Frugal living has become the mantra for people since the Great Recession started, although some consumers have been wisely frugal for their whole lives. However, all money-saving tips are not equal. Sure, taking your lunch to work and making your own coffee are quick ways to save $5 to $10 every weekday, but some other methods for saving your pennies could end up costing you more than you realize.
SEE: 3 Alternative Budgeting Styles: Which One Suits You?
Skimping on Insurance
Before you cancel your insurance policy, you need to think hard about the consequences. An uninsured injury or a damaged home could cost a lot more than the money you save on your insurance premiums. Raising your deductible could be a better way to save, but make sure you can really pay that deductible without incurring costly credit card debt.
Buying Things Just Because They're on Sale
Frugal shoppers live for sales and discount coupons, but don't get so caught up in the sale that you end up buying things you don't need. Stock up on items you really use when they're on sale, but never buy something you wouldn't purchase if it wasn't on sale. You'll end up with a houseful of unwanted items and then may not have the money available for something you really need.
Driving Extra for a Discount
Sometimes you can't see the forest because of the trees. If you are focused so much on saving a few pennies per gallon of gas, using a coupon at a distant store or finding a better price at a store 20 miles away defeats the purpose. Don't forget to calculate how much you are spending on the extra gas needed to get there. You're also adding miles to your possibly overworked car.
SEE: Ways To Save Money At The Pump
Skipping Car Maintenance
Car maintenance is one expense many people like to skip, but the lack of routine maintenance can end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars in car repairs. You may even have to replace your damaged car.
Not Funding Your Retirement Account
If you're scrimping and living from paycheck to paycheck, the idea of skimming money off that check for a far-off retirement can be daunting. Think about this: if you put away a few dollars every two weeks for years, those dollars will eventually turn into thousands. Plus, you may be reducing your tax burden by using pre-tax dollars for the investments. If you have an employer who's matching your contributions you are throwing money away by not at least saving the maximum match amount.
Avoiding Regular Appointments
Just like your car, your body, your teeth and your eyes need routine maintenance. While no one likes medical or dental appointments, preventive visits can save you a bundle. That routine care can help you avoid expensive dental surgery and other serious illnesses that will cost you time and money.
Getting a Discount with a Store Credit Card
Stores love to offer deep discounts to shoppers who apply for a new credit card. They know that most people will then return to the store where they have a credit card for more purchases. On top of that, many people opt to pay only the minimum due. If you do that, the amount you'll pay in interest will typically offset the discount you received initially.
SEE: Understanding Credit Card Interest
Buying Cheap Items
Cheap clothes, cheap shoes, cheap hardware items and cheap electronics are all readily available, but if you find yourself replacing them often you may end up spending more money than if you had bought a good quality item in the first place. Your better choice is to look for good quality items on sale.
Living Cash Poor
If you try to save money by keeping only a small amount of cash in your wallet, you may end up wasting money on ATMs. If you go to your bank and avoid ATM fees, that's fine, but many people end up spending around $2 every few days to pull $20 out of their accounts.
Buying the Wrong Groceries
While bulk grocery shopping can seem like a great bargain, if you end up throwing away a pound of cheese that's gone bad, you've simply wasted money and food. Some people skip buying expensive fruits and vegetables, but they could pay for that later on because they'll need extra vitamins and possibly have health issues.
SEE: How To Save Money At The Grocery Store
The Bottom Line
While saving money on small things can add up to big benefits, make sure the initial savings won't result in unforeseen consequences in the long run.