Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tunnel Vision

Aside from the various "poker" blogs running along the side there, I also read a handful of financial blogs. The majority of them are of the personal finance variety.

Sadly, most PF blogs tend to focus on frugality. I've always been a proponent of spending less than you make, but sometimes you can take saving too far.

Today saw a post from one person coming to the realization that their hyperfrugal ways were impacting their family - specifically their children. They had a goal in mind for retirement, and a dollar amount they wanted to reach. This meant things like making table syrup instead of buying maple syrup, or going to the movies OR dinner, but not both. They talked to their kids and discovered the kids felt they weren't doing any "fun" stuff like going skating or swimming or spending a whole night out as a family.

This has hit home and they now budget for "fun" stuff with the kids.

Others advocate buying a Costco kit to make your own wine in a plastic bucket because it works out to $1.25/bottle instead of spending ridiculous amounts like $10/bottle. This led to some lengthy comments from yours truly about the quality difference between a Costco grape concentrate vs locally grown grapes that are turned into something sublime by an experienced vinter with real equipment. I mean, if all you want is alcoholic grape juice, buy a frozen can for $0.70 and add the cheapest grain alcohol you can find.

Some count the number of squares of toilet paper they use, or make their own dish detergent to save a few cents per load, or buy the no-name brand stuff no matter what the quality is like.

And I sit here and wonder - what's the point? These aren't people who are struggling to make ends meet. They aren't mired in tens of thousands of dollars in debt. They just set a goal and are gunning for it with all their might, ignoring the scenery they're passing on the way. Is it really worth it to have a retirement fund you're happy with at 65 when you forgot to live a little on the way there? Do you really want to spend the last 20+ years of your life, which will be accompanied by aches, pains, illness, and the other ailments of old age looking back and wishing you were able to do the things you'd planned on?

The universal theme among the superfrugal seems to be - save at all costs. But I can't possibly see the value in that. What's the point if you can't enjoy life a little bit?

I'm not saying live beyond your means. Or even live at your means. But save a little less, and live a little more in the now, not the future.


KenP said...

Tunnel vision operates from both ends of the tunnel.

I worked in the grocery wholesale business for a number of years. Private label products are often the same product as the high priced spread.

These days I shop a lot at the local Aldi. They have very nice canned good but also have 'gourmet' items. The wines are a value. I picked up a German Eiswein for a 10-spot. I class most though in the decent table category.

There is frugal and then there is cheap. Not the same. Super markets -- include the one mentioned -- are the best merchandisers out there. If you don't pay attention they gotcha.

Astin said...

I don't disagree. But not all no-name or store brand items are the same as the higher priced. It's very hit an miss. I've had store brand of one thing that is excellent, and then bought another from the same line that is terrible in comparison to the name-brand equivalent.

And I have a wine cellar full of excellent $10-$15 wines.

The point being that most of these blogs aren't about being frugal, but cheap under the guise of being "super-frugal". The quality doesn't come into their equation, just the cost. "Value" has a skewed meaning to them.

SirFWALGMan said...

They should use their hands to wipe, then wash in the sink. That could save like $100 a year.

Mike Maloney said...

Amen. (To Astin, not Waffles)

Katitude said...

Could not have said it better. Yes you need to prepare for THEN, but you also need to live life NOW.