11 Signs You’re Too Frugal (And How It’s Costing You)

You may be going overboard with your frugal habits. Here are some ways to know if you’re taking your finances too far to the extreme.
Updated April 9, 2024
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There are times when working within a budget in everyday life is a good thing. Perhaps you’re saving for retirement or a vacation. Maybe you’re simply trying to avoid wasting money.

But if you go overboard with finding the cheapest way to do things, you may be steering into overly frugal — dare we say “cheap” — territory.

Frugality may be fine for some budgets or to reach economic goals, but here are a few signs that your frugal spending habits could actually be costing you more in the long run.

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You only buy cheap food

auremar/Adobe organic preserved food

Cheap food doesn’t always mean healthy food. For example, candy, chips, and soda may go on sale more often than eggs or apples.

You might be enticed because some cheap foods have a longer shelf life than fresh foods. But when it comes to eating well, spending a little more for fresher or healthier options may be a good idea.

You’re overstressed

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe overstressed young couple counting tax at home on kitchen

Worrying too much about being frugal could be affecting your health both physically and mentally. Pay attention to signs that you may not be getting enough sleep or are becoming more anxious or depressed.

Instead, try to find ways to relax and unwind a little, or consider talking to a professional if you need help learning how to lower your financial stress.

You’re not maintaining your health

Studio Romantic/Adobe tired woman is feeling intense back pain

Speaking of your health, you may be skipping out on regular medical visits or haven’t seen a doctor recently because you don’t want to pay for medical care. You also may have opted for less medical insurance to save a few extra dollars.

However, not maintaining regular medical care or health insurance could lead to much higher bills if you’re in an accident or let medical issues linger. Try to see a doctor regularly for any issues that arise — or just for your wellness checkups.

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You’re putting off home repairs

motortion/Adobe frustrated housewife holding pot while water leaking from roof

Maybe your furnace could use an upgrade, or perhaps your roof is leaking and you’ve decided not to spend money to replace it. These issues could affect your day-to-day living as well as negatively impact your health.

Plus, investing in your home could increase its value if you decide to sell it. That means you might make money later if you’re less frugal now.

You’re skipping auto maintenance

Panumas/Adobe driver looking down on a broken car engine

Your car needs regular maintenance, so you shouldn't put off routine oil changes or tire and brake replacements.

Not only may these maintenance issues cause more damage (and more expenses) if you let them linger, but they could also cause your car to be unsafe.

Instead of budgeting your money by not spending it on necessary car maintenance, see if there are ways to save money on car insurance.

You’re not investing

doucefleur/Adobe business woman hand calculating her monthly expenses

Due to low-interest rates, the money you’ve saved by being frugal may not be earning much for you.

Instead of having it sit in a savings account making little to no interest, it might be a smarter idea to invest your money elsewhere. If you like the security of savings, seek out a high-yield savings account so you can earn more in interest.

You’re buying sale items you don’t need

standret/Adobe two young women shopping

If you’re just purchasing something because it’s on sale, you may want to take a moment to reflect on the items you buy.

If you don’t like that particular shirt or those types of foods, don’t waste money on them simply because you get a thrill by nabbing a deal. Instead, save your money to spend on a few nice things you actually want.

You don’t prioritize everyday items

Goran/Adobe woman buying socks

You may be buying cheap socks to save some money, but think about how many times you have to buy more cheap socks to replace the ones that quickly wear out. The same could be true for shoes, clothes, or kitchen items.

The price tag may be lower for the cheaper option, but the cost could add up over time if you have to replace the cheaper items on a more regular basis.

You’re stockpiling too many items

Mariia Korneeva/Adobe recycle clothes concept

You may have rooms in your home packed with things you bought on sale because you might need them someday. Perhaps you have a pile of free items that could be useful, but you don’t know when.

If you’ve been storing items that still haven’t been used, it may be a good time to sell or give them away. Decluttering your home could also make it a less stressful place to spend time.

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You don’t have financial goals

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Being overly frugal may indicate you’re not great at setting financial goals. It may be a good time for you to sit down with your budget and focus on how to manage your money.

If you want to retire, look into retirement investments and how the money you’re saving could help you in smarter ways. Taking the time to think through your financial goals could help you avoid costly retirement mistakes.

You’re not happy

Sirichai/Adobe sad man lying on the floor full of desperation thoughts

If you’re constantly upset or frustrated because you aren’t being frugal enough, it may be time to step back and find ways to be happy about the money you do have.

Perhaps allow yourself to splurge on a special trip or outing. Happy goals could help you feel the benefits of all that money you’ve saved.

Bottom line

fizkes/Adobe focused millennial woman in eyewear writes out information from invoices

There are times when you may need to cut back on your spending to fit within your budget, but that could lead to pulling back too much.

Sit down and consider whether you’re being wisely frugal or too frugal, and decide if maybe spending a little extra money here or there may actually be a good thing for you.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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