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Don’t Take Frugal Too Far

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Don’t take frugal too far – be OK with investing in yourself, your health, your life

June 20, 2018

Frank Galea, CFA

 
Is it possible to take frugality too far? Does investing in your health and wellbeing cause you to panic? Can you keep on track toward your long term goals without making today a slog through suffering? Let’s talk about Financial Anorexia. We’ve been reading a lot of blogs from extreme savers lately. On the one hand these folks are inspirational because they show how much people, in the name of their goal of financial freedom, are willing to break the shackles of out of control mainstream consumer culture. On the flip side, some of these extreme savers and heroes of frugality may be compelled by internal forces bordering on mental health issues. It’s a question of knowing where you draw the line and also being able to stay on the side of it you intend, rather than getting dragged across it against your will.

 I first heard the term “financial anorexia” on my favorite podcast, The Jordan Harbinger Show – listen to this clip below. A listener wrote-in about how she has struggled with eating disorders in the past and after resolving those, she now finds herself unable to spend money on herself without fearing total loss of control – and she is compelled to deprive herself:

You came here to FiClub because you are also a strong believer in taking control of your finances, but don’t let your finances take control of you either. Know where the line is between thoughtful frugality and pathological self-denial. Here’s a simple prompt to help you explore:

If you budgeted an extra $500 per month on personal care (massage, coaching, yoga and exercise), how would that make you feel?

      a). Like I’m bleeding money and I’d be a fool!

      b). Ok, as long as I can still reach my goals

      c). Who cares? Spend it before it rots!

Picture it as a scale between 1 to 10, between feeling anxious and feeling secure. Where do you believe that extra $500 spend will leave you on the 1-10 scale? Now, look at other areas of your spending, whether you are spending on a high rent vanity apartment, a lease on a new car, interest on credit cards.  Compare the level of life satisfaction you receive per dollar spent and allow yourself to invest some of your money in your well-being.

The FiClub approach to managing expenses: make sure they reflect your true priorities. We help bring awareness to your spending patterns and your habits. We don’t tell clients that all spending is wrong and we don’t advocate stopping all spending in a knee-jerk manner. It’s not a sustainable nor mentally healthy approach to life and your finances. We help clients make room for what matters most to them, and what they experience the greatest value from.

Let’s say that you want to make a major shift in your life and that you want to invest in your health.Starting with how you eat, let’s say you want to consult with a nutritionist, like our friend Chloe Labare in San Francisco. to create meal plans that will help your body, mind and energy to be optimized.There will be a cost for this service: your initial consultation ($125) and then $50 for the follow-up sessions you will need monthly to adapt your program. You will also be spending more initially on restocking your fridge and cupboard. This goes into your budget at the time you sign up. How do you feel about yourself now? Is there a residual guilt or anxiety about spending the money? Or do you feel more in control, like you are directing the money towards your purposes? With the FiClub coaching approach we hope to give you the skills and awareness to experience the latter and to free yourself from the constraints of financial anorexia or other limitations of habit and mindset. Our goal is for you to experience prosperity, at whatever level of wealth and income your life allows.

For Part II of our post, we’re going to hear from our FiClub friend, Jennifer Gardner, Co-Founder and Coach at Shift Holistics, a wellness collective based in Flint, Michigan and President of the Flint Chapter of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Find her response here.

Originally published on FiClub.org