Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

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david99
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by david99 » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:23 am

When I'm being too frugal I like to think of the line: If you don't spend and enjoy your money, somebody else will when your gone. I admit that I have a tendency to be frugal --- both my parents were like this. Obviously it's a balancing act because you don't want to spend money like crazy and have to look for a job when you are 80 (if you could find one) but you also don't want to be 90 and be sorry that you were so tight with your money.

RudyS
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by RudyS » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:47 pm

Once had a boss (ages ago) who the other employees said "Only smoked nickel cigars, and was so cheap he wouldn't smoke a good cigar if someone gave him one because he might get to like them."

michaeljc70
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:55 pm

A lot of Bogleheads are frugal. A miser goes to extremes. Like wearing newspapers for shoes or eating cat food when they have a million bucks in the bank.

I think it is important to strike a balance between savings/spending as over time it can become hard to change and you will never enjoy what you have.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:36 am

afan wrote:
larklea wrote:cutting dryer sheets in half

People who buy dryer sheets, no matter how finely they slice them, have no right to call themselves misers.
I agree - to me - cutting up dryer sheets (or not using them) is being frugal. A miser is an extreme - a miser wouldn't use a dryer at all - it costs money. A miser would only own a couple of sets a clothes - wash them infrequently (washing them wastes money) and would hang the clothes out to dry rather than spend money drying them in a machine.

Similar to those that claim a "miser" will have water when going out to dinner. Miser's don't go out to dinner - they stay home and buy the cheapest food that keeps them breathing.

OP: if this is really a valid concern of yours one way to "avoid" it is to set up a budget that includes "fun" money. Save a percentage and allocate a percentage of money for hobbies, dinning out, etc. Having a budget will allow you to save for your goals and also have a percentage of your income that you are to spend.

dbr
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by dbr » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:42 am

DaftInvestor wrote:
afan wrote:
larklea wrote:cutting dryer sheets in half

People who buy dryer sheets, no matter how finely they slice them, have no right to call themselves misers.
I agree - to me - cutting up dryer sheets (or not using them) is being frugal. A miser is an extreme - a miser wouldn't use a dryer at all - it costs money. A miser would only own a couple of sets a clothes - wash them infrequently (washing them wastes money) and would hang the clothes out to dry rather than spend money drying them in a machine.

Similar to those that claim a "miser" will have water when going out to dinner. Miser's don't go out to dinner - they stay home and buy the cheapest food that keeps them breathing.

OP: if this is really a valid concern of yours one way to "avoid" it is to set up a budget that includes "fun" money. Save a percentage and allocate a percentage of money for hobbies, dinning out, etc. Having a budget will allow you to save for your goals and also have a percentage of your income that you are to spend.
Yep, nothing worse than a wanna-be miser who doesn't even begin to understand the nature of the art.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:11 am

One of the things from Mr Money Mustache is that hanging clothes out to dry is free. I'm not sure how I'd use dryer sheets on the clothesline.
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KlangFool
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:29 am

Folks,

Let's play a game. The game is person A or person B is a miser, spender, and / or frugal person. All the following facts apply to the same person A and B.

1) Person A eat out regularly. Person B pack his lunch.

2) Person A drives a new car. Person B drives used car.

3) Person A' s house is 1/3 to 1/4 of his total asset. Person B's house is his only asset. Person B is "House Poor".

4) Person A saves 30+% of his gross income. Person B's only savings is his house.

5) Person A "cash flow" his children the college education . Person B cosigned the student loan for his children.

So, who is a miser, spender, and/or frugal person? Person A or person B?

What is MY POINT?

It is very simple. If a person overspends on his house, no other expense will matter. Vice versa is also true.

My description of person A and B are typical among my peers.

KlangFool

Da5id
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by Da5id » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:39 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:One of the things from Mr Money Mustache is that hanging clothes out to dry is free. I'm not sure how I'd use dryer sheets on the clothesline.
Hanging clothes on a line is not IMHO miserly. It saves money on electricity and makes clothes last longer. It is thus frugal. But I can't see how it has a negative impact on others. It is one of many money vs time tradeoffs everyone makes in life (the end result, dry clothes, seems to be the same). You might by this measure say that cleaning your own house or doing your own lawn work is miserly? Shopping for groceries at the store vs using peapod is miserly? Doing your own laundry instead of using a service? Cooking any meals instead of all takeout? Similarly, are you a "miser" if you don't pay for Verizon ("the best coverage")? Choose a mid-range phone instead of the latest and greatest iphone or exploding Samsung?

I think "miser" is rather an insulting term, and is often an arbitrary line-drawing exercise. It seems to mostly be leveled by folks who are interested in judging others, or perhaps are leveling it because it makes them feel better about some their own personal spending choices?

For me, crossing the line is where you prioritize money over health, welfare of friends/family, or relationships. Crossing the line is where you obsess about the costs and even after making a spending choice harp on it. It has nothing to do with whether you drink water in restaurants, or even if you choose to go to restaurants. But I guess each to their own.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:45 am

Da5id wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:One of the things from Mr Money Mustache is that hanging clothes out to dry is free. I'm not sure how I'd use dryer sheets on the clothesline.
Hanging clothes on a line is not IMHO miserly. It saves money on electricity and makes clothes last longer. It is thus frugal. But I can't see how it has a negative impact on others. It is one of many money vs time tradeoffs everyone makes in life (the end result, dry clothes, seems to be the same). You might by this measure say that cleaning your own house or doing your own lawn work is miserly? Shopping for groceries at the store vs using peapod is miserly? Doing your own laundry instead of using a service? Cooking any meals instead of all takeout? Similarly, are you a "miser" if you don't pay for Verizon ("the best coverage")? Choose a mid-range phone instead of the latest and greatest iphone or exploding Samsung?

I think "miser" is rather an insulting term, and is often an arbitrary line-drawing exercise. It seems to mostly be leveled by folks who are interested in judging others, or perhaps are leveling it because it makes them feel better about some their own personal spending choices?

For me, crossing the line is where you prioritize money over health, welfare of friends/family, or relationships. Crossing the line is where you obsess about the costs and even after making a spending choice harp on it. It has nothing to do with whether you drink water in restaurants, or even if you choose to go to restaurants. But I guess each to their own.
The point wasn't that IF you hang your clothes out to dry then you are a miser. The point was - a miser wouldn't use a clothes dryer and therefore dryer sheets. I don't think anyone said just because you use a clothe's line you are a miser.
Note that one definition of miser is "a person who hoards money or possessions, often living miserably". Miser is the root of miserable.
OP: So to decide whether or not you are a miser - ask yourself - are you hoarding money to the point of making yourself, or others, miserable?

Dottie57
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by Dottie57 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:47 am

KlangFool wrote:Folks,

Let's play a game. The game is person A or person B is a miser, spender, and / or frugal person. All the following facts apply to the same person A and B.

1) Person A eat out regularly. Person B pack his lunch.

2) Person A drives a new car. Person B drives used car.

3) Person A' s house is 1/3 to 1/4 of his total asset. Person B's house is his only asset. Person B is "House Poor".

4) Person A saves 30+% of his gross income. Person B's only savings is his house.

5) Person A "cash flow" his children the college education . Person B cosigned the student loan for his children.

So, who is a miser, spender, and/or frugal person? Person A or person B?

What is MY POINT?

It is very simple. If a person overspends on his house, no other expense will matter. Vice versa is also true.

My description of person A and B are typical among my peers.

KlangFool
I am person A.

Thank you for this. I have many people tell me I am not frugal enough because I bring dinner in from Deli and drink quite a few Lattes. However my home is around 12% of assets. I save more than 30% of income. My car is 9 years old and going strong. I will be able to retire at 65 and have quite a nice retirement. I've taken care of the big expenses and so can afford some smaller luxuries.

If I need to I can always cut down on my luxuries. I have exceeded my savings target. Why should I worry about what I spend.

KlangFool
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:44 am

Folks,

Average American saves less than 5%. And, most of them has credit card debt. So, to them, anyone that spends less than them is a miser.

KlangFool

randomguy
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by randomguy » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:47 am

KlangFool wrote:Folks,

Let's play a game. The game is person A or person B is a miser, spender, and / or frugal person. All the following facts apply to the same person A and B.

1) Person A eat out regularly. Person B pack his lunch.

2) Person A drives a new car. Person B drives used car.

3) Person A' s house is 1/3 to 1/4 of his total asset. Person B's house is his only asset. Person B is "House Poor".

4) Person A saves 30+% of his gross income. Person B's only savings is his house.

5) Person A "cash flow" his children the college education . Person B cosigned the student loan for his children.

So, who is a miser, spender, and/or frugal person? Person A or person B?

What is MY POINT?

It is very simple. If a person overspends on his house, no other expense will matter. Vice versa is also true.

My description of person A and B are typical among my peers.

KlangFool

Is B overspending on his house or making a good investment? Imagine the person who stretched to buy a 700k starter home 10 years ago by packing a lunch, driving a used car, cutting down on savings, signing loans and so on. The house is now worth 2.5 million that is paid off. A has a stock portfolio worth 1.5 million. Is B a miser, frugal, good investor, spender, or whatever? It doesn't really matter what label you give a person. They have made choices that hopefully maximize their happiness.

The miser/frugal line is when money becomes your only factor even when the numbers are meaningless. There are relatively few misers out there. Most of the them post on bogleheads though:)

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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:49 am

KlangFool wrote:Folks,

Average American saves less than 5%. And, most of them has credit card debt. So, to them, anyone that spends less than them is a miser.

KlangFool
I am a combination of A and B - what am I? Person C? :confused
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KlangFool
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:16 am

randomguy wrote:
KlangFool wrote:Folks,

Let's play a game. The game is person A or person B is a miser, spender, and / or frugal person. All the following facts apply to the same person A and B.

1) Person A eat out regularly. Person B pack his lunch.

2) Person A drives a new car. Person B drives used car.

3) Person A' s house is 1/3 to 1/4 of his total asset. Person B's house is his only asset. Person B is "House Poor".

4) Person A saves 30+% of his gross income. Person B's only savings is his house.

5) Person A "cash flow" his children the college education . Person B cosigned the student loan for his children.

So, who is a miser, spender, and/or frugal person? Person A or person B?

What is MY POINT?

It is very simple. If a person overspends on his house, no other expense will matter. Vice versa is also true.

My description of person A and B are typical among my peers.

KlangFool
Is B overspending on his house or making a good investment? Imagine the person who stretched to buy a 700k starter home 10 years ago by packing a lunch, driving a used car, cutting down on savings, signing loans and so on. The house is now worth 2.5 million that is paid off. A has a stock portfolio worth 1.5 million. Is B a miser, frugal, good investor, spender, or whatever? It doesn't really matter what label you give a person. They have made choices that hopefully maximize their happiness.
randomguy,

<<Is B overspending on his house or making a good investment?>>

In my neighborhood, the house price has not recovered to the 2004/2005 level. Meanwhile, the recessions between 2004 and now had forced many of my peers into long-term unemployment and under-employment. And, they had lost their houses in the process.

Overleveraging is not a good thing. It is a big gamble. The person is counting on being lucky for a long period of time. That is not a good strategy.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is not smart. It may work out but it does not make it a good strategy.

KlangFool

randomguy
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by randomguy » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:26 am

KlangFool wrote: randomguy,

<<Is B overspending on his house or making a good investment?>>

In my neighborhood, the house price has not recovered to the 2004/2005 level. Meanwhile, the recessions between 2004 and now had forced many of my peers into long-term unemployment and under-employment. And, they had lost their houses in the process.

Overleveraging is not a good thing. It is a big gamble. The person is counting on being lucky for a long period of time. That is not a good strategy.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is not smart. It may work out but it does not make it a good strategy.

KlangFool
And the houses I looked at buying in 2008 are trading at 2-3x today (and the rents have gone up about the same). Your situation in life is not everyone elses. I might not believe in the gamble everything on real estate strategy but it isn't insane. It secures housing at the cost of diversity. That may or may not be worth it to you.

BW1985
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by BW1985 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:33 am

goodenyou wrote:IMO, investing and uber-savings has the potential to unleash latent OCD. If you have OCD, or are prone to it, this forum can ignite it. Saving money brings out orderliness and perfectionism, a classic manifestation of OCD. If you think of every decision in terms of its financial implications, you are probably "crossing the line".
I don't think that's fair. I think it's wise to consider financial implications of every decision, I do, but if you're saying that is the sole input for a decision then I would agree.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

KlangFool
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:35 am

randomguy wrote:
KlangFool wrote: randomguy,

<<Is B overspending on his house or making a good investment?>>

In my neighborhood, the house price has not recovered to the 2004/2005 level. Meanwhile, the recessions between 2004 and now had forced many of my peers into long-term unemployment and under-employment. And, they had lost their houses in the process.

Overleveraging is not a good thing. It is a big gamble. The person is counting on being lucky for a long period of time. That is not a good strategy.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is not smart. It may work out but it does not make it a good strategy.

KlangFool
And the houses I looked at buying in 2008 are trading at 2-3x today (and the rents have gone up about the same). Your situation in life is not everyone elses. I might not believe in the gamble everything on real estate strategy but it isn't insane. It secures housing at the cost of diversity. That may or may not be worth it to you.
randomguy,

<<And the houses I looked at buying in 2008 are trading at 2-3x today>>

Hindsight is 20/20. You could use the same logic for stock market.

<< I might not believe in the gamble everything on real estate strategy but it isn't insane. >>

Putting all your eggs in one basket is not smart. Do you agree?

<<It secures housing at the cost of diversity.>>

It secures NOTHING when you are counting on your continuing GOOD income to support the mortgage. In fact, it increases THE RISK of financial disaster versus people without a mortgage.

What do you call people that counting on GOOD LUCK for their financial success?

Answer: A gambler.

What do you call people that counting on having GOOD LUCK over 10 to 20 years for their financial survival?

Answer: Insane.

KlangFool
Last edited by KlangFool on Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Patzer
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by Patzer » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:43 am

I am frugal.
For me, the key to not being a miser is having a budget and sticking to it.
Many people, try to spend as little as possible in the name of saving.

I found myself doing this, and decided the solution was to create a fair budget that met my saving goals, but also mandated I spend money on things I enjoy. The goal of the budget is not to spend as little as possible, but to spend amounts on different areas of life that will give a full and balanced life.

I like photography, so I have a certain amount of cash I have to spend on photography. This means I get to "splurge" on a lens purchase that I would not otherwise make, because what I have is "good enough". I have other buckets of money for different things, like a eating out, and if I see that it is October and I have only spent 50% of the money in that category, then I make an effort to spend MORE money in that area.

For me, I am using the meticulous detail oriented part of my nature to not only mandate healthy savings, but to also mandate healthy spending.

randomguy
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by randomguy » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:52 am

KlangFool wrote:
randomguy,

<<And the houses I looked at buying in 2008 are trading at 2-3x today>>

Hindsight is 20/20. You could use the same logic for stock market.

<< I might not believe in the gamble everything on real estate strategy but it isn't insane. >>

Putting all your eggs in one basket is not smart. Do you agree?

<<It secures housing at the cost of diversity.>>

It secures NOTHING when you are counting on your continuing GOOD income to support the mortgage. In fact, it increases THE RISK of financial disaster versus people without a mortgage.

What do you call people that counting on GOOD LUCK for their financial success?

Answer: A gambler.

What do you call people that counting on having GOOD LUCK over 10 to 20 years for their financial survival?

Answer: Insane.

KlangFool
I call them investors. They make educated guesses and hope things work out. The person who went from paying 2k/month in rent to 5k in rent in 10 years suffered a financial disaster. The one that watch their mortgage payment stay constant while their income went up 50%, was happy. They made an educated choice and it paid off. The renters are stuck hoping for a lucky break (i.e. either housing recession or equity event to give them enough money to buy in).

In the end we are all dependant on good luck. If the US gets nuked (i.e. bad luck), none of our choices matter. If the US stocks pull a japan and go down for 20 years, stock investing looks like a losing game. If bonds go to zero (and yes it can happen), buying them looks like a poor game. The good news is that odds are stacked in the investors favor.

KlangFool
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:49 pm

randomguy wrote:
KlangFool wrote:
randomguy,

<<And the houses I looked at buying in 2008 are trading at 2-3x today>>

Hindsight is 20/20. You could use the same logic for stock market.

<< I might not believe in the gamble everything on real estate strategy but it isn't insane. >>

Putting all your eggs in one basket is not smart. Do you agree?

<<It secures housing at the cost of diversity.>>

It secures NOTHING when you are counting on your continuing GOOD income to support the mortgage. In fact, it increases THE RISK of financial disaster versus people without a mortgage.

What do you call people that counting on GOOD LUCK for their financial success?

Answer: A gambler.

What do you call people that counting on having GOOD LUCK over 10 to 20 years for their financial survival?

Answer: Insane.

KlangFool
I call them investors. They make educated guesses and hope things work out. The person who went from paying 2k/month in rent to 5k in rent in 10 years suffered a financial disaster. The one that watch their mortgage payment stay constant while their income went up 50%, was happy. They made an educated choice and it paid off. The renters are stuck hoping for a lucky break (i.e. either housing recession or equity event to give them enough money to buy in).

In the end we are all dependant on good luck. If the US gets nuked (i.e. bad luck), none of our choices matter. If the US stocks pull a japan and go down for 20 years, stock investing looks like a losing game. If bonds go to zero (and yes it can happen), buying them looks like a poor game. The good news is that odds are stacked in the investors favor.
randomguy,

<< The person who went from paying 2k/month in rent to 5k in rent in 10 years suffered a financial disaster.>>

That person aka the renter could move to somewhere else.

<<I call them investors. They make educated guesses and hope things work out.>>

They count on they can be fully employed and not affected by any recession over 10 to 15 years. Is that true for most people? How educated is this guess?

<<In the end, we are all dependant on good luck.>>

A normal person will assume that

A) There will be one or more recessions over 10 to 15 years.

B) He / she will be unemployed and suffered losses of income for some period of time over one or more those recessions.

A person that assumes otherwise has to be EXTREMELY LUCKY.

<<In the end, we are all dependant on good luck.>>

I don't. I saved 30+%of my gross income. I survived multiple recessions and multiple periods of unemployment lasting more than a year. I assume that I am average in term of LUCK. I do not count on being EXTREMELY LUCKY.

If a person's plan is based on being EXTREMELY LUCKY, it is not a good plan.

KlangFool

FillorKill
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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by FillorKill » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:17 pm

I have an acquaintance that's an Ascetic which looks like miserliness from afar but doesn't have anything to do with money.

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Re: Crossing the line (becoming a miser)

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:16 pm

This thread has run its course and is locked (not personal nor actionable). General comment threads are off topic in the forums with "Personal" in the title. See: A reminder that non-investing general comment threads are OT
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