside the movie theater every weekend or buying DVDs each week if I didn’t have a lot of TV channels to choose from at home. The cost of those activities would quickly outpace the savings of not having a large cable television packages if I am not careful.

You miss out by not having internet

Do you need an internet connection at home? No, but in today’s digital age, it makes life more efficient and enjoyable. It also makes it easier to forego having 200 cable TV channels if you disagree with point #1, above. An internet connection opens up a world of possibilities with streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube.

While most of the premium sources charge a monthly fee, that cost pales in comparison with the cost of a premium cable or satellite packages. The primary downside is limited access to live sporting events.

Driving around wasting your savings

Have you ever driven past a gas station with a higher price at the pump in hopes of saving money on gas? Many of us get sticker shock when the price of gasoline starts to creep up in the summer, but you shouldn’t drive too far to find your next tank of gas.

You can do a simple cost-benefit analysis and determine the breakeven point to make it worth driving further down the road. At some point, you’ll find yourself eating away at any potential savings — not to mention wasting your valuable time. Eventually, the search itself becomes uneconomical, and you should just pay the few extra pennies for the higher priced gasoline.

Wasting your frugal savings

Another way that being too frugal can wind up costing you money is what you do with the savings. What is the end result that you are shooting for by saving so much money through your daily spending decisions? Are you investing that money? Are you saving the money for another financial goal like paying for a home with cash? These are all great endeavors if that is actually what you use the money for.

There is, however, a range that your frugality will enable lifestyle creep in other areas. Or maybe you’ll deprive yourself so much in one area that you’ll rebel and overspend in other areas.

Is it possible to be too frugal? I personally think that there’s a point where frugality becomes counterproductive and can wind up costing you money in the long run.

Are there ways that you can spend your free time enjoying life without spending a dime? Of course there are. But there are also times when knowing ourselves, how we behave, and knowing when to say enough is enough can actually save us money even though it involves spending a bit of money.

Have you ever taken frugality too far?

Published on May 15th, 2012
Modified on May 16th, 2012 - 26 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is a freelance writer who has written extensively for many financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master's Degree in Finance and is actively pursuing Certified Financial Planner status.

Related articles...

» Frugal is as Frugal Does?
» Frugal vs. Cheap: Where Do You Draw the Line?
» Cheap is Not Necessarily Frugal
» Thoughts on Frugality and the True Cost of Your Purchase
» If you were rich, how frugal would you be?
» Carnivals – Week of 05/05/08
» Weekly Roundup – 07/07/06
» Fender Bender Update

Was this article useful? Please sign up to receive our content via e-mail:

You will receive only the daily updates, and can unsubscribe at anytime.

26 Responses to “Being Too Frugal Can End Up Costing You Money”

  1. 1
    Financial Advice for Young Professionals Says:

    Good points. I would love to cut my cable, but I can’t because of the live sporting events! I tivo every laker game and watch it in about 1 hour and I am always watching football, not to mention the various other sports. I already have a logitech revue with google tv so as soon as I can get access to live sporting events, I’ll be cutting my cable!

  2. 2
    Daisy @ Add Vodka Says:

    Not having internet for me would be counter productive – I MAKE money on the internet, albeit a small amount, from my blog. Plus, internet for me is like TV for you – I would spend a lot of money on entertainment if I didn’t have it!

    I’ve always wanted to shake people that drive for 20 minutes to get cheaper gas – not only does that burn up gas but it also puts on mileage!

  3. 3
    John Says:

    I have internet and use it constantly. Cutting internet would be a bad decision for me. I cut cable about 4 years ago and have rarely missed it. I don’t watch sports and my internet is too slow to run netflix with reasonable quality. I do invest in a Blu-Ray movie every couple months.

  4. 4
    My Frugal Miser Says:

    This is a good example of “to each his own.” I haven’t had cable in about 10 years. When I stay in a hotel it’s a treat to find a show I like, but at home I watch very little TV. I do have a $20/mo DSL plan. It’s fast enough to let me stream my $9 Netflix movies and shows.

    I used to be that guy who would drive around town for cheaper gas, but now I know how foolish it is. Even if I could save a dime a gallon I would probably lose most or all the savings (not to mention the wasted time) trying to find cheaper gas. I know where the least expensive gas is on my side of town so I try to plan for fill-ups when I know I’ll be passing by that station.

    I try to be most frugal when I know I’m making a real impact. For example, the electric bill is most impacted by heating and cooling the house, so I let my body acclimate to temperatures most people would not like. It means I pay under $50/mo. for power – and there are 3 of us living in my house. What I don’t do is buy cheap, processed food at the supermarket. That’s stupid frugal. You’ll wind up paying more for medical care than you save on food.

  5. 5
    Kurt @ Money Counselor Says:

    Yeah, I’d probably give up running water before I gave up at-home Internet access! I complain about the cost, but if my provider knew how much I’d really pay to keep it going, I’d be done for. Gouge city.

  6. 6
    ImpulseSave Says:

    I agree that you can be TOO frugal, but there are also many different lifestyles that have different value systems. For example, I would not have a very enjoyable life if I didn’t have internet. My sister doesn’t have internet, and I don’t know how she gets anything done or knows anything! But she makes it work.

    On the other hand, I don’t have cable – never have, and probably never will. I like watching movies or Netflix much more and I’m just so used to now having it, I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself if I did! That same sister, though, does have cable (the most basic cable, but still). She watches a lot more TV (probably because she doesn’t have internet) and it works for her.

    It just depends on what you are willing to pay for and not being afraid to spend a little money on something you really want.

  7. 7
    Master Allan Says:

    On nights I have an evening of personal computer work planned I will stay late to use my office computer, Internet, and most important electricity. Either way I will be using the computer and from the kill-a-watt readings better elsewhere than at home.

    When I finally leave the office traffic in the evening will be much lighter than at rush hour. Does not really apply to me though; I take mass transit and leave the car at home. Work pays for my transit pass but not gas in the car or a parking permit.

  8. 8
    R S Says:

    @My Frugal Miser – with you there on DSL + Netflix. I grew up w/o cable, so OTA + DSL + Netflix is more tv than I can handle.

    @author Hank – does having cable really help your budget? Doesn’t that encourage sedentary activities that aren’t good for your health? For me, this is a huge reason I am considering cutting Netflix. Between my sit-down-for-12-hrs-a-day-job and 1 hour commute, ~7 hrs of sleep, the last thing I need to do is spend my remaining time left in the day sitting.. which is unfortunately how it works out, despite my insistence I’ll lift a weight or two, as I watch..
    I am not overweight, but being a short, I have to watch it.

  9. 9
    Vincent Turner (@vinaeco) Says:

    My parents are the kings of taking frugality too far where they end up spending money they could have saved (or causing an issue that could have been avoided).

    I remember a time they put a bucket in the sink to collect grey water to save having to water the lemon tree and it blocked the plug and the water ended up overflowing and flooding one corner of the house.

    However, I think for 100 times they do something to save money, 1 time it bites them, so on average they are well ahead!

    Personally, I think the biggest form of being frugal costing you money is in travel. I saved money on a flight by flying from oakland instead of SFO … but ended up spending double the difference on a cab cause BART didnt run at 430am on a sunday morning!

  10. 10
    MoneySmartGuides Says:

    I had a co-worker at a previous job that would stay late at night and be there on the weekends too. The reason wasn’t because of the work. It was because in the summer she didn’t use air conditioning and her house was too hot to stay at. In the winter, it was the opposite as she would keep the thermostat down low to avoid having to use the gas to heat her home.

  11. 11
    Linda Brown Says:

    I just found out about this box called “Roku” which is supposed to save you money by streaming channels through it so that you can get rid of your cable. I even heard Clark Howard comment on it on CNN. I ordered one this week but haven’t tried it yet so I’m not endorsing it. I just wanted to give you another option in reference to saving money with the cable bill :)

  12. 12
    Ludie Says:

    Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon
    your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  13. 13
    Lucy @ Coupons for Causes Says:

    Good point about the gas expenses. Sometime yo spent a lot of gas just by going different places to try to get the best deals for instance with food that happens very often. Additionally, I can live without TV but I must have Internet.

  14. 14
    Shanice Says:

    I’d prefer to keep the cable and the internet since it helps me to be glued in the house and these help me save money from going out and spending more than I should.

  15. 15
    unsecured loans Says:

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast simply because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your internet site.

  16. 16
    Connor Says:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your web-site and wished to say that I have really enjoyed
    surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  17. 17
    great loans site Says:

    First off I want to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your
    mind before writing. I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
    Cheers!

  18. 18
    Best Bank Loan Says:

    hey there and thank you for the great website. I have certainly picked up
    anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this website, as I
    experienced to reload the site lots of times previous to I
    could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your
    web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can damage your high-quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for much more of your respective intriguing content. Make sure you update this again very soon.

  19. 19
    Guadalupe Says:

    Great article! That is the kind of info that should be shared around the internet.
    Shame on Google for not positioning this page higher! Come on over and discuss
    with my site . Thanks =)

  20. 20
    Linwood Says:

    If someone needs to be updated with hottest technologies therefore he must be
    go to see this web site and be up to date all the time.

  21. 21
    Blythe Says:

    Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i
    subscribe for a blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal.

    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  22. 22
    best loans for bad credit Says:

    Howdy would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re working with? I’ve loaded your
    blog in 3 different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
    Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a fair price? Many thanks,
    I appreciate it!

  23. 23
    best unsecured loans Says:

    So much for having a crack at this myself, I’ll never be able to manage it. I think I’ll just
    learn instead.

  24. 24
    Beatriz Says:

    If you are going to do it as well then I’m not doing it! No sense writing the same thing all over.

  25. 25
    Chet Says:

    So – Being Too Frugal Can End Up Costing You Money – I would never have
    thought it would be so good a read as it has been.
    Now I have to actually go and do some work!

  26. 26
    website worths Says:

    I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else
    know such detailed about my problem. You are incredible!
    Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Disclaimer...
Because rates and offers from advertisers shown on this website change frequently, please visit referenced sites for current information. This website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise.

FiveCentNickel User Survey