When frugalities attack
Recently, frugality has gained a certain mystique. Suddenly it's "OK"- trendy even- to buy from thrift shops and clip vouchers for the supermarket.
There are plenty of us out there, however, who have always been frugal, even through the dot com boom. The World War II generation were thrifty by necessity, and most of today (even cheapskates) can learn from them about the things we're capable of living without, like premium satellite channels.
But at what point does frugality cross the line into plain craziness? Perhaps it is like any bad habit in that when it interferes with your daily life, you know you have a problem. Here are a few examples:
1. Thrifty, not crazy: investing £69.99 in a decent coffee maker and not stopping at the local "Fourbucks" on the way to work. In less than two months, the coffee maker will have paid for itself in what you save from not buying fancy coffee.
2. Crazy thrifty: trying to recycle coffee grounds
3. Thrifty, not crazy: buying things like baby wipes in bulk to get the best deal
4. Crazy thrifty: cutting each wipe into four pieces in an attempt to minimize the price further
5. Thrifty, not crazy: trying to walk, bike, or take public transportation to keep petrol costs under control.
6. Crazy thrifty: hitchhiking
7. Thrifty, not crazy: reusing carrier bags
8. Crazy thrifty: reusing dental floss
In other words, thriftiness should be about getting the most for your money, not just being Mr. (or Ms.) Skinflint. The people over at stopbuyingcrap.com have a good take on this philosophy. We've all had moments of thinking, "If I hadn't bought this thing, I could have bought that thing that I really want." The key is figuring out what "this" is so you can avoid buying it next time. If you do that enough, you're being thrifty without being crazy.