Original Link : https://forge.medium.com/stop-living-on-a-budget-d2865060b54e

Concept illustration of people saving money and climbing a ladder to drop in money.

How obsessive budgeting strips away your most valuable resource: time

grandfather is the most frugal person I know. For as long as I can remember, he’s worn the same few cardigans, one of which has a hole in it. Years ago, my mother bought him a new cardigan, but my grandfather refused to even take the tags off. A piece of clothing must literally be falling apart before he will even consider throwing it away. He has some savings, but he’s still consumed by pinching pennies.

I get it. The man lived through a wartime era. Growing up, he didn’t know that he’d have food on the table or a roof over his head. A scarcity mindset was critical to his survival. But here’s the thing: He now lives in a different world — one that’s full of opportunities that were unfathomable to his childhood self. And yet he limits his life much more than he needs to.

Whatever your income level is, being overly obsessed with living frugally will not make you rich. Instead, it will only drain your energy and bring you stress. I’m not saying it’s foolish to budget — but there’s a point where living below your means passes prudent and becomes excessive.

When you budget obsessively, you’re acting out of fear, and it is that fear that keeps you from investing in yourself and creating actual value. I often think about my friend who always complains about how expensive everything is. He once drove two hours to buy a used car that was a few hundred bucks cheaper than another used car that was available in his neighborhood. He took a bus to the dealership, spent the day looking at the car, then bussed back home. Once he decided to buy it, he spent another day doing the same thing to pick it up. Two months later, the car broke down, but he had declined to buy the warranty. The repairs set him back close to $2,000, in addition to all the time he wasted (not to mention the bus tickets). Being cheap is often incredibly expensive.

Look, I don’t go out to dinner every week. I don’t go to the most expensive hotels. I don’t travel a lot. I don’t spend frivolously.

But I do have a clear rule when it comes to money: I’m okay spending up to a hundred dollars extra for something whose value is that much greater. If the grocery store on my block is more expensive than the one a 20-minute drive away, I’ll absorb the loss. If the bigger room at the hotel gives me the space I need to work, I’ll take the upgrade. If the steak I’m craving is more expensive than the pasta that would leave me hungry, I’m going to get a steak.

Of course, everyone’s threshold will be different based on income and life circumstances. But I’d argue that no matter where it is, having a threshold is important. It helps you remember that time, convenience, and pleasure can be just as precious as dollars, or even more so.

And frugality isn’t always the most financially savvy strategy, anyway. In the time I’ve saved by not pinching pennies, I’ve been able to put more energy into acquiring income-producing skills. Having the ability to speak in front of people, communicate my thoughts, lead groups, and make tough decisions allows me to not have to worry much about ever being out of a job. I know I’ll be able to make something work.

Create a life where you’re free to do what you want. Sometimes, that might mean splurging on a weekend away with close friends don’t see very often, even though you “should” be putting that $300 in your 401(k). If you’re living in a way in which you’re continuously adding value to yourself, you’ll be rich in all sorts of ways in the end.