Most of us work hard for the money we earn, so why not work hard to keep more of it? This is the ethos many frugal people live by whether they realize it or not. By spending less than we have to, we can make the most of our labor — and make sure we have a little something left.
But, is frugality always the answer? Not by a long shot.
Then there are times in life when frugality will cost you more, even if that’s the opposite of what you intend. Here are six times frugality can backfire.
1. When buying cheap means buying more often
If you keep buying the same cheapo model, you could replace it endlessly to the point that you could have bought a fancier, nicer version for less than you’ve ultimately paid over time. This goes for everything from stereo equipment to clothes that fall apart after a few washes.
2. When you’re skipping important maintenance
Ignoring regular maintenance may feel like you're saving, but it can be a costly move. For example, you’re supposed to get your furnace serviced every spring and fall. If you skip it, your equipment might get dirty, clog up and quit working, resulting in an expensive bill.
The same is true for dental check-ups and exams. If you opt not to get regular checkups, you could wind up spend a lot more on fillings and root canals. (Plus, preventative care is usually covered by dental insurance anyway!)
3. You’re skimping on insurance
While we're on the subject of insurance, this is a bill you shouldn't skip. While there are plenty of ways to save on insurance, you must ensure you have proper coverage limits. And this goes for all types, from auto insurance to disability insurance.
If you were to opt for the cheapest auto insurance policy money can buy and end up hitting someone, the victim could sue you personally for damages not covered by your policy.
When it comes to insurance, don’t risk it. Make sure you’re not being so frugal that you’re not adequately protecting yourself.
4. You’re not taking care of your health
Now imagine you’re so frugal you’re not even taking care of your health. Maybe you’re living on quick eats from the dollar menu, snubbing fruits and vegetables because they’re more expensive. Maybe you dropped your gym membership and took on a sedentary lifestyle because you felt paying that monthly fee for a place to work out just wasn’t worth it.
Your health can change at the drop of a hat. If you don’t take care of yourself due to poor nutrition, a lack of exercise or any other blunders, you could wind up paying higher expenses for healthcare down the line.
5. You’re buying things you don’t really need
Are you someone who enjoys discovering a good deal? Maybe you love a good garage sale or perhaps you’re keen on couponing. Maybe you've signed up for every savings app so you find out about the best deals first.
Whatever your tactic, just remember you’re not saving money if you’re buying things you don’t need simply because they're on sale. That item at 70% off still costs money, even if it's discounted, and that’s money wasted if you didn’t need the item in the first place.
6. You’re wasteful with your time
Don’t forget your time is worth something, too. If you are constantly wasting time because you’re trying to save money in unfruitful ways, you could be making a poor tradeoff.
For example, driving across town to a grocery store with cheaper prices may ultimately cost you more in the long run. Same goes for taking on a longer commute just to save a few dollars each month in rent. Sure there are some instances when living further from work makes sense — just make sure you're considering all the financial angles before doing so.
Looking for ideas on how to pad your budget? Check out these 14 fees you should never pay — and how to avoid them.