Finding ways to save is top of mind for many individuals, especially with inflation high, interest rates rising and a potential recession looming. But sometimes the quest to be frugal can cost you more money than it saves.
“When you’re dipping your toes into trying to save money there’s a natural tendency to throw yourself into the deep end and go a little too far,” says Emily Irwin, senior director of advice and planning for Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management. “Initially you may have some frugal fails.”
Frugal fails are common, particularly among people just starting to embrace a savings mindset, but they are avoidable. There are easy ways to turn them into saving successes, even if you’ve committed the following seven faux pas.
1. “Cooking” instead of dining out
Food is a big part of household budgets so it makes sense to find ways to save in this category. A time-tested strategy is to cook more at home. Instead of going out to dinner or ordering takeout, people commit to cooking seven days a week, three meals a day. They hit the grocery store to stock up on everything they need to prepare home-cooked meals and save a fortune. It’s possible, but the problems arise when the food goes uncooked and eventually has to be tossed into the trash. All of a sudden the money you thought you were saving is wasted.
Do this instead: Know thyself couldn’t be truer when trying to save money by cooking. It’s a great idea, but will you really follow through? “Take a moment when you’re shopping and ask yourself: 'Can I really commit to this?'” says Trae Bodge, a shopping expert at TrueTrae.com. “You have to be realistic. Some of us are more realistic than others.”
2. Cutting maintenance corners
Skipping your dental cleaning or oil change may seem like ways to save a few bucks, but cutting corners could end up costing you a lot more down the road. That’s especially true if you have to replace the item or need a costly medical procedure as a result of skipping maintenance appointments and check ups.
Do this instead: “Make sure you are doing everything to proactively extend the life,” of the product or yourself, Irwin says. That means staying on top of maintenance appointments for your health and your expensive things. “If you live in the northern part of the country make sure the furnace gets an annual checkup, and if you live in the southern states make sure your AC unit is checked out,” she says.