Learning how to live frugally is not just about finding out what you should be doing. It is also about identifying and understanding the common frugal mistakes that you need to avoid. There are so many misconceptions about frugality that you need to take extra care about how you will implement it. Some people fail at being frugal because they think that it is all about deprivation and being cheap. That description, although common, is further from the truth about this type of lifestyle. When you know the typical frugal errors, you can identify what you are doing wrong with your life. That way, you can fully appreciate the benefits that this way of living can bring to you and your family.
Americans are known to be spenders so the concept of frugality was not reality for a lot of us. When the recession happened, we all began to pay attention to what frugal living was about. It was no longer something that we considered from afar. It was now a necessity for us to figure out if it is something that we can adapt to.
In a publication from PWC.com, it is revealed that frugal living has started to become a habit for a lot of Americans. The study is done by Booz & Company in the form of a survey that sought to define consumer spending in the country after the recession. The data from survey respondents revealed that more that close to 60% practiced frugality by cutting back on eating out. Being frugal on consumer electronics and clothing wrapped up the top three expenses that were reduced.
But while a lot of Americans have adapted into this lifestyle, you still have to be cautious of certain frugal mistakes that can cost you more than what you should be spending. If you think that frugal living has stopped being fun, then there may be something wrong with how you are implementing it in your life. Even if it has become a habit, that does not mean you are not bound to make mistakes every now and then. Sometimes, the more we practice something, the more we tend to exaggerate things.
Not only that, frugality does not mean you will not use credit. You can use credit – as long as it is within your budget and you can pay the debt off without any struggles.
5 ways that you can waste money by being frugal
Practicing frugal living is easy if you understand the full benefits that you will get out of it. Not only is it rewarding, it can also be a real eye opener when compared to kind of life you used to have.
But every now and then, you may want to check if you are committing some of the common frugal mistakes that may be eating more of your funds than it should. In most cases, it will seem like you are saving now but if you consider the long-term effects, the damage may be more than what you bargained for.
Here are five mistakes that you could be costing your frugal lifestyle.
Buying cheap and poor quality items. There are items that you can buy second hand like clothing, books, accessories and other decorative materials. However, there are purchases that you need to think clearly before you buy used. The same is true for new items that are cheap. Not everything that is low priced will save you money. In some cases, it might just cost you more in repairs or when the life of that product ends abruptly.
Using coupons. According to an infographic published on Brokepedia.com, the average yearly savings from couponing has reach $3.7 billion. Per couponer, that means a saving of up to $2,6000 every year. A lot of you may probably disagree with placing couponing as one of the frugal mistakes but if you do not do it correctly, it will cost you more. For instance, availing of a coupons because of the sale and not because of your need for the item is wrong. If you end up wasting what you just bought, it did not cost you money – even if the coupon let you purchase the product at 80% off. In fact, you just wasted 20%. Not only that, the time it takes to organize your coupons could have been used to earn more money. Just think about that for a second.
Depriving yourself. Some people practice frugality by cutting entertainment expenses completely. Do not deprive yourself of what makes you happy. That will result in a couple of things. One is you will feel so restricted that at one point, you will explode and splurge because you feel like you deserve the break after all the sacrifices. Another thing that could happen is you will feel so miserable that you will give up the entire frugal lifestyle. This is one of the frugal mistakes that you need to be very careful of.
Skipping on medical check ups. Another thing that you may think is saving you money is when you avoid your regular medical check ups because you want to avoid paying medical bills. Trust us when we say that this will only cost you a lot in the long run – especially for an illness that could have been detected earlier. Do not compromise your health for the sake of frugality.
Ignoring the maintenance check ups. Just like the previous, you also have to consider the maintenance of your assets like your car, the HVAC in your home, etc. Having them break down at the wrong time can cost you a lot more than you think.
These are only some of the few frugal mistakes that you can commit while you are getting used to this lifestyle. In case you are in doubt, always consider the long term effects of your saving efforts.
Tips to avoid errors in frugal living
To help you further, here are some tips that will help you avoid the common errors in frugality.
Be conscious of what you are wasting. According to EndHunger.org, 133 billion pounds of food were wasted back in 2010. Take note that this was during a time when people were struggling with money because of the recession. Do not make the mistake of wasting money on food because a lot of people have to rely on food stamps just to survive.
Avoid the expensive trends in society. We are talking about the new gadgets or electronic devices that society is encouraging you to buy. It feels good to have them but if you do not really need them, then do not spend on it. Just put it in your savings.
Trade what you have for what you like. Clothes, books and other entertainment materials can be traded with friends. This should be a great idea to have more while spending for less. Both you and your friend can benefit from it.
Be patient about owning things. You really need to stop thinking that you need to own everything that you want now. There is a time for everything – especially when it allows you to save up for something instead of using credit to buy it.
Opt to buy for the experience instead of ownership. Smart spending is all about buying things for the experience that the product will give you and not the actual ownership. That way, even if it is not as flashy or pricey, you will not mind it at all.
Improve your skills. To be able to save on services and products, you may want to improve your skills too. Things like baking your own bread, making your own household cleaning products – these can cut down on your costs. Learning how to cook great meals on a budget will also help your frugal lifestyle.
Keep yourself informed. To avoid frugal mistakes, you need to keep yourself informed at all times. It will help you search for free items and help you avoid traps that says you will save money but will really just take more from you.
Here is a video from ABC News of a frugal foodie who gives great tips on how to save on food expenses without sacrificing nutrition and taste.