If This is Frugalism, Count Me Out

Being frugal, particularly in times of economic stress, is certainly a common and effective strategy that many use to achieve a financial goal.  In my opinion, frugalism should not in itself be a financial goal.  Others seem to think that it is.  Mr. ToughMoneyLove is learning that when consumers view being frugal as a goal, they sometimes take extreme actions that cause me to question their sanity.  Case in point:  Steve and Diane Moore of Cookeville, Tennessee.

This week, the “Ms. Cheap” columnist in our local paper wrote about the Moores.   Apparently, the couple – who are in their 60’s – decided nine months ago that to save money, they would not leave the house except to go to work or to church.  That’s right, nine months of being self-imposed hermits.  Why are they doing this?  Because, according to them, there is too much “excess” in our country, people need to “get over their stuffitis” and “the days of splurging are over.”  (OK, I think I get that part.)   So, any shopping or visiting the Moores do must be done either returning from work or returning from church on Sunday.  (I don’t get that part.)  I think Steve has the worst of it because he is already retired and therefore doesn’t have a workplace to drive to.  I’m guessing that this craziness was his idea and somehow he has imposed it on his wife.

What kind of life can it be to take frugalism to this degree?  Not much of one.  The fact that it started nine months ago is also a head scratcher because they can’t blame it on post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by recent events. 

The other troublesome aspect of this is that the Moores do not seem to have established a particular financial goal that their hermit behavior is intended to achieve.  That’s contrary to my idea of being a money strategist.

What is somewhat ironic and funny is that on the same page of the paper, right above the Ms. Cheap column, is an article about the increasing number of baby boomers who are joining and serving in the Peace Corps.  They are not only leaving the house, they are leaving the country.   Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if Steve and Diane Moore chose that lifestyle rather than the un-lifestyle they now have?  Yep, it would.  Someone – maybe a family member –  needs to find the Moores a good therapist and send them in a different direction, after first getting them to leave the house.

Now I am really curious.  I read a lot of stuff on other blogs about extreme things that frugal people can do to save money.  Are people actually doing those extreme things, like the Moore’s have?  Is it contagious? 

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8 Responses to “If This is Frugalism, Count Me Out”
  1. My Journey says:

    Plain and simple, that isn’t living. It is merely surviving to save what?!

    I don’t understand how being a hermit saves money? Hell, I think most would agree that sitting inside (consuming energy) and watching TV Ads all day would provide for a very combo when this extremeist behavior fails.

    Just a thought.

  2. Doctor S says:

    To be perfectly honest, I would rather live a life getting out of debt than live like a “hermit” as yoou dsecribed. This is a constant struggle I have with people in my life, I tell them the key is to find a balance, but what we must understand is that it takes time and failures sometimes to find that balance. You did it again Mr. TML!

  3. Andrea says:

    Judge not, I suppose.

    I mean, I won’t deny that it sounds totally crazy to me, but my thought is that perhaps it’s like a “rehab” for them. Total denial for a while to cleanse the system, so to speak, and then ease back into things.

    Or maybe they’re just agoraphobics who have found a way to justify their fears.

  4. Andrea – I don’t mean to judge them. It’s just as to what was reported, it doesn’t even appear that they financially need to do what they are doing. It’s more of trying to make a statement to others. If so, the statement is too extreme.

  5. Dick says:

    We all possess a certain pain threshold and maybe the Moores’ is higher than most. That said, a life of frugality is not a bad thing, but extreme deprivation may be. We could all probably stand to cut back a little (or a lot) in various areas, but from personal experience I have found that balance sets the tone for longevity of purpose. We may all slip now and then in our spending, but if we remain aware of where our money goes and responsible to our obligations we can all eventually meet our financial goals. Instant gratification insidiously embedded itself in our collective consciousness sometime within the last 30 years and we need to exorcise this demon. I could and would never discourage anyone from achieving their goals, but for most of us, those goals will most likely need to be medium to long term goals; along the way enjoying life in albeit a less extravagant way than we may prefer. So what? Hedge the future vs. a few meager purchases or realistically evaluate our financial situation and accept that not everyone can live like those privileged few worshiped as gods that have the income to weather virtually any economic storm? Wake up and take care of yourself America. You, as an individual, are the only one with a vested interest in your future.

  6. Dick – Great comment. One of the issues I had with the Moore’s story is that it appeared that frugalism was their goal without any other purpose, such as saving the environment or achieving financial independence. Like you, I beliove that goal setting is important and if a period of extreme frugalism is necessary to achieve that goal, go for it.

  7. LAL says:

    Wowsa. I am in shock. I don’t think I could do it. I like to go out for a walk with my dogs. I like to go parks and I like to do things outside. I also volunteer so I don’t forget what it’s like to struggle.

    I also enjoy going to bookstores to browse and libraries to borrow books. I occasionally rent videos from redbox for $1.

    I would be saddened if this was all there was to life.

  8. Susan says:

    One of my sisters takes frugality to the point of self-denial. She not only refuses to spend money (buys her clothes at Goodwill on senior days, when everything’s 10 percent off! eats mostly beans!) — she refuses to earn. She’s been offered good jobs with benefits, e.g. teaching, editing, and rejects them so she can sit at home and freelance for $20/hour — $15 to 20K/year. Both she and her daughter have medical problems which go untreated b/c “I have no munnee!”

    Her goal seems simply to be not to have to deal with money, either incoming or outgoing. She also has BPD, which is customarily associated with excessive out-of-control spending — hers is out-of-control NONspending.

    Has anyone else ever heard of this? Is it common?

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