The power of proclaiming your frugality

Last week, I was paying for purchases at a store I frequent in my neighborhood. Routinely, the sales clerk asked me if I'd like to sign up for a store credit card. It wasn't the first time she'd asked me; thus, it wasn't the first time I scrambled for a polite way of saying no. I've been on the other side of the counter — it's not like you want to ask this question.

On this particular day, for some reason, I decided to say: “I don't do credit cards anymore.”

“I had a bad experience in college,” I joked.

(Of course, I kind of do still do credit cards, but this was a quick and easy answer.)

Instead of following up with an “are you sure?” in hopes of fulfilling her quota, this time, the sales clerk responded, “Oh my God, I know. I'm in so much credit card debt right now.” She knew where I was coming from.

When I visit that store now, the sales clerk no longer asks me to sign up for a store credit card, and actually, we're kind of retail-buddies now. I've realized that there's one easy tip that's helped me tremendously in my frugality: telling people I'm frugal.

It's not rocket science, but it often gets overlooked. In all of its simplicity, this is one of the most effective frugal living tips I've ever utilized. There are several ways in which being blatantly honest about my financial situation has worked in my favor. But first, a couple of reasons why I might have shied away from proclaiming my frugality in the past:

I didn't want to be impolite

Honestly, for a while, it never really occurred to me to tell a friend, “I can't afford to do this.” I felt like if they invited me out, it was rude to turn down their invite by telling them their plans don't fit within my budget. Unless they were a close friend, I didn't feel like I could be honest about this.

Then, I once invited someone to go play laser tag, and they told me, “I can't afford that right now, sorry.” And I didn't think it was rude, I thought it was refreshingly honest.

Giving someone a legitimate reason why you can't do something is actually quite considerate.

I thought my social life would suffer

Actually, I've found the opposite. If you're constantly making excuses for not going to costly events with your friends, they might think you just don't want to hang out with them. If you're honest about your budget, they'll know it's not them — it's your frugality. If you're meant to be closer friends, you'll find something more budget-friendly to do together. Actually, being honest about my finances has brought me closer to friends that I initially didn't know very well.

I was embarrassed

We all care what people think to some extent. We all have our Jonseses. Sometimes I still find it difficult to murmur the words, “Sorry, but I can't afford that.” But what's the worst that happens? Your friends think you're broke? Big deal. We're not working toward financial independence to show off; we're doing it for ourselves. Also, everyone else is usually broke, too. Whether it's getting out of debt or saving money to buy a home — most of us are on a budget.

The benefits of proclaiming my frugality

Support from friends

When I started proclaiming my frugality to friends, I was surprised at how many of them were frugal, too. In the past, we might have complained about money, but we never actually discussed frugality. But being honest about my budgeted lifestyle opened up a new bond with many of my friends. They started giving me personal finance advice, they started sending me great shopping deals, etc.

Also, they started reading my blog posts on Get Rich Slowly and giving me feedback. That was an added bonus.

Swapping frugality tips

Another benefit to being open and honest about my frugality is that I've been learning a lot. My friends and I swap frugal living hacks and tips, and it's always interesting to learn how other people work with their budget.

I stopped doing things I didn't really want to do

I've never particularly enjoyed going to the movies with friends, unless it's a movie I've been waiting to see. That's just my personal preference — I don't like spending 20 bucks to sit there quietly with a friend for two hours. I'd rather engage in a conversation, and, usually, it's a movie I'd rather wait to watch on Netflix (or not watch at all). Of course I realize that lots of people feel differently, and many of my friends love going to the movies. I just don't; I never have. Yet I've seen Horrible Bosses and Transformers in the theater just because that's what my friends wanted to do.

So now, when I'm asked to go see movies I'm not thrilled about, I tell friends I'm saving my entertainment budget for something else — maybe another movie, maybe a concert. And it's not an excuse; it's true! I save myself from doing something I don't particularly want to do, and most importantly, I'm not blowing my budget just to be affable.

Staying within my budget

Obviously, the biggest benefit to proclaiming my frugality is that it's been good for my budget. Friends are not only respectful about my financial goals, they're helpful and supportive, too. It's easy to keep a budget when you fully make your budget part of your life.

“I don't do credit cards anymore” is my new sales clerk thing now. I hate being asked to sign up for things almost as much as they hate asking.

Proclaiming my frugality sort of humanizes me in those situations, too. I'm no longer a quota to be met; I'm a person on a budget, just like them. I've shared quite a few brief but pleasant conversations on frugality with salespeople since. And it's just because I'm open about my aversion to overspending.

I tried this trick recently, when shopping for a birthday gift. I bought a watch for my boyfriend, and as I was checking out, I noticed a really beautiful women's watch. The saleslady noticed me notice it and kept trying to sway me to buy it until I finally said, “No, I'm saving up my money, and I just can't afford this right now.” She stopped hawking the watch and gave me a five-minute pat on the back about being young and financially independent. It made me feel good about my habits and better about not buying that watch.

There is power in proclaiming your frugality.

Are you sometimes reluctant about being honest when it comes to your budget? If so, why? And what benefits have you found in proclaiming your frugality?

More about...Budgeting, Frugality

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scott
scott
7 years ago

Wonderful article. I’ve found that by opening up to friends about frugality, it actually seems to help open doors. I’ve found a couple other people who are the same and we constantly inform each other about deals,etc.

Lincoln
Lincoln
7 years ago
Reply to  scott

Honesty is a good policy in general. But…just like it is obnoxious to keep up with the Joneses in terms of spending, it can also be obnoxious to keep up with the Joneses in terms of frugality. So it’s OK to talk about it and be honest about it, but remember that talking frugality might be boring or irritating to others.

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
7 years ago
Reply to  Lincoln

Especially if you talk about your frugality with an air of superiority or judgment. I once had a friend who did that. For example, I mentioned getting my hair cut at a regular salon (~$40-50) and she immediately said, “I don’t pay that much. I go to a bargain salon. $40 is too much to get my hair cut.” And it wasn’t so much what she said, but the tone and attitude. And she acted this way with a lot of stuff. (FWIW, I get my hair cut once or twice a year so the $40 or so isn’t a… Read more »

Marsha
Marsha
7 years ago

I’m blessed to have several great thrift stores near my home. Whenever someone compliments me on my clothes–which happens often–I always tell them where they came from and the approximate cost.

I do something similar to Kristin at the check-out if I’m offered a credit card. If they press me further, I smile sweetly and say, “I don’t use the Devil’s plastic.” No one wants to deal with a religious nut, so my purchase is finished quickly and quietly.

OneEC
OneEC
7 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

Why not simply say “No thank you.”?

Marsha
Marsha
7 years ago
Reply to  OneEC

I only say it to clerks who press the point, after I’ve told them I’m not interested.

Besides, it’s fun to see their reaction!

Megan
Megan
7 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

They probably only press the point because they have to. If a manager is within earshot, they could get reprimanded for not asking you for a card a second or even third time. It stinks that clerks can be pushy, but I always remind myself it’s because they have to be or else they could lose their jobs.

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
7 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

Very true – I used to be a retail manager and I HATED making my employees solicit credit card apps. But, because *I* was required to I had to ask them to :/ I didn’t make it a big deal, though, partly because I knew that many customers get annoyed by that sort of thing. Likewise, when I worked at McDonald’s I HATED selling up or asking if the person wanted fries with their order. When I first started I would “forget” to do that, but one day the manager was standing right next to me and kept adding it… Read more »

Becky+P.
Becky+P.
7 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

I usually just say, “I’ve got enough credit cards for now, no thank you.”

It also works.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Becky+P.

That’s what I say too. I never had an issue with that.

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
7 years ago
Reply to  Becky+P.

That’s what I say when I’m pressed to apply for credit. I can’t get away with the no credit card excuse since I’m almost always paying with a credit card (Discover for the cash back – and it’s paid in full each month).

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

My wife and I have found that sometimes people still don’t respect that. “Oh well, you deserve to do something with us–break your budget, it’s a treat!” or “Well then we’ll pay for you, you can pay us back later”…so sometimes it works, and sometimes people force you to be mean or make some bs excuse!

John
John
7 years ago

Tell them you are on a strict budget, explain what you are saving for and refuse to allow them to ‘lend’ you money. Explain you have the money to do whatever they want you to do but you choose not to spend it. If they can’t handle that, get different friends.

OneEC
OneEC
7 years ago
Reply to  John

Or just say “No thank you.” You do not have to explain to anyone why you are or are not spending money. If they are continuing to press you, then just keep repeating No thank you or leave.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

People tell me I “deserve” everything from manicures to vacations. I try to leave the word “deserve” out of my spending decisions. My budget includes “wants” – I think that’s a more realistic way to approach non-essentials.

Earl
Earl
7 years ago

Enjoyed the article. I think we should all embrace our inner frugality. However, one thing that struck me as aggravating is that I know a couple that use the excuse of frugality when it was a movie (or activity) that they didn’t want to participate in. In my opinion it would ultimately be better for the friendship to be honest about the disinterest in the activity instead of lying about frugality. I understand not wanting to go/do something but I don’t understand the deceitfulness.

John
John
7 years ago
Reply to  Earl

That is frugality. They choose not to spend a huge sum of money (the present cost of a movie is ridiculous) to see a movie they won’t enjoy. Perfectly honest. Frugality is not an inability to do something because of cost, it’s a choice to not spend money. Would you rather they say they just don’t want to spend the time with you?

Earl
Earl
7 years ago
Reply to  John

Maybe my original post didn’t convey the full story. The couple had a “money be damned” attitude with activities they wanted to do but anytime there was something they didn’t want to do then they were frugal. My issue wasn’t their frugality, it was their dishonesty about it.

Friendships are built on truth and honesty. Honesty would be letting a friend know you want to spend time with them but you aren’t interested in a certain movie instead of using an ideology as an excuse. The writer states that she uses frugality as an excuse rather than telling the truth.

OneEC
OneEC
7 years ago
Reply to  Earl

Yes, I don’t understand all of the “excuse making” that this post and the comments are encouraging.

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Earl

OneEC, I appreciate your opinion, but I’m not sure how the article condones “excuse making” when the point is to stop making excuses and just be honest about your frugality. It’s not that I don’t want to hang out with my friends, it’s that I don’t want to hang out with them and pay $20 to see Transformers. I’m perfectly honest about that. I don’t say “I can’t afford to see that movie.” I say “I’m saving my budget for something else.” I mentioned that in the article. It’s not an excuse; it’s true. If I had all the money… Read more »

take_fligt
take_fligt
7 years ago

I would love for someone to tell me what your supposed to do when you have someone in your life that just doesn’t get it. We have a budget, and we try to stick to that budget as much as possible. We have money separated for entertainment, appliances, vacation, etc. I try very hard not to take from one for another. It’s our rule. Most of this is because of the fact that we are responsible for our own retirement. Yet this person just doesn’t get it. If she wants something, she just charges it, she only works part time,… Read more »

Anne
Anne
7 years ago
Reply to  take_fligt

You are not going to change this person, she has a mind set different from yours, so change your reaction to her. But mostly keep her out of your life if you possibly can. And definitely dont’ engage in prolonged conversations with her about your economic choices.

I have a brother in law who always treated us like we were the poor relations in the family because we didn’t spend at his level. Frankly, at some point we decided his company wasn’t worth keeping.

Becky+P.
Becky+P.
7 years ago
Reply to  Anne

I was going to say something similar. Don’t involve her in your life so much. Does she not have much going on her own life that she has to be overly concerned with how you spend your money?

I really have no idea how much they spent on or what kinds of car seats the people I know have.

Why is this even a matter of discussion? If someone is so absorbed with my finances, I work extra hard to keep them uninformed.

take_fligt
take_fligt
7 years ago
Reply to  Becky+P.

Yes, I do try to keep those things private. She is the one who strikes up these conversations. If I don’t contact her, she will try to call me until I answer, and has even contacted my children. Unfortunately this person tries to “trick” me into giving information. She actually came up with an elaborate story to get me to divulge my retirement information. When I refused and offered to email her the company’s pamphlet so she could look to see which type of account would meet her needs, she actually said that she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t show… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
7 years ago
Reply to  Becky+P.

OMG, she sounds like an insecure piece of work!!! I’m guessing for her image means a lot, and she wants to appear rich, and part of her plan is to belittle you and try to make it sound like you’re poor, but she’s secretly scared that you’re better off than she is. UGH!

John
John
7 years ago
Reply to  take_fligt

I have tried to help others, only when asked, in their efforts at saving. I don’t like to give advice but I do tell them what works for me. If they learn frugality, great, if not it’s not any of my business and I don’t comment on their lack of thriftiness. If my friends and associates want to stay perpetually in debt, how is that any of my concern or business?

Samantha
Samantha
7 years ago
Reply to  take_fligt

Your friends sounds rather toxic. Unless a person builds me up, I stay away from them.

Peach
Peach
7 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

I agree. Giving up my old spending habits and beliefs went along with letting go of toxic people and refusing to let their negative opinions rain on my parade.

Kingston
Kingston
7 years ago
Reply to  take_fligt

This sounds like a troubled person with boundary issues and maybe a spending problem. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s worth remembering that you do have the right to end a relationship if it’s not working for you.

Debbie
Debbie
7 years ago

“I don’t do credit cards anymore” is a great line. I’m going to start using it today! I had a periodontist office who wanted me to take out a credit card so he could do work on my teeth. I tried saying the same thing in so many words, but I was still pressured with “testimonials” with how it was only $24 dollars a month for her daughter to have braces. Turned out it would have been closer to 75 dollars for us. Delta Dental has a price range of different dental services for our area on their website and… Read more »

shorty+j
shorty+j
7 years ago

It depends. I am a cheap bastard from a long line of cheap bastards, so I don’t have any trouble proclaiming it. (Our unofficial family motto is, “There’s no thrill like a cheap thrill.”) I will very openly tell my friends “I can’t afford that” or “I’m too cheap for that.” It sort of validates them, I think – a lot of people are self-conscious about having to say “I can’t afford that” or “I don’t want to spend that much money on something,” but because I’m completely shameless, I’ll say it first, haha. I have no problem saying, man,… Read more »

John
John
7 years ago
Reply to  shorty+j

I agree. A great many people CAN’T afford most of the things they do anyway, do to social pressure. If at least one person in the crowd is willing to take the heat and proclaim they WON’T spend that money, I guarantee many others appreciate the opportunity to avoid the cost without ‘losing face’.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  shorty+j

In the case of the store card, I’d just say “No thank you,” though. Retail cashiers don’t get paid enough to give a crap about my thoughts on credit cards.

My thoughts exactly! 😀

Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
7 years ago
Reply to  shorty+j

Do you have a blog? I would read it.

Kingston
Kingston
7 years ago

I was gonna say, this guy sounds like a cross between El Nerdo and Tyler K. Like.

shorty+j
shorty+j
7 years ago

My ego! Thanks! 😀 (I’m actually blushing at my screen.)

I do blog here and there, but not on finance stuff – most of my writing has been guest spots on GLBTQ blogs and is not exactly, shall we say, family-friendly so I’m loathe to link it here.

Ps. In response to the comment below yours, not that it matters one whit, but I’m actually a woman! I was raised around all boys, though, so in cases where people can’t actually “see” my gender, they tend to assume I’m a dude, and I really don’t mind either way.

Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
7 years ago
Reply to  shorty+j

Interesting because I plan on doing a post on my own blog about gay marriage. Though it’s a tangential personal finance issue, studying it also sheds light on some economic issues as well.

adult student
adult student
7 years ago

Most of my friends appreciate my trying to suggest cheap outings as much as I do. I only have one who tends to suggest much pricier activities, and she takes “thanks, I can’t make that, but maybe we could do something else next week?” as a fine answer.

I find for turning down invitations and credit card pitches, you don’t actually HAVE to give a reason, “no thank you” usually works pretty well. People get that you’re busy or not interested and don’t usually badger.

John
John
7 years ago

I proudly proclaim my frugality and have done so for a number of years. At first people called me cheap and made the occasional (mostly harmless) remark but I laughed along with them. After a short time, as I went on nice vacations (paid in cash), bought a ‘new’ car (used but in good shape, also paid in cash), sent my son to college (again paid in cash) they started to realize frugality has it’s own rewards. I can afford to be generous at church and sponsor several charities. I can afford to actually plan for retirement, with some hope… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
7 years ago

I’m confused. You told the clerk that you don’t do credit cards, but then stated, in the article that you kind of do credit cards. Which is it? Why not tell the clerk, “No thanks”. That’s honest.

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer

Because I don’t do new credit cards. I have a credit card that I put money on as I need it so that I can accumulate points, but it is the only credit card that I use actively and I pay it off before the statement closes. The link takes you to a post that Holly wrote about that topic. That’s a little much to explain to the clerk, because, as someone else stated, they don’t get paid to listen to my thoughts or opinions. I don’t consider this lying. I was just further explaining my situation to the readers.… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

Like Earl, I have mixed feelings about the premise of this article. You don’t want to go to movies not because you can’t afford them but because you don’t think they are a good value and don’t give you a return on your investment. I think it is somewhat disingenuous to say that you can’t afford them. Your discriminating friends will see through this and resent it when they see you spending money on other things. Mind you, I still don’t think you should go to the movie, but just say, “I would rather spend time with you in a… Read more »

EMH
EMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I say something very similiar. Usually, “I can’t spend money on x, because we have y coming up”. It seems to work. Luckily, the majority of my friends are all in the same boat and we don’t have too many pressures to spend wildly. If anything, it is who can save more which can also be an ugly game.

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane, I don’t say I can’t afford them (unless I genuinely can’t). I tell friends I’m saving my entertainment budget for something else.

Most of us have things we’re trying to pay off or save up for, so I don’t see how telling people you have a budget to stick to is dishonest.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

Thanks for the clarification, Kristin, but I have to admit your post did make it sound like you were saying you couldn’t afford it. In fact, you said, “Honestly, for a while, it never really occurred to me to tell a friend, “I can’t afford to do this.”” I’m not sure how saying “I can’t afford it” and “It doesn’t fit within my budget” are very different. It sounds like semantics to me. Perhaps the difference is in the reception to the statement, which I would agree would be much better in the case of the latter. But I still… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

But I do say what I really mean. When a friend asks to see a movie, I say that I would rather spend the money on a different movie or something else altogether. If I didn’t have to worry about saving money, I’d be glad to spend the $20 on whatever. But right now, I’m trying to be a bit more careful about that $20. I’m frugal. And honestly, my friends have never picked apart my intention this much. When I tell them “I’d rather save my entertainment money for something else,” they usually take that for what it means:… Read more »

Shannon
Shannon
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Thanks for the reminder on talking around kids. I think I’m guilty of saying that although our spending choices on our kids probably say otherwise.

Budget and the Beach
Budget and the Beach
7 years ago

For the most part I’ve found this to be a good thing, but I did have a lot of friends stop asking me to do anything at all…like they couldn’t come up with a frugal alternative. But most were supportive, and those are the friends that matter most.

Anne
Anne
7 years ago

Maybe they got weary of trying to figure out which activities fit into your budget.

Did you invite them to activities?

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

The best thing about being honest with your friends when something isn’t in your budget right now, is that it frees them to be honest, too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone else say – “Oh, so glad to hear that! I couldn’t afford it either, but didn’t know how to say no.”

Kingston
Kingston
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

One friend and I have really bonded over frugality. She’s had a long stretch of underemployment and has had to re-think her whole life, pretty much. We enjoy long Skype phone calls (we live 100 miles apart), share recipes, job search ideas, frugal activity ideas, retirement and career info, resources for reasonable insurance in our state, etc. I think being able to be speak freely with a non-judgmental person about the nuts and bolts of her finances has helped her to be less anxious, and it’s certainly been great for me to have a financial reality check on a regular… Read more »

jxm
jxm
7 years ago

I have no issues telling anyone my reasons for not participating in activities that don’t fit my budget or mood. No use spending money where it’s not needed. “I’m trying to save money.” appeases the masses and reminds some of my friends that they too should be doing the same thing. As for card solicitations, a simple “No, thank you.” does the trick each and every time. Not once have I been pressured by a clerk to open a card after I’ve made my remark. Maybe it’s my “dare you to ask me again” face that stops them in their… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  jxm

Ha! Maybe I’ve got to develop that face. Because the “no, thank you” thing rarely works for me.

I’m surprised to hear that this is where the sales pitch stops for many others. Usually there are a couple of follow ups about how much I would save on my purchase. That’s why I’ve started flat out saying I just don’t do credit.

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

I wonder if there’s some sort of regional difference or retail chain difference between the clerks who press on and those who drop the solicitation after “No thank you.” Here in MA I rarely if ever get the hard sell to apply for credit. Perhaps it’s because us New Englanders tend to have a “I’ll mind my own business and won’t butt into yours” attitude?

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
7 years ago

I’ve noticed that sometimes if I say, “I can’t afford that” or “it’s not in the budget,” people will offer to buy it for me. For instance, if I go out with coworkers and say I am only having one drink. I do appreciate the gesture, but they seem to equate “I am choosing not to spend money on this” with “I literally don’t have $5 for this.” Then, sometimes these same people will protest that we’re not paid enough money and that it’s impossible to save on our salaries.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  Ramblin' Ma'am

Are you sure we don’t work at the same place? =)

Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
7 years ago
Reply to  Ramblin' Ma'am

Buying just one drink also serves the purpose of not ruining the next day. So, sometimes, when people are trying to be nice by buying me a drink, I feel obligated to drink it. So, not only did they waste their money on something I didn’t want, but they ruined my Sunday morning!

CJ
CJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Ramblin' Ma'am

I guess it depends on the situation, though. I make more than most of my friends. If I want to go to a play or a nice restaurant, I know I have no friend who values it as much as I do or can afford it. But I don’t want to go alone. So if an honest friend says “I can’t afford it” I will often say “That’s OK, my treat! I really want to go!” It’s not that I think they really couldn’t make it work if they truely wanted to see the show or play lazer tag or… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

“I stopped doing things I didn’t really want to do” Kristin, I can totally relate to this entire post! A couple that we are really close with likes to invite us to expensive dinners out. I don’t really mind occasionally and budget accordingly but they always want to eat dinner at like 9:00 p.m. Nothing makes me more miserable than waiting til 9:00 p.m. to spend $100 for a dinner that I can’t really enjoy because it’s late and I’m old =) I recently told them that I didn’t mind going out to nice places but I had to eat… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago

Hi Holly!

Haha, it’s amazing what a little openness and honesty will do. Simple concept, but it gets overlooked sometimes!

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

I always respond to the “would you like to open a store card and save 10%” with one of the following. “No, I don’t do debt.” “No, I don’t do credit.” or “I know you have to ask, but store credit cards don’t save anyone money.” As for close friends and family, when we were killing our $55,500 in debt in 2007 I had no problem saying no or mentioning our debt killing ways when expensive events or vacation plans came up. I had good friends, who are in the same profession as I am, who have plenty of money… Read more »

Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
7 years ago

Kristin, your articles are my favorite on any PF blog. The fear of missing out also plays into this for me. If everyone’s going, then I want to go too! If I say I’m saving, my friends will try to convince me to come, and it’s usually pretty easy for them. Sometimes I crack, sometimes I don’t. But it’s the FOMO that’s the hardest to overcome. That being said, I do sometimes feel embarrassed, rude, or even pompous for declaring my frugality (look at me, I’m saving money and my farts dont smell!). But, depending on your friends, they’ll usually… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago

Thanks for the kind words, Matt!

Mentioning a specific goal is a great idea.

I know, I can’t help but feel like I’m being holier-than-thou sometimes, too. Especially when my friends follow up with, “Yeah, I should be saving money, too.” But the upside is that now the activities with those friends are usually more frugal (and fun!). We swap dinner nights, for example. Being honest about my frugality has actually made me closer to a few friends.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

I see no less than 10 credit card offers on your page, can I say no thank you to the ads?

Tara
Tara
7 years ago

Sometimes I have difficulty admitting that I am too cheap to do x or that I just don’t want to do x but don’t want the other person to feel rejected. But I am working on that. I foresee some challenges coming up in the next year over expensive dinners out with friends because now that my SO has retired and I am doing my best to do the same, I really can’t keep up the pretense that we can afford these multi-hundred dollar dinners like we could when our household income was far higher than it is now.

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Tara

Hi Tara, thanks for sharing your situation. The phrase “keep up the pretense” stuck out to me, as I think that’s the source of a lot of headache. I wish I could tell you to just be open and honest about your budgeted lifestyle, but I’m not in your shoes and maybe it’s not that easy. I understand where you’re coming from…I tend to be a people pleaser, and I didn’t want to let friends down by saying no, either. But I will say that true friends are usually quite understanding, and for me, it’s really freeing to be honest… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko
7 years ago

Good point Kristin,

If people looked at NOT spending the same as EARNING money then everything would change.

Its amazing how much I’ve saved by hanging out in the kitchen posing like a 5 star chef instead of going out.

$90 tab + tip nooooooo how about $24 at the grocery store and $66 to savings.

Samantha
Samantha
7 years ago

We are struggling with this same weird situation right now among our circle of friends. Some make really good money and are still barely making ends meet with credit cards and student loans, but they have the newest car and iPhone and clothes and wine collection. And we’re middle income but trying to pay the house off in three years. So its been hard trying to balance hanging out, doing things we really want to, and turning down invitations to the spendiest restaurants in town. Its also really hard not to argue when they say “you’re young, you’ve got to… Read more »

Edward
Edward
7 years ago

Good post, Kristin! Weird, I’ve actually sold cashiers on *my* credit card by saying, “No thanks! This one I have here sends me a cheque for $50 every three months or so. Made me $200 last year, so I’m sticking with it.” As far as friends go, my excuses started with “I’m doing this thing for a few months where I’m trying to see if I can save 50% of my income.” That actually got many of them very interested in trying something similar. I do travel a few times a year so many of my excuses are, “I can’t… Read more »

John S @ Frugal Rules
John S @ Frugal Rules
7 years ago

“Obviously, the biggest benefit to proclaiming my frugality is that it’s been good for my budget. Friends are not only respectful about my financial goals, they’re helpful and supportive, too. It’s easy to keep a budget when you fully make your budget part of your life.” I could not agree more. A true friend will understand and be more than willing to do other, more fiscally reasonable things with. Great point on making your budget a part of your life. Many people don’t budget because they either think you can’t have fun, or they don’t live it out. The thing… Read more »

Kestra
Kestra
7 years ago

I like to say “I don’t feel like spending money on (blank) right now.” Since I can pretty much afford anything I want, but am saving for early retirement, that phrase allows me to not lie but also keeps my finances private. Works well with co-workers and eating out – sometimes I’ll join them, sometimes I won’t. I don’t want to be excluded from every activity because they think I’m broke but I don’t want to feel pressured to join in on everything either.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Kestra

Your approach here is much more palatable to me, precisely because you embrace your agency. You don’t try to cloak it in language about a budget. People (at least those who care enough to pay attention) will interpret any talk of a “budget” as either a cop-out or dishonesty, even if it is neither. To head this off, you come right out and say what you mean, i.e. that you don’t want to do something.

The truth will set you free ;).

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago

I have actually lost friends by telling them I’m saving my money, or that’s not in my budget this month, maybe next month we can do something.

It’s frustrating because I’m not on a tight budget for fun, I’m on it because I have to be. So it’s not like I am choosing to not do things with people because I don’t want to, it’s because I honestly can’t afford to.

Great article 🙂

Christa
Christa
7 years ago

I definitely think it helps to tell friends and family why you can’t go places or do things when you’re invited. Then they don’t feel ignored or put off when you can’t afford to go.

Karin
Karin
7 years ago

I don’t have any credit cards, and don’t really care whether people assume it is because I’m broke, or because I’m eccentric. It’s great not to have debt! I do think it is important not to be (and not to appear to be) ‘mean’ or ‘cheap’ though. It IS possible to be both frugal and generous 😉

Tina
Tina
7 years ago

In my 20s and even mid 30s, I didn’t want to admit to anyone that we didn’t have enough to do certain things. I was embarrassed. Once the recession hit us in 2008, it seemed to hit alot of people. It was then, saving and being frugal was more acceptable and I became brave enough to say it out loud. I now am not afraid to tell the sales person, waiter, friend or family that we just don’t have the money to do that. It does feel better to know that when we spend the money on something, it is… Read more »

Kathleen, Frugal Portland
Kathleen, Frugal Portland
7 years ago

I used to run into this a lot, too. Funny how letting people know about FRUGAL Portland decreases the expensive requests, and people are much more understanding when I say, no thank you, on things!

Cindy Brick
Cindy Brick
7 years ago

Instead of “cheap bastard,” we would call this “being a Hollander” in my family. (My dad was 100% Dutch, and loved the thrill of a Really Good Bargain.)

Am I the only one who found it ironic that I had to wade through credit card advertisements (that kept irritatingly flashing up whenever I tried to scroll across) to read this post?

LeRainDrop
LeRainDrop
7 years ago

Thanks for your post, Kristin. I’ll relate a recent experience: I was at a Comcast service center to return a piece of equipment that Comcast had provided to each customer in our neighborhood for free just last year, telling us that there’s no monthly charge. So, I’m returning it on principle because suddently Comcast decided that it is now going to charge everyone a monthly fee for this equipment. (Sneaky — get the “free” equipment in everyone’s home, then convert it to a monthly expense!) Anyway, when it was my turn, the rep greeted me by congratulating me that I… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  LeRainDrop

We switched to a Roku Box a few years ago and have never regretted it. We paid around $80 for the Roku box then pay $7.99 each for Netflix and Hulu. We also have an antenna that we paid around $30 for. We get all of the basic channels in HD with the antenna only. When we switched, we were paying around $80 for satellite TV. So the initial investments in the Roku box and antenna were paid for very quickly. Now we just pay $15.98 per month and have way more TV than we could ever want or need.… Read more »

Kitty
Kitty
7 years ago

Exactly what we have. And, you’re right, lots more TV than we could ever watch. Add to this setup what’s available at the library for free, and you’ll have cheap entertainment coming out your ears.

Shannon
Shannon
7 years ago
Reply to  LeRainDrop

my BluRay player streams internet (we do Hulu +) on it..the xbox 360 also does but you have to have their upgraded service which is $60 a yr. just a thought if you have one of these laying around

Squirrelers
Squirrelers
7 years ago

Good article. I think that being up front and transparent is a good thing, and you hit upon something important when noting that excuses just make people think that you don’t want to socialize with them. Rather, saying you can’t afford it is being more straightforward and legit.

The thing is, it can also serve as a litmus test for who is truly your friend. Is someone thinks a person is lame for not being able to afford something, that person might not be a true friend.

Wm
Wm
7 years ago

I’ve had friends on both ends of the spectrum. Some friends tag along with me to some place hoping that I will pay for them and I’ve had a friend who purposefully forgets her purse every time. And there are other people who go to a really nice restaurant and order just a salad – no appetizers, no sides, no desserts or no beverages. I’m all for being frugal and healthy, but on the occasional visits to restaurants, I would like to have a good time. And that’s just hard when the people are not up for it and I… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

I enjoyed this post 🙂 Sometimes it can be hard to negotiate the social ins and outs of money. Many of my friends are like minded, but I had one friend who used to think I was judging her spending decisions when I didn’t eat out, get manicures, travel, etc. I finally came right out and said one day that I just have a different budget to work with than she does — it’s not that I think those things are silly and trivial. (She earned 2-3 times as much as I did at the time.) When we were able… Read more »

taka torimoto
taka torimoto
7 years ago

GREAT article – and so much truth to this. There is nothing to be ashamed about being frugal – and yes I think your true friends will be respectful. I make fun of myself being frugal, but on the inside, I’m a lot more proud that I am financially responsible. People know me as being frugal (or even cheap) and some come to ask me for ideas/suggestions. But at least everyone knows where I am coming from (I’m not blowing them off because I don’t like them – and I’m usually up for more affordable things). I refuse to get… Read more »

Veronica
Veronica
7 years ago

I wonder if “frugal” isn’t the right word. I wonder if “mindful of how I spend my money” is a better way to put it. The movie example illustrates this well. We only have so many resources whether it be dollars, hours or energy. Best to spend those resources on things that make us happy, no? I recently told a friend I wouldn’t be attending an event because, for me, it wasn’t worth the money. Later we were discussing the neighborhood I live in and she proclaimed, “You live there and you can’t afford to go to the conference?!” Besides… Read more »

Monroe
Monroe
7 years ago

Great article. Can’t say enough about it. It’s always easier to just tell the truth. Don’t try to pretend to be something that you’re not. People will respect you a whole lot more for it as well.

stellamarina
stellamarina
7 years ago

I am coming a bit late to the conversation but I want to add that instead of store clerks trying to push credit cards…the thing that bugs me is the bank clerk that is always trying to push home equity loans. When they ask me if I am interested in one, the young clerks get a mini lecture from me about how all the home foreclosures in our town are because of people adding equity loans on to their mortgage.

Jerry
Jerry
7 years ago

I make a decent salary but we still have a lot of student loan debt. Living frugally is our insurance we’ll be able to pay off our loans. It would lead to stress if we pretended we had more money than we actually did.

Kitty
Kitty
7 years ago

Fantastic column, and good for you for your honesty and forthrightness with people. I think when you have the courage to say you can’t afford something you’d be surprised at how many people felt the same way but were afraid to say so.

Sara
Sara
7 years ago

When I’m offered a store credit card, I just say, “No thanks.” I do not feel obligated to give a reason. In fact, if you give a reason, that just gives them a chance for a rebuttal. At Target, for example, they offer both a debit card and a credit card, so if you say you don’t do credit cards, they’ll probably just try to sell you a debit card. Just say no and move on with your life. It’s not personal. When it is personal, like with friends or family, I usually make a semi-joking comment like, “I’m too… Read more »

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