Friday, October 17, 2008

Am I A Self-Righteous Cheapskate?

In my prior post, I discussed how I've been limiting my outings with friends due to budgetary concerns.

My friend SA is aware of my budget, and offers to buy me things when we go out together. I’m sure SA means well, but her gesture always makes me feel, well, poor and cheap.

SA and I discuss financial issues often (including the need to "tighten our belts") but we deal with money differently. I have a budget and I stick to it. If I go over my budget, I have to make do with whatever I have until the next month rolls along. If I have any left over money, I put it into my savings account towards my emergency fund or I earmark it for anticipated future expenses (e.g. gifts, car maintenance, etc.) I don’t raid my un-earmarked savings to buy frivolous stuff.

SA, on the other hand, claims she’s tightened her belt, yet still buys premium hair care products, shops at Nordstrom, gets regular manicure/pedicures, etc. She recently told me that she just bought a 50-inch LCD HDTV that she bought with a 1-year, 0% store credit. (Mind you, she already has a 42-inch plasma TV.) She says she has money in savings and will pay it off in once the 0% period ends. I wondered, but did not ask, whether she’s raiding her emergency fund to pay for it or whether she’s going to save during the course of the year to pay for it.

I try not to criticize my friend’s spending. I also try not to portray myself as some financial saint because, well, a responsible woman doesn’t rack up $13k in credit card bill, does she? It’s just that it seems I’m often out of sync with my friends as to what we’re willing (or able) to spend for entertainment and non-necessities.

I have a nagging feeling that SA considers me a self-righteous cheapskate since I don't buy unnecessary stuff and I don't share her enthusiasm about her purchases.

But there is a distinct difference between cheapness and frugality isn't there?

Do other people have problems with self-restraint being misperceived as cheapness and/or self-righteousness?


livingpaychecktopaycheck said...

I'm afraid that I do! I think that my best friends see me as cheap, definitely, but more than that they see it as my fault that I "can't" spend money on things that they deem important. I've been told that I can't afford to live on my own (I can) pretty much because I wouldn't spend excess money on bars or other entertainment to hang out with them.

It's hard for me to get excited over some of their purchases because I think that they're being frivolous--but I hate that I feel judgemental since I don't like it when they do it to me! Now I try to be excited when they spend a lot of money so that I won't be labeled as self-righteous. Also, if they think that I envy them they don't bitch at me as much.

MoneyMate Kate said...

I've found that I just don't get along with the kind of people who are flagrantly irresponsible with their money. A few of my friends actually comment that I'm the one person they can talk money around without feeling judged - and then they proceed to dish the financial dirt on everyone else in their lives so that they can secretly indulge in a bitchy, self-righteous moment without destroying their other friendships. It helps me with perspective when I think I'm not doing enough.

Money Beagle said...

People manage their finances according to their personal set of beliefs and their own personal financial situation. Your friends and family should respect that, and if they don't, quite honestly it's their problem and not yours. Unless 'SA' is paying your bills or has a personal stake in your finances, then it's really none of her concern what she thinks.

Shtinkykat said...

LPTP: I've read some of your posts where some of your friends have given you 'tude when you decline their invitations to party or do expensive stuff. I would've just written these people off but it's very mature of you to not judge them or anyone else.

MMK: Egads! Atleast you know NOT to confide about your finances to those frenemies. :-P

MB: I guess I should clarify that I only suspect that SA thinks I'm cheap. But you're right. How I spend my money is my own business and who cares what other people think?