Frugal or Socially Impaired? Neither!

It did not happen all at once, but rather it happened over time.

I stopped going out to work lunches as often as I used to. I stopped going to coffee shops with co-workers. I started to bring my own lunches and my own coffee to work.

Surprisingly enough, I do not miss the fancy lattes that I used to drink at least twice a week. I also don’t miss my lunches with colleagues. My work responsibilities doubled within the last year or so, and time-wise I cannot afford a two-hour lunch outside of the office. Of course, I still get out here and there. Just not as often as I used to.

I have to admit that I like these changes. First, my bank account is much healthier. Second, I lost four pounds just by bringing food to work. Third, my work became more efficient.

However, I also noticed that some people think that I became anti-social. Curious enough, they started asking me questions that they never bothered to ask me before:

“Are you saving money for your next vacation?”

“Do you have a lot of bills to pay?”

“Are you in debt? How much do you owe?”

People’s quick curiosity blows me away. First of all, I don’t think I should explain myself to anyone (well, maybe my mother if she asks me about it.) Second, I am surprised that people, who are not even my close friends, feel that it is okay to question someone else’s financial choices.

What makes it okay for them to intrude into my financial life? No one asks me if I had sex with Beaker over the weekend, so why is it okay to ask me if I am saving money for my next vacation or if I have a lot of bills to pay? I cannot imagine myself asking someone whom I barely know these type of questions.

Lunches run quite expensive in downtown Salt Lake. If you are not a fan of street vendors and tacos, your lunch options will range from $15 to $20. Two lunches a week add up to $40. You do the math!

I don’t think I have to defend my decisions. I am not a frugal person. I am definitely not anti-social. I enjoy good company and fun conversations over delicious food. I enjoy the experience. However, it doesn’t mean that I will do it with everyone who hovers over me in my cubicle and asks if I want to go out to lunch.

I found it fascinating that people tend to get very judgmental when it gets to socializing and financial life of others. I guess when people don’t understand someone, they tend to make up things to fill in the void created by non-comprehension.

36 thoughts on “Frugal or Socially Impaired? Neither!”

  1. Wow – those are some inappropriate questions to be asking a co-worker! I definitely don`t think you need to explain anything to anyone.

  2. Aloysa,
    Ha, sex with Beaker! But I completely understand what you mean. My close circle of friends do the same thing if I choose not to go out four nights a week. It’s as if our decision to monitor our finances–a self-improving decision–is ridiculed. Really, it should be praised or even mimicked!

    -Christian L.

  3. Weird, I don’t find Salt Lake fare to be that expensive. My spouse and I can stuff ourselves full of sushi for $20 (and good sushi). Or you should visit the Balkan cafe on 5th and South Temple, good food, plenty of it and you’re out the door for $7-$8.

    Regardless of the price of food in whatever region one inhabits, I’m with you. I used to keep a loaf of bread, and jar of peanut butter and jelly in the work fridge. I ate PB&J every day for about a year. Nonetheless, I got the reputation of being a “tight wad.” But, we all get to choose what to do with our money. When anyone razzed me about not going out to eat I would always ask if they were buying. It seemed to get the point across. Of course, getting out once every week or two was nice. But with this SLC weather, a jog outside will suffice!

    1. Where do you and your wife get sushi in Salt Lake for $20? The places I know (O’Shucks, for example) offer some good rolls for $12. I need at least two rolls to make through the day. If I am with Beaker, that up to $40, plus tax.
      I am going to check that place on S. Temple! Sounds great.

      1. Red Ginger. State and 33rd S. Get there before 6 or expect to wait. “50% off all sushi rolls,” all the time. 4 rolls is a healthy amount and 5 stuffs us full. And they aren’t cheap crap either. I’ve had marginally better, but you pay a lot more, as you seem to already know.

        Let me know how you like the place. I suspect you live downtown, but it’s worth the pilgrimage.

  4. Wow, people can be quite intrusive! Going out all the time is expensive, so good for you that your frugality has helped your waist and wallet!! 🙂

  5. That’s our consumer society for you. If you don’t spend money, you’ll be at the fringe of society. We have to make our own choices. Bring lunch is good for finance and your health, but bad for your popularity. Pick your poison. 😉

    1. There should be some balance, don’t you think so? I hope it is possible to find one.

  6. I can’t believe your coworkers feel comfortable enough to ask you something so personal about yourself. I don’t like it when people who aren’t close to me asks what my significant other does for a living. Um, noneya damn business!

    I’ll never forget attending a lunch with coworkers that was so boring I thought I would, literally, drop dead in my chair. Fortunately, the partner was paying for it, but still. I wouldn’t want to torture myself twice by spending extra time with people I don’t find interesting and paying for the displeasure.

  7. People can be awfully nosy! I don’t ever go out to eat. Whenever anyone invites me, I tell them that I’m trying to save money and ask them if they would like to come to my house and I will make them lunch or dinner. Even with me sharing my food, it’s a lot cheaper than a restaurant, and usually friends will reciprocate.

  8. Wow, that’s not fun at all. Some people are so rude. I agree that you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. They are probably just missing your company haha.

    I actually work with a department that likes to do their own thing during lunch and it’s really nice. I go to the gym everyday during lunch so I don’t have the temptation of eating out or spending money. A lot of my coworkers bring lunch, raid the vending machines, or buy breakfast/lunch everyday.

    1. A long time ago I sed to go to the gym during lunch. Now, I don’t have time to do it. I miss it. It was nice and gave me plenty of energy.

  9. Yes, there is so much social pressure to spend, spend, spend! Takes real strength and a focus on long-term goals to resist. And guess what: When you reach your financial goals, most of your peers won’t have (because a minority follow the sorts of habits you’re cultivating), and then you’ll be feeling envy and resentment in some comments and queries made by friends and acquaintances. Too bad our culture doesn’t reinforce frugal behavior instead of spendthrift behavior!

  10. I’m shocked people would ask you that! How rude!

    It’s funny how people automatically think that you’re spending less for a reason… not just because you’d rather save the money.

    1. Great observation! I didn’t look at it from this angle, but you are right. People always assume that something happened if you stopped going out.

  11. I think that part of it may be that you have had a chance in behavior, and that’s driving the questions. I’ve always brought my lunch (most of the time) so when I do go out with co-workers, it’s like I’m doing them a favor! You, if you’ve always gone out with them, are now snubbing them. It’s all about perceptions. I find it useful to have an excuse. Why not be saving for a big trip or trying to loose weight? Easy enough, and keeps the office politics on your side.

    1. I thought about it! I did use to go out much more than I am doing now, so yes, it is a change in behavior.

  12. Its true that surprisingly enough, I do not miss the fancy lattes that I used to drink at least twice a week. Love this post.

  13. When I first started working I went out to lunch pretty much every day. It was a group thing we all did but it expensive. As I’ve gotten older, started a family, and bought a house I’ve learned there are a lot more important things to do with my money.

    I honestly don’t think many people realize how much money they are spending by going out to lunch every day and how much they could earn if they invested that money instead.

  14. I don’t think you have to explain yourself to people. Just because you want to save a little money doesn’t mean you are anti-social. Maybe you can even set an example for your friends of how to save money without sacrificing a social life. haha

    1. True. However, socializing at work and socializing with friends is different. For some reason perceive saving money as being anti-social. It is quite odd. You still can talk and we still can discuss stuff. We don’t have to spend money while doing it, right?

  15. Yeah, I’ve definitely used the excuse “I can’t afford that” to get out of certain social situations that didn’t fit my priority list or lifestyle. I realized it was just an excuse, though – and have tried to be more honest with people.

  16. I have a sister in law that can’t help herself to ask people inappropriate questions. Literally, the second she sees something, she asks how much it costs. She even does it to strangers.

    Regarding going out to work with colleagues, I tend to avoid it unless it is someplace fast and cheap. Some people are in no hurry to get back to work and be productive. A big lunch like that usually saps my productivity for the day.

    I’ve found that after the first few times you say no, they tend to stop asking. So, it gets easier to say no.

  17. I completely understand what you mean. My close circle of friends do the same thing if I choose not to go out four nights a week.

  18. That is quite annoying.

    I have to admit that I don’t like spending $10 on cocktails, and am not a big drinker anyway, hence I tend to pass on the drinking shindigs every so often or come late.

  19. You definitely don’t need to defend yourself to anyone, not even your mother if you don’t want to :). I also agree with Shawanda, I rarely want to hang out with the people going out for lunch. And paying for it too!

  20. I’ve been having the same problem with my new job. I work in Salt Lake as well and all my coworkers want to go out to lunch all the time. I just graduated college and my starting salary sucks, but I don’t want to explain that to everybody. They get offended when I politely decline these invitations and ask me why I won’t come to lunch. I can either live frugal and live independant, or I can go out to eat all the time and sign up for welfare. Just let me be responsable in privacy!

    1. I vote for frugal and independent. 🙂 It took me some time but now I feel just fine to say that I will skip lunch, or I don’t feel like going out. Give it time. It will get better.

  21. Pingback: Military Personal Finance Roundup: May 7–11

Comments are closed.