Whether it's a diet or frugality, the problem with placing extreme limitations on yourself is always the same: Once we feel too deprived, here comes the inevitable binge. Personal finance weblog The Simple Dollar discusses frugality and binge buying, pointing out the difference between frugality designed to improve your financial state and frugality as a tradeoff for financial binges.
Many people view frugality as exactly that - a bunch of little steps they can take in areas of their life that are less important so that they can afford to splurge in other areas. "If I eat a cheap meal the next few nights, I can afford to go out to that steak house with my date on Saturday." "If I carpool, I can afford to buy that new gadget in a few months." Instead of helping you build a financially stable life, frugal tactics are sometimes used as bartering trinkets to help you keep living the high life. And that's okay, as long as you're honest with yourself about what you're doing. This type of frugality doesn't serve to put you in a better financial state - instead, it serves to help you maintain a lifestyle that, in some regards, is beyond your means.
I'm sure we've all done the financial binge, but it's not as though the two are mutually exclusive, either. You can be thrifty, save tons of money, and still survive a binge or two without negating all the work you put into saving. Still, let's hear what kind of frugality you practice more often in the comments.Photo by Alan_D.