Dangers of Being Too Frugal

being frugal, frugality, frugal living

Are there dangers of being too frugal? Some believe in an old wheeze that goes something like this; “if you spend all day making everything from scratch, you’ll never have time to explore the world and share your skills”. But learning how to DO things–especially from scratch–is a skill worth cultivating no matter what it is you are trying to make. Learning self-sufficiency is an important part of being a well-rounded person.

Dangers of Being Too Frugal?

Some also hold that being interested in frugality “can take away precious time away when you could be earning tons of money”. These people argue that taking time to deal with a broken air conditioner–learning how to repair it and get it done safely and properly–is a waste of time. The argument goes something like this:

“You take day off work to order the parts, read how to do it, and finally install the compressor. Hopefully, you did it right. Hopefully, it’s the only thing broken. Hopefully, your original diagnosis was actually correct! Then, just for fun, you ask an HVAC repair person how much a job like that would cost. You’re feeling pretty good about tackling the project yourself. The repair person says she would do the whole thing for $110. Now you feel silly, right? You actually lost $90 by deciding to save money and do it yourself. But you lost the opportunity to make $200!”

Is this really an example of the dangers of being too frugal?

Once you know how to repair your own air conditioning unit (as in the example above) you can go on to fix yours or anyone else’s and you have learned a valuable skill. And in the example above (which was actually used as an argument by a real person, believe it or not) the dollar amounts thrown around are purely hypothetical. What would it ACTUALLY have cost for you to fix it yourself versus hiring someone else to do it for you?

Sometimes Being Too Frugal CAN Be Dangerous

Some well-intentioned bloggers advise those who want to be truly frugal to go dumpster diving for food. And while on paper, the food waste in America is grotesque (and it really, really is) and would seem to justify dumpster diving the risks are just too great. Not because of snobbery. Not even because it’s gross and potentially could earn you a night in jail for criminal trespass.

Instead, it’s a really, REALLY simple equation. If you are worried about your finances to the point where you feel compelled to go dumpster diving, you literally cannot afford to get sick off potentially dodgy food you retrieve from said dumpsters. The paradox is that those who worry about money to the point where they must climb into a trash dumpster rather than going shopping? These people literally cannot afford to get sick in doing so and should NOT do so for that reason.

Being frugal can start in far less risky ways. Cutting the cord on your cable box and policing your monthly subscriptions to digital media will help a lot of people searching for ways to save extra money. You can also eliminate fast food purchases, stop drinking soda, and give up snack foods to get started–the savings you realize in this area alone will shock most consumers.

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