I’m a big time saver. Always have been.
Ever since the first time my dad gave me my lunch money for the week on Monday and told me to make it last until Friday.
In fact, I enjoyed saving so much that I used to make my lunch as cheap as possible (or skip lunch altogether) so I could have more spending money. And that was on top of opening a student saving account where I saved 5% of my lunch money every week and orchestrating a 10% saving group with other classmates.
Yes, I was a gangster saver back before I had real bills.
But it felt totally natural to me. And back then, you couldn’t tell me there was a universe where saving too much was a thing.
But it turns out, saving too much is a thing.
While saving can be a lot of fun (watching your bank account rise is pretty invigorating), you are still pretty susceptible to overdosing and causing yourself more harm than good.
And it’s so subtle you might not even know you’ve crossed over into crazy miser land. So here are 5 signs that you are saving too much and need to tone it down a little
You’re miserable i.e. it’s impacting your quality of life
You’re missing family get-togethers, once in a lifetime events, denying yourself much need self-care and saving now feels like a cult initiation rather than financial freedom.
These are telltale signs that you might be going a little overboard and saving too much.
Many of us are worried about the future and recognize that sacrificing some enjoyment in the present is necessary to secure the future. But ignoring all current happiness might be swinging the pendant too far.
What’s the point of all that sacrifice if you hate your life while you’re doing it?
And I don’t mean to go all morbid on you, but if you found out you only had 3 weeks to live, would you look back on your obsessive saving days and feel proud of how you spent it?
No one is saving to stop saving altogether, but you have to incorporate time to enjoy your efforts. Kids only keep getting older and you’ll never get back the time you miss with them.
It pushes you in debt to cover your basic living expenses
Maxing out your 401k, HSA and IRAs are pretty incredible. But not if it forces you to go into debt using your credit cards every month just to eat.
You should always strive to save as much as you can but not where it breaks you and erodes the future you are working towards.
Find a happy balance between saving as much as you can, while making sure your budget is balanced each month. I don’t matter if other people can save 70% of their income. If you can only save 15% right now, then do that.
You can always work on making more money or cutting expenses later to catch up.
Your delaying maintenance on your assets or your health
If you have savings in the bank but you’re still feeling anxious about spending your money on a necessity then it’s a sign that you have taken frugality to the extreme.
Neglecting your health, home and car maintenance or any other necessity is not only lead to big payouts later but may also be dangerous.
No amount of saving month is worth endangering your health because you don’t want to pay a copay or buy your life-saving medication.
You’re hitting the FDIC insured limit on your bank account
Cash is king, but too much cash can be trouble.
With the average bank account interest rate being 0.01%, having excessive cash savings means your money won’t even keep up with inflation. You’ll be losing buying power every day.
Not to mention missing out other investment opportunities that could yield higher returns. If you are getting close to the FDIC insurance limit of your bank account (usually $250,000) then you might be saving too much in cash.
You’re family and friends are victims of your frugality
If you grew up in a particularly frugal household then you might feel right at home with the ‘I make my own detergent’ lifestyle. But it might not feel as comfortable for your spouse or children.
If your kids are frequently begging you to do something, go somewhere, buy a meal, or always complain that you never spend money on anything, then it might be time to double-check that you haven’t gone overboard. And also ensure you’re sending the intended message about money to your kids.
You might think you’re teaching them the value of a dollar, but instead, you could be ingraining a scarcity mentality where they grow up wanting to buy everything because their home was one of deprivation.
Now, this is to be taken with a grain of salt. Because let’s be real, no matter what you do, kids will always tell you they need more. But taking public restaurant napkins to save on buying toilet paper is a bit too far.
So now what?
What do you do when you find out that you are saving too much money?
I can tell you, as much as it sounds like a good situation to be in, it is still really hard. Even now, I sometimes find myself creeping back into those old habits and ways of thinking.
I can read a book or hear a quote from some of those ‘fire and brimstone’ personal finance ‘experts’ and I’m back into wanting to sell all my clothes and start making my own toilet paper.
So I have to constantly refresh my brain every day to stay on track.
The best help I get is to think in terms of abundance. Instead of needing to guard the money I already had, I can start thinking about the money that I am able to make. I spend more time (listing at least 5 things) that I am grateful for, and slowly my mind starts untangling.
And like a lightbulb turning on, I’m able to see the world as a beautiful abundant place where spending money and time on my family is a joy rather than a chore.
Have you ever found yourself in a frugality hole? Concentrating too much on savings to the detriment of your well being? If so, what did you do to get out of it?
I’d love to know! Leave a comment and tell us so we all can learn.
To your success!