Counterintuitive Frugality

Screen shot 2009-12-13 at Dec 13, 2009, 11.06.45 PMIn case ya didn’t notice, it’s Christmas time. Don’t worry though, this isn’t going to be another PF article about how to save money on your Xmas shopping. Saving money and finding deals, is something I am going to let you figure out on your own. I do plan, however, to talk a little bit about the Xmas gift experience.

I’m a pretty frugal ninja, as if you didn’t already know that. I try to cut costs by any means necessary so I have more money to save, invest, and give. I’m the guy that buys the generic brand cereals,  ketchups, and underwear just to save a little bit of money. It might not taste as good, or fit just right, but my pocketbook thanks me 🙂 While frugality may be a part of my DNA, Xmas is the one time of the year I am totally fine droppin’ some dollar bills.

I get anxiety over spending $20 on myself at the grocery store, but can drop $100 on a gift for my girlfriend with out an ounce of stress. Something about giving gifts, cancels out the anxiety of spending money. I think it can be summed up by this math rule…

Screen shot 2009-12-13 at Dec 13, 2009, 10.19.09 PM

The math clearly shows when I spend money, I can be a happy ninja, as long as a friend benefits along the way (not to be confused with “friends with benefits“).

Like most of you, December is usually my most expensive month. I personally don’t limit my Xmas spending to a certain dollar amount, probably because I don’t take the time to set aside an Xmas savings account. Some years I’ll spend $100, other years I’ll spend $300, and this year I’ll spend even more.

One would expect a frugal person to freak out after spending an abnormal amount of money, but for me it’s no problem. Do any of you experience a similar counterintuitive frugality? Is it easier for you to spend money on someone else rather than yourself? Why do you think that is? I’ve finished my Xmas shopping this year, have you?

p.s. If you are reading this via a feed reader, I recommend you stop by and actually check out my website as I put up my Xmas banner last Thursday….let’s just say I think I’ll be on the naughty list this year.

15 thoughts on “Counterintuitive Frugality

  1. I totally agree with you here. Sometimes I'll forgo a $15 haircut for weeks to save some extra money, but if someone else needed something, I have no problem buying it.

  2. Yeah I feel the same way. I had a goal of saving $300 for Christmas this year, but if I spend more than that, then it just comes out of my regular paycheck or other savings. And I completely agree about spending more on others than yourself. While it sounds really noble, I think it's more of a pride thing for me. I don't want to be known as that cheap scrooge who can't give a decent gift!

  3. I guess I have never really thought of it like that but I am the same way. I fret for hours over whether or not to make a purchase for myself but I dropped $100 last night in less than 5 minutes for my wife. I did make sure to search for online coupon codes first though.

  4. Christmas is one of my biggest financial weaknesses because I constantly just want to buy my dad and my sister more stuff. I just see things and think of them and want to buy them for them.

    Considering last year I blew my E-fund wad on Christmas I HAD to impose limits on myself this year. That was really, really, really hard.

    I still look at my gift pile for my dad and sister and feel like I want to get them more.

    Perhaps I'm afraid that they'll think I don't love them if I don't buy a TON of presents? Or perhaps it is that I love them so much I just can't stop buying things for them?

  5. "I’m the guy that buys the generic brand…underwear…It might not taste as good, or fit just right, but my pocketbook thanks me"

    That's pretty nasty, Ninja. But seriously, I really hate giving and getting gifts. I can't recall a gift since I've been an adult that I have liked, and trying to buy a gift for someone can be a 6-hour ordeal.

    I find it easier to spend money, when I know that the money is going to something that a person (myself or others) actually wants. But due to societal taboos, I can't ask people what they want, and then go buy it, so it makes buying for others very painful.

    • Forget the "societal taboos!" I used to be the same way. I wouldn't give anyone hints, and I wouldn't ask for help because I wanted to know I got them something they liked on my own.

      Then I realized, after de-cluttering my apartment, that by not telling others what I'd like for Christmas, my birthday, special occassions, that I'm becoming the REASON my home is full of things I don't use! If I don't help people out, I'm guaranteed to get something I don't want or need. And you know what? I haven't looked back since! Now I get things I need and nothing I don't. You shouldn't feel bad about doing that. A good way to start is by helping the people who want to buy for you. Then ask for the same in return. 🙂

  6. Definitely, sort of. The last two Christmases were rough for us because of the freelance situation & debt repayment. We hadn't yet paid off the car & money was tight. So we told people we were basically opting out. It was still awkward.

    This year, however, we're getting one reasonably-priced gift for everyone in the family. And now I'm feeling what you're saying. We're only spending $15-25/person and only for our parents & siblings, which would normally take me a week to decide to spend on myself, but it's very easy to do it because we know it'll make other people happy. 🙂

  7. I'm definitely more likely to buy for others than myself. When it's someone else receiving an item, I don't think of how it will affect my closet or my home or my wallet. I think, "Wow! They could really use this!" I overanalyze when I spend money on myself… And it usually results in no money spent! But my budget isn't complaining. 😉

  8. Man, I’m definitely going on that naughty list. I love buying for myself. With other people, I don’t want to go too crazy because I don’t want them to feel obligated to return the favor or even feel weird if they aren’t able to. So I usually limit my presents to other people to either thoughtful little things or shared experiences (i.e, plays, movies, classes, etc). But I’ll go crazy for shoes, clothes, anything for myself. My thought process is pretty much, I won’t feel bad about spending on myself. I’ll have to say that the “giving to others” rule only holds for friends/co-workers. Family and the BF, they get the royal treatment. Again, not as good as myself, but still pretty good!

  9. It's so easy for me to spend money on other people rather than myself! I'm a giver. I save a little bit each month into a "Gift Fund" (woohoo INGDirect subaccounts!) and this year I have just over $200 to spend on Christmas presents. I've already spent $150 on my immediate family and roommates. Still need to buy stocking stuffers for family and a few small gifts for friends, so I think I will be exactly on target with my Xmas spending!

    (It's a good thing I'm currently not dating someone, because I love buying gifts for a significant other! I could easily spend $100+ on gifts for love! Call me cheesy, lol…)

  10. i have no problem spending money on other people – spending money on myself stresses me out! This year I planned as best as i could – and as best as i ever have – but i defn. spent more then i intended to and im okay with it.

    I'm just so looking forward to seeing some smiles come Christmas morning.

  11. I think it's easier to spend on others, I do not buy much for myself throughout the year, it kind of stresses me! I probably spend too much, but I'm fine with it and I pay off my credit card in full every month so it's okay. I'm starting a Christmas/birthday fund for 2010 so next year will be even better 🙂

  12. It is easier to spend money on other people than yourself, which doesn't really make much sense does it?

    I do it a little differently here. I have enough stuff as it is and there's really nothing else that I need or want. I'm trying to get rid of alot of the 'stuff' in my life, and christmas is one of those times when you tend to accumulate stuff other people buy for you that you don't really need or want. So instead I organize with my best mates that we are not going to buy each other anything, but instead go somewhere classy for dinner ( a place where there's no fluro lights with actual tablecloths) or otherwise spend a night away somewhere to celebrate Christmas instead of spending money on each other, and in the end that's what Christmas is about, spending time with the people that matter to you. With my immediate family if they feel the need to buy me something I ask them to make a donation to a worthy charity instead.

    It's been kinda hard to convince some of my mates/family about doing this as they perceive it to be cheap, but to me it's not being cheap at all, it's what Christmas should be about.

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