In Praise of Frugal Men (and Frogs)


Credit: Raphael Tuck & Sons
(Public Domain)

Once upon a time I kissed a frog --a "frugal frog" to be exact-- and after puckering up with that croaker I never looked back. Frugalfrog lives in a lovely half-gambrel Cape Cod in a pokey New England town. Across the road lies a wetland area and at night the frog song can be deafening, especially in springtime when the peepers are strutting their stuff.

My regular readers know I am at present a city girl but that I frequently hop out to Frugalfrog's pad for a little countryside r&r and --oh okay, I'm sure you already have surmised my boyfriend isn't actually a frog but if people really do have spirit animals then you can bet his hops and catches flies! He has loved frogs and other amphibians since he was a kid, protecting their habitats from pollution is an important cause to him, and more than once we have left a restaurant after seeing grenouille on the menu. Therefore he is perfectly delighted to have frogs for neighbors. He is also a very fiscally-conscious, frugal fellow ...so Voilà! for all froggy intents and bloggy purposes today I dub him Frugalfrog. And frugality is what I'm here to talk about: specifically, frugality in men and the dating game.

Basically, I have observed that men get a bad rap for being careful with money and that they experience, at least on the heterosexual dating market, a lot of pressure to be a big earner AND spender. It is also fair to say that there's a lot of women out there that need to grow up and quit treating potential suitors as ATMs. Yup, I said it. Now maybe I witness so much distasteful gold-digging behavior because I live in a relatively affluent metro area but when I look at the rise of such websites as sugardaddie.com and news reports like this Lisa Ling program I have to wonder if this isn't indicative of broader societal problems, namely an unhealthy obsession with materialism and the devaluation of men.

The perils of the dating game!
Photo: German Postage Stamp

This post has been percolating in my brain for months, actually. It all started one night this past winter when I was out at a restaurant with Frugalfrog. There were two twenty-something Kardashian clones seated at the table behind me and I overheard one cavalierly describe how she was "making" her boyfriend buy her a $900 purse. Ugh! The sickening thing is I hear stuff like that fairly often. It seems like for every one woman I know fighting the good fight for equal pay and treatment, I see two handbag hussies like the girl at the restaurant. Frugalfrog has also clued me in on how hard it is for the single fellow; he's a catch on many fronts, and cute as can be, but over the years he's also encountered his fair share of women just after money or who were merely "date-for-dinner" girls. He's also heard some rather outrageous stories from other men. One acquaintance of Frugalfrog's told him about a girl he had arranged to meet for drinks. When he suggested they go to dinner too, the girl told the guy, "Oh no, I have a date before that and I'll have him buy me dinner." Goodness, women used to be more circumspect at least! Anyway, I wouldn't want to be a man. You always hear complaints that women's bodies are objectified. But I would argue men's wallets are objectified too!

So there you have it --men are constantly getting signals to fork over the cabbage and woe to the frugal man who doesn't want to put up with being someone's cash machine! But you know "frugal" is not the same as "stingy" or "cheap". The frugal man values what things are worth, and what money can do for one in life with an eye to long-term payoff. Unfortunately, that is not always how things are perceived in the dating game. I found a rather interesting 2010 article from Marie Claire called Is Frugality a Turnoff? The article cites several studies, including a survey by ING Direct where respondents associated dates described as frugal with the words "stingy" and "boring". Verdict? Frugal is a turn-off.


I beg of you, Marley, can't we at least go Dutch?!
Photo: Rex.


But interestingly the article also states that studies by dating site eHarmony find a greater number of long-term matches occur with people who are "savers" rather than "spenders" ...savers just like my dear Frugalfrog! Actually I think perhaps the frugalfrogs of the world might just be starting to get a little credit and that could be due in part to shifting attitudes about finances. Much has been written about how Millennials are more fiscally conservative than previous generations, but in my observation even older Gen X/Y adults are turned off by the credit excess and spendthrift ways of the Boomer/Me Generation and are modeling their financial lives more on their grandparents or great-grandparents' example. And online men are talking more freely about being thrifty than ever before: I think the title of the site Budgets are Sexy says it all. Frugality and financial responsibility can and should be considered prized characteristics in the alpha male.

So in summation, dear Frugalfrog, I praise you. You are generous yet prudent and I have learned a lot from your example. While you have spoiled me rotten at times you are also someone who I can revel in life's simple and free joys with: lazy days with the cat, impromptu picnics among the daisies. I respect all the hours and years of hard work you've put into being a solvent homeowner and, yes, while I will always turn the thermostat up when your back is turned I will never insist you buy me a $900 purse. And to all the frugalfrogs out there, keep fighting the good fight and don't kiss too many princesses.

Me and Frugalfrog: a couple of swells...

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