Extreme Frugality: “When Too Little Is Too Much” Edition

by Shawanda Greene

There are no solutions…there are only trade-offs. ~ Thomas Sowell

Lately, it seems people judge misers as harshly as spendthrifts. Since I lean toward the far frugal wing of the spending spectrum, I’m often challenged by others for my extreme tactics of building wealth. You know – stuff like delaying gratification, refusing to make excuses, and sacrificing a few luxuries.

About a month or so ago, I began renting out my bedroom to travelers on Airbnb. In the last 30 days, I’ve made over $1,300 from it. Naturally, I want to tell others how they too can earn extra cash using a resource many already have, a home. Actually, I rent a one-bedroom apartment, but that’s neither here nor there.

Of the 10 people I’ve told about this great way to subsidize your housing costs without the government’s grubby little paws in your personal affairs, only two support the idea. Everyone else is wholly against it. They’re afraid they might get stabbed. They don’t wanna share a bathroom. They can’t be inconvenienced.

I figure the main reason they won’t do it is because they’re house is filthy, nasty and unfit for discerning non-relatives to sleep in. Hehehe. I’m just kidding.

To be fair, I can acknowledge that we all have our breaking points when it comes to frugality. I’m fine with sharing my living space, but there are some bridges even I won’t cross.

For instance, a while back I told my mom I could no longer visit her during the summers because her house was too hot. I’m all for conserving electricity, but I’m not about to be caught up in some stuffy, hot house for nobody, nothing and no amount of savings. I’m just too miserable under the oppression of extreme temperatures.

On the other hand, I can strongly relate to the woman in the video who rents a $700 a month, 90 sq ft apartment near Central Park in New York City. That’s awesome. So what if you can rent 10 times as much space in Dallas, Texas for the same price. Who cares? It’s Texas. Well, that’s my attitude at least, but then again, I’m drawn to bright lights in big cities.

Your values may lie in a slower paced, more family oriented city. You may desire space to the point you’re willing to buy so much of it you can’t afford to cool it. It’s not for me, but as noted previously, we all have our limits.

What have you given up in the name of frugality that makes people think you’re nuts?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

kim April 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Good for you just be careful. We too are going to rent out a room to a college student as soon as our youngest leaves next fall. This house is too big, but almost paid for. Oh to burn the mortgage. I will fly you out when that happens! My business is to well established to move and I operate out of my basement. I wish there was a way we could take advantage of what you are doing.


TheyCallMeCheap April 15, 2011 at 4:51 AM

Your house is almost paid for?! You're in an enviable position.

A friend of mine rents out 3 rooms and a basement in his house. The good thing about that is he generates a more steady stream of income and knows the people he's living with better. The bad thing is that they're always there. If I lived in a house with multiple bedrooms, I'd opt for this method. But I am looking forward to taking a few days off where there is me and only me in my apartment.


Tia April 16, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Hot Momma House


Shawanda's fan April 19, 2011 at 11:46 AM

We have a roommate in our 3-bed 1-bath house. He's an old friend and needed a place to stay after a breakup, and we needed money. He's a bartender, so he comes home in the middle of the night and sleeps until after noon most days. I hardly notice he's here, except for the beard shavings — which I clean up with patience, grace and cash in my wallet. It's totally worth the money.


Donna Freedman April 27, 2011 at 10:47 PM

I've given up my car. The only reason I kept it was so that my daughter, who has a chronic health condition, could have reliable transport. (She and her husband lived in the same apartment building as I do.) When they decided to move to Phoenix and were going to look for a used car, I thought to myself, "What do I need a car for if they're not here?" So I gave it to them, with the suggestion that they remember this when they're picking out my nursing home. ;-)
I was able to make that decision because everything I need — library, supermarket, post office, bank, drugstore — is within approximately 1.3 miles from where I live. If I want something that's farther away, there's plenty of buses.
Honestly? I *love* the car-free life. No worries about where the vehicle is parked, whether somebody is vandalizing it, or what that funny noise under the hood might be. I don't need to insure it or fill the tank.
This wouldn't work for everyone, but it's working out well for me.


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