Friday, January 7, 2011

Frugal Gone Bad, The Dark Side of Saving Money

You may have watched a day time talk show about a cheap family that saved their aluminum foil or washed out sandwich baggies or shared one tub of water in order to save a few pennies on their budget. I remember cringing when I heard a story about a dad who stood outside the bathroom door and asked his kids if they were going #one or #two so he could hand them the toilet paper. They just couldn't be trusted with that fabulous toilet paper. They were allowed two squares for #one and eight squares for #two.

Some people allow their frugality to run amok. They start saving and it becomes an addiction or a competition for them, and then they turn into that toilet paper guy or worse. I heard of one man who would hang a strand of dental floss across a towel rack so he could reuse it several times.

Occasionally frugal folks put their own health at risk to save money. I remember a news article in which a nurse said she thought a bird was an excellent pet for a senior citizen. She had witnessed some of the elderly die from the cold because they were not willing to put the heat on. She said they would not be worried for themselves but they would keep a home at a safe temperature for their bird.

I'm frugal myself but not that far gone into it, I enjoy life too much. I may not have turned on the more expensive overhead heating, but I do use a space heater on cold nights. I can't live without air conditioning in the summer. I do eat out occasionally as well. Sometimes I even purchase fast food because I am just too tired or rushed to cook.

My father was an extremist at times and his point was completely lost on his children. He actually went as far as searching our trash to make sure we didn't throw anything out that still held value. My favorite story involved a simple lunch time meal. I came in the door to find my father making a sandwich. He had two slices of bread which he was covering with sliced ham. Then he grabbed a bottle of barbecue sauce and started pouring it on his sandwich.

"Ewe Dad," I gasped, "Why are you putting barbecue sauce on your ham sandwich?"

"I have to have something to cover up the taste of this rotting meat." he replied.


  1. Oh, that is truly sad, dear one.

    It would be so wonderful if we all could look around us, beyond our own selves, and see the abundance and prosperity that is ours. Better yet, it would be even more wonderful if we could all learn how to CREATE abundance and prosperity in our own personal ways.

    People who have experienced the pain of need of food, shelter, and clothing-the basics-are understandably susceptible to overdoing frugality.

    Balance is hard to come by, it seems. Almost as hard as it is to accumulate enough money to feed a family and live a comfortable life.

    Your blog serves such a great need. Thank you for your faithful posts.

    Mother Connie

  2. Young one, you've hit a nerve in me. Although things are not quite so dire for us at this very second, we've been there, worse than there. It's sad that so many people in the US don't realize just how well off they are and waste so much. Sorry to be so preachy.

  3. I don't suppose he got food poisoning after eating the bad meat?

  4. Connie, you gave me a different perspective. This was what I always thought of as one of our funny stories. Barbecue ham sandwiches have become an inside joke in our home.

    Bodacious Boomer, you also gave mefresh perspective. I've been in much worse circumstances myself, so I do understand.

    Monroe, the meat wasn't that bad. It was probably what we call on the verge and he was being a martyr.

  5. I love being frugal but if being frugal means I've never ever saved enough to splurge now and then and never have enough to be generous in giving to others. . . I don't see the point in being frugal. I like to save so that I can spend on the things that are really important to me.

  6. I am still LOL at the punch line, kiddo. You timed that one just perfectly, LOL.

    I'm with Lynn. I enjoy the frugal lifestyle, but I'm not cheap. Frugality has gotten us through some tough times, but basically it allows us to make choices to spend on the things that are important to us. And, yes, generosity to others is a big part of that.

    I've never stood outside the door, but I have mentioned to several other family members that they use too much TP...