Are You a Miser?

Written by Karen Bryan

are you a miserAre you a miser? Defined in the Free Dictionary as “a mean person who lives very poorly to store up wealth”. To me, it seems a bit pointless to be a miser if you don’t have plans for that wealth you’re accumulating. While it’s always reassuring to have savings as a buffer in case things go awry financially, why be a miser and never spend any money on enjoying your life? On the other hand frittering away money, getting into debt and not being smart with money doesn’t seem a good idea either.

So what’s the difference between frugal living and being a miser? I like to think of myself as fairly frugal but then being brought up in the West, someone from a poorer country would probably view me as extravagant.

I think for me part of the problem is that I don’t know for how long my husband and I will live. If we could guarantee an inflation proofed income to cover our living expenses for the rest of our lives, we probably wouldn’t be too concerned about having savings.  My husband’s pension is now linked to the (lower) Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, when previously the annual rise was linked the higher Retail Prices Index(RPI). I have a stock market linked stakeholder pension, I don’t know what it’ll be worth at the time I plan to retire. Therefore we feel we need to maintain the value of our savings as an option to boost our income as required. I don’t think that makes us misers, we’re just trying to cover any eventuality.

Personally, I don’t believe that there is a perfect way to structure your finances, it depends on what you want from life and how you choose to balance income, spending and saving to live the life you want.

This article was featured in the Totally Money Friday Grapevine, the Festival of Frugality and the Festival of Financial Camaraderie.