I know I talk a lot on here about saving money. Yes, part of that is being “frugal,” but I honestly hate that term. It’s not sexy (and never will be), and a lot of people associate it with being cheap. I know “frugal” doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap,” and I’m not interested in turning this post into a debate on the difference. While I would consider myself to be a frugal person, there are some frugal things that I think suck and I refuse to do them. Here’s my top 8:
1. Excessively reusing things. This post about frugal food storage made me sick to my stomach. I get what the author is saying here, but I don’t think this has much significance in terms of where you’re really saving money. I think it’s simply a waste of time to spend so much time thinking about Tupperware (just like it was a waste of time for me to read that post to begin with). My Tupperware strategy is simple: I spend maybe $10 a year on resuable containers that are durable, clean, and suit just about all my needs. End of Tupperware discussion. Apply the same logic to reusing other things and decide if it’s really worth it.
2. Clipping coupons. While I have to admit that I haven’t extensively investigated what I could actually save with coupons, I’m not really interested. First off, I have no desire to search websites or newspapers for coupons and printing them out and all that. Secondly, I like to eat whatever I want. Being a pescaterian, I’m a bit of a picky eater. I’m also a bit of a health nut, so I’m simply not willing to compromise on what I eat just to save a buck.
3. Buying in bulk. This is one tip that I hear all the time and have tried using, but I’ve never been satisfied with the results. I’ve always wasted more food than gained in savings, negating the whole purpose of this strategy. Aside from eating at that food in time, where the hell am I supposed to store it all? I just find buying in bulk to be more of a hassle than the effort it’s worth.
4. Sacrificing on things I love. When I truly love something, I’m going to buy it. I love a great craft beer (just like some enjoy fine wines). I know if I wanted just any beer, I could drink PBR for a fraction of the price of my local microbrewed goodness. But I don’t just like drinking beer, I like drinking the best. Instead of spending $5 on a six-pack of PRB, I’m going to drop $11 on Abito Turbodog or Shipyard Export til the day I die.
5. DIY projects just to save money. I really enjoy Instructables. There are many creative ideas to DIY just about anything you can think of. While I think DIY is great when it’s something fun or rewarding, I’m not going to make things just to save a few dollars. I built this laptop stand myself. Since I didn’t have the materials handy, I had to go out and by them. Two hours and $12 later, I had myself a flimsy stand for my laptop. Fail! Maybe I just suck at DIY sometimes, but I’m pretty sure I could’ve just bought this stand online and saved myself a a bunch of effort.
6. Always choosing the cheapest possible option. Simply put, I think you often get what you pay for. I’ve bought cookie sheets for $1 before. While they worked, the poor quality was evident and I had to replace them soon after. I’m not saying the fanciest and most expensive options are best either (I think the quality is often overstated compared to the price) Choosing the best value, which is often in the middle of the price spectrum, makes the most sense. You can get decent quality and reliability, and you may save money in the long run with this plan.
7. Cutting back on vacations. If there’s a place I went to spend my money, it’s on a trip in an exotic location. This is why I save money to begin with: so I can enjoy spending it! Vacationing in Spain, I was glad to pay to taste new foods and visit different sites. I don’t enjoy tourist-trap money pit-type things, but I’ll pay for any experience that’s worthwhile.
8. Saving like crazy instead of earning more. You can only cut back so much before your quality of life really begins to suck. I could save a lot by not owning a car, never going out to bars, and never traveling, but what’s the point of living if that’s the case? Instead of focusing on always cutting back, put your energy into increasing cash flow.
Bonus: Tracking my spending. Yes, I know that I’m promoting it over here. But it’s something I find annoying, at least in the current form that I’m doing it (maybe I need to give Mint another shot). Despite my disdain, I’ll keep tracking since I know it’s important to keep my finances in check.
What you and I really need is to go for the big wins – decisions and behavior changes that impact big chunks of money over our lifetime (like Ramit points out in this post about frugality). More on that in this post about “big wins.”
Are there some frugal ideas out there that you hate, too? Let everyone know in the comments.
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photo by: jazzgumpy (with text added by me)