Are You Taking Your Frugal Lifestyle Too Far?

Are You Practicing Extreme Frugal Living?

This type of question seems to be circulating around cyberspace recently.

At first, I was thinking this is some sort of conspiracy created by retail merchants to make people feel guilty about spending, and ease up on being so frugal.

Well, one has to question things on the Internet, but I assure you that being frugal is something many of us need to do, and the extra savings can translate to that trip to the Greek Islands you always wanted to do, or to put extra money away for early retirement. Yes, many of us could benefit from being more frugal.

I chanced upon an article online that explores 9 situations of being too frugal, perhaps for one’s own good.

Let’s take a look at these, and I’ll give you my personal thoughts on each one, and perhaps explore ways to practice these 9 frugal situations in a more practical manner.

You Brew More Than One Pot of Coffee With The Same Grinds

Okay, I personal don’t do this right now, but I HAVE tried it in the past. It’s a way of getting every last drop of flavor from the same ground coffee beans, but obviously that second pot of coffee will be diluted.

I do confess to being a coffee drinker, and I will actually go further by saying that I use instant coffee at times because it saves even more than brewing.

If you are a frugal coffee drinker, you are in good shape if you:

  • 1. Cut down your coffee drinking to 1 cup a day.
  • 2. Stop going to Starbucks. Or if you can’t stop, cut down to maybe 1-2 drinks per week. And get a Starbucks card because that will give you more savings, especially when you reach the Gold Card level.
  • 3. Brew your own coffee at home. You will save even more, than getting your daily fix at Starbucks.

You Re-Use Paper Products

I agree with the author that re-using paper towels by rinsing them and hanging them out to dry is pretty extreme frugality. I grew up in an Asian family, and have seen a few Asian folks do this. It’s extreme, yes, but very practical. And it depends on the condition of the paper towels, of course.

What I do with paper towels is to put used ones in a grocery bag. The condition of these paper towels are in good condition, and if a piece of paper towel was really dirty, of course I’d just toss it for recycling. But, I can re-use most paper towels by doing household cleaning jobs around the house. Once the paper towels are pretty “far gone”, then I’ll throw them in the recycling bin.

Of course, it would be impractical and unsanitary to reuse toilet paper!

You Spend an Entire Day Grocery Shopping

I’ve thought about this too. One big expense (especially with the high fuel prices currently affecting us all) is gasoline! And driving 20 miles and visiting 10 stores just to get the cheapest prices on various foods can actually ruin your chances of saving.

It’s best to hit one store at a time, get all the best prices on food, then go home. And, making sure you go to a store closest you will add up in savings as well. I have this problem with Whole Foods, for example. Whole Foods sells the best quality, organic whole foods out there, but their stores are usually 10 to 15 miles away from me. So, I have to resort to an occasional drive to Whole Foods to save on gas. But buying the best quality foods CAN be very expensive, so one has to go to other stores for savings. I personal go to Trader Joe’s and the local Jimbo’s stores for cheaper organic produce.

You Crash Wedding For The Free Food

I’ve never done this. But, this would be more of an ethical issue for me. I would never try to get something that was not given to me. And any food and beverages at weddings are freely given to the guests. If you weren’t invited, don’t go there. Simple as that.

You Keep Broken Items You Can Never Repair

I’m guilty of this, but I don’t think this really has anything to do with frugality, per se. But rather, this is a recycling and hoarding issue. Plus, if something IS broken, getting it repaired or buying a new one IS another expense. Depending on whatever budget you’re on, you’d have to weigh the costs of repairing or buying brand new.

You Do Your Own Car Repair, and Aren’t Good At It

I agree that if you don’t know what a spark plug is, then you have no business tuning up your own car. But, I know some people who change their own oil and filters, they change their brakes, and a few tune up their own car. If you’re mechanically inclined and have a knack for working on cars, consider that a blessing, as long as you know what you’re doing.

You Ignore Expiration Dates

With milk this is a given. One would have to do a taste test to see if it’s gone sour. But, I can see there would be a dark side to this, risking getting sick just to save money. Then, if you were to get seriously ill and require going to urgent care, depending on your health coverage, you just might be wasting more money drinking spoiled milk!

You Dumpster Dive, And Aren’t Picky About It

Let’s face it, dumpster diving is gross, and would be considered extreme frugality. And, I’ve seen many people at the local landfill, looking through the garbage for things they might need. Yes, this is a bit extreme. Now, if you are homeless and you are dumpster diving, unfortunately this is a necessary evil that homeless people must do. But, hopefully you are living a good frugal lifestyle to avoid getting yourself in a situation where you are homeless!

You’d Jump in the Water to Save a Golf Ball

This one’s kind of crazy. Just more crazy than extreme frugal living. I think this part makes me think that the author is painting the frugal lifestyle as being “potentially odd”. Let’s remember that frugal living is not about being obsessed, crazy or cheap. It’s about spending money very wisely, and it’s also about making money wisely by reducing wasteful spending. Going after a golf ball in the water is just plain crazy, even if golf balls are a bit on the expensive side.

Final Thoughts

This is a nice article that points out situations of extreme frugal living, and possibly taking it a bit too far.

But, as I mentioned before, frugal living is more about spending money wisely and helping to cut costs, so that you may have more money in the long run for other things in life. Frugal living, combined with wise investing and savings, can help one cope in a world where inflation and cost-of-living expenses keep rising every year.

Frugal living also is complimentary to green living. As we also don’t want to waste things and harm our environment.



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and

3 thoughts on “Are You Taking Your Frugal Lifestyle Too Far?

  • Sunday April 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    It seems in life that there is always someone that is going to take something to the extreme. I have seen this many times over.

  • Friday April 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    If you’re really frugal about materials why reuse paper towels? Why not just use some old rags or holey socks even. You can wash and reuse for years, holds up better than paper towels. And better for the environment.

  • Friday January 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Wow, I’m not that extreme. 🙂 And I’m willing to splurge on certain things.

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