Is There Such a Thing As Underspending?

Is There Such a Thing As Underspending?

Is There Such a Thing As Underspending? | brokeGIRLrich

So I really like reading Mr. Money Mustache’s blog even though sometimes I think he’s insane. That being said, I’ve even met him and his wife at FinCon and they seem extremely content with their super frugal lives. They maximize a lot of healthy life choices, which save them a ton of money, and don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything.

If you’ve managed to chop your expenses down like a Mustachian and don’t think your quality of life has suffered, good for you. But for most of us, when you have to tighten the belt, our quality of life does suffer.

There comes a point when you turn into a Netflix hermit. And I say you, but maybe I just mean I. I don’t think it’s just me though.

There were points when I was deep in debt that the only thing I really spent money on was groceries and so my only social activity all week was to go buy them. Other than that, I just sat in my apartment and watched TV.

Winter especially was the worst time to be in debt. It’s too cold to comfortably go for walks and a lot of the free events in the places I lived were much harder to find. Even just motivating myself to go to them when I did find them became a monumental task.

And so I would slip into this slow, sad, hermit-y depression.

I can clearly remember a full year of the sad, hermit-y depression and it was further fueled by dating a guy at the time who hated spending money. So all we did was watch a ton of TV. Even with company, I still look back now and think of all the opportunities we missed by not just setting a small budget to actually do stuff and wonder if it would’ve made us less miserable towards each other.

I won’t lie. The worst of the depressive, hermit years was absolutely the best of the debt payoff years. But in retrospect, staying in debt a month or two longer definitely would’ve been worth it.

Also looking back, the years when I actually saw friends regularly and got out and was overall a far happier human being – didn’t cost that much money. Frugality has a way of embedding itself completely in your life after a while. I knew how to work Groupon and LivingSocial to my advantage. I knew how to find free activities to do together so I just had to worry about travel expenses or a meal.

We can get so crazed about paying off debt that we forget to continue living life. If you’re really passionate about getting out of debt, you’re not going to derail all your progress with a budget line for fun.

Take it from someone who’s been there, it’s better to look back on your memories of inexpensive fun with friends than how many TV series you binge watched in a year, even if it sets back your goal a little.

Unless you know how to be perfectly happy binge watching TV on your own or with your partner, then more power to you.

23 thoughts on “Is There Such a Thing As Underspending?

  1. This blog speaks to me!! This is SO SO true! I am in the midst of paying off some ugly debt and living frugally and i confess….Netflix has benefitted from this. You start to feel like a slug!

    You are correct. Going out does not need to be expensive. There are some super cheap things to do such as: groups that get together to talk about books (borrow from library), free concerts, inexpensive Junior College plays and under-18 sports such as hockey. The local theatre has rush seats and yes…a lot of restaurants have date night prices.

    • Definitely. New York of all places requires rewiring your mind to enjoy what you can instead of moaning over what you can’t do – cause there’s always going to be a lot of that there no matter how much you’re making.

  2. My husband and I don’t budget a lot of “fun” money, but he’s really good about making sure that I’m not slipping into a depressive funk (I’m the extrovert). Whenever I start getting too mopey he tells me to invite friends downtown, or he plans a family trip to a nature preserve, or spontaneously suggests chik-fil-a or ice cream. Even though we have routines where people come over often, sometimes a break in the routine is the right thing to do. If you can do it for free, great, but spending a few bucks doesn’t really hurt our long term goals.

    • Agreed! Sometimes it’s just easy to lose track of what setting aside $10 can do for your morale. It’s also a fine line you have to walk to keep it from becoming a habit, just sometimes it can almost become a bad habit in reverse.

  3. I definitely agree with you! It IS possible to underspend, which can not only make a person sad and lonely, but also make you burn out on frugality and derail your long-term goals. Of course, there’s always free stuff to do, and everyone can go out and take a walk. We took a lot of walks in our days of hardcore saving, and we still take them now. The fresh air is so restorative, plus exercise is good, and it’s just nice to feel like you’re out of the house!
    Our Next Life recently posted…Beyond Frugal Gifts // Giving Gifts of ExperienceMy Profile

  4. I do think there’s such a thing as underspending, and doing it long-term is not good for one’s mood or finances as a rebellious splurge may be around the corner when you’d denied yourself too often. I agree there’s more free and frugal things to do in the summer, but winter’s great for museums, films, and other indoor activities as well as outdoor winter sports. Besides, budgeting in a little fun is good practice, so you don’t set yourself up with an all or nothing attitude.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…How History Can Lead You to Financial IndependenceMy Profile

  5. I’ve totally done that, where you start to cancel all plans that cost money because I’m trying to save money. But you are right, you won’t remember being a little bit behind on paying off debt than you will remember a night out with friends.
    Kelly recently posted…On Location at ColumbiaMy Profile

  6. I definitely relate.We’re doing lots of staying home and watching tv lately as the weather’s grown cooler and rainy. Saving money isn’t worth compromising your mental health, and most people need to get out with friends to feel emotionally nurtured. Two things help me get out of the house and socializing on a regular basis…church (not for everyone) and my knitting group (not for everyone either, but you can substitute book group, gaming group, and other meetups that don’t revolve around spending and are really just excuses to chat with friends).

    My husband and I have also talked about (but not pulled the trigger on) volunteering as a way of getting out of the house and meeting new people.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Mental Accounting and the Danger of Trader Joe’sMy Profile

    • I think it’s a great idea to join some sort of club or volunteer organization while you’re paying off debt. My work schedule was so sporadic that it wasn’t possible, but I was constantly on the lookout for something that might fit in… never managed to find it though.

  7. I think deprivation of anything can cause problems. If you’re staying in only because of money, that gets to be a problem. You have to take advantage of the free stuff. Which is, of course, nigh impossible once you get to the depressed state.

    So I think you can spend almost nothing and still be happy. It depends on your disposition, opportunity for freebies and how your friends treat money. If they don’t mind being frugal, you can avoid spending but still be social. That can be a big “if” though.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…Are you ready for a frugal Christmas?My Profile

  8. This is true. A lot of us relate with the post. How will you going to pay your debts but of course you need to manage your money and chop all the expenses. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. Pingback: December 2015 trading, investing, and dividends results | Hello Suckers ...

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