Being frugal is a terrific way to save money. Unfortunately, not all attempts at frugality pay off. Worse yet, they end up costing you more than they’re worth. In an online forum, commenters shared frugal tips that aren’t worth it. Here are 11 of their top suggestions.
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1. Growing Your Food
Everyone knows the frugal person who swears that growing their own food has saved them thousands of dollars annually. However, most people realize this isn’t the case — the associated costs add up. “I always expect growing my food to be more frugal than it is,” admits one woman.
“It can be frugal, but if you’re buying soil and fertilizer, in your specific case, it probably isn’t. I enjoy doing it and don’t let the costs get out of hand, but I tend to spend more than I plan at the start of the season.”
2. Doing Your Own Oil Changes
DIY is something many cheapskates do to save money. Some times it’s great, and other times it’s not. Doing your own oil changes is one example.
It can take nearly an hour to do yourself, not to mention that you have to dispose of the oil yourself. It may save you a few dollars, but it’s not worth the effort.
3. Counting on Amazon
There was a time when Amazon undercut all of its competitors, setting itself up as the online superstore it is today.
Now that Amazon has a firm grip over most e-commerce, their prices have slowly increased over the years. So stop counting on Amazon – you can find better deals elsewhere. If you shop on the site, look for ways to earn free Amazon gift cards to lower your total spending.
4. Driving Out of the Way to Save Money on Gas
Buying gas is an expensive endeavor for most people. It would make sense to drive around to find the cheapest gas available, correct?
Wrong. Doing this often wastes time and gas. Instead, use a gas app to find the lowest-priced gas near you and use your time on something else.
5. Cheap Bedding and Towels
Thanks to enticing product descriptions, many people find the deal of the century when they order cheap bedding and towels from online retailers.
Unfortunately, these seemingly innocuous positive product reviews hide the truth: These products are subpar. You’ll have to pay up if you want good sheets and bedding.
6. Shopping at Thrift Stores
Thanks to more deal-obsessed people succumbing to the trend of shopping at thrift stores, many people confess there aren’t as many good finds in 2023.
Like most businesses, inflation has hit thrift stores and second-hand shops — and as a result, it’s no longer a reliable place to find bargains.
7. Homemade Laundry Detergent
Not only is making your laundry detergent very labor-intensive, but many people can’t believe its effect on their clothes. Some people find out the hard way that nothing beats buying name-brand laundry detergent for convenience and effectiveness.
8. Using Milk Instead of Creamer
Frugal coffee addicts, listen up: If you’re trying to save money by using milk instead of creamer, it’s not worth it! “I thought I was saving money, but the amount of milk it takes to lighten my coffee the way I like it meant I was burning through milk like crazy,” admits one woman. “I went through nearly an entire gallon a week on coffee alone.”
9. Keeping Old Appliances
When it comes to being energy efficient, nothing beats modern-day appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. Yet, countless people have stubbornly kept their decades-old appliances, never realizing the sky-high energy costs of this decision.
10. Cutting the Cord on Cable
Cutting the cord on cable is a fantastic way to save money, until it’s not. If you leave your monthly subscription for five or six paid streaming services you’re going to sacrifice a lot of the savings you clawed back by ditching cable in the first place.
Instead, choose one service and watch the content you like, cancel it and move on to a different service. Combine that with using free streaming apps and an over-the-air antenna and you’ll net big savings.
11. Backyard Chickens
Do you like the idea of going out to your backyard and getting a few eggs? It may not be as thrifty as you might think.
“After making a coop, buying chicks, buying bedding, waterers, chicken food, starter food, fencing, heated water bowl, scratch grains, etc. I could have bought a lifetime supply of the best organic, free range, cruelty free chicken eggs from the local co-op. Not to mention poultry are very destructive to landscaping. I do enjoy them, but I continue to invest time and money,” says one person.
Unless you like the activity of raising chickens, it’s often more affordable to buy them elsewhere.
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This thread inspired this post.
I’m John Schmoll, a former stockbroker, MBA-grad, published finance writer, and founder of Frugal Rules.
As a veteran of the financial services industry, I’ve worked as a mutual fund administrator, banker, and stockbroker and was Series 7 and 63-licensed, but I left all that behind in 2012 to help people learn how to manage their money.
My goal is to help you gain the knowledge you need to become financially independent with personally-tested financial tools and money-saving solutions.