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Know when frugality can cost you

By on February 25, 2010


During your quest for frugality, you can overdo it. Extreme frugal living that negatively impacts someone else is one way. But another way is when you get so consumed by saving that you actually waste money in the process. Have you ever had a frugal flop or had good intentions to save, but it ended up costing you?

Here are a few ways people think they’re saving, but actually aren’t.

SHOPPING SALES: You go through the sales fliers and see a grocery item is on sale. The store is in another city, and you drive without considering the time or gas it takes. It might end up costing you more than if you had passed on it or simply waited for a local sale. Do the math. If it’s worth it, remember that your savings will increase if you buy more than one item and add it to your stockpile. You’re not saving money if the ads or coupons entice you to buy items you wouldn’t normally buy or if you overbuy and can’t consume a product before it goes bad. One reader, D.D. from Missouri, adds: “Pay attention to prices. The stores around here advertise stuff in the flyer (paid placement) or with a big sign like it’s a sale item but then sell it at regular price, or it’s for a different size than you’re used to buying. Sometimes they put stuff on sale for a couple of cents off the regular price, which is no bargain.”

DELAYING MEDICAL CARE: You don’t seek medical attention because you don’t want to shell out money for the bill. Maybe you don’t have medical insurance, don’t want to miss time from work or it’s a bad week financially. Home remedies such as a warm compress, drinking cranberry juice or eating garlic cloves isn’t the way to go. Delaying medical attention can make health matters worse and cost you more money.

DIY FLOPS: Know your do-it-yourself limitations. Don’t invest in tools and supplies to fix anything that is far beyond the realm of your skill set, or on items that are truly past their usable life, or on projects that might not ever get done or won’t be done well enough. There comes a time when an item isn’t worth repairing or should be handled by a professional.

SUPPLIES: You might want to cook more at home, so you have new recipes to try. But maybe you don’t have everything you need on hand. Aim to cook meals that don’t include fancy ingredients, or learn to make do with modifications and substitutions. If you don’t have time for projects such as home canning or dehydrating, don’t get suckered into buying supplies that will collect dust. If you do have time, do your homework. Another reader, Polly from Pennsylvania, adds a tip: “We’ve been guilty of purchasing cheap appliances/goods because they were cheap, thinking we were saving money, only to have that item break or need repairs, and dying way before its time. We’ve learned to buy the very best we can afford and to research a product before purchasing. After we decide what model/product is the best for our price range and the price range just above it, we start bargain hunting for sales, price matching and looking for things like free delivery and installation. Often, we can get such a good deal that we can buy from the price range above because of sales promotions.”


photo by Mike Licht


  1. Forest

    2/25/2010 at 6:15 am

    I delayed dental treatment to save money and a cavity ended up becoming a root canal and a cap!!! Great advice, deal with these kind of things ASAP!…

    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Save Money On Printing =-.

  2. J.N. Urbanski

    2/28/2010 at 12:29 pm

    Regarding sales, the most important thing is to make sales work for you and not the other way around. This takes a lot of work. My mother used to go out shopping without fail every Saturday just to check the prices of goods. Most of the time, she wouldn’t buy anything. She would make a mental list of stuff she wanted and would only buy it at the lowest price. More important, she would know exactly when a store was putting it’s “old tat” on sale, meaning stores would offer subpar goods on sales – stuff they they had never sold before – just to entice people into their store.
    And for those who say: what about the gas she was using to buy nothing, my mother walked everywhere. This is something people just don’t do anymore.

  3. Tracy

    3/1/2010 at 11:31 am

    Living alone is especialy hard when bargin hunting for food. I also dont rely on pre-packaged stuff, cooking from scratch is important to me. I do look for sales on meat, but I usually wait until just after the sale. I find that meat is cheaper then with mark downs so the store can sell it. I always buy in bulk and then divide it into single servings, unless I plan a candle lit dinner with my beloved dog lol! Produce is always the hardest for me to use before it goes bad. I use carrots, celery and onions in my rice, soup, stew and even pasta dishes just to use it up. I dont use many paper products or cleaners. I have learned to go without or make my own.

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