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Old 03-23-2013, 07:39 PM
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,639 posts, read 18,121,762 times
Reputation: 6913


1. You're single, 48, and live a spartan lifestyle, despite earning over $100,000 a year. Each month you save over $5,000. When your nieces and nephews celebrate birthdays, however, you send them either very small amounts of money (e.g. a $5 bill) or just a card. Your brother and his wife nearly became homeless as a result of your refusal to pitch in to save their house from foreclosure - they now live in a small apartment in the bad part of town with their three children (whom you each send $5 for their birthday). Is this frugal or miserly?

2. You're 62, and recently retired along with your wife - although you have control over your savings, as she only worked sporadically over the years. You have lavish retirement savings to the tune of nearly $2 million as a result of working hard and saving since the age of 10. Your wife now wants to see the country and world - and you've only been on vacations to the nearby shore together over the past ten years. However, you refuse to go, citing articles about the breakdown of the social security system and Obama's latest plan to stiff the wealthy.

3. You're 25, employed at a $40,000 per year job, and living with two of your friends, who are employed at much lesser jobs. However, your spending habits could not be more thrifty - while they have the latest iPhones on expensive data plans, you have a cheap pre-paid phone; while they vacation in Cancun and the Dominican Republic, your idea of a vacation is going back to your parents' home. Your friends are beginning to egg you on for being so "tightfisted", claiming "you only live once" (YOLO as young people call it). They especially want you to be present during their weekly (or bi-weekly) night on the town; you prefer to stay home and watch your 19" TV or read over a shot of cheap vodka.
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:26 PM
Location: Moscow
2,223 posts, read 3,875,511 times
Reputation: 3134
I say frugal is when you save money and it does not negatively impact others. Miserly is when your frugality negatively impacts others.

#1 needs to give the nieces a bit more. The gift is miserly. Don't see where the brothers issues are his. Overall I say frugal.

#2 If the wife wants to lighten up, the husband is being miserly (given info shared). $2m is a decent amount, but they can't be super lavish.

#3 This person is saving at a high rate. But their actions aren't negatively impacting any others. I say frugal.
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:27 PM
1,139 posts, read 3,466,398 times
Reputation: 799
Each is frugal and miserly in their own ways...

If everyone were at the same age, then you can pick one over the other but you are comparing people who are in different age brackets!
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Old 03-23-2013, 10:36 PM
438 posts, read 1,783,382 times
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I'd upgrade #3 to a decent bottle of hooch; still cheaper than going out but more enjoyable. A bottle of nice bourbon lasts me about a year.

from tapatalk (Galaxy Note 2)
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:12 AM
355 posts, read 913,152 times
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#1 - The fact that they even remember the nieces and nephews birthday is a miracle. Why do people expect gifts in the first place? The brother's problems are their own. Could they be more generous? Yes, sure, I'm sure we all could. It could also be his way of not making the recipient feel guily and the need to reciprocate on gifts for #1.

#2 - Will die with a lot of money in the bank for his heirs to blow on nonsense. Needs to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They should travel while they have the health and mobility. Let's say he has 20 years of life left, he's got $100k a year. Assuming his house is paid for, I doubt he'd spend that much a year WITH traveling.

#3- Sounds like he is enjoying his life, doing what he wants. Better watch out though, his friends will come to him and ask to borrow money when they have a flat tire on a Monday morning after they spent all their money on beer.
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:46 AM
768 posts, read 859,124 times
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Why be judgmental of these people at all?
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:58 AM
Location: Moscow
2,223 posts, read 3,875,511 times
Reputation: 3134
Originally Posted by LynnKrause1 View Post
Why be judgmental of these people at all?
Because this is an internet discussion board. It's what people do!

Seriously, though, discussing theoretical situations: Is it really judgemental?
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:58 PM
Location: In America's Heartland
929 posts, read 2,092,287 times
Reputation: 1196
What a person does with their money is their business. Some people are more willing to help out people in need. Others may look at it differently. There isn't a right or wrong way to handle these situations. It is all subjective and in many cases it depends on information that we don't have in each of these cases. In the case of No. 1, many nieces and nephews never receive a thing from their aunts or uncles for their Birthdays. I never did, and I didn't really expect it either. I mean, I never even thought about it before, until I read this post.

We can discuss these theoretical situations, but we shouldn't judge people on how they spend their money... because it is not our money.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:10 PM
Location: North Idaho
32,638 posts, read 48,015,234 times
Reputation: 78406
#1. It is not his duty to support a relative's family. It is not his duty to pay for a house for his brother. It is not a true kindness to bail out relatives because that keeps them from learning from their mistakes (tough love).

Nobody is owed an expensive gift for their birthday. The card is fine and if the kids whine that they deserve more, they need a lesson about life from the parents about not feeling so entitled.

#2 This guy is going to end up with a divorce if he isn't careful and then will only have half of that nest egg.

Sorry, but 2 million in capital is not that much. Probably taxes will be due on it if it is taken out of wherever it is stashed. However, some vacations can easily be planned that are thrifty and fun. If he doesn't want to go, the wife should go without him.

#3 Stop with the cheap vodka. It's really not a good sign if someone one is drinking alone. Spendthrift people can lead you astray while you are trying to save. Could it be that they are hoping to get him to pay for part of their fun? he needs to find some friends that entertain themselves doing less expensive things. There are lots of fun things to do that don't cost nearly as much as night clubbing.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:31 PM
Location: Southwest Washington State
30,585 posts, read 25,150,871 times
Reputation: 50802
I guess I'd have to know more about each case to make a judgement. But the first case troubles me. Most replies indicate that they think the brother does not owe his brother any help. I'd have to know more, but he sounds selfish to me. I don't mind the cheap gifts to his niece and nephew, but he could send $20 for each kid and not miss it.

I guess I'd like him to at least help the kids with private school or in some other way. What good does his money do him if he never, ever spends any of it?

The third case, is also troubling. Knocking off vodka by yourself sounds pretty antisocial to me. Can't he find a nice volunteer job to fill his time?

All of these hypothetical characters seem to me to be takers, not givers. They are taking care of themselves, but not giving any thing back into society.
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