Friday, September 18, 2009

Being TOO Frugal?

At the beginning of the week my mother called up and asked if she could swing by the house. She had a couple of things to drop off and she wanted to see how the new paint job was coming along. We set it up for Wednesday night. I get out of work at 6:00, so we agreed to meet at 6:30.

Wednesday morning she called to verify the time and then asked if I wanted to meet at the coffee shop first. She said, "I know you will be hungry after work, so I thought we could get a sandwich beforehand." My immediate thought was, "she's only dropping a couple of things off and looking at the house, it shouldn't take more than 20 minutes. I can wait that long to eat!" Plus I had some great chicken leftovers in the refrigerator - why pay for food? I told her a little of this and said I would be fine to wait to eat until after we met. She was fine with that and the conversation moved on to other things, when suddenly a very distinct thought popped into my brain:

Wait a minute, knucklehead. She didn't ask you to the coffee shop because she is worried you'll faint from hunger. Nor is she worried about money, she knows she's going to pay. Your mother just wants to have dinner with you!

Oh. Well, that changes things...

Fortunately this thought occurred to me before we got off the phone. As we were wrapping up I said, "Hey mom? About that coffee shop, why don't we meet there after all?" I could tell she was pleased. That night we had a nice light dinner together.

I think this is one of the first times I (almost) turned down spending time with someone I care about over money. Even in my most lean times, I have always had a budget for entertainment and dining out. About the only thing I haven't done is attend big charity fund raisers where I knew friends would be, but otherwise I have made seeing loved ones a priority. It didn't have to be an expensive night - sometimes just a bottle of wine and a little homemade appetizer shared while sitting on the couch. Other times I have chose less expensive options like meeting for breakfast or lunch instead of fancy restaurants, or just just meeting for a single cocktail or cup of coffee, but overall I have always done what I wanted to do. Now that finances aren't so tight, I feel a lot more comfortable going out to dinner, though obviously, some habits die hard.

If you've read my blog for awhile you know that I view personal finance as just that - personal. I think we all have different priorities. For me, the small amount I have spent on social spending has come back to me threefold in love, support, and laughter. I don't know where I would be if I didn't have such a great network of people who care.

So, have you made frugal choices that surprised you? Ever turn down going out because of money? Has caring about money meant you spent less time with people you love, or more?

Photo by: km6xo
via flickr


Simplelivin' said...

I have thought about turning down invites because of money, like going down to the shore in a few weeks for a good friends bachelorette party. Gas and tolls aren't cheap, plus renting the place and whatever we do down there. But then I realized that it's my friend, and I should be there to support her. I can carpool with another girl and if we bring tons of games, movies and food, we won't be tempted to spend a ton. *crosses fingers*

It's tough to find the balance, because going out once in awhile won't break the budget, but where do you draw the line, because going out a few times a week def. won't be cheap.

SS4BC said...

It is a very tough balance between socializing with people (especially family) and maintaining frugality. Perhaps you should have asked your mom if you could have dinner together at your place?

getting stuff done said...

am with you on that one. Sometimes you just gotta go. Like a wedding in France, or catching up with friends when one of them is back from America. Or buying a bottle of champagne for a friends birthday (or giving her one you had been given instead of drinking it yourself.....) I figure that its best to be frugal on your own for as much as you can, and then by doing that, being able to go out whereever, when it actually does matter.

Anonymous said...

It is TOUGH. My frugal mindset often takes control and I am spouting off "No no and no" before I actually process what is being asked of me!


Finding balance is tricky & something I work on every day!

I think you made the "right" decision about dinner with your mom. :D