According to my husband I have committed a cardinal sin – I bought one-ply toilet paper instead of two-ply. He assumed this was another one of my Budgeting OCD decisions to save money, when in fact it was really just an accident. It got me thinking about limits, and how everybody draws the line somewhere. For my husband, he can deal with A LOT of my frugal money methods, but this is his line in the sand.

Toilet paper humor

Most people probably view frugal living like dieting and that’s probably why they don’t bother trying it at all. Here the three cardinal sins of being frugal and how to avoid making them.

1. Saying NO ALL THE TIME – Being frugal does NOT mean saying no to everything you want. It’s about making choices. Budgeting can be a lot like dieting and if you cut out everything you love, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Instead you should look at your spending as an “if then” statement – “If I go out to eat with the girls on Saturday, then I’m not going to buy myself that new outfit.” I try to find ways to say “yes” to at least some of my kids wants, otherwise I think they’ll be binge spenders when they grow up. When I take them to the mall, I tell them we aren’t going to buy any clothes or toys, but they can have a small treat. We’re usually just killing time there anyway, since I’m not into shopping just for fun.

2. Trying To Do EVERYTHING At Once – Just like you don’t wake up one morning and get on the scale and find out you gained 50 pounds overnight, the same goes for debt or financial troubles. You didn’t get yourself into trouble overnight and you aren’t going to get out of it that quickly either. As much as we pray for a winning lottery ticket, the odds aren’t in our favor. Instead try to change a few manageable things at a time like making your coffee at home and bringing it to work in a reusable thermos instead of buying that pricy coffee drink at Starbucks or my fav – Dunkin Donuts.

I was looking through my budget spread sheets for 2012, 2013 and 2014 and marveling at all the changes we were able to make in the last few years.  It’s great to see the progress we’ve made, but we probably still have years before we get to where I’d like us to be. Frugal living is a marathon, NOT a sprint.

3. Thinking “Frugal” Means “Cheap” – I would never NOT bring a gift to a birthday party, fail to tip at a restaurant, or not buy my kids something I know they need. People are worth more than money and that’s the cardinal rule extraordinaire in my book. It’s at the heart of every decision (financial or otherwise) that I make. I’ll choose time with my family over fancy clothes or a new car any day of the week. TV shows like “Extreme Couponing” or “Extreme Cheapskates” would have you believe that stockpiling items you won’t ever use, living with practically no furniture, or paying your restaurant bill in change is what being frugal is and that couldn’t be more WRONG.

Living a life completely obsessed with money (either spending it or saving it) is not what I hope most people want. We don’t want to alienate our friends and family in our effort to get ahead financially. If we do, we could find ourselves up poop’s creek with only one-ply.