Am I crazy to live frugally?
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  1. #1
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    Default Am I crazy to live frugally?

    I don't think I am rich, nor do I think I am poor. I simply have a fear of poverty, and as a result, sometime live by extreme frugal means, what can I do to alley my fears?

    I live in the suburb of NYC/NJ, and 30 years old, single

    a) I make about anywhere from $200K to $400K/year after bonus,
    b) I own a house which is now paid off ($550K value), and a secondary mortgage which is rental unit. Currently I pay about $1400/mo for mortgage, and rental income is $3600/mo, there is $300K left in the mortgage ($650K in value)
    c) My bank account (combining both savings and investments) is $280K
    d) Admittedly, my retirement savings is not good, I only have about $30K so far, though I made a committment to max out 401K, backdoor Roth starting this year. Earlier I have been focusing on paying off mortgages/student debt, etc.
    e) Monthly expenses (outside food) is about $400 (electricity, water, gas, phone, cable bill, etc)
    f) A car that is paid off
    g) No debt besides the house

    As a result, every month, I have about $8000 - $10,000 that is for discretionary spending.

    I sometimes think I should live a more happier living standards, but somehow this phobia of not having money is driving me insane. It probably stems from my childhood that our family is never rich.

    This has led me to do some crazy things (even I admit is crazy, however I cannot stop myself)
    a) If things are identical, I always go for the cheapest one even if it might cause minor hassle. For example, for gas, I always go to the cheapest one, even though it might mean a few minutes of driving. (I figured if gas is the same, why not going for the cheapest one?). Samething happens when let's say if I am going to McDonalds, why pay $1 more for big mac at one location vs. others?
    b) I love shopping at Costco as I cannot justify paying more for the same thing at smaller grocery stores
    c) I love scouring the web for best savings account APY, best promotional checking accounts, and will move money to capture the extra yield. I refresh the website daily.
    d) I check each of my accounts 1st thing every morning and last thing at night

    This is the craziest of all. I don't have to live paycheck to paycheck, but I force myself to as if I am so.
    a) I calculate monthly liabilities (eg bills, credit cards) to be as exact as possible so that I leave myself $10 margin, even $10 is more or less to protect overdraft fees.
    b) Only leave the said amount (a) in the bank account which I pay bills
    c) Pay bills on the last possible date so I can get the yield on that few extra days.
    D) Don't leave myself with any discretionary spending (such as eating in restaurants). It doesn't mean I won't spend, but I am extremely extremely paranoid, almost sad if I spend money? If I spend in restaurant or other things I will use the card with the highest promotional offer and the amount will be repaid and factored in next month budget.

    Am I normal? How do I live more like a normal person?

  2. #2
    Registered User MaggieTru's Avatar
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    is anyone "normal"?
    I think you are doing a good job being conscientious

  3. #3
    Registered User KathyB's Avatar
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    One thing to potentially take in mind is how much your time is worth.

    For example, say you spend 20 minutes to save $1. Is it worth it? If you are really tight money it might be. But as you make more it might feel less worth it. If your boss asked you to work an extra 20 minutes for $1 would you do it? Probably not at your income level.

    Now sometimes frugal things are fun for you. If people enjoy gardening, cooking, home repair, etc - then it is not about it being worth your time. You enjoy it and it saves money.

    Some people enjoy the act of finding the best deal. If that is you, then it there is nothing wrong with spending a bunch of time doing it.

    But if you don't enjoy it but feel compelled to do it that is slightly different.

    On the fear aspect. Having a couple months food on hand can make you feel safer. Especially if you were in situations before where you did not have enough money to buy food. An emergency fund in savings can help you feel safer too.

    There are also studies showing that giving money to charity helps. Giving a little away makes you feel like you have more than enough.

    Finally, I would recommend a monthly budget of fun money. Have a fixed amount set aside to spend on hobbies and entertainment. You can also spend it on little luxuries like a pint of the expensive brand ice cream.
    KathyB

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  5. #4
    Registered User CPA-Kim's Avatar
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    I think Kathy gave you some sound advice. Diversify your 401k and you'll be fine making the maximum contribution and going Roth for extra.

    An important aspect of having money is charitable contributions. Think of people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. One way I used to advise my clients who were younger is pay yourself 20% for savings, give away 10% to charities, and then decide what you want to do with the remaining 70%.
    Kim
    The Lord will provide

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