When Frugality Becomes Stinginess
This is kind of a weird post about an issue I have that others may not have a problem with…but lately I’ve finally twigged to the fact that there’s a fine line between
being frugal and being stingy.
I often muddle the two up and find myself happily spending time, energy, or money on others – while refusing to do the same for myself.
I tell myself that it doesn’t matter and I don’t need non-essential things, but living a life of denying myself any little treats is not the way I want to live out the rest of my days.
I think it’s time to stop being so stingy and to let myself enjoy a few small indulgences here and there – I’m finally allowing my tightly held fist to open a little – and it feels good.
Where Did This Stinginess Arise From?
I’m not sure why I’ve always been so resistant to spending money.
My husband tells me money is only worth what you buy with it – in other words it’s just a number on the bank statement or some paper and metal if you’re not using it for anything.
I totally understand that, but I’ve come to see over time that money in the bank represents something to me – it represents security.
I remember my younger days and our early married years when I longed to have a bank balance over $1000.
By the time we’d paid the mortgage, paid the bills, and put food on the table, there was rarely much left over – we weren’t living week to week like a lot of people, but we weren’t rolling in clover either.
It always felt precarious to me – one slip and we’d be looking at sliding into the red.
I hated living like that, and I think that’s where living with a scarcity mindset became my go-to approach to spending.
Why Didn’t My Mindset Change?
As our circumstances improved, I was happy to spend more on our kids, or on a holiday with my husband, or on home improvements.
I could see the value in investing in our life as a family and as a couple, but there has always been a sticking point when it came to spending money just on myself, or on things I consider to be frivolous.
It’s funny how my brain works – I can sometimes justify a present to myself if I’ve spent a similar amount on someone else.
When my husband turned 50 he went on an overseas adventure with our son – to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and see Egypt.
It was a big birthday present, but something I could see he’d really value and it was worth every cent for the memories and the relationship building between him and our adult son.
When it was my turn for a 50th birthday present we remodelled my engagement ring into something bigger and better.
It seemed like a lot of money – but I justified it – not because it was for a milestone birthday and I deserved it, but because we’d spent a similar amount on my husband’s birthday….
And I do that all the time – I feel like I need to balance out what I receive by making sure it’s less than what others have been given.
There’s this need to justify something that doesn’t need to be justified – it’s weird….
Moving Away from a Scarcity Mindset
Turning 60 seems to have unlocked something inside me, or maybe retirement did, or maybe realizing that we have enough to live on until we pass on to greener pastures….whatever the trigger was, I feel like it’s finally okay to lighten up on myself a bit and enjoy the little pleasures of life more.
I’m kicking the guilty/unworthy feeling to the curb and letting myself have some fun.
It’s come at a time when I actually don’t really need much – no new work clothes, my car’s good, my home’s good, I have all I need, but that being said…. when I see a little something here or there I’m going to let myself indulge a little.
I’ll never be a big spender, I’ll never buy luxury brands, but there’s a lot of space between ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’ – and maybe it’s time to explore that space a little.
My Challenge to Myself
So, my challenge going forward is to say Yes to myself as often as I say it to those I love.
To indulge myself a little and to impulsively spend a bit of the money I’ve been squirreling away for a rainy day.
Security is one thing, frugality is another – and plain old stinginess at my age is ridiculous – so hasta la vista to my old safe self and howdy doody to a new free-er me!