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Where is the line between being cheap and being responsible?


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I feel like I raise eyebrows in my family because I am very cautious with money. Many things seem like unnecessary expenses to me and the thought of spending a bunch of money purely for leisure reasons makes me cringe. It's not that I don't ever treat myself to nice things. I do on occasion but I just feel like I need to be responsible about my spending. I don't make as much money as my friends and that is a conscious choice I made (I left a high-paying job and took a huge pay cut in order to take an opportunity that gives me great experience that will look good on my resume and that I am enjoying doing). However, the result is I can't just spend money like it's nothing and yet sometimes I feel like I'm being looked at as the cheap one. One example is that I don't want to buy a new computer. I have a netbook which is not a good substitute for a real laptop but for my purposes it works. I don't feel that I need a new laptop (I had one, it broke and I decided I could do without it and didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars or up to a couple thousand to get a new one). I find that things often seem reasonably priced to start with then when you realize all the things you need to add on top of that, it gets unwieldy quite easily (best example of this being vacations--the added expenses that just seem to always crop up just make me feel like I ought not to be going). When I had the high-paying job, I spent a lot of my money on paying down my debt from graduate school loans. As a result I have $0 in debt today and I have no desire to go back into debt. I sometimes feel resentful when I agree to do a group activity thinking the price will be X and then all these unexpected add-ons make the price Y (much higher) and I can't back out of it but at the same time, I feel like people should be understanding that I don't make what I used to make and can't be spending like I could have in the past (even though again, I did not because I spent a good chunk of what I made on loans). Overall, my parents think I am being cheap and just need to stop worrying so much about money. They know my financial situation very well. I'm not broke by any means and I have actually saved up a good amount. At the same time, I do worry a lot about money because I took a huge pay cut and also because my next job is not guaranteed to make more than I make now (my current position is time-limited and has a fixed end point). I have never said anything to my friends about this but sometimes some of them spend like there is no tomorrow and even though they have high-paying jobs, they are not guaranteed to be working there tomorrow and I know they are also in debt because they told me so. So why are they spending $600 on shoes and $4000 on purses? Am I crazy or is that a little bit irresponsible?


I guess my question is: can anyone relate to how I feel? Am I just plain cheap? Is there a balance that I am missing between being cheap and being responsible?

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I'm somewhere in the middle. No one loves a bargain as much as me and I don't throw money around. That being said, it is the vacations and the fun times in life that I remember the most, so I always, always make time for those things. No one on their death bed has ever said, "I sure saved a lot of money. Didn't do anything with it, but I have it."

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I know the feeling. I save my money, and set money aside to spend on treats (I have a comic habit ). I don't have a lot, but I have things I want and I'm not in debt.


My sister on the other hand, owes my parents a couple of thousand, me a couple of thousand. And she feels like she's being denied if she can't just have what she wants (constantly talking about holidays, spa days ect).


I know she thinks I'm cheap, but I don't. I don't go to the extremes of penny-pinching, I just don't buy things for buyings sake.

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I'm with you about avoiding debt. It can get out of hand, jobs aren't guaranteed, and debt is expensive. You, better than anyone, have a feel for your income situation. In my case, I don't expect others to understand, though, and your peers may not fully realize your limits, or at least not want to limit their own group activities based on your ability. Are you clear with them about your contribution limit beforehand? I'm not sure what add ons might be, but can you just say you'll have to opt out of that item when it comes up?

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There is a happy medium. It is very important to save money and not go into debt...but it is also important to enjoy your life because you never know how much time you will have on this earth. Splurging on a nice vacation is important every once in a while as long as you know your limits. In other words, you don't have to go on vacation every year, you can save up for it and do a nice vacation every 2, 3 or 5 years depending on your finances. As for entertainment, you can choose to do the cheaper things and back out of the more expensive things. The important thing is to do some activities so that you don't end up stagnating and spending your time alone not doing anything for fear of spending money, but at the same time be selective and do only the things that will be fun and meaningful that will give you good memories and make you feel good that you did it.

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My first question is who cares what your friends/family think?!?!?!


Seriously, it is your money. Do not let people make you feel guilty for being cheap/frugal/thrifty...whatever word you or them want to use to describe YOUR spending habits.


The "happy medium" that Crazy talks about is what YOU are comfortable with. If splurging on a vacation makes you feel anxious about the money spent, how are you going to be happy? I agree with Crazy that you need vacation, time off, etc. but I also feel that you need to be comfortable with the expenses.


As always, just my 2 cents....


link removed - We are the 98% who REALLY matter.

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