Don’t Be Stupid: When It’s Not Appropriate to Be Frugal

Apologies for the short hiatus, life gets in the way of posting at times but I’m fully re-charged and ready to dispense some tips!  Today I’d like to look at when it’s not appropriate to be frugal; after all, you don’t want to put yourself in a zero-sum game situation because you’ve become a mindless pragmatist!  Here are six areas where it doesn’t pay to be frugal (both in terms of quality of life and ROI):
Cheap food is bad because it usually tastes awful and has poor nutritional value.  My food philosophy is simple: eat high quality food and it will make you feel rich.  For a quarter of the price of a nice meal at a restaurant I can purchase top notch ingredients and prepare a multi-course meal, including a great bottle of wine.  I splurge on fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, cheese, breads, pastries, and coffee. 
There’s really no way around it, good shoes are expensive.  And you don’t want to buy inexpensive shoes given that you will directly feel the impact.  By good shoes I mean handmade dress shoes that have a leather sole, hand stitched seams, real leather exterior, and a quality heel.  Handmade leather shoes often cost $250-$350 and should, technically, last a lifetime.  Proper shoe maintenance includes buffing and conditioning the leather and using shoe trees.  High quality shoes also have a replaceable leather sole and heel.  As far as clothes, I think designer labels are a waste of money but I do believe in buying good quality dress pants, shirts, belts, socks, sweaters, coats, and suits.  Suits and dress pants should be made of high quality wool and should have a thread count in the hundreds.
House Upkeep/Maintenance
All homes require upkeep, including recently constructed homes.  Older homes are notorious for needing constant upkeep, but regardless of whether you live in an early 20th century foursquare or a modern, glass infused, home, you’ll need to constantly deal with cracking sheetrock, aging roof, shifting asphalt, faulty windows, aging tile and appliances, exterior and interior molding and trim, landscape, etc.  My simple advice: fix the important things as they happen and don’t delay a repair.   A simple fix on some exterior molding, for example, can prevent interior water damage and more serious repair down the road.  If you need replacement windows, for example, look at all wood, low E double glass, replacement windows as opposed to cheaper old vinyl alternatives.  Spend as much money as you can on quality materials without buying top of the line (for example, you probably won’t make your money back on exotic marble from Brazil, but you’ll certainly get ROI on a standard color granite).
Treating Family and Good Friends Well
Being stingy with family members or good friend is wrong headed and does not preserve relationships.  I’m a big believer in developing social networks and treating the important people in your life with respect and kindness.  A good life can’t be lived alone or in isolation.  Invest in people and you’ll get great ROI!
Car Maintenance
I don’t believe in spending a ton of money on a new vehicle, but I do recommend buying a slightly used vehicle (about three years old) and maintaining the vehicle until it becomes to costly to own (usually after about 10 years.).  You’ll also want to figure out the right time to sell your vehicle private party so you can maximize your profit and fund your next used car purchase.  Proper vehicle maintenance includes routine oil/filter changes, belts, filters, liquid monitoring (transmission/brake/anti-freeze/etc. fluid), brake pads, spark plugs, rotors, exhaust system, tires, car washes, etc.
Life Experiences
Do you have an adventurous soul but do not travel because you can’t stand the thought of moving a few thousand dollars out of your bank account to fund your strip to southeast Asia?  Do you dream of hitting the perfect backhand to win a match but get queasy about spending money on tennis lessons?  Do you wish you read Aristotle as an undergraduate but can’t stand the thought of spending money on a college course at your local university?  If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may be sacrificing life experiences for the sake of saving money (or better yet, not spending money).  It’s one thing if you don’t have the resources to try new things (you do not want to incur debt to pay for lessons of any kind or take on debt to feel the rush of a finely tuned German vehicle), but if you’ve been wise with your money and can splurge on new experience then you should go for it!
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If you want more ways to save money you should open a savings account. When you do you should find the best savings account rates and then select the bank that fits your needs. There are also the occasional banking deals that offer you bonuses for opening new accounts. You should pay attention to any current bonuses being offered when looking for a savings account.


  1. I disagree with “cheap food is bad” – I consistently shop/buy cheap food (grocery under $40/wk usually), and I eat very well. What I think you mean is that mass-processed junk food, sold cheaply is bad. Here are some things I bought last month that were super-cheap, and let me live and cook frugally…
    – apples on sale for 0.30/lb for 5 lbs. Yes they were dinky, and no, not organic. But peeled they made enough applesauce for several weeks of breakfasts.
    – fresh, whole local squid for $1.90/lb – made a tasty south Indian curry for dinner…
    – 25# sack of basmati rice from the Indian store – tasty backdrop to my home-made curry dinners. At

  2. Hi Diane,
    Thanks for the comments. Buying stuff on sale is fine (especially if it’s not processed), but I like to more control over my food versus simply eating what’s on sale at the supermarket.
    For example, if wild salmon is a few dollars more expensive than the local squid (and I think the salmon is fresher, better for me, etc.) then I’m going to purchase the salmon (in the long run I’ll be happier and get more out of the salmon than the squid). Also, a dollar or two will not break the bank over the long term.
    In short, buy on sale if you like the products being offered, but don’t base your diet on what’s on sale.

  3. Excellent write up, and I agree, there are just some things worth paying for. It’s all about value vs cost. I would love to buy everything hand made, and built to last but in some cases that just isnt available anymore.

  4. Bank Your Money

    You should keep your money in a safe bank account.

  5. Bank Your Money

    You should keep your money in a safe bank account.

  6. Bank Your Money

    You should keep your money in a safe bank account.

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