Does Frugality = Isolation?

Switching from a normal spending life to a frugal life can feel isolating at first. You stop dining out, grabbing expensive coffee or drinks and seeing full-price movies because you want to save money. What you realize is that this also means that you stop doing many of the things that you’ve been doing to socialize with your friends. It takes some practice but frugal living doesn’t have to mean that you become isolated from people. In fact, it can mean that your connections with others get deeper if you make an effort to make that happen.

Ways that Frugal Living Can Isolate You

The choice to engage in frugal living can definitely isolate you. Some of the most common ways in which this occurs include:

  • Turning down invitations. You may begin to turn down invitations to do things socially because those things don’t fit within your new frugal budget. If these invitations aren’t replaced with other activities, you can eventually become isolated from the people who are trying to spend time with you.
  • Quitting pseudo-social situations. There are many things that you do with groups of people that you can do cheaper on your own. For example, instead of going to the gym, you may start to work out at home to save money. Instead of working at the local coffee shop, you make a pot of coffee and work from home. Although you may not socialize at the gym or the coffee shop, being around other people helps you to feel less isolated.
  • Excluding yourself from meeting new people. Frugal people often stop going to the types of events and places where they may get the chance to meet new people. That’s because these events often cost money. If you aren’t meeting new people over time, your life may start to feel stagnant.
  • Being out of touch with pop culture. Frugal living means that you probably aren’t going to the latest concerns or seeing the hottest movies right when they come out. You may not subscribe to cable TV channels with the most popular shows. As a result, you may not be at ease when making small talk with people. This can lead to feelings of isolation from others.

How to Counteract this Problem

Frugal living does not have to mean that you feel isolated from others. Some of the key ways that you can counteract this problem include:

  • Suggest replacement activities to friends. Don’t simply turn down invitations. Suggest free or cheap alternatives that allow you to continue spending time with friends in social settings even though you aren’t spending a lot of money.
  • Get creativity in finding ways to spend time with others. Maybe you aren’t going to hang out at the coffee shop anymore but you could do your work from a local library or a park.
  • Contribute to the conversations around you. Just because you don’t know who got kicked off of the island doesn’t mean that you have nothing to contribute to small talk conversations. Share what you’ve read lately or just what you’ve been thinking about and those conversations will still flow.
  • Befriend other frugal people. This makes it easier to engage in social situations that fit within your budget without having to explain yourself or make excuses.
  • Focus on what matters in your relationships. What you may discover as time goes on is that you have fewer interactions with people but that your relationships are deeper. As you begin to get more creative about your frugal activities, you may begin to form relationships with others that are based on more meaningful activities and conversations. Ultimately, this sense of a full life is what living frugally is all about!

8 Responses to Does Frugality = Isolation?

  1. With the last isolation point, I wouldn’t attribute frugal living to being out of touch with pop culture or latest trends. Being into social media has been able to help me keep up with that sort of thing with much more emergence than television does. 😀

  2. I agree with Aury, frugality can mean you lose touch but doesn’t necessarily mean that.

    Overall I thought this was an interesting post. I pride myself in frugality and now I know some dangers to avoid.

    Follow me on twitter and I will follow you back!

  3. Great post. I’ve found that this is a big concern for people considering a more frugal life style. I like suggestion #1 and would add to be proactive. Invite friends over for dinner before they can invite you to the restaurant. Invite them over for a movie before they can invite you out to a movie.

  4. I think that frugality causes less isolation, as you will get to know the people you associate with better. You spend less time spending money on diversions such as movies and spend more time conversing and thinking. I believe frugality will instill a lot of introspection as well so you get to know yourself better too.


  5. Spending and saving must be a part of our lives. The only thing is we must spend less than we make. Anything other than that will put you in debt. You don’t have to live your life in frugality. Even if you are making $1 million a year, the basic mantra is to spend less than you make.

  6. Seems like the auteur of this posting doesn’t take into consideration how ‘mericuh has itself an amazing unemployment problem right now, to go w/ its wretched jobless economy. If economics cause one to miss out on meeting some new tattooed and pierced mutilation mutation at some hipster hellhole, tears need not be shed. God forbid one should miss out on popular “culture” for absolutely any reason whatsoever, ever! Or should I say “everrrrrrrrr!” and snap my fingers in some pointless formation? Frugality is much better than living in a car or on the streets, people.

  7. I’ll just say that one other reason people may pull away from these types of activities is because they feel they are getting much less bang for their buck. For example:

    The “theater experience” gets ever more expensive yet in many theaters the acoustics are lousy, so you can’t understand what’s being said, and you have to contend with morons trying to text or use a cell phone during the show, and besides all that, you can’t remember the last time you actually thought a movie was all that entertaining. Whereas with a Netflix subscription you get great sound, no idiots to spoil your enjoyment, you can bring your own popcorn, and if you get a “clinker” movie you don’t feel bad about stopping it halfway through and sending it back. And you will find that if you invite friends over for a movie night, many will accept!

    The “all you can eat” buffet restaurant starts putting up signs all over the place saying that “tipping is appreciated for great service” and you ask yourself, “What service? I’m getting my own food, my own plate, and my own utensils, and I’m loading up on cheap food that’s probably not good for me and eating desserts that are adding unhealthy pounds!” And then you think about the fact that nowadays you can buy frozen prepared dinners that are every bit as tasty as (and sometimes a lot better than) the stuff they’re serving, and on that you neither have to tip or pay sales tax, nor burn gasoline to go there. Easiest solution, just stop going, that way you neither feel like you are overpaying nor do you feel like a cheapskate for not tipping (just so anyone reading this knows, I live in an area where people traditionally rarely tip for anything – even pizza delivery people don’t get tipped more than spare change on most of their deliveries. So you New Yorkers can just keep your excessive tipping to yourselves).

    The “weekend vacation” – with the cost of gas and the price of hotel/motel rooms, plus the fact that so many cities now play the “gouge the tourist” game with room taxes and such, plus the fact that so many establishments are now coping with bedbug infestations, and TV reports occasionally reveal that the rooms and bedding aren’t cleaned as they should be, if you live in a reasonably pleasant place (someplace you chose to live rather than being forced by circumstances to live there) you might start to think that taking your mini-vacation near your home area (by doing something inexpensive that you wouldn’t normally do) is a better option. (Yeah, I know that was an incredibly long sentence – I just wasn’t sure how to break it up. You English teachers can feel free to use it as an example of what not to do!)

    The biggest problem I’ve noticed as I get older is that friends move away, or stop going out themselves. I’ve always wondered why nobody has started a web site specifically for the frugal over-50 crowd, just to help people of like interests find each other for conversation and social interaction without being pressured to spend money (and without any up-front expectation of that happening). Sure there’s Craigslist, but unfortunately people seem to think that if you post there you are looking for a sexual encounter, and besides, I think no one wants to just post in that way, because it makes you look like you’re desperate, which I most certainly am not (90% of the time I really do enjoy being alone). My attitude is more along the lines of “I’d sort of like to meet one or two others who have similar interests to me and who think kind of like I do, even if only to exchange an occasional e-mail or have a long phone chat, but I don’t want to just put my information out there so anyone can see it.”

  8. hello: Going to the theater can get you killed, too. There is no movie out there worth dying for! The Dark Knight Rises is so not worth dying for. Also being isolated is not just a frugal person problem; this can be a problem for senior citizens who are not well enought o get around, don’t drive, and have not much access to any activitie centers that are very expensive anyway. Public transportation such as the bus is expensive and private transportation (cab, and so forth) is very expensive. So seniors are in between a rock and a hard place too many times. Not just from being frugal, just being poor. Anyway people don’t seem to think about seniors on that level either. But we can get isolated just like everyone else can. Frugal or not. Anyway, I just wanted to express my opinin and also to say that I like the picture that you posted with this article. Very cool! Thanks!

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