As this is my last blogpost for MoneyAware and my last day...
10 frugal fails you should be avoiding
You know us; we’re always encouraging people to be frugal. It’s our ‘thing’, as it were. There are times though when your good intentions could cause a money-draining fiasco rather than save you pennies.
There’s an old saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’, meaning that sometimes going for the frugal option can often cost you more in the long run. There are also pitfalls like BOGOF supermarket deals (who hasn’t fallen prey to them from time to time?) and snags in the fine print of vouchers to be wary of.
The best way to avoid falling foul of a false economy is to not be thrifty where it counts to spend a little more. Sometimes being frugal isn’t worth the hassle it may cause in the future. Not that we can see in to the future, we’re just using the power of hindsight.
Find out when being thrifty does more harm than good with our list of frugal fails.
Life’s sweet when you’ve got a book full of vouchers. You can saunter round the supermarket buying fancy branded foods, living like the king (or queen) you are. Am I right?
Wrong! Vouchers are a way to cause chaos with your budget. Unless you were already intending to buy the product in the first place, it’s a waste of money.
Vouchers can be a good thing, so long as they’re relevant to your normal shopping habits. Just don’t let them tempt you into buying unnecessary extras. You’ll end up with random items you won’t know what to do with – Babycham and potted beef for dinner anyone?
Putting off pet insurance
“Insurance is a waste of money” says everyone until they need it.
Let me tell you a story about my cat, Pepé. Having a cat was going very well until Pepé became ill one night and we went to the emergency vet. Turns out, a few weeks before Pepé had only gone and got hit by a car. Suddenly Pepé needed an overnight stay, tests, x-rays, operations and our bill came to a whopping £1,500.
Luckily, my hero of a housemate had forced us to get pet insurance. We’d grudgingly agreed to pay the £7 a month and as a result were fully covered for the whole incident. Phew!
Protect yourself and your bank balance and invest in a good, robust insurance plan whether it’s for animals, holidays or contents. You never know when it’ll pay off.
Cheapest isn’t sweetest
And also on the old insurance front, if you’re going to buy insurance, make sure you’re getting a good deal if you need to use it.
I’ve got another story about this: on holiday I got whisked away to hospital because of some out of control mozzie bites. As it turns out, I’m more allergic than most, so more needed to be done beyond slapping on a liberal application of aloe vera.
I didn’t know I was off to hospital (language barriers and all that jazz) but on arrival I was faced with a potential £300 bill. Our insurance had a double excess of £500, meaning I’d have to fork out for treatment and not even get any money back – useless!
I explained – rather poorly thanks to the aforementioned language barrier – that I couldn’t afford the luxury of good health and promptly left, hoping for the best. The good news is I’m still alive, so long as the mozzies don’t pay another unwelcome visit.
The moral of this story? Don’t scrimp on insurance. Do some research and get insurance you can afford to use if you need to. MoneySavingExpert.com has a handy guide.
Flimsy frugal threads
When you’re being frugal, it can seem tempting to have a wander around cheap clothes shops snapping up ‘bargains’.
One of the reasons those clothes are so cheap is because the quality isn’t all that. Before you splurge on cheap threads carefully inspect the garments to see if they’re going to last a few washes. Otherwise you’ll end up buying again and again. Remember, cost per wear is important.
There are tasks we’d encourage you to DIY around the home to save yourself the cost of hiring help. But sometimes you need to call the professionals in.
Unless you’re a qualified electrician or plumber we’d suggest leaving any electrical or difficult plumbing jobs to the pros. You could end up with a costly DIY disaster or even worse, hurting yourself.
If you are looking for some budget DIY ideas, why not revamp your home on the cheap?
It’s important to budget; we all know that one. There are times however, when an unrealistic budget leads to spending.
What I’m saying is, yes, it’s good to save money and live within your means but don’t go crazy and start limiting yourself so much you can’t live. You could fall off the budgeting wagon and into the depths of an epic spending spree. That or become malnourished from living off noodles in a bid to stick to it.
Allow yourself some small treats in your budget; it’ll help stop you from splurging in the future.
Beauty school drop out
There are plenty of ways to be frugal when it comes to beauty; it’s also good to know where to draw the line. We’ve all heard the horror stories about home hair dyeing gone wrong. These disasters will only result in more money being paid to fix the mess that’s been made.
If you’re not confident with hair dye and you’re going for a complex new look like bleaching your locks, I’d suggest paying up for it. The same goes for haircuts. Unless you feel confident with a pair of scissors let’s leave this one to the professionals. At least that way if they mess it up they’ll sort it out for free.
Shopping around for the best deal is common sense, but only sometimes. Let me explain. If you’re supermarket hopping, trying to get good deals, it may end up costing you more in the long run. Think about petrol costs, bus fares and even your precious time.
Take these factors into account when you’re hunting for good deals. A few pence spared on apples doesn’t compare to that extra petrol spend.
Emergency fund fun
You’ve finally sorted out an emergency fund and each month you add to it ‘just in case’ you need it. It can be quite tempting to view your emergency fund as a bit of extra cash to pay for bits and bobs you fancy before payday makes its way back round.
This is a huge error; your emergency fund certainly is not an account to pay for your trinkets and treasures. It’s there for a reason, like when the car tyres need replacing.
Don’t dip into your emergency savings account; you’ll end up even more out of pocket when you really do need it.
Keep yourself off the ground
Recently, we heard the phrase: “Never scrimp on things that keep you off the ground.” We like it.
Shoes seem like an obvious one here. It’s tempting to buy cheap shoes but the reality is they probably won’t last long before you find yourself buying a new pair and this is where the costs build up. It’s probably a better idea to save a little each month towards a sturdier pair.
Another would be car tyres: Are re-treads going to be as safe and last as long as a new set? We’ve heard mixed reviews and this seems like a topic where it pays to know what to look out for when buying. But then we know that premium-brand tyres aren’t always a realistic option.
Whilst we’re on the subject, perhaps aeroplanes could be added to the mix!
Have you had any frugal fails? Are there times when you don’t scrimp because in the long run you know it’ll cost more? Share your tales with us in the comments below.