Friday, 19 July 2013

Frugal Living and Peniaphobia

Peniaphobia - a Fear of Poverty!

1. Broken piggy bank
Apologies to anyone reading this who may suffer from this condition, but many people are completely unaware of its existence.

The peniaphobia topic came up in the Frugaldom household this morning while discussing, of all things, horse racing. I house share with a sports-writing artist and he was putting together an article about tomorrow's Newbury race meeting. There's a horse entered into the Super Sprint at 3.50pm running under the name of 'Peniaphobia' and I found this most amusing. (You will appreciate the irony of this if you have followed the NYK challenges since the 90's and witnessed my outrageous racehorse challenge, which made it into the national press!)

Anyhow, I was wondering if it was some sort of omen and I'm sorely tempted to 'have a wee flutter'. The odds are currently 8/1, so an each-way isn't out of the question, if I can find a free bet anywhere! Please do NOT take this as any sort of tip, as I am just pointing out the name of a horse while thinking 'aloud', I am not suggesting anyone does anything more than simply read this blog post.
2. Racehorse
This strangely convoluted discussion mixing the 'Sport of Kings' with the kingdom of frugal living brought to my attention the possibility of frugalers suffering not only from an obsessive compulsive disorder of rounding up or down their figures when budgeting and saving, but also harbouring an irrational fear of abject poverty. Not only that, but I also began to wonder if these occurrences were learned behaviour, rather than irrational fears.

Since fully embracing 'frugaldom' and deciding to give all debts the heave-ho, I definitely found myself over paying regularly, rounding my debts down to the nearest whole pound, then £5, then it had to end with a zero and so on until the debt was cleared.

Debt freedom came with a little less of a bang than I had expected - I'd become accustomed to all the rounding down, over paying and seeing debts shrivel before my eyes, living on a tiny budget had become normal!

Happy to see my debts gone? Yes.

Ecstatic and celebrating? No!

I needed more of a challenge, so the focus switched to earning extra to build some savings. Pretty soon those saved pennies had to reach pounds, then fives, then tens and, before I knew it, I was obsessing about reaching the next hundred and then even the next thousand! At no point have I experienced any real fear of spending money, nor any fear of going broke or even of the money itself. After several years, I ended up blowing almost all of it on a share in a fixy-up property. But now that I come to think about it, the operative word here is 'almost'!
Once facts had sunk in about cash flow and my real cost of living was fully understood, I learned how easy it was to control my own budget - the wild spending mustang had been tamed. I had learned to be obsessive about pennies and pounds in the same way I had learned that being in debt was good for neither health nor happiness. I now have a very serious case of debt aversion, but tolerate a credit card for the purposes of earning cash back each year and having some form of guarantee in the online shopping stakes.

3. Keep your budget under control.
Thinking more about it, I can honestly say that I harbour no irrational fears of becoming penniless or poverty-stricken. I have raked the depths of my (some may say wacky) mind and cannot find any trace of such fear because I have taken control of my finances and have faith in my ability to live within my means. Wild horses wouldn't drag me back into debt! What's more, I can now spend money on things I want, rather than need, without having palpitations. I won't give debt the time of day and don't even buy a Lotto ticket nowadays, for fear of wasting a pound, but I still do my clicks and searches for points that get me a free Lotto entry most weeks.
(If I suddenly became a millionaire, I suspect a horse or two would appear somewhere along the way!)
Now I wonder if peniaphobia affects any of those who are following the frugal path or if, by following this path, they are staving off any such irrational fears of destitution. I wonder how others manage in far off lands, where starvation, sickness and malnutrition are real concerns. This is probably why I like being involved with Deki and why I am so looking forward to taking part in their Tenner Tournament. It is one small way of reminding myself that people who witness real poverty every day of their lives can derive so much from what, to us, is so little.

Peniaphobia - a fear of being penniless or a 2-year-old colt by Dandy Man running in the 3.50 at Newbury tomorrow. I wonder if there will ever be a horse named Chrometophobia (fear of money)?

Until next time,
Yours thought-provokingly,

1. Photo credit: kenteegardin / Foter / CC BY-SA
3. Photo credit: Eduardo Amorim / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


  1. I definately suffer from peniaphobia after being down to our last penny thanks to the DWP! On that day we had a repossession letter for our council house and Hubby collapsed . I phoned our housing manager and all our benefits had come through on the same day after 3 months of poverty. We went through it again last year, suddenly no income again. All this and coping with a disability resulting us losing 2 very good incomes and descending into debt. Never again will we get in this position, we have scraped every penny we can for an emergency fund and have a substantial pantry, I grow veg, de-hydrate food, make jam and bread. Foraging is a necessity not a hobby and I make everything I can for the home. We will not be defeated by these things as hubbys health and sanity is a priority but after an MRI scan today (second in 2 weeks) I think our biggest battle will be cancer and no amount of money can cure that.

    1. Oh no, Vixen, I'm so sorry to hear the MRI results weren't good. :(

      Balancing the whole health/wealth thing is something that seems impossible to control because we just don't know what's around the next corner. In that respect, I do tend to hold back on major spends because of a fear of placing any financial burden on my family, should anything drastic happen suddenly. It's the whole 'being prepared' thing - no mater how hard we try to be ready for it, something jumps up and bites us when we're least expecting it!

      Sending you all the best wishes I can.

  2. Update on the day's events - Peniaphobia romped home and won with ease!

  3. After telling my son all about this post he put a £1 bet on for me - he does charity sweepstakes for his staff and has an account, so we got £9 profit. He is regularly amazed by my friends online when I tell him all about what you get upto and he supports me in whatever I do. He actually bought me my halogen oven last year and it must have saved me a fortune. So thanks for the post, dont think I will be betting any more often though as I know all to well from working at a dog track that its a mugs game. Hugs ginny

    1. Oh, how naughty are you! LOL But it is nice to get a bit of a thrilling win - did you watch the race on TV? I was too busy barbecuing. :)

  4. I was too busy running round after my little grandson lol Yes it was naughty but made mine and my sons day. He gave me my winnings in pound coins so they went straight into the kitty for my kindle. Daughter bought me an electronic cigarette for my birthday (next week) so thats the last of my habits beaten and lots more cash for my money box. Hope the weekend is being kind to you. Think you did well on the bar-b-que challenge, love approved foods!

    1. Good luck kicking the smoking habit, make sure you show yourself the savings you are making just as a reminder now and again that's it's really worth it for more ways than one.


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