Just like most people trying to achieve FIRE, I encounter the occasional jab regarding my way of living or at least how “I’m being cheap”.
I just don’t like throwing my money through the window every day and if I can save money by being more mindful I will do, i.e., being frugal.
I consider myself a frugal person, though it’s not as “bad” as the people perceive it to be. While it’s correct that I do watch how I spend my money, there are a few instances where I tend to splurge or at least don’t mind spending more money:
These four points can become quite expensive. The reason why people still think I’m “cheap” is most likely because these are activities or things I do that don’t impact others or aren’t as visible to others. People tend not to see how much you spend on vacation after all.
But regardless of the type of expense, I spend most on. If there is one thing you should take away from this, it’s that it boils down to getting value/quality for your money.
I’m just less strict on the aforementioned points and I’m quicker to spend more on a smaller increment in improved quality.
(more after the image)
Keeping up with the Joneses
Before getting into the four points mentioned where I really tend to splurge I should clarify my understanding of the quality-price heuristic. There are quite a few studies that show it’s not as clear cut (Obermiller, 1998). It can depend on a number of things and price is just the clearest and well know one.
Apple sells quite a few extras which are sometimes needed to make full use of your main product. Their USB‑C-to-HDMI-adapter is the prime example. Yes, minimum quality is required but you can get a similar adapter that will work exactly the same and will be just as sturdy for half the price.
This isn’t to dis Apple. They were the ones that first came to mind. There are numerous other examples. You have brands that specialize in overpriced accessories that offer no proven benefit. You literally pay for the label.
Once again, this is mainly to show that the price-quality heuristic isn’t so straightforward and why I take my time when I want to buy something. I don’t want to be a mindless consumer, trying to keep up with the Joneses (White, 2014).
The not-so-frugal expenses
Let us get to the most important thing of all, health (Maslow, 1943). If there is one thing I really don’t skimp out on, then it’s this.
Be it my physical or mental(!) health, I do my best to have it in optimum condition. At times this is not easy but by making sure the basics are checked I hope to prevent major issues for a long, long time. I try to get 8 hours of sleep per day and when it comes to food and sports I’m less picky about how much things costs.
Let’s get into the meat of how I try to maintain good health: the food. You can get a lot of cheap food from stores such as Lidl and Aldi and they are a perfect alternative to the branded items. There one food item in particular that you are better of paying more for: Meat (red, white, fish).
I mention this because plumping (as this technique is called) is something a lot of people don’t pay attention to when buying meat eventhough it has an impact on the nutritional values of said meat (Freixenet, 1993; Acton, Dawson, & Halpin, 2013).
There is a good reason why certain meat is cheaper. It has more water than actual raw meat. It doesn’t immediately mean more expensive meat is better. It means that your attention is required when going for the cheaper produce. You can still get cheaper meat that has equally high nutritional value. The next time you purchase meat, take a look at the ingredients label if you see water in there (and sometimes a percentage) you are partially paying for the water in that meat.
With food, I only tackled one of two health components I spend more on. I’m someone who really enjoys sports. Like, I really enjoy it. Not a day goes by where I’m doing something.
I start my day cycling to the train station to get to work and this is the bare minimum. After work, I either do martial arts or weight training. During the weekends I try to do some running or cycling. I’ll be honest though, in the winter I don’t do as much condition work but I still try to do some weight lifting.
Knowing this, it’s not hard to imagine, I don’t mind spending a bit more in stuff like sports clothing and equipment. Especially when it comes to equipment I pay a bit extra. The extra money does still go to brands that sell parts known for their durable material usage.
The last big thing I can spend more on, are holidays. It’s not only just because I want to. There is a limit to cost-cutting measures. I already talked about a big one before. That’s the more rational reason for spending a bit more on flying. The less rational thing is flying business class. I did it when I went to the US for the first time three years ago. I mainly did it to experience what it’s like and I got to tell you, it’s really fun.
Yes, 3 times the economy price is too much for basically a fancier way of moving from point A to B for something that lasts at most 8 hours, but being able to start my holiday relaxed from the start was truly enjoyable.
Flying business was something special, what I do on a regular basis when I plan my holiday is looking for decent accommodation. It doesn’t mean it has to be hotels all the time, in fact, for my US trip, I used at Airbnb because booking a hotel as a single is rather expensive.
Overall, it’s again about finding that balance between quality and price when planning my holidays.
Adding it all up
I’ll repeat with what I opened: look for quality when you buy something. It’s what I try to do every time. I don’t always succeed, but it is in the back of my mind. I spend more on health and holidays but even then I have that on my mind and look for a good balance between money and luxury.
Of course, before all that, don’t forget to think about your wants and needs first.
- Obermiller, C. (1988). When Do Consumers Infer Quality From Price?. Advances in Consumer Research, 15, 304-310. Retrieved from http://acrwebsite.org/volumes/6830/volumes/v15/NA-15
- Gneezy, A., Gneezy, U., & Lauga, D. O. (2014). A Reference-Dependent Model of the Price–Quality Heuristic. Journal of Marketing Research, 51(2), 153–164. https://doi.org/10.1509/jmr.12.0407
- White, K. (2014, May 28). The Real Meaning of Being Frugal [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://iquantifi.com/the-real-meaning-of-being-frugal/
- Maslow, A.H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–96. doi: 10.1.1.334.7586.
- Daly, M & Halpin, Elizabeth & Dawson, Paul & Acton, James. (2013). Properties of injection-marinated chicken breasts. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260137761_Properties_of_injection-marinated_chicken_breasts
- Freixenet, L. (1993). Spray injection of meat. Influence of the brine pressure in the quality of injected products. Fleischwirtschaft, 73(5), 547-550. Retrieved from http://en.metalquimia.com/upload/document/article-en-11.pdf