4 Times Being Too Frugal Can Cost You in the Long Run
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These days, I’d like to think I’m pretty good at being frugal. I no longer panic at the thought of a financial emergency, I’m no longer indebted to a bank and I blog here every week about my attempts at frugality. However, there are times that I’ve been too frugal and taken my frugality loving ways a little too far, even for my (second-hand clothes loving) tastes.
I’ve never been downright cheap (like not tipping a waitress, even if the service was poor), but sometimes I’ve realized that being too frugal is not paying off like I’d hoped and I’ve ended up spending more than I’ve saved. Apparently you can be too frugal. Here are four times being too frugal can cost you in the long run.
#1 Avoiding the Dentist or Doctor
After I left my job two years ago, I lost some pretty sweet benefits, such as a great health insurance policy for my whole family and a pretty decent dental plan. I’m not going to lie, losing those benefits to become self-employed really stung. Because my husband’s employer doesn’t offer affordable family insurance plans, I’m stuck with a very expensive lackluster health insurance policy and no dental insurance.
Without a dental plan, I told myself that I would simply pay out-of-pocket for biannual cleanings and move on…except that I didn’t, and two years later, I continued to put off going to the dentist. Here’s what happens when you put off going to the dentist for too long: you end up with more expensive work that needs to be done, work that could’ve been prevented had you just followed through and continued with your regular appointments like you should have. *sigh*
Although my experience was in avoiding my dentist, the same idea goes for going to the doctor. We all think we’ll be okay, but don’t forgo those annual doctor’s appointments, even if you have lousy insurance like I do, because the upfront cost will be cheaper than the long-term damage you could cause for yourself.
#2 Being too frugal with your Food
I’ve blogged more than once about how to save money at the grocery store, and it’s a pretty common topic in the personal finance world, but I’ve decided it’s not a good area to scrimp on groceries. Quality, unprocessed, organic foods provide more than just daily sustenance.
Eating well saves us money from future healthcare bills and encourages us to make other smart choices in our lives, such as exercising more, drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking. Live “too frugal” when it comes to your food and you could be hurting yourself and your family in the long run. When we make healthier choices with our food, we are bound to make healthier choices in other aspects of our lives, too.
#3 Being a Slave to Sales
There’s a reason I got off the Groupon mailing list a few years ago. It made me obsessed with feeling like I was getting a good deal, and instead of saving money like I thought I was doing, I spent more money because of it.
If you don’t need something, whether it’s a cheap pair of boots or a case of green beans at Costco, then it’s not a good deal no matter how cheap it is. This realization caused me to look at sales in a completely different light because they are mostly marketing ploys. (How many of us have bought something just because it was “a good deal,” regardless of whether we needed it or not? They know we can’t help ourselves.)
If you’re lured into your favorite store by a sale sign or are obsessed with finding a “good deal,” you’re absolutely going to spend more money in the long run.
#4 Stockpiling Like a Duggar, When You’re Not a Duggar
Although the memory often makes me cringe, when I was pregnant with my daughter five years ago, someone told me to start stockpiling diapers ASAP because newborns go through them like crazy. I took the advice to heart and bought a box of diapers every time I received a coupon for them (which was once a week at least.)
By the time my baby was born, I had an embarrassingly large stockpile of about 15 boxes of diapers in my room (probably enough to diaper sextuplets if I’d had them, but alas, I only had one.) Because I bought too many of the smaller sizes, she outgrew them before we could use them up. Luckily, my husband was able to sell the whole lot to a new mom at his office, but for less than half of what I paid for them. #FrugalFail
Stockpiling goods from big box stores in amounts that you’ll never be able to use up in a timely manner is not only wasteful but expensive. Unless your last name is Duggar, you can probably forgo that Costco membership completely.
Unfortunately, there are times when being too frugal can do more harm than good. If you get obsessed with trying to be too frugal in every aspect of your budget, you might end up sacrificing something bigger along the way, like your health or your retirement planning or college savings.
Instead, determine the aspects of your budget that are worth spending more money on, and reap the benefits of frugality by saving on the less important areas in your budget. If you aren’t sure how to evaluate your budget or want help tracking your expenses and identifying opportunities for shifting around your spending, an online tool like Personal Capital can help you get there faster and easier.
Do you have an area of your budget that you like to spend more money on? What is worth a splurge to you? Have you ever had an incident of a #FrugalFail?