Does Being Frugal Alienate Relationships?


I’ve always been frugal, cheap, call it what you want but I hate wasting money. This isn’t to say I don’t spend money in what I would consider a wasteful manner from time-to-time, but I don’t like doing it. Sometimes though, it’s necessary to maintain relationships.

When I went back to university for dental hygiene, a few of us quickly became friends. I was one of the older ones in the group and in a much different spot in my life. I was, on average 3 years older (than some) and engaged to be married. More so though, I was much more mature than pretty much all of them so needless to say, our ideas of ”fun” were a little different. I would not be downtown every weekend blowing money on bars and a new outfit every weekend. I did this occasionally but usually if it was a fundraising pub-crawl or something alike. I chose my battles.

They realized pretty quickly on that they didn’t need to ask every weekend if I wanted to go out with them or spend oodles of money on a shopping spree. My frugality never interfered in our friendships. As you all know, I graduated with a boatload of debt– 4 of the 7 of these girls have zero debt, 1 had daddy pay most of it off and the last girl had a little to pay off but had no other responsibility. Needless to say we view money very differently.

After graduation we all spread out and started our lives. They all attended my wedding the same year we graduated and we would make an effort to see each other occasionally but I quickly started feeling like the odd man out. Not only could I not afford their restaurant choices I had no desire to go to said places. The occasional restaurant meet up quickly turned into everyone meeting at someone’s house for the weekend eating, shopping and usually going out to drink…not my idea of fun, ever. Not to mention after a week of working I want to spend time with my husband and family. I went once though so I could see everyone, when I realized what the weekend was actually going to entail I went home before the partying started. I don’t drink (other than the occasional cheap bottle glass of red wine), don’t shop, and really don’t want to get hammered drunk and sleep on my friends floor like I did when I was 19. Some of the girls still continue on like this…well into their late 20’s early 30’s.

One of the girls recently got married and I wasn’t invited. I’d like to think it’s because I have a baby now but I don’t think it was. This weekend they’re all getting together to party it up and I wasn’t invited. This doesn’t bother me, since I probably wouldn’t go but I wish they’d consider everyone in the group and maybe extend and invitation for a normal dinner out when they’re in town (and by normal I mean somewhere I don’t have to spend $40.00-$50.00 just for myself). I genuinely like these girls and would like to keep them in my life to some regard but I don’t see how it’s possible.

I don’t know if it’s me being cheap or us not being on the same ”life page” but I can’t help but think if money wasn’t an issue I might see them more often. Or maybe my frugality is a way to streamline and filter the relationships I actually value in life, only the ones who really care about me are in it?

Has your own frugality every changed one of your relationships?

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  1. I don’t think it has personally for us, but I do know it is possible. Money can be a funny thing, especially in relationships. I think some can take a frugal mindset as being judgemental or simply not wanting to have fun. Largely, that’s not the case unless you’re just a miser with money. It’s sad to see it affect relationships, but in the end you have to consider if they really were a true friend if they had issues with a frugal mindset.

  2. Oh man…it sounds like we can be friends! lol. I’ve noticed a similar strain on my relationships and it’s certainly not easy. Most of friends have stopped asking me to do things simply because they know I probably won’t want to fork over the cash to do them. I can’t blame them that they don’t ask, but I do wish they’d still offer. Saying that, I’ve simply worked on finding friends with similar mindsets. Those that don’t mind coming over to play games, hang out and eat, and maybe sit around a fire in our backyard. One of my friends from college has a monthly dinner group where 4 couples get together and we all bring food (potluck style) and hang out. This weekend we’re also having some people over to play games and eat at my house.

    So, it’s just all about prioritizing and trying to find people that you can relate with. Most people these days can only have fun if #1 they drink or if #2 they spend money. That’s not my cup of tea and there are others out there like us. 🙂

    • See that all sounds like a great time! I love bonfires and love playing games…we can be losers together haha.

  3. I think I have definitely gone away from many costly relationships over the years, but mainly because I don’t enjoy what those people are doing. Going out with some close friends once in a while and spending money on a shared experience is not a problem for me, but I wouldn’t go out every weekend. With my closest friends, we live in different cities, and we meet two or three times a year. Usually we stay in, eat candy and gossip. While the transportation is a bit expensive to get together, we have a blast and don’t spend much than normal people on a normal saturday night. I would not spend money to please people or feel like I belong anymore.

    • Yeah I feel like that is different, if one of my besties moved away I’d be more than willing to put effort into a girls weekend but these girls live around here and get crazy haha.

  4. We try and strike a balance. Like when Mr. PoP had friends coming in to town, we made sure there was extra room in the restaurant budget so he could go out with them while they were around.

    With local friends, we’ve started inviting people over for dinner and drinks at our house. If I cook, I can usually do a pretty decent dinner for 5-6 people for $30 or less. Considering the restaurants those couples like tend to be about $30-40 per person, we’re saving us $30-$50 by having people over, and saving everyone else too. It’s a nice balance and I don’t mind cooking once in a while for stuff like that.

    • I much prefer to cook for larger crowds! Someone else can bring dessert or wine and the night is set!

  5. I think that’s just happens when people start to grow up and have their own families. I have a few neighborhood gals that are about my age. They hang out sometimes 4 or 5 nights a week. Their husbands all work late hours or something- I dont know. I think it’s kind’ve weird. I would much rather spend time with my husband than sit around and watch the Bachelor with them!

  6. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    It’s a shame that your girlfriends don’t make more of an effort to do things with you that don’t cost so much. I love to attend and host home dinner parties where everyone brings something to eat or drink. I, like you, outgrew the party scene a long time ago and barely drink a glass of wine! Hopefully you have friends nearby who are more in line with your current way of life.

    • I do, my best friends are amazing, these are school relationships I’d like to maintain though.

  7. I don’t think frugality automatically alienates people, although being cheap certainly does. If you’re known as a miser then in my experience, people will normally want to avoid you at all costs – being cheap is being unreasonably tight, frugality is about extracting maximum value.

    I think it’s about finding people with common interests. If you changed frugal for ‘muslim’ you would probably find that the answer is the same. For close minded people, or people with totally different interests, it’s going to be a barrier, but for other people with the same viewpoint it’s can actually be a positive. Try to find people who share your view or are open-minded!

    • Thanks, and I do, my closest relationships are strong and based on similar values. This is more of a distant relationship I’d like to try and keep open but it’s proving to be difficult.

  8. My frugality has definitely changed some friendships, but I look at it as inevitable. If your spending habits don’t match those of your friends, it’s probably time to find some new friends who enjoy doing the same things as you. It would be like being friends with people who are sexist and you aren’t. If your values don’t line up, it’s going to be hard to maintain a good friendship.

  9. I would say so, to some extent. We are lucky in that we are better off than many of our friends, so it doesn’t really come into play as everyone naturally selects less expensive activities. When we visit friends in other cities who have money, we can afford to do the same as them. I know that if we lived in a city, we would have to be much more selective about what we were doing, because we wouldn’t be able to do it all!

  10. I have certainly had to sacrifice relationships due to not having the means to splurge every weekend on ‘girls night’ — the norm was endless martinis and dancing til dawn, and I just could not get a penny saved. Once I matured past this stage, I had no desire to join in anymore, and slowly my friends stopped their invitations. I have made a conscious effort lately to surround myself with people I admire, in order to lean on them for support and learn from their wisdom. My life is full once again with a new circle of friends, ones who are much more supportive of my financial frugal-ness. Now that I am a Mommy, the gap has widened even more with that old crowd. I still see those guys once or twice a year, sure, but now it is on terms I am comfortable with.

  11. justin@thefrugalpath says:

    I believe in some cases it’s because people mature at different rates. It seems that they still enjoy drinking and getting smashed and perhaps they feel as though you’d be uncomfortable in the situation.
    I know several people who go out weekly, sometimes it seems like nightly, and binge drink. They spend a ton of cash at the bar. When the end of the month arrives they complain that they’re phone is about to be shut off and their rent is due. And they have the nerve to tell me that I don’t need to worry about money because I don’t do anything with it. Although I do need it, I just have a mortgage, retirement ect…
    It just takes some people longer to get it than others. Though sadly some never do.

  12. I find I tend to gravitate and get along better with people who are careful with their money more than ever now. Now that I have a house, I think I’ll just invite people over and have potlucks. Being social doesn’t mean you always have to go out and spend a ton of $. But sometimes people think its the easiest thing to do and use that as a excuse to go out.

  13. I think this does happen and can happen—but I don’t think it has to happen. For it not to happen, I think there needs to be a discussion and an understanding between people if spenders and savers are going to be friends.

    Just wondering—did you ever really explain to your friends why you didn’t want to or couldn’t hang-out with them? Or did they feel like you were blowing them off? Have you suggested they do things like cooking parties or movie nights at someone’s home? I know sometimes I get caught up in myself and what I am doing (ahem, being frugal) and forget that some of my friends are not the same way. If I say things like, “Well, I’d much rather spend time with my husband and do this because I think [know] it’s better,” I know sometimes I come off as condescending or the tone in my voice suggests I don’t approve of what they’re doing and/or I think it’s stupid.

    I’m not saying that is what you did at all—I am just wondering how they possibly could perceive it. (And mostly, I’m saying that I’ve noticed I personally have come off that way, for example, when I went on and on one day to my friend about how I couldn’t understand why people would want to live in her neighborhood because it’s so expensive and how I didn’t think it was the best idea. I realized after the fact that I sounded like I was judging her and her choices and essentially telling her what I thought she was doing was stupid.)

    • They’re very much in the know and continue to go on like this. I was upfront with them, they try and accommodate me by saying they’ll stay in for potluck/whatever but somehow the plans to go DT end up mingled in there somehow b/c you know, potlucks aren’t that fun unless finishing the night off involves dancing and drinking. I think, especially since doing this post, I have accepted that although I like them as people we are just in VERY different spots in our lives. Maybe when they get married/have kids and re-prioritize things will change.

  14. One of the causes for disagreements and fights between couples is money. However, I do not think that frugality of either one or both of the spouses can estrange a relationship. Couples will need to be candid with each other. I believe that talking to each other about financial matters will help a relationship to thrive. Do not keep anything from your spouse or partner especially when it comes to spending habits or buying something that you really want.

  15. Depends what you mean by frugal. Frugality often is misunderstood as being cheap. Frugality is more about getting the most out of your money and making deliberate purchasing decisions. Buying cheap things that have to replaced more often is not frugal, it is being wasteful.

  16. I agree with Paul, in that frugal is not the same as being cheap. I feel like this may be exactly what you said, being in different life phases. If that’s not it, I wouldn’t let friends who let money get in the way of their friendships get in the way of my money 😉

  17. I recently started being frugal, in my late 20s, and I can see how it stresses my relationships.

    I’m dating a girl who is frugal so that’s great for me, but my friends just like to blow money around, and it creates a lot of tension when I don’t want to.

    For example, last night we went out, they had many beers and I only had one… They kept pressuring me to have more, but I said I was OK… Then we went to a bar, and I said that I didn’t want to drink anything, while they blew their money getting drinks for $10 each. They kept pressuring me, and I said “no, it’s ok, i’m leaving soon anyways”…

    This pressure to make me spend money continued until we left. They said “let’s get a cab”, I said “I’m just gonna take the bus” :D… One guy was laughing at how I had a night out with only $2, but another guy seemed really angry… He was totally serious, and kept making remarks at how “we have to enjoy life now”. Does enjoying life mean blowing off money? I had the same fun spending only $2 that they had spending $50!!!

    In any case, I can sense that being frugal is actually going against everyone. People go out and want to blow off money, when you are taking care of that money it kinda ruins the fun for everyone, for some reason. Maybe they feel that you are cheating somehow on the system?

    Good post by the way! 🙂


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