Being Overly Frugal Can Be Terrible For Your Health And Happiness

While I consider myself frugal, there are instances where saving money isn't worth the additional time investment. Let me share a story illustrating how excessive frugality cost me my health, productivity, and happiness.

Recently, we decided to attend Monster Jam for the first time, an event featuring monster trucks racing and performing stunts. Getting there offered several transportation options—bus, MUNI train, Uber, or car.

Opting for Uber seemed the most efficient choice for our group of four, costing approximately $27 each way for a 30-minute journey. If I were alone, I might have considered taking the train, but with four people, Uber became the more economical option.

Regrettably, my wife and kids insisted on taking the MUNI train. My kids were really excited about riding the train. But, this required loading everyone into the car, driving to a MUNI station, parking, walking to the train station, and then waiting. The entire process added an extra 25 minutes each way. That's one of the downsides of living on a hill. And the station closest to us wasn't going where we needed to go.

Despite the $21+ savings per trip, taking the MUNI proved to be a suboptimal choice, considering the additional time and effort involved, even with kids riding for free.

Two Hours Of Entertainment And Then Back We Went

After enjoying about two hours of Monster Jam, we decided to make an early exit, aiming to beat the rush. We jogged to the MUNI station, endured a six-minute wait, and hopped on the 45-minute ride back. A short one-and-a-half-block walk led us to our car, and we headed home. It had been a long day.

During the train ride, I opted to wear a mask, considering the reports of increased COVID cases and random colds, given it was winter. It had been maybe a year since I last wore one, so enduring a high-grade mask on the train for 45 minutes was unpleasant.

The Sneezing And Chills Began

Upon arriving home, my sneezing commenced, initially dismissed as allergies. However, the next day, the sneezing persisted. Despite managing to function, even playing an hour of tennis, that evening I found myself shivering. Before going to Monster Jam, I didn't feel bad.

Two nights later after the show, I awoke with intense chills and sweats. Admitting my lack of energy, I informed my wife that I couldn't muster the strength to drive our son to school. Consequently, she spent an hour on the road dropping him off and coming back. They were eight minutes late.

Even watching over my daughter at home while she drove my son was challenging. Concerned about not wanting to get her sick, I wore a mask but sadly lacked the energy to engage in play. All she wanted to do was jump all over me, but I had to tell her to keep a distance.

Related: Being Called Cheap Means You're On The Right Track

Saving $42-$50 On Transportation Wasn't Worth It

The source of my illness—whether from riding the MUNI, attending Monster Jam, or an event the night before—remains uncertain. However, if this ailment did result from saving up to $50 by not opting for an Uber, it was unquestionably not worth it. The repercussions of my sickness are now evident:

  • My wife now dedicates roughly two hours each day dropping off and picking up our son. Typically, would take me 80 minutes (to school and back twice a day), but she takes 40 minutes longer overall as a less experienced and more cautious driver.
  • There is a risk I could spread my illness to the rest of the family. If this happens, then more misery will ensue.
  • My energy levels were too depleted to record or write on Financial Samurai the first day I was sick. Responding to emails or comments was beyond my capacity. As a result, I lost one day of productivity.
  • I could not participate in a USTA tennis match the first evening, letting my team down. At least we got a replacement.
  • The overall experience of feeling sick was dreadful.
  • I couldn't help but experience resentment toward my family for not adhering to my transportation preferences.
  • I couldn't spend time playing with my children for two days.
  • I missed out on seeing a friend who was visiting from Las Vegas

Given the circumstances, I would gladly pay $1,000+ not to be ill! Therefore, saving up to $50 by spending an extra hour taking the MUNI was undeniably the wrong call. Talk about lifestyle deflation due to frugality.

Finding the Silver Lining in Being Overly Frugal

Despite feeling like crap for days, there are some silver linings to being overly frugal and having my wishes ignored.

We Saved $50: Well, at least we've got a little more cash in our pockets, even if it came at a cost.

My Wife Gets Driving Practice: More driving practice boosts my confidence in her ability to handle picking up and dropping off our children safely. We set a goal a year ago for her to practice driving at least 24 times in 2023, but that never quite panned out.

My Family Might Take My Advice More Often: Perhaps my wife and kids will be more inclined to go along with my suggestion to take Uber or drive next time. Before getting on the MUNI train, I explained to my son the downside of getting sick. Given I got sick, then I might as well explain the situation further.

My Kids Will Appreciate Public Transportation More: Although taking an Uber is no longer considered a luxury, it is more luxurious than taking the bus or the train. By making my kids walk and wait at a train stop, this may increase their appreciation for public transportation and reduce the entitlement mentality.

My Kids Got To Practice Patience: Although my kids asked “when is the train coming” several times, they didn't get frustrated or whine about waiting. And I was pleased with how well behaved they were on the train. Patience is a vital life skill.

Wrote This Post: If I didn't get sick, I wouldn't have written this post warning people to think carefully about being overly frugal. I try to make lemonade out of as many suboptimal situations as possible.

Embraced Humility: It’s been a difficult several days with chills and sweats. I tried to walk one mile downhill to get my car at the shop and had to take a break, I am that low on energy. My latest sickness taught me to appreciate my wife more and ask for help. She stepped up huge and I am forever thankful.

When Not To Be Overly Frugal

For those of you grappling with frugality disease (don't worry, we've all been there), it's crucial to recognize the moments when being overly frugal might do more harm than good. In fact, these instances can be considered the worst times to pinch pennies and the best times to open up that wallet.

Spend on what you value.

Health and Well-Being

Your health should always take precedence over your frugality ambitions. When it comes to wellness, cutting corners might lead to more significant expenses down the line.

Whether it's investing in nutritious food, a gym membership, or a restorative massage, prioritizing your health is a financial decision that pays dividends in the long run.

After this incident, I realized that I could turn my old house into a wellness center. It would be a place for me to stay when I'm sick. I can use that time to write, rest, and not spread my cold to my family. It's a costly option compared to renting out the house or selling it. But it's an option.

Professional Development

The old saying, “you've got to spend money to make money,” holds true, especially when it comes to investing in your professional development. Skimping on education, certifications, or networking opportunities might hinder your career growth. Invest in yourself.

Out of all the investments out there, it has the highest ROI. Have you bought Buy This Not That or How To Engineer Your Layoff, yet? I firmly believe these two books will change your life for the better.

Quality Time with Loved Ones

Relationships are invaluable, and missing out on shared experiences with loved ones due to excessive frugality is a regrettable trade-off. Whether it's a special family vacation, a memorable celebration, or simply treating your friends to a meal, these moments contribute immeasurable value to your life.

Even though I got sick, I'm glad we spent $60/each on Monster Jam tickets. Let's just hope the rest of my family members don't get sick.

Home and Car Maintenance

Ignoring necessary maintenance for your home or car is a classic case of false economy. The same goes for deferring maintenance too long at home.

Change the tires, pay for regular service checkups, add premium gas when required. Not fixing the roof or pipe leaks are the biggest mistakes because water consistently is the #1 recurring damager of homes.

Delaying repairs might save you money in the short term, but the long-term consequences can be far more expensive. Regular upkeep not only ensures the longevity of your assets but also prevents small issues from escalating into major, budget-busting problems

Being frugal is admirable, but there are times when loosening the purse strings is not just warranted but also financially savvy. It's hard to frugal your way to early retirement!

Can't Help But Think of Death When Sick

When you're sick, the specter of death looms closer than when you're healthy. I can't help but contemplate what life would be like for my family after I'm gone. Will my wife navigate everything on her own? Will my kids behave and heed her guidance as she balances investment management, potential consulting work, and childcare?

I believe she can and I believe my kids will listen, but for how long remains the question. We can endure challenging circumstances for a while, but eventually, something has to give.

This concern for my wife and kids, in the event of my passing, is the primary reason why I aim to assist my wife in securing a consulting job by the end of 2024. Despite facing criticism from several readers who deemed me thoughtless and selfish, the truth is that my family is at the forefront of my mind, guiding this strategic move.

With finite financial resources and escalating expenses due to a new house and our second child attending private school, it makes sense to proactively refresh my wife's resume once our youngest starts school full-time in September 2024.

It's wiser to save and invest for the future beforehand rather than waiting until the future arrives.

The More You Do as a Parent, The More Fear You Will Have

Parents need to be aware that the more responsibilities they assume at home, the more challenging a transition the family could face if the parent were to pass away.

Consider this scenario: If I were deployed overseas on a military assignment for one year, I might have less concern about my wife handling finances, doing household chores, and providing childcare because she would have managed everything during that period. She would have no other choice.

On the other hand, if I were a stay-at-home father, who rarely went on business trips, was responsible for managing family finances, drove the kids to school daily, and consistently spent four hours a day with them on average, my worries would escalate significantly in the event of my passing.

This concern is precisely why I felt such relief when we secured matching, affordable 20-year term life insurance policies through Policygenius. Rather than shelling out $480 per month for a policy, which is what other carriers quoted me, I secured a $138 per month policy with a $750,000 death benefit.

I would gladly pay a multiple of $138 per month to experience the ongoing relief I feel. Don't not underestimate the value of peace of mind.

Hence, the more involved you are as a parent and the greater your responsibility for managing your family's finances, the more crucial it becomes to secure a term life insurance policy.

Final Silver Lining of Being Overly Frugal

I sincerely hope none of you fall victim to the bug that has currently laid me out. However, if you do, consider utilizing your time in bed to contemplate contingency plans for worst-case scenarios.

In closing, I present the ultimate silver lining of falling ill: pre-mortem financial planning.

Despite having established revocable living trusts and death files, a timely reminder prompted us to revisit and update these documents to account for our new home.

Reader Questions And Suggestions

Do you sometimes take being frugal to the extreme? What are some other benefits of being overly frugal? What are some other determinants to wanting to save money? Do you think about death more when you are sick? How are you planning to take care of your family after you are gone?

Listen and subscribe to The Financial Samurai podcast on Apple or Spotify. I interview experts in their respective fields and discuss some of the most interesting topics on this site. Please share, rate, and review!

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail.

53 thoughts on “Being Overly Frugal Can Be Terrible For Your Health And Happiness”

  1. There is something nasty going around the Bay (and probably everywhere). Nothing like being sick to remind you how much more important it is to be healthy than wealthy, though oftentimes the latter helps lead to the former. I’ve had that same thought–I’d pay $1,000 to get rid of a stomachache/headache/illness, and probably much more! Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  2. Paul Schissler

    Thanks for your insight Sam! This recent piece on the underlying costs of frugality really resonated with me as I have lived my life on a frugal basis to get to where I am at. I’ve been a reader of yours for several years and have been using the tools suggested such as Empower to try to be a better Financial Samurai! I have saved a portfolio that is over 2 million which is what I would consider enough to retire at 49. I always appreciate your measured and thought provoking content and I think I already know your answer, but wanted to inquire anyways. With this frugal mindset in mind and the potential unknown costs, how does that apply to working with a Certified Financial Planner? You must have some keen insights with your experience and background in the sector.

    I have always considered leaving the task of buying and selling and which’s and why’s of my portfolio to someone more qualified and measured than I, but the most obvious reason I have not is my frugality. I cannot be alone in this mindset and I’m sure many of your readers think the same way I do. With costs of up to 1% of your portfolio on a yearly basis, the conversation is nearly a non starter given the amount of 20K per year on that 2 million portfolio. Just the thought of spending more than my mortgage on something that seems inherently unpredictable seems cost prohibitive. Not that I wouldn’t consider paying a more qualified individual to do what they do, but wondering if you might be able to expand on that thought process and make a decent guide for Financial Samurais with the same frugality mindset.

    Thanks for the great content!

    1. That 1% you should keep to yourself to because you may need every penny of it should you decide to retire early. However, you should see a CFP (they work only on a fee basis) and with your 2m portfolio you could afford spending $700-800 on a financial plan. Most likely the CFP will tell you that at 49 and $2m in liquid assets you are not a good candidate to retire just yet, unless you plan to return to the workforce at 60 when a) it is difficult find a job or to continue a career (unless you are a skilled tradesman), and b) your current skills become obsolete.

  3. So funny how ever since COVID anytime people get sick they think they’re gonna die. And every time they do get sick now, it’s “worse” than COVID. Got to hand it to our gov’t – they did a great job of permanently instilling fear into people’s lives for symptoms that mirror a typical flu.

    For some perspective….”The Black Plague had an estimated 25 million people die in Europe from 1347 to 1352. This was almost 40% of the population (some estimates indicate 60%). Half of Paris’s population of 100,000 people died. In Italy, Florence’s population was reduced from 120,000 inhabitants in 1338 to 50,000 in 1351.”

    If you got the Black Plague, the mortality rate was 30-75% and symptoms including fever of 101-105 °F, headaches, painful aching joints, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise. Of those who contracted the bubonic plague, 4 out of 5 died within eight days! 50% chance of death within 48 hours and 75% chance by day 8.

    In the US, death rate for COVID was 1.1%

    1. Have you noticed more people think they’re going to die when they get sick? I think people will naturally think more about mortality when they are sick. But not sure that more people think they are going to die when they get sick.

      1. Yes. Including yourself. Just reread your post. Prior to COVID did you ever contemplate your mortality everytime you caught the flu?

        I highly doubt it. It was probably more like, “can’t wait til I get over this flu as I can’t afford to get behind at work or I have a vacation coming up”

        Now people have this overvlown fear of getting COVID when you have a 99% chance of recovery…same as the flu

        1. Yes, actually. I’m very introspective.

          My friend passed away when I was 13 suddenly, as a result, I’ve been this way for 33 years so far.

          It’s part of the reason why I retired early, to hedge against an early death.

          1. I believe when your time comes it comes. Whether it’s a fatal accident or dying peacefully in your sleep. I don’t have control over it, therefore I don’t think about it and just live the life I want to live.

  4. Bill Bourlet

    You a pick up a bug anywhere. Uber or not. When we had kids at home I frequently caught a bug now that they have left home I can go a whole winter without catching even a cold so it’s not fair to blame the train ride. Especially as then you went to truck event where there would have been big crowds.
    I do enjoy reading your articles. Especially as you vary to talk about others highs as well. I have been eating Chirasi Don now instead of just sushi rolls.
    A man cold is also a good issue!

  5. Hi Sam!

    Long time reader of yours. I am an SF native with two kids and about the same age as you. I got sick a couple of days ago and it was a sickness I hadn’t felt for years. The headache, body aches, and chills were unnerving. Yesterday my fever ran its course but I now have a hacking cough that is driving me insane. I am so bummed out because I wanted to use this holiday weekend to play outside and be active with my kids but I am a useless lump of flesh on the couch right now. I normally don’t take anything, but I asked my wife to buy me some NyQuil so that I can get a decent night’s rest instead of coughing in misery all night. It didn’t work, unfortunately…. It’s a double-edged sword because when you are sick, resting is probably the best thing you can do for your immune system, but when you are coughing and lying down with the chills all you can think of is the worst of scenarios.

    I have always been a “worrier” and since I rarely get sick, when I do I think, “Is this the one that does me in?”. That is why your post is timely because we were experiencing similar symptoms at the same time. I am constantly worried about my wife and kids if something was to happen to me.

    I wouldn’t worry so much about how you contracted the illness. There is a positive there and when you recover you will have antibodies to fend off the next incoming bug! If you stayed in all the time and avoided crowds you would be unhappy, with a super sterile immune system which both aren’t good. I hope you turn the corner of your sickness today!

    1. I hope you do too!

      The “closer to death” thought that happens when sick was something I really didn’t think about bc I always thought I’d bounce back.

      But this one, with the shivers, sweats, and chills was tough.

      We must fight on!

  6. As a big supporter of public transit, I agree with other posters that your symptoms came on too quickly to blame it for your illness. Probably the same can be said for the Monster Jam. (I always felt that attending a Monster Jam event with my then 8 year old son was the ultimate sacrifice that I made as a parent!) Public transit isn’t always as safe or as quick as it used to be, but negotiating the different routes and trains is an important skill for your children to have. It will pay off quite well when they start traveling independently. Whenever I made trips to the “City” with my son, we would take public transit (although not late at night,) and he is a very comfortable world traveler now. I think you made the right choice.

  7. My best travel tip in foreign countries and domestic locations have hotel reserve a private car service/driver for airport pick up and drop off. I also have hotel book drivers when changing rental locations. The fee can be charged to hotel bill. Assured good driver in nice car and cheaper than “cabs”. Your Wife will smile when you set up a driver. Nothing like arriving at airport and well dressed Fellow or Lady is waiting with sign “Your Name” and Mercedes. The drivers in France and Malta would say OH no sir tip is not necessary I have been well paid and thank you for choosing a private car service.
    Avoid crowds of vaxed sheading spike protein.
    Drive your own car and pay for excellent parking to save family energy.
    Money has a purpose to buy enjoyment and safety.

  8. Frugal was our ONLY way of life growing up. During the ‘killing season’ we drove 4 hrs every other weekend to our farm, slaughtered our own lambs, beef, chickens. At home my mother hated driving, so we took 2 buses to/from the city produce market loaded with anything we didn’t grow ourselves. But we lived on the beach, so we caught fresh fish/crab/crayfish etc constantly. As soon as I got my own old Landrover I drove everywhere, but gas was 25c/gallon.
    Now we raise our own beef, chickens & my eldest daughter can digest it. She could not eat store bought beef/ chicken without stomach issues. We raise the calves for 12-18months & our entire family now enjoys fresh beef @ about $3.75lb. We just picked up 6 more calves @ $275 each for friends.
    Now the only time we may get ‘sick’ is when the grandkids visit with their school borne infections.
    During the summer I hide out at our restored Lakehouse, surrounded by the Amish, & stay healthy & sane.

  9. One area where we have decided to pay for what many people (including myself!) would have called a luxury is valet parking at the airport. Once, my family and I were flying over Spring break to stay at my parents condo. We were running late, having driven through a terrible snowstorm to get to the airport, and did not have time to drive up-and-down the parking lanes looking for a loan open spot. I said, regrettably, there’s nothing for it but to park in valet, or we will miss our flight.
    The experience was so enjoyable, not only with the assistance in getting our bags out, and saving time to make our flight- but even more so on the return, where we were able to simply text the valet and have our vehicle waiting and warmed up for us and a short walk to the valet station versus searching forever. The price was actually only nominally more than short-term parking would have been, and we have used valet ever since, considering it a excellent value exchange.

  10. I hope you are feeling a lot better, Sam. Being sick is miserable, no matter one’s financial status. As a high school teacher, I’m always fighting off some form of nasty bug. For me, frugality is my only way to financial freedom, since my meager teaching salary (in small-town Texas) will never amount to much.

  11. Many spend their Health trying to make wealth only to follow up by spending their wealth trying to regain their health ! Thanks for your timely advice (I missed 4 out 5 work days last week sick and now my wife is getting over the same bug ? this week ).

    1. It’s sad! And something we all must try and work on.

      My biggest fear is getting my family sick. My wife is holding on so far, but our daughter got sick. Luckily it wasn’t so bad for her.

  12. You did not contract the illness on the MUNI. The incubation period for typical upper respiratory tract viruses prior to onset of symptoms is longer than a couple hours. That viral illness could have been incubating for up to a week prior to the onset of your symptoms. Blame the kids, always blame the kids.

  13. I think there is another way to look at this:
    – taking public transport is not only most often cheaper, it is more ecological. With the climate crisis people should opt for public transport whenever possible.
    – walking is healthy, so instead of getting in and out of a car door to door, you got in some exercise. In the long run walking, biking, taking public transport is better for us and our planet, even if it might ad a bit of time to a journey.
    – wearing a mask isn’t that bad and there is no way of knowing where you got sick (maybe even from being surrounded by people at Monster Truck itself?)

  14. Sorry to hear it, Sam. It’s tough to know where we pick up viruses. And the reality is, we can’t control every situation. Perhaps the public transportation saved you from a fatal crash in an Uber. Who knows, right?

    Having said that, let me know if you decide to check out Monster Jam again. I’ll hook ya up with tickets and you can use the money saved to catch an Uber

    1. Yes, a positive way to look it it, although kind of dire too. Are you affiliated with Monster Jam? If so, I’ll happily accept four tickets next year.

      Let’s see if my family will agree to take Uber next year. I bet they will!

  15. Here in Australia, Uber won’t take children… Taxis will. They have an exemption on using children’s car seats.

  16. Sam,
    Great post about being frugal, but mass transit is probably not the cause of your illness, do you have children in school right now? Winter time is terrible for school kids and passing around every disease imaginable. Good thing for the kids, not so good for older adults or the elderly. I was a teacher for many years and since I quit that job I have been sick a total of 1 time in the last 4 years. Not scientific, but while I was teaching I had several serious infections a year. I have no idea whether I had colds or flus. I just knew I was going to get whatever illness my students had at the moment.

    It will be great one day when we have AI machines that can detect the moment we get infected with a bacteria or a virus and where. That will get rid of a lot of the guess work and the guilt of getting sick because we will all be able to detect and avoid people or animals that make us sick and I don’t think that day is far off.

    AI is advancing so fast that medical care could be revolutionized by it and fast. Hope you recover quickly and the only advice I ever give people on recovering from a cold or flu is to make sure you drink plenty of water and get some rest. It really does help to take it easy when sick.

  17. Matthew Drybred

    I hope you feel better!

    Thank you for the good read. But don’t beat yourself up too much for getting sick. It happens!

    In my opinion, too many people get caught up in the general advice that it’s wasteful to buy a new car. But as a former mechanic, and a VW/Audi/Porsche service advisor, I have developed the opinion that the wrong used car is far worse than the paper loss of depreciation that’s experienced when buying a new car because buying the wrong used car could lead to costly repairs, and then the buyer is already too leveraged to pay for them. I’ve had it happen to multiple customers over the years and their recently purchased used car became scrap.

    So what I always suggest is a new compact or midsize vehicle from Honda, Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru.

    And to analyze the value of the purchase price between new and used, I simply take the purchase price and divide it by the difference between the current odometer reading and 150,000 miles because that’s the problem-free mileage that most of these vehicles are engineered to achieve.

    For example, a $30,000 new Camry with ~0 miles would be a slightly better deal than a $26,000 Camry with 25,000 miles. And while this assumes that the vehicle is worth $0 at 150,000, but often the residuals are healthy and pegged to inflation.

    1. Good advice. I’d leave Subaru off the list though. I’ve had all kinds of issues with my 2014 Forrester (only 75k miles) that consumer reports’ reliability ratings validate. Toyota and Honda all the way though. I’ve been eying a 7 seater Toyota recently. Hybrid and gets 36mpg. Only problem is the msrp runs afoul of Sam’s 1/10 annual salary rule.

      1. Matthew Drybred

        You probably won’t see this, but I’m sorry to hear about your issues.

        Subaru is known for many reliable designs, but some have had issues over the years. They are one of the better manufacturers at helping owners with out-of-warranty repair costs, known as goodwill repairs. Goodwill is generally available for dealer-serviced vehicles and it also helps to be a “fan of the brand.”

        VW/Audi/Porsche are also pretty good with goodwill assistance if an owner knows to ask.

        As vehicles become more complex, the issues increase.

        Honda has issues with their turbocharged engines contaminating the oil with gasoline because of too many short trips in cooler weather and cylinder deactivation issues with their V6’s.

        Toyota trucks have had major frame rust issues and some engines have had some oil sludge issues.

        1st gen Mazda CX-9’s have major engine issues, while 1st gen Mazda3’s have major rust issues.

        Sadly, some dealer techs are often barely a step above Jiffy Lube techs because the dealership is profit driven and pays techs too little, plus manufacturers shortchange techs with warranty times that don’t cover the actual time, so techs are fleeing the industry or going to independents.

        This causes a bad overall experience because of comebacks or lack of desire to properly diagnose a customer’s concern.

        For example, Subaru had wheel bearing issues, but it was also found that the techs installing the replacement wheel bearings were not packing them with grease and the new bearing would fail shortly after installation. This lead to a really bad reputation for wheel bearings.

        Imagine working 1.5 hours on a job and getting paid for 1 hour. It happens all the time to automotive techs. :-/

        1. Thank you for your reply. This is helpful. I had to replace all 4 of my wheel bearings! And one twice. I did get Subaru to “good will” service a fault with the ignition that caused the transmission to be locked in park.

          Unfortunately I’ve had other issues that I’ve never had with my Hondas, like an ac compressor failure, child door lock failure (that I never used), and automatic window jams.

          I’ve gotten a bit wiser buying cars, looking at the longer term reliability ratings and buying cars that are at least in the second model year of production.

          Still I don’t much like car repairs as they are very inconvenient and it almost always feels like you’re being taken advantage of.

          I used to have a jeep in the 1990s. It was a real lemon but it was simple to work on and I was broke so I had to learn it by necessity. Maybe one day when I’m retired I’ll go back to working on my own cars again. In the meantime I’m buying only reliable make, model and year Japanese cars.

          1. Matthew Drybred

            Bent wheels can cause wheel bearings to fail early. So I do wonder when I hear of one wheel bearing failing more than once, all four sounds like Subaru had a major supplier quality failure.

            It sounds like you got a car with the tolerances stacked against you.

            Yes, older vehicles were simpler, but 200k miles was rare and rust on Japanese cars used to be a real killer.

            I also check the major car sites for the highest mileage examples of various models and then check their CarFax data for any major repairs, when available. Makes for a fun Friday night….

  18. I find myself being frugal quite frequently but sometimes I do it simply as a challenge. Often when I go to a new country I will take public transportation just to see if I can. I’ve done this many times in China and quite enjoyed it. Once in Ulan Baatar in Mongolia, I wanted to take a bus to the airport but was not quite sure I was boarding the correct bus so I waved my arms like I was flying and the bus driver repeated my actions and nodded his head.

  19. Thank you for a post on a family activity. I like how you described the kids asking “when the train is coming”.

    Cars are expensive. Public transportation isn’t cheap either especially for a larger group. Sometimes, I contemplate what if we invest in a walkable neighbourhood and transport to decrease the need of cars. Say a family has one car instead of two and invest the cost of the 2nd car and its maintenance. Less folks would be dragged down financially by automobile costs. (Sorry for my Asian and European thinking.)

    1. Financial Samurai

      We only have one car, which is vital for transporting the kids around. But two cars in the city would be a waste. Replacing the second car is exactly what Uber and Lyft are for.

      And with flu, RSV, COVID, season in the winter, all the more reason not to take pubic transportation IMO. It’s just not worth he savings if one gets sick, which I am now :(

      1. One car for a family of 4 is reasonable! I grew up in a 2-car-per-household neighbourhood growing up. For some households, there were 3 cars because the kids were teenagers and had driver licenses. Usually the dad drove to work and the mom transported kids with the other one.
        Over time, I’ve encountered those who have the ability to work from home to keep only one car. Perhaps the commute-less is a way to save money in the long term.

  20. Well, yes… and no. I see your general point — but blaming your sickness on taking the train might be a dodge. You could easily have picked up the flu from all those people at Monster Jam. Then it wouldn’t have mattered HOW you got there, and back!

    Yes, I have been overly frugal, particularly in appliance purchases. Fortunately, I am married to an engineer who researches EVERYTHING. He is more than willing to think about used pieces (we’re shopping on Marketplace now), but insists on the best brand and reliability possible…or we don’t buy. This has stood well for many years for us.
    I have also learned not to buy the cheapest clothing, from Wal-Mart and elsewhere, unless 1) it’s insanely cheap, and 2) I don’t plan to wear it for long. You’re far better off to get quality brands in used clothing from the thrift shop. My secret: for decades, we lived in the highest-income county in Colorado. So that’s where I go to shop at thrift stores — their donors give away the best stuff, from clothes to videos to furnishings.
    We rarely buy new now, unless it’s on sale, or has an excellent reputation for brand and service.

    1. Financial Samurai

      Here’s the thing. If I got sick after we took the Uber, then there would be no frustration. We did what we could to protect ourselves.

      Monster Jam was all outdoors, but yes, you’ll never really know for 100% certain where you got sick. So I’m pretty mellow. Made lemonade and wrote this post.

  21. Sorry to hear you got sick, that really sucks. Sadly, we live in a world full of contagion now and germs and viruses are getting harder to kill. Not that it makes you feel any better, but even if you took the maximum precautions you still could have gotten sick. We all risk getting sick every time we leave the house or send our kids to school, but it’s not healthy to live in fear all the time either. At least there were some positives from this experience.

    I’ve chosen to take public transit many times to save money and while it can be super convenient a lot of times, it hasn’t always worked out. I’ve been late because buses broke down or never came, and had to sit through long rides with crazy people or vandals, etc.

    I’ve also had many instances where I buy something generic or super cheap to try and save money but it ended up backfiring b/c the product was defective or broke quickly and then I needed to spend even more to get a quality replacement. So I hear where you’re coming from about the downsides of being overly frugal. Anyway, hope you feel better soon.

    1. Financial Samurai

      I think we may have to strategically not go to as many events during the winter and take public transportation from now on.

      The thing is, our children will continue to go to school, so there’s no escaping the germs.

  22. I am sorry you experienced illness. You stated several things 1) you wore a mask because of possible COVID increase on the train. You don’t mention if you continued to wear a mask at the venue. 2) You mentioned that you became symptomatic when arrived home from the event. The early onset of symptoms suggests that you were exposed to an infectious agent before going to the Monster Jam. The experience of your children riding on public transportation was good. It is important to be able to learn to travel on public transportation where you live.

    1. Financial Samurai

      Yes, who knows for sure how I got sick. So I decided to highlight silver linings and write this post.

  23. Sam – It’s crazy how sometimes we reach a point and do something seemingly frivolous and never go back from it. For instance, we used to go skiing a lot and park off-site at the airport. We had 2 children, four sets of skis, plus luggage. It was such a hassle until one day we parked in the garage attached to the airport. It was approximately double the cost, but I gladly paid it and never looked back. We saved so much time and aggravation for an extra $60-100. I wonder what other expenses people take on that don’t necessarily align with the rest of their frugal lives?

    1. Financial Samurai

      Oh yes, that sounds like a great move on your part. Worth spending the money to save time and hassle. When our kids are older, MAYBE we go the frugal route and park off-site, but not now.

      I’m too lazy to take my kids skiing right now. I think I’ll wait until they are 8-10.

  24. Let’s just call “overly frugal” what it really is…cheap! Don’t be cheap! Frugal is fine and is what this country was built on. On the other hand, being cheap never works out well for any party.

  25. I too have made more mistakes in life trying to save money, then wasting money. So now, if I’m not sure, I pay more. But in 90% of the cases, I’ve gotten the best product through my research (best house, best car, etc). But sometimes I went too cheap and that hurt.

    Where I also get frustrated is spending too much time trying to save money, or getting upset if I think someone is cheating me. This, I have to take on a case-by-case basis. For example, I can’t stop looking at grocery sales and going to further store (on my way home for work) when they have good deals ($0.60 Mac and Cheese yesterday, instead of $1.20). I’m still upset that 2 years in a row, something has happened with my benefits election at my employer and it wasn’t what I thought it was, even though for this year, I have screenshots. I didn’t get a deal on an airline credit card the other day, because I had to buy the flight before the card arrived, but that’s OK.

    But I am trying to relax more this year.

    1. Financial Samurai

      “getting upset if I think someone is cheating me.” this is the reason why someone who I know, who has more than he could ever possibly spend, uses as to why he doesn’t buy the nice vacation property or nice things in general. A $20 million vacation property wouldn’t make a dent to his net worth. He he still lives kind like me!

    2. re: Grocery Sales

      I seems EVERY time I go to the grocery store, a sale price is rung up incorrectly at the cash register! IT has gotten so bad that I take a photo of the shelf price tag AND tally up my purchases so I know ahead of time what the total should be when the cashier rings up my order. After dealing with this frustration many, many, MANY times, and after numerous discussions on the subject with my hubby who worked as a grocery store night manager / stock clerk / price changer / cashier for over 30 years, I finally figured out why I was always having so many price related problems at grocery stores:

      I am only in the store to buy items that are on sale in the store’s weekly ad (I make a list of these sale items before going to the store). However, when I am physically in the store, and happen to see a sale price tag on an item I usually buy (but wasn’t on my list), I will pick up a few of those items. Those are usually the items that ring up incorrectly – because the overworked, underpaid employee didn’t have time to remove the expired sale price tag (or missed seeing that tag altogether).

      Now that I have that figured out, my goal is to be less frustrated when the cashier rings me out and the amount due doesn’t match my calculation,

      It’s not that I personally can’t afford the non-sale price. I just think of all the other store customers who may be struggling with low wages and high inflation who may be getting ripped off when buying their food.

      1. Financial Samurai

        Fascinating. I have never noticed this. I just notice when I give my Safeway card, how the discounts start adding up after. I guess I should pay more attention in the future.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *