There are dozens, if not hundreds, of smart frugal habits. It’s worth it to study what others are doing as well as to come up with your own ways of saving money. However, it’s also important to remember that not every tip is right for you. There are some senseless frugal habits that aren’t worth your time or energy. Here are five of the most common senseless frugal habits:
1. Always Valuing Money Over Time
For example, you need to get to an airport that’s about half hour’s drive away. It would cost you $25 in an Uber. Alternatively, you could spend less than $10 to get there with public transportation. However, it would take you three hours to get there if you went that route. Do you save the $15 or do you save the 2.5 hours?
This depends on several factors. If you’re so financially strapped that $15 makes a huge difference in your budget, then you might opt for that route. It would be a good frugal choice. However, if you have the $15, you might do better to use the time instead. You could spend two hours working and earning money before you get into that Lyft. If that’s an option for you then choosing the public transit route could be one of your senseless frugal habits.
Always weigh the value of both your time and your money before you make a decision about spending.
2. Coupon Clipping
Some say coupon clipping is of the most common frugal habits that wastes time. This one is debatable. However, Mental Floss makes a good argument that coupon clipping might have become one of your senseless frugal habits. Extreme coupons can save a lot of money through coupon clipping. However, it takes a whole lot of time and effort.
And all too often, you end up with a huge stockpile of extra items in your house that will take you months or years to use up. If you’re spending money on more than you need to get the coupon price, then you might be wasting money. If you’re spending hours looking for the perfect coupon, then you might be wasting time.
That said, there are a lot of smart, easy coupon hacks that you can easily implement. For example, use Honey when shopping online to get the best price. Or use GoodRX to get the best coupon when buying prescription meds. There are coupons that are worth your time and effort. Just be smart about it. Don’t clip all coupons every day just out of habit.
3. Going Out Of Your Way For Gas
This is another one on the Mental Floss list. I wholeheartedly agree with this one. Now, to be fair, I’ve also been car-free for 15+ years. But in the twenty-odd years when I did own a car, I never understood this one at all. Yes, gas prices can get really high sometimes. But the difference is literally pennies. To drive across town and sit in line to get that slightly cheaper rate just doesn’t make a lot of sense. It rarely saves you much money at all. Sometimes it costs you money in the form of the gas to get there! While there are a few exceptions – finding an amazing gas station near to your home or work that offers truly lower prices – for the most part this one falls under senseless frugal habits.
4. Buying Cheap Items
The item that costs the least in the store often isn’t the one that costs the least in the long run. For example, if you buy a really cheap vacuum cleaner, then you might quickly come to regret it. It doesn’t work well. Cleaning with it is a hassle. It breaks quickly. Then you have to spend more money to replace it.
There are certain items that you can buy cheap. Additionally, there are items that you can buy secondhand that are still great quality because they were durable to begin with. However, if you need an item that’s going to last you a long time, it’s it’s senseless to immediately go for the cheapest one.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to buy the most expensive item either. Instead, do your research. Balance cost and quality.
5. Scrimping Then Splurging
Many people scrimp and save on every single thing in their lives. They buy the cheapest of everything. They never treat themselves to anything nice. In fact, they so pride themselves on being frugal that saving money becomes an obsession. But what often happens is that eventually they need a release valve. So they end up exploding with a big splurge. They end up spending more money on that big splurge than anything they saved up until that point.
There are smart ways to plan for indulgences. Incorporate unplanned treats into your budget. Then stick within your budget when you feel that urge to splurge. Focus on saving daily where it matters, yet. Look for the best deals on big ticket items, yet. However, don’t count pennies so tightly that you find your wallet eager to explode on something you probably didn’t want that badly in the first place.
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