Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Is Extreme Frugality Really Poverty Living?

I have read quite a few articles lately that say that extreme frugality is poverty living. These articles really get my dander up. They say that extreme frugality is popular and practiced by many middle class families who they say don't have to practice it. This is totally untrue. First of all, how do they know what our finances are? Yes I am middle class. 

Secondly, they assume that middle class families have plenty of money to spend on whatever they want.  I totally disagree with that statement.

You are considered middle class if your income falls between $42,000. and $125,000.  The middle class has shrank as both the higher middle class has gotten richer and the lower middle class has gotten poorer. 

The truth is that the people in the middle class are paying for everyone else. I could probably include people making $126,000. to $250,000. as paying for every one else also.  However, we are discussing the middle class today. They pay taxes for the poor to get all of their benefits at a higher percentage than the rich do. The rich have so many loopholes that they use to lower their taxes percentage wise. I would love to pay as low a percentage of federal income taxes as Warren Buffet does. But the middle class are not afforded those loopholes especially if you have to take the standard deduction on your taxes because you have a paid off house. If your children have grown and gone out on their own, you only have one or two dependent deductions. There really are not any deductions for you except the standard. Hence you are most likely paying higher taxes.

If you are poor, you need that help, and I wouldn't deny anyone a hand up in time of need.  But you are either paying no taxes or very little compared to the middle class percentage of taxes.

So the middle class is drowning in income taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, and if they own a home, property and school taxes. So once you deduct those from a middle income person's gross pay, the net is a whole lot lower. 

They most likely have a mortgage payment or rent. If you own a home, you have the maintenance of that home which includes utilities which are not cheap and taxes or taxes included in your rent because the landlord is going to charge you for them. You have the physical maintenance of your home inside and outside. You have water and garbage bills. You have homeowners or renters insurance.

Then you have your food( most likely for more than two people) and that takes a great percentage of your net because food today is so expensive especially when you have a family.

We all know how expensive medical is today especially since Obamacare went into effect. Many making middle class incomes are getting no subsidy because they don't meet the income requirements to qualify or they have smaller families of one or two. Those who are paying for private insurance have seen their premiums increase sometimes by 19-20% a year because of Obamacare. And those in Obamacare have been seeing their premiums increase and their providers go down. However, if Hillary Clinton is elected, we will all be on Obamacare, or the name she replaces it with, because she will replace it with single payer insurance. That is the plan that she wanted back when her husband was President and that is what she will replace it with. That is what Obama wanted all along but knew he couldn't get it through Congress. So just a warning about this to anyone who has private insurance through their employer whether it be a private company, a school, or government, it will get replaced with Obamacare when she puts in single payer insurance. Donald Trump will never put in single payer. I believe he will replace the current plan with a plan that lets you buy over state lines which will make it very competitive. That is what should have been done instead of Obamacare. Then prices would have fallen because of the competition. However the government doesn't want competition because they want to control your medical. They have already shown us what a horrible job they do at controlling anything they touch. I don't mean this to be a political announcement but I just want people to be aware that this is what will happen if she gets elected because the media is not telling you. I have followed Hillary and Bill Clinton for years and I can tell you 100% that this is what she will do. So you can kiss your great company or government or school private insurance goodbye if she gets elected. For those of you who don't know what single payer is, it is just what is sounds like. You will pay a premium for yourself and for everyone else in your family individually.

Some people live in cities and drive to work. Others live in cities and take public transportation. Some walk or bike. If you live in suburbia, you most likely drive or carpool to work. Commuting is expensive. Purchasing cars, paying insurance, gasoline and oil, registrations and inspections and paying for maintenance are all expensive. Public transportation adds up to a significant amount also.

If you add up all of these things and deduct them from the net that was left after all of the taxes, you are now left with not a lot of money for extras, especially if you make a lower middle income wage. 

Middle income class people have many other expenses besides these even if they don't have debt. Dental, entertainment, clothing, life insurance, etc. come to mind. 

Now let's get back to what these articles said, "If you are middle income, you should not be practicing extreme frugality because you don't need to."

So I guess I should not be conserving on my utilities or using coupons to pay for my food or other things like clothing or eating out. I shouldn't be eating meatless 2 nights a week and having a cheap homemade pizza one night to cut down on what I spend on meat. I shouldn't be finding ways to get gift cards for less than their full value. I should be buying my books instead of getting free ones for my kindle or borrowing them from my library.  I shouldn't be finding ways to earn more points to reduce my gasoline purchases.  Bottom line according to them is that I shouldn't be doing any of these things because I don't have to. To them this is extreme frugality. To me this is smart living. To me this is not throwing away your money that it took so many hours to earn.
I could take their advice and not have saved for our retirement or save now for the things that are important to us. 

Don't believe these articles written by journalists who most likely aren't even middle class. They have no clue and their articles are garbage.  

Do what is right for your family. If you want to practice extreme frugality to make a better life for your family do it. I don't use family cloth but if your family does and that is what you need to do, go for it. If you want to spend your spare time couponing, go for it. No one knows your finances but you(unless you put it out there on your blog like I do) so the media is clueless.

Middle class families have a ton on their plate and most of them are doing it all by themselves. They get no help from anyone. Don't let the media tell you how to spend your money. We have enough of that with all the commercials online and on TV which is one of the reasons that except for a few programs a week I don't even watch it.      


  1. I don't know what articles you are reading but you need to get more up to date. Today, frugality can only be mastered by rich people. It takes money to buy a 12 pack of toilet paper. Most people do not have the money to buy larger quantities in order to save money.
    Read this new article from The Atlantic:

    FRUGALITY SURE ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE.....and they are right!

    1. Hi Cindy,

      I believe that most middle class people can afford a 12 pack of toilet paper. If you buy that 12 pack on sale with a coupon and spend .01 to .02 a square ft. you will save money. You can also buy a 4 pack of toilet paper at .01 to .02 a sq. ft and save money.

      I may be older but I am up to date. However, I did take the time to read the article you pointed out. I disagree that frugality isn't what it used to be. As I have always pointed out, you cut the big expenses first and then you whittle away at the little ones because there are many more little ones than big ones. Each person's frugality is about their own individual choices. My frugality today is the same as it was for the last 50 years. So I respectfully disagree with you, the journalist, and the professor.

  2. Well said! Even if a middle class family is doing ok or even great, they may be that way because they are frugal. Being frugal isn't about being poor, it could be about saving for that house, car or college for your children or it could just be a way of life.

  3. Hi Coleen,

    Thanks for sharing. You are so right. It has become a way of life at least for us.

  4. I have always had to be frugal and I have hated it. Now it is a habit. This drove my sister's crazy over the last 30 years. Guess who is ahead?

    1. Hi Out My Window,

      I never really hated it but it wasn't easy. It does become a habit. I believe you are ahead.

  5. Well written article. Frugality is something WE can control...not the government. I like being in control of MY hard earned money

  6. So well said. I myself had fallen in a trap of "you deserve it" and "don't be so cheap". And now only extreme frugality can take me out of debt.

    1. Hi Veronika,

      Thank you. We all make mistakes or fall down but then we brush ourselves off and continue on with more resolve. I wish you the best in paying off your debt by using extreme frugality.

  7. Amen my friend! We just barely squeaked into the lower middle class by a few hundred dollars. I am so thankful that we live a frugal life because it allows us freedom to breathe! It made it possible for me to home school our children and for me to be home with them for most of their growing up years. As my health got worse, it has allowed me to stay home and just work a very part time job a few hours about twice a month. I may not have a lot of money or energy, but what I do have is time. I have time to make most of our meals from scratch, bake, mend clothing, hang laundry out to dry on the line as the weather allows, garden, help with my grandchildren, volunteer in my community once a month with a food distribution program, work my points programs online and free my husband up from doing some of the household chores that he used to have to do (believe me, he still does plenty) when I worked outside the home.

    1. Hi Debbie,

      You are an amazing person. It is not easy doing all of that when you have health issues. You do a great job for your family.