What makes someone miserly?

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Jun 9, 2005
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Vermont
I have a friend who is the definition of “miser” and it’s getting worse as we get older. It wasn’t more than something to occasionally kid about when times were 25 years ago, but he continues to live this way.

In my opinion he has crossed the line from making wise investments and saving up money, into some sort of psychosis.

We are getting older and I feel his love of making money is preventing him from living life as it’s meant to be. I’m not saying anyone should be materialistic, but this situation is over the top.

Then again maybe I’m wrong!

He will burn himself out physically working all of the overtime that he can, and then complain that he has no time to date women.

He will stand in a grocery store and analyze the square footage of the two cheapest brands of paper towels to find the best deal. I’ve witnessed this.

He drives hand-me-down econoboxes that his elderly parents give him when they upgrade. He’s always done this. The cars are maintained barely within inspection standards. He’s one of those people who will beg the mechanic to do every job as cheap as possible. Anything to save a penny.

Yet he has money in the bank and invested. Lots and lots of it. He will suddenly take out his phone during dinner and frantically check his bank account and panic when his “measly” $3M— or whatever ridiculous amount is in his bank account— has only gained $16k in interest this month compared to $16200 last month.

What makes someone think like this? What is the motive behind it? At this point in life my friend shuts down all communication when I bring up the subject. Yet I want to do something to help him or at least make him listen to my perspective.
 
I have a friend who is the definition of “miser” and it’s getting worse as we get older. It wasn’t more than something to occasionally kid about when times were 25 years ago, but he continues to live this way.

In my opinion he has crossed the line from making wise investments and saving up money, into some sort of psychosis.

We are getting older and I feel his love of making money is preventing him from living life as it’s meant to be. I’m not saying anyone should be materialistic, but this situation is over the top.

Then again maybe I’m wrong!

He will burn himself out physically working all of the overtime that he can, and then complain that he has no time to date women.

He will stand in a grocery store and analyze the square footage of the two cheapest brands of paper towels to find the best deal. I’ve witnessed this.

He drives hand-me-down econoboxes that his elderly parents give him when they upgrade. He’s always done this. The cars are maintained barely within inspection standards. He’s one of those people who will beg the mechanic to do every job as cheap as possible. Anything to save a penny.

Yet he has money in the bank and invested. Lots and lots of it. He will suddenly take out his phone during dinner and frantically check his bank account and panic when his “measly” $3M— or whatever ridiculous amount is in his bank account— has only gained $16k in interest this month compared to $16200 last month.

What makes someone think like this? What is the motive behind it? At this point in life my friend shuts down all communication when I bring up the subject. Yet I want to do something to help him or at least make him listen to my perspective.
Fear of poverty, hunger or homelessness. My parents are what I would call 'comfortable'. They have no bills, and quite a chuck of change in the bank, but my mother will squeeze the blood from a penny. She has actually vocalized her concerns over having enough money to last until they die. I guess that's how you get rich...you never spend it. A trick I never learned. I for one prefer not to live in squalor with a POS car and a falling down house so I can have a huge bank account at my death. I don't know how people end up the opposite of me, but there are PLENTY of them around.
 
Good question. I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered someone that bad before. I have seen a lot of frugality as a way of life, and sometimes it seems almost to be a game or a decision that impacts willingness to do other things. Like it’s more pleasurable to save money than to do other things. But different folks get different pleasure or benefit out of different things too… not everybody wants to travel, or eat out, or spend money on this or that. Certain things are little more than folly regardless, when one looks at it objectively vs. emotionally….

To a significant extent it is better to do without, exist with less, and certainly live below one’s means and save/invest. Not everyone can do it to the same level. But like everything, there’s a happy medium.
 
You’re a good friend to be concerned however your friend is doing the right thing for himself. It hasn’t killed him or put him in the nut house “yet”. He’s alright in my book have you learned any from his savings - investment strategies?
 
I knew a guy like that a long time ago, the guy would turn a penny over ten times before spending it. No idea what makes someone this way.
 
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He will stand in a grocery store and analyze the square footage of the two cheapest brands of paper towels to find the best deal. I’ve witnessed this.
Doesn't everybody do this? How about clipping coupons and planning routes to encompass different stops along the way? I probably make this guy look like a drunken sailor on shore leave.
 
Money makes some people crazy.

Some want to spend every penny they have, others don’t want to spend it.

I can understand if someone grew up in poverty and try not to spend money because they lived thought times when they were younger, depression era folks.
 
My thinking is that being miserly is the extreme of frugality Being miserly incorporates greed into the equation. Being frugal can be more like smart spending. I tend to think of myself as being frugal but I don’t count my money every night like Scrooge. He was a miser.
 
Fear drives some to this but to others its a game or a hobby. You collect stamps he collects money. As long as he is not hurting himself or others its not a problem. As long as he is not one of those people that have a ton of money and always sticks you with the bar tab. By the way I also figure out the best deal on paper towels by the sqft and refuse to pay for cable or sat TV even though I only get 4 stations here, I hate recurring monthly bills for nonessentials.
 
I have a friend who is the definition of “miser” and it’s getting worse as we get older. It wasn’t more than something to occasionally kid about when times were 25 years ago, but he continues to live this way.

In my opinion he has crossed the line from making wise investments and saving up money, into some sort of psychosis.

We are getting older and I feel his love of making money is preventing him from living life as it’s meant to be. I’m not saying anyone should be materialistic, but this situation is over the top.

Then again maybe I’m wrong!

He will burn himself out physically working all of the overtime that he can, and then complain that he has no time to date women.

He will stand in a grocery store and analyze the square footage of the two cheapest brands of paper towels to find the best deal. I’ve witnessed this.

He drives hand-me-down econoboxes that his elderly parents give him when they upgrade. He’s always done this. The cars are maintained barely within inspection standards. He’s one of those people who will beg the mechanic to do every job as cheap as possible. Anything to save a penny.

Yet he has money in the bank and invested. Lots and lots of it. He will suddenly take out his phone during dinner and frantically check his bank account and panic when his “measly” $3M— or whatever ridiculous amount is in his bank account— has only gained $16k in interest this month compared to $16200 last month.

What makes someone think like this? What is the motive behind it? At this point in life my friend shuts down all communication when I bring up the subject. Yet I want to do something to help him or at least make him listen to my perspective.
Haha sounds exactly like my best friend!
 
If he is a Miser, is he related to these guys?



I agree with the calculating for the best deal for things such as paper towels, trashbags, laundry detergent, ect to allow me to save a small bit and put that money to use elsewhere
 
I've come across customers like this, One even thought Antifreeze was a ripoff & wanted me to pour windshield washer fluid into his cooling system!
If people want to be weird.....That's fine....But I don't have to a participant in the madness.

It's even worse in a social setting....Just straight tell him that you can't hang out anymore.
 
It's fine to want to save your money, hey! it's your money.. (or your friends, in this case)..

But reminds me of the saying "You can't take it with you.. (when you die)" I agree in value but some penny savings can border on unsafe, that's where I draw the line..
 
If he doesn't date women he doesn't need to work so much OT in the first place. Maybe he's got too many ex's and kids? You won't be able to help him.
 
Sounds like the balance of life is lost on your friend. Life is to be lived. Many end up living to work and that can be a-ok if it's what you truly want. I prefer working to live.
 
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