Posted by Tim Stobbs on July 29, 2009
Being frugal in the beginning is easy. You raise the deductible on your insurance and save a few hundred a year. You start taking lunch a few times a week and save another few hundred a year. Yet as the easy big dollars start falling off you are left with progressively smaller amounts of savings to go after in your life. Perhaps a good term for these small amounts of savings are microsavings.
Now in reality some microsavings are the result of things you don’t just change purely for the money. For example, you start to walk to the store when the weather is nice instead of driving for your health and the gas savings is just a bonus. Some microsavings are about not spending money on things you don’t care about. For example, you stop leaving on the lights when you leave a room. Just small habit changes really.
Other microsavings are about saving the money since a death from a thousand paper cuts is still a death. Why pay bank fees when you don’t have to or why pay for book when you just want to read it once? So in those cases the changes are on purpose and primary about the money. So the question becomes is there an amount that is too small to bother saving? Or perhaps another way to view it is where does frugal change into being a cheap bastard?
There is a line in the sand somewhere. The problem with it is often you are not aware you have crossed it until you did it and where the line is various from person to person. Do you take extra napkins home from the fast food restaurant to avoid buying your own? Do you leave a smaller tip than you should because you don’t want to break a $20 bill? Have you ever got too much change back but didn’t tell the clerk?
That line is there and if you ever cross it you will know. Why? Because you will feel bad afterwards. You will think to yourself “What am I doing?!?” Or someone else will give you a look or outright call you “cheap” with a tone of disgust. You will realize that yes there are thousands of ways to save money, but some of them are not right for me. You are not required to save every possible dime, nickle or cent possible in your life.
In the end the money is only just one means to keep a score in life. Other ways include having people who love you, or freedom to do what you want. Don’t get so tied up in saving every last dime that you forget to actually enjoy your own life. So beware of microsavings, if you dig too deep into them you might find a monster looking back at you in the mirror one day and realize you have become a cheap bastard.