Frugality is essential, especially in this environment of rising inflation and recession fears on the horizon. However, sometimes, being frugal isn’t worth your time or effort. Some “frugal hacks” may cost you more in the long run.
While scrolling through the Reddit thread where all the frugal folks hang out, R/Frugal, I discovered an enlightening thread asking users to share the common frugal tips they see that actually aren’t worth the effort.
Maybe it’s time to stop relying on these popular tips for frugality!
Home Made Laundry Detergent
Tide is expensive, but sometimes it’s easier to use store-bought detergent. “It’s only worth it to make it in large quantities, but then you have to store it somewhere.” explained one user.
“I took a few minutes to do some quick math,” added another. “I couldn’t find how it would be more economical to make your own versus just buying the brand stuff as needed, and especially if you’re needing to order some of the supplies online and have to factor in shipping costs,” they said.
Don’t be so frugal that you forget to enjoy life, cautioned one user. “Life is too short, and many hobbies are pretty affordable,” they said.
Many extreme frugal enthusiasts only look at the money, ignoring other tangible benefits of engaging in hobbies. “And not even looking at costs, hobbies open up the doors to friends, relationships, learned skills, etc., not to mention the joy and relaxation (or rush if you’re into that) they give you,” said one user, dismissing the extreme position.
DIY Hygiene Products
“All these DIY recipes for soap/chapstick/bath bombs/deodorant,” stated one user. Like laundry detergent, these DIY items have high startup costs and are far more cost-effective when created in bulk, but sometimes the products go bad before you get the chance to use them.
“Just buy 1-2 bars from a farm market from a maker who cycles it enough & keeps it up enough,” advised the commenter.
Buying in Bulk
Many things are cheaper per unit, but that doesn’t matter if it expires before you can use them.
“I used to buy a lot of stuff in bulk because it’s “cheaper per unit,” explained one user. Unfortunately, they soon realized “that I couldn’t finish it in time and would throw some of it out.”
Shopping in bulk still works for shelf-stable and frozen products, but ensure you have a plan to use any perishable goods before deciding to bulk buy.
All the DIY
Sure, you could save money by painting your own house, changing your own oil, and crafting your own furniture. But typically, professionals are professionals for a reason, and if you don’t have the proper skills, you may pay more in the long run.
“There is a lot to be said for paying someone to do work that you could do, but they could do better and/or faster,” said one user. “Sometimes it’s worth spending the money not to be aggravated,” added another.
“Some off-brand products are fine, some are not worth it,” said one user, adding, “I will not compromise on toilet paper or paper towels.”
“Off-brand ketchup & chocolate are just a waste of money,” shared another.
We agree. Although some generic items are fantastic, others leave much to be desired. There are a ton of things we’ll never go off-brand in purchasing!
Capturing Bath Water
Some folks take frugality to the extreme by capturing bath water in buckets while showers and sinks are heating up. One user said, “I appreciate the people that do this for environmental and financial purposes but remembering buckets, storing buckets/water between uses, making sure kids/pets don’t knock them over..It’s just way too much for our current stage of life.”
“I have a friend who does that, and her bathroom is full of buckets containing semi-opaque water,” replied another, adding, “It’s pretty gross.”
Extreme Efforts to Save on Gas
“Driving further to save a few cents on gas,” responded one user. “I used to get on a friend of mine for driving 8 miles to save 5-10 cents per gallon, usually on less than 10 gallons. 16 miles round-trip is easily a gallon in his car. So he spent roughly $3 on gas to save at most $1 on gas,” added another.
Others pointed out that not only are savings minimal, but it’s a waste of time and effort as well. “ I couldn’t imagine having to turn off the road, merge back into the other way through a red light, then to do the same thing again to use a gas station on the opposite side of a busy road. Takes a few extra minutes and extra stress to save like $0.30 every couple of weeks,” said one, describing why it’s not worth it.
Grocery Store Hopping
Sometimes, competing stores will have deals on different products simultaneously, hoping to entice shoppers. Extreme couponers store hop to save money on groceries, but some adherents to the frugal lifestyle say it isn’t worth the effort.
“I have two small children, and going into any store is literal torture,” said one user. “I can do Costco one day and Aldi another, and that’s it. I’m not going to a third or fourth store to save $1.50 on blueberries.”
“My dad drives around to find the best prices on things- besides being a huge waste of time, it’s a huge waste of gas and wears on your car,” commented another, calling the strategy “pennywise and pound foolish.”
Time Versus Money
Too many people get caught up in dollar signs and ignore the simple truth that time is also money. If you can afford to free up your time, you should, even if it isn’t necessarily frugal.
“We have someone come in and help with the housework 1 day per month, just the big stuff. My partner and I both work full-time, and downtime is precious. What a team of four people can do in two hours would take us all weekend. It’s worth every penny to me,” explained one user.
When you pay someone to do mundane tasks for you, you create more time to focus on other things. Although you can use this time to make more money, relaxing and enjoying your free time is also okay.
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Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.