Are you too frugal for your own good?
Harvey Jones reveals 12 signs you may have taken frugality too far....
These are tough times. It is important to look after the pennies these days, but be warned, you can take things too far. There is a thin line between being frugal and being stingy. Here are 12 signs you may have crossed it.
1. You used to be good company
You would chat to your friends for hours about love, travel, celebs, art and politics. Now you just talk about money. “They’ve got a great buy-one-get-one-free deal on baked beans at Tesco!” is no substitute for a good gossip. Nor is: “I read on a money-saving website that that avocado skins make a great natural skin cleanser!” You may save money, but you’ll lose your friends.
2. You hate yourself in the morning
Slowly, painfully, you piece together the night before. You drank too much, but kept ducking your round. You over-ordered in a restaurant, then nipped to the loo when they divvied up the bill. You shared a taxi home, but let a friend pick up the fare. That isn’t frugal, it’s stingy. You’ve exploited your friends, and now you feel really, really bad about it. Being that tight can give you a headache.
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3. You check your savings every day
Logging onto your online savings account gives you a nice warm glow. You think compound interest is one of life’s little miracles. Watch out. Your savings can be a friend in need, but they’re no substitute for real friends.
4. You smell like fruit and veg
You have been rubbing avocado skins on your armpits after reading that it makes a frugal alternative to anti-perspirant. If you are so cheap people can smell it, you’ve gone too far.
5. You eat mould
Cheddar isn’t a blue cheese, except in your fridge. You can only scrape off so much mould, at some point you need to toss old food in the bin. True, sell-by and use-by dates can be overly cautious, but when your lunch is sprouting spores and bacteria, and your dinner is full of fungi - even though you don’t remember putting any mushrooms in it - you’ve gone too far. It’s food, not a science experiment.
6. You don’t do charity
You spot somebody rattling a charity tin in the high street, and march over to give them a lecture. You hear yourself saying that starving third world kids shouldn’t complain, if you can live on two grains of rice and a glass of water a day, so can they. Then you get a bit ashamed. So ashamed, that you briefly consider dropping some money in their tin. But you don’t.
7. You won’t throw anything away
Your house is cluttered with broken telephones, old magazines, scratched CDs, single socks, stringy underpants and half-eaten sandwiches, because you might want them someday. You won’t even throw away those old avocado skins after you’ve finished rubbing them on your armpits - they’re perfect for polishing shoes!
8. You’re getting all excited about the royal wedding
Not because you give two hoots about royalty, but because you live just about near enough to London to rent out your property to hapless tourists for the big weekend. You plan to camp outside Westminster Abbey for three nights before the big event, again, not because you want a great view, but because you’ve rented out every square foot of floor space in your home.
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9. You are getting competitive about saving money
Before the downturn, you tried to keep up with the Joneses’ flash new cars and foreign holidays, now you are sharpening your elbows and fighting them in the thrift shops and bargain buckets. Remember, we’re all in this together, aren’t we?
10. You have no life
It’s the weekend. Goody, you think. Now you can spend the next two days roaming the streets looking for pennies. Or play your favourite game of switching off all the appliances in the house, and seeing how slow you can get the wheel on your electricity meter to turn. Or sleep the whole weekend, on the principle that nobody spends money in bed. This isn’t healthy, you know.
11. You need a good lie down
You spot a damp old mattress lying in somebody’s front garden. Do you think (a) “That lowers the tone of the neighbourhood,” or (b) “I’ll have that. Much comfier than sleeping on the floor, which I’ve been doing for the last two years, because beds are sooo expensive.” If it’s the latter, you might have a problem.
12. You are too frugal for your own good
You spend so much time surfing the web for new money-saving ideas that your family has moved out, and you didn’t notice. You have given up all your treats, such as the odds slice of chocolate cake or glass of wine on Saturday. You have even stopped buying avocados, despite their many practical uses, because they’re just too expensive. Now you’re alone, eating home-sprouted mung beans in a cold flat, with only your savings account for company.
So be careful. You can be so frugal, it hurts.