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When are you not frugal?

Canabiz had a great idea for a topic, for you frugal people out there which aspects of your life do you refuse to be frugal with?  

As you all know, I'm a fairly frugal person, but there are definitely aspects of my life that I refuse to skimp on.  I think really it comes back again to the topic of Needs and Wants and my personal take on what I think are needs.  Here are some examples:

  • We're fairly frugal when buying food, but we won't hesitate to buy more expensive healthier choice foods.  For example, whole wheat/multi-grain bread and pasta are more expensive than their white flour counter parts.  But we always go brown.  Fresh fruit and veggies can be expensive but we load up on them every week.  I guess this really depends on the person, but to us, our health is our top priority.  Without good health, money doesn't mean a thing.
  • Keeping with the health topic, My wife and I both have gym memberships that we use often but they don't come cheap (although we did get a discount).  We keep these memberships because we place a high value on exercise.  Yes, you can exercise outside, but not easily around here in the winter times.  I think that eventually I will look into building a quality home gym.
  • When we have kids, I have a feeling that I may splurge a little and take them on vacations to Disney world etc.  If your parents took you to Disney when you were younger, have you forgotten about it?  I know I haven't.  To me, isn't that another benefit of having money, to make the ones that you love happy?
  • I'm willing to spend a bit of extra money to create a safe and comfortable environment for my family.  When we purchase a new house in the future, what's best for the family will be the top priority.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm super frugal with myself.  Heck, I still wear a pair of jeans that I bought back in 1999, but that topic is for another post.

So, the question still remains, for you super savers out there, which aspects of your life do you refuse to be frugal with? 

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • The Financial Blogger August 15, 2007, 8:27 am

    I am not a good frugal example. While I am good at calculating costs and saving money here and there. I am really good at spending money as well! My children are definitely a “good excuse” for me to spend. I think that gifts, clothes and health products for them should have no spending limits.

    I also like all kinds of technology so I would spend a fair a amount of money on TV’s, laptops, or Ipods as well.

    The problem is that I feel good when I am frugal but I feel even better when I spend money! Spending is such a good therapy :-D

    It is funny you write about this FT as I actually wrote a full post about my frugal vs non-frugal dilemma last week!

  • FrugalTrader August 15, 2007, 9:31 am

    FB, it’s great that you can go out and splurge without feeling guilty. :) Whenever I buy “luxury” items, I analyze and compare excessively.

  • Canadian Capitalist August 15, 2007, 10:04 am

    Cleaning lady. Three hours every other week. Worth every penny!

  • FrugalTrader August 15, 2007, 10:07 am

    CC, what’s the going rate for a cleaning lady these days? Sounds like it could come in handy for us also!

  • Telly August 15, 2007, 10:29 am

    I’m with CC – cleaning lady every other week ($55 but she also does our laundry :O)

    My husband and I are also not frugal with gym memberships or groceries as well.

    Lastly – vacations. I always find the best deal going and we generally go budget with our accomodations but my husband and I are firm believers in seeing as much of the World as possible. So we rarely regret spending some of the savings on at least one international vacation a year.

  • Mr. Cheap August 15, 2007, 11:30 am

    Great topic! When I backpacked across Europe years ago, I “splurged” and made sure I had a hot shower every day (didn’t try to save money camping out like some grubby backpackers did), so I guess I don’t scrimp on personal hygiene ;-).

    I used to splurge on food and travel, but have recently realized the true cost and have been cutting back. Same with books (I used to buy way too many, now I’m using a library).

    I guess the only thing I *really* splurge on these days is gifts, and I have no intention of ever cutting back there. Like the example of taking the kids to Disneyland, that’s about the best way to spend money I can think of…

    And I hate to clean, so I could probably follow CC & Telly’s lead and get a clean lady (I tried to convince my current room mates, but they don’t want to spend the cash).

  • Mr. Cheap August 15, 2007, 11:32 am

    Funny how we all think cleaning is worth paying for… hiring someone to clean must be a good value in Canada (or we’re all lazy slobs ;-)

  • Mr. Cheap August 15, 2007, 11:34 am

    FT: At my last place I had a guy who’d clean a 1 bedroom apartment for $45 (he did it in about 2 hours and it wasn’t scrubbed and shining but it was cleaner then before).

  • FrugalTrader August 15, 2007, 12:15 pm

    Mr. Cheap, thanks for the tips. Oh, i’ve added a plugin that enables the user to edit their comments providing they do it under a certain time period from posting. Simply click on your own comment, and it should open an editable field.

  • A.J. - IAmFacingMillions.com August 15, 2007, 1:42 pm

    There are a number of places where I don’t cut corners at all. Health being obvious. When I hire attorneys or advisors I try not to skimp or go cheap (when I am able). I like to hire reputable repair services (well known, perhaps a little higher cost).

    When I buy electornics or longer life items, furniture, etc. I tend towards brand name and quality items.

    I also spend extra for energy efficiency. I bought the Maytag Neptune set. I use all compact flourescents.

    But in many cases, I can make a debate as to how I’m being frugal even in those selections.

    For example, for a little while I was buying dress shoes at Wal-Mart. They were only costing me $25 but lasting an average of only 3 months. I finally bought a $90 pair at J.C. Penney’s where I used to buy my shoes. Those typically last me 2 years. So did I spend an extra $65 on shoes or did I save $110 over 2 years?

    A.J.
    http://www.thenewself.com

  • Gates VP August 15, 2007, 7:15 pm

    For example, for a little while I was buying dress shoes at Wal-Mart. They were only costing me $25 but lasting an average of only 3 months. I finally bought a $90 pair at J.C. Penney’s where I used to buy my shoes. Those typically last me 2 years. So did I spend an extra $65 on shoes or did I save $110 over 2 years?

    Hey AJ, I’ll take you one step further… you saved $110 bucks plus hours of your time!

    Great topic FT!

    I refuse to skimp on food quality and health quality, however I have no qualms about preparing meals for myself (or letting the fiancé do that). In fact, I’m a big fan of “from scratch” meals b/c of the quality and quantity control that you get on ingredients. Most pre-made stuff has to contain extra salts and fats as preservatives, so the stuff built to stay on the shelves is not as healthy. For a simple example, those Hickory Farms meat sticks come in two varieties: “must be chilled turkey” and “need not be chilled beef”; the beef contains twice as many calories and sodium.

    I tend to value my time pretty highly, so I’m not that frugal when it comes to things I don’t want to buy again. I will spend an hours picking out running shoes and then spend $150+, but I’ll only do this once/year. By the same measure, I’m OK with spending extra money to get my stuff delivered.

    I’m also not frugal when it comes to helping sustain a business that I’m supporting. For example, my old swing dance club would get free space at a legion to go dancing on a Saturday night. I would throw $5-15 dollars at drinks/food or the slot machine to help keep things going. I could’ve danced the night away for free, but the legion won’t keep hosting us if we’re not bringing in some income, so I made sure to keep money flowing in support of the hobby.

    And hobbies and courses I’m not stingy about either. I have way too many interests, but money on classes that I attend doesn’t ever feel wasted.

  • rstlne August 15, 2007, 7:23 pm

    I’m more frugal with mundane items but less frugal with hobbies. The way I see it, the money I have is finite so why not favor things I can enjoy?

  • Dennis August 15, 2007, 10:31 pm

    I could splurge on traveling. I really want to see as much of the world as possible.

  • moneygardener August 16, 2007, 12:27 am

    Groceries are a hard thing to be frugal on. Eating healthy and eating well comes with a price.

    We are very frugal with entertainment, eating out, and clothes.

  • FourPillars August 16, 2007, 1:33 am

    I’d have to say cars – I always end up spending at least 2x what I had originally planned…

    Holidays too… haven’t gone on one in a while but I like expensive trips!

    MG – I agree totally – the easiest way to cut your shopping bill is to eat unhealthy foods all the time.

    Mike

  • The Financial Blogger August 16, 2007, 9:03 am

    FP,
    In regards to cars, it is not really your fault ;)
    For some reasons, the car price on the internet or on the news paper is always boosted by some “fees” or “options” that you absolutely want on your car and this is where and get you.
    I ended up paying $330 for a car that was listed for $269… go figure!

  • Rod Payne August 16, 2007, 4:03 pm

    We refuse to compromise on food. We buy fresh produce and the healthier cuts of meat, and make most of our meals from scratch. Sure, it’s more expensive, but the way I figure it, I can spend money to eat healthy now or I can spend money on medicines later. We both enjoy cooking, and I’ve often said that I can’t afford the places that cook beter than we do.

    I also don’t compromise on price when it comes to home renos. We just redid the kitchen – everything back to the walls. We were able to do most of the labour ourselves, so we put more money into the materials – high end energy efficient window, top of the line Moen faucet, African stone backsplash, etc.

    I got a great deal on my car (good price and 0% financing), but I won’t compromise on maintenance. High-end oil, top of the line rubber, and I make sure to do all of the manufacturer’s maintenance on time. However, I’m sure that will help me get a longer life out of the car.

    On the flip side, I do frequent yard sales to pick up items where quality isn’t as much of an issue – pegboard pegs, some tools, etc.

    In summary, I think my level of frugality matches up to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I will overspend on the basics – health, safety, food, but I am more frugal on the higher levels.

  • Ed Rempel August 19, 2007, 10:52 pm

    For me its books, especially financial books. I love reading and keep buying more and more books. I guess everyone, no matter how frugal, has one thing they waste money on.

    This is an interesting thread. I have a question though – When can you no longer be considered frugal?

    For example, if you buy cars brand new, can you still be considered frugal? Buying new cars is one of the biggest wastes of money. It is easy to save thousands or tens or thousands on cars by buying slightly used.

    What do you guys think? When can you no longer be considered frugal?

    Ed

  • Elisapelle August 30, 2007, 1:40 pm

    Like many others, I consider health over wealth.
    I also consider the importance of community.

    I buy Girl Guide cookies, sponsor charity runs etc… Over the years many people have supported me in such endeavors and I really appreciate it.

    I am happy to spend money on local produce, and handmade goods. It’s important to support people who realise the importance of craftsmanship. That’s how you promote the existance of good products… the ones that save you money because they last longer and you actually adore them. I definitely shop for clothing that way… everyone has enough clothing, it’s just that they don’t actually want to wear half the stuff they own.

    I buy paint from my local hardware store and carry it home. It makes me feel good and strong. The amount I would have saved by buying at Home Depot would probably have been spent on gas.

    If you like having the convenience of small neighbourhood stores you need to support them year round. Also it seems that once you become a kind and curtious regular you start to score sweet free stuff anyhow.

    Buy less, buy smarter. As the saying goes, “To buy is to vote.”

  • Dividendgrowth February 13, 2008, 11:11 am

    I am frugal on myself, but i tend to splurge on loved ones. I am a human being, so being in society is important for me :-(

  • paulette August 9, 2008, 12:52 pm

    For me there’s nothing wrong with spending especially for the family as long as we bite only what we can chew.

  • Term Insurance Pro December 1, 2008, 2:07 pm

    I’m pretty much frugal with most things except food. I spend a lot on food for many of the reasons you just said. Unfortunately I tend to eat out a lot, but I always try to find healthy options, which means I end up spending more (since healthy restaurant food is normally more expensive than fast food).

  • chris January 27, 2009, 3:21 am

    good shoes are not a waste of money; it’s good for your body & your health…. Crummy shoes can really cause pain & problems for the feet and other parts of the body….

  • littleraven July 16, 2009, 2:26 am

    We try not to be frugal when it comes to food as well. We buy organic dairy, organic meat and organic fruit and veggies but only those fruit and veggies that use extensive pesticides – there is a list of the top 10 that we try to always buy organic no matter what the cost. The others we tend to buy non-organic.

  • Richby30Retireby40 BLOG July 18, 2009, 1:45 pm

    I’m not frugal when it comes to spending money on my wife :)

    Rgds,

    RB

    http://www.richby30retireby40.com/2009/07/value-of-happiness-lessons-from-frugal.html

  • Gerard April 22, 2011, 12:00 am

    I was going to say I’m not frugal with food — it’s gotta be parmesan reggiano, fresh whole spices, etc.

    But as I do most of my own cooking, and don’t use too much of those things at once, it’s not that un-frugal, I guess.

    Good rice is cheaper than bad meat!

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