Is Your Frugality Actually Costing You?

One of the results of the recent recession has been a renewed interest in frugality. We all seem to want to know how to save money. However, sometimes being frugal can be costly in the long run. As you make an effort to be frugal, it’s important not to let the desire to save money in the short run cost you bigger in the long run. Here are some ways that you can be frugal to a fault:

Sacrificing Quality

For some things, it really doesn’t matter if you get a low-quality product. However, in some cases, saving a few bucks and sacrificing quality can add up to big losses. My husband’s shoes are a good example. We spend about $100 on his casual, everyday shoes. In an effort to save money once, we bought some lower-quality shoes for $45. In six months, those $45 shoes were worn out from all the walking he does. His $100 shoes last at least 18 months (and sometimes two years). If we spent $45 for cheaper shoes every six months, in 18 months we would have spent $135 — instead of $100 for better shoes.

Consider whether or not your penchant for cheap goods is actually costing you. If you find you are buying the same things over and over again, it might be time to spend a little more up front to save money down the road.

DIY Nightmare

You can save a great deal of money doing some things on your own. However, some projects ought not be attempted by the budding DIY-er. If you are trying to save money by working on something major, you could actually end up costing yourself a great deal. What if you mess it up? In some cases, you could mess up something serious, and then have to pay for it to be fixed. Fixing a botched project can be way more expensive than paying a professional in the first place. Know your limitations, and understand when a project is simply beyond you.

Skimping on Maintenance

There are some basic maintenance items that need to be taken care of if you want your home, car and body to last a little bit longer. Take care of home maintenance issues sooner in order to avoid paying more later when minor problems become big messes. The same is true of taking care of your car. Following regular maintenance schedules, such as changing fluids regularly, can help ensure that your car runs better, and that you spend less in the long run as major systems break down.

Finally, don’t forget regular maintenance on your body. A yearly physical is one way to catch health problems early — before they balloon into disasters. Take care of your teeth, and make regular visits to the dentist. My husband ended up with more than $1,500 worth of work on his teeth after avoiding the dentist for seven years. He could have had problems caught sooner, and the fixes would have been less expensive, if he had gone in for regular maintenance on his teeth.

Using Coupons as an Excuse to Buy Something

While coupons can be great money savers, sometimes they are just an excuse to buy something. Sure, I can save $1.50 on a $4.50 tube of new, expensive toothpaste. But if I stick with my regular brand, I’m only paying $2.50 a tube. If I use that coupon to get the more expensive toothpaste, I’m actually spending $3.00 — that’s $0.50 more! Instead of using coupons just to use coupons, have a plan. Make your shopping list, and then find coupons that match what you would buy anyway.

What other ways can frugality cost you in the long run?

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Date published: May 9, 2011.

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Miranda is a journalistically trained freelance writer and professional blogger working from home. She is a contributor for, Personal Dividends and several other sites.


  1. says

    You pay for toothpaste? CVS and Riteaid run $1 sales all the time and the Sunday paper has $1 coupons almost every week. On a good week, CVS will give extrabucks back for 100% the cost, and I’ll walk in with coupons. I like when they they pay me $2 to walk off with two tubes of the stuff.

  2. says

    I’m with Joe, use CVS to stop paying for toothpaste. I use coupons and EB and we have not paid more than tax for toothpaste in two years.

  3. says

    His $100 shoes last at least 18 months (and sometimes two years).

    Don’t forget that if you get really well-made, high-quality shoes, it will be worth it to pay to have them re-soled every few years. Re-soling is under $100.

  4. Rachel says

    Your thoughts on couponing are the same as mine. If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. Period. Just because you have a coupon for something doesn’t mean you have to buy it. It doesn’t matter if you can get it for $0.50 when it’s normally $3.00. That’s still $0.50 you spent on something that you didn’t need. When you start adding up all the money you spent just to save you aren’t saving anything. I use coupons for the things I need and on products/brands I’ll use. I don’t compromise on quality just to save a few cents. When was the last time anyone needed 500 rolls of toilet paper or 150 tubes of toothpaste?! Couponing has gotten out of control for some people and, in my opinion, is just an organized form of hoarding.

  5. says

    I guess if you have a house full of storage space where you can store 120 rolls of toilet paper, many tubes of paste, etc….the bulk buying w/coupons would help.

    I personally save money by making more things from scratch…it’s amazingly cheaper. You can cook some bulk items and freeze them in smaller packages as an example til you need them for a recipe.

    Also if you have kids, find a cousin or niece/nephew where you can recycle clothes. My kids were all in designer stuff that their nephew had…he had them for such a short time, the duds looked new on my kid. Then do the same and pass things down to another family member, cause that’s the right thing to do.

    I just bought an almost mint condition Iphone 3 from a soldier who can’t wait to get the 4, so he let his old one go for well under $200…what a deal for me! I found it by knowing a new model had come out and letting acquaintances and coworkers of my DH know that I had immediate CASH to pay for their old iphone….to me, with the speed of technology, it is worth it to get used electronics…even got a nice Bluray player the same way for under $50.

    Network, share and barter is the wave of the future…you can also trade services. I’ll do your taxes if you clean out my roof gutters…no money needs to change hands. Be creative, and you’ll find something!

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