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Not Spending Enough

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Not Spending Enough

Dec 09, 2019Tyrone Wiseman

Thrifty or Stingy? 

(Is your attitude to money affecting your life?)

In October’s blog, we looked at the financial, emotional and physical effects of spending too much money. 

But what about the other side of the coin? 

There is a delicate balance between over-spending and not spending enough.

Over-spending is a more obvious and common trait. No matter how old we are, we hear the judgement of previous generations. While we may laugh, comments like "Why did you need a new lamp? Back in my day we used a candle.", don’t help us focus on the real issues of modern-day financial life.

Things change over time.

If you look at the last twenty years, the costs of furniture, TV’s, clothes and toys have all been either negative or well below inflation.

Yet the cost of living is rising.

According to Michael Janda’s ABC News report on 31 July 2019; 

"…there are a couple of inherent problems with the (CPI) 

measure that mean it may not tally either with how much you 

feel you're spending, or how much money is actually left in 

your wallet after your living expenses are taken care of."

Not only that, the costs of regular household ‘needs’ are rising, while ‘desired’ items are falling dramatically in price;

"Fidelity's analysis of the ABS data shows that while high 
school education and medical treatments have trebled in 
cost over the past 19 years, clothes, cars and games have 
fallen in price, while electronics such as phones, TVs and 
computers are nearly 90 per cent cheaper."

expense graph

This disparity can cause anxiety and detrimental financial behaviours relating to how people spend their money. 


Saving and planning for future expenses is wise, but not spending enough money can be a real cause for concern. 

There’s a difference between being thrifty (managing money in a careful and wise way) and being stingy (not liking to give or spend money). 

Stinginess can highlight a bigger issue, such as an overall insecurity around money.

Stingy financial behaviour is often a result of anxiety, depression or trauma. A recognised money disorder, ‘excessive frugality can also be a symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)’. 

Robert Hudak, MD, a psychiatrist with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is quoted in a 2014 Everyday Health article as saying 

"The most important sign that you’re going too far, is when your 
frugality negatively affects relationships or the quality of your life 
because you can’t spend time or money on fun or relaxation."

According to Dr Brad Klontz, author of Mind Over Money, this can have a marked impact on a person’s relationships and work, as well as their mental and financial health. People who are obsessive savers or ‘money hoarders’ may feel they never have enough. It’s possible to be uber-wealthy and never be able to enjoy it.

Are you spending enough?

Using your hard-earned money to enjoy and improve your life provides happiness and satisfaction. 

Going on holidays, being generous, buying items to make your life easier or more fun is perfectly OK. 

There is no need for guilt. 

It is possible to watch your spending and save for the future without being stingy, selfish and unhappy. 

There are many positives to financial and emotional generosity. 

In The Barefoot Investor, one of Australia’s most popular books on money, Scott Pape talks about having a portion of your money set aside in a ‘Splurge account’ – put aside for things that make you smile.

He advocates the 60/20/20 rule where 60% of your income goes to ‘Safety’ (household expenses), 20% to ‘Savings’ and the final 20% to ‘Splurge’. Half of this splurge is to be put aside for long-term goals such as overseas holidays and the other half is to spend now.

"You are hereby directed to go out and blow 10 per cent 
of your money on crap that makes you feel good 
(shoes, booze, and anything else you want)."


While saving money is something a financial adviser would tell you to do, being miserly is not. 

Being stingy can adversely affect you in many ways. While there is a delicate balance between spending too much and not spending enough, it’s important to be aware whether your financial behaviours are providing benefits to your everyday life. 

And don’t forget that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy something that gives them value and makes them smile.