Trying to Be Frugal? 15 Things NOT To Do

15 Things Not to Do When Trying to Be Frugal- Country Mouse City Spouse A lot of people think that frugality is just in your DNA. It's something you have or you don't. You can learn how to be frugal by changing your mindset about certain things and by learning the tricks of those who are inherently frugal. These are the top 15 things I recommend NOT doing when you are learning to be frugal.

Trying to Be Frugal?
15 Things NOT To Do

A lot of people think that frugality is just in your DNA.  It’s something you have or you don’t.  You can learn how to be frugal by changing your mindset about certain things and by learning the tricks of those who are inherently frugal.  These are the top 15 things I recommend NOT doing when you are learning to be frugal.

Believe that quality time with your family has to be expensive.

Spending time with your significant other or with your kids seems to be one of those things that you feel you have to spend a ton of money on.  Big business does NOT make it cheap anymore to take your kids to the zoo or have a date night at the movies.  So how can you still spend time with your family while being frugal?  Find cheap or free things to do together.

For example-  This coming week, our local vocational school is hosting a local pizza competition where 8 local pizza places are competing to be voted the “Best in Town”.  Entry to the competition is only $5, and you get 2 pieces of pizza from each of the businesses.  That’s 16 pieces of pizza, the fun of discussing the pizza with your family and then voting.  All for $5!!

Ignore the Clearance Rack

We have all heard the horror stories about hoarding and the joy of getting a bargain in the clearance section.  Don’t avoid these racks!  As long as you know what you are searching for and that it is something that your need or are looking for as a gift, your best starting point is these glorious racks.  I know when I’m getting to the point that I need new jeans for work.  Holes are against the rules in the shop, so when one starts the first thing I do is head over to Kohl’s and make a beeline for the clearance section.

Have a clear goal in sight.  As long as you are not purchasing items simply because they are such a great deal, then this is the absolute best place to shop.  Make sure it’s the right size, the right fit, and something that serves a purpose in your home.

Get Guilted into Expensive Presents

This one is especially difficult for me.  My mother-in-law is the grand duchess of amazing gifts.  It is so hard to buy for her knowing the quality of the gifts she gives me.  The secret I’ve found for buying for her is to simply find something practical for her.  By paying attention to conversations and things she loves, I find great ideas to give her when her birthday, Mother’s Day and Christmas roll around.  A lot of the time we simply gift her a gift card to one of her favorite stores or restaurants.  Practical wins out big time with her.  Knowing my budget keeps things in line.  Besides, I know I can’t compete with her gift giving skills.  She knows exactly how frugal I am, and I think she’s starting to expect handmade gifts as that’s what I am good at.

Drink Starbucks Every Day

I’ll be the first in line to argue for the joy of coffee.  I refuse to give it up in any form.  I just know that I save tons of money by making my coffee at home every morning and taking it with me to work, rather than paying for it on the way.  I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that my coffee habit is cheap.  The last container of coffee I purchased was on sale for $6.99, as I won’t sacrifice taste in my pursuit of frugality, but it’s for an entire container to be brewed at home.  A cup of joe at Starbucks is $4.95 for one cup.  I get way more coffee for my dollar by making it at home.  I have a wonderful (and large) travel mug to take with me to work.

I still enjoy Starbuck’s coffee.  But I only purchase it twice a year as a treat to myself.  Or I wait to receive a gift card.  It’s just habit now, and I don’t feel as if I’m missing out at all.  I still get my Pumpkin Spice Latte when it comes that time of year, and I get a Peppermint Mocha for Christmas.  The rest of the year I may splurge occasionally on flavored creamer, but I don’t return to Starbuck’s.

Believe the Bigger the TV, The Better

Unless you are charging admission to your Pay-Per-View fight purchases, there is no reason that the 72″ is the better buy than the 46″ television.  I doubt any real person has a room big enough that they could sit back far enough to enjoy that big of a television anyhow.  The better option is to buy a SmartTV in a smaller size.  Make sure that it’s ready to stream Netflix and Hulu directly to your set, and then you can go ahead and ditch that overprices television package from your cable company.  (We haven’t had anything but streaming in our house for years and I don’t think we have missed out on anything.)

Under Utilize the Freezer

Meat prices just keep climbing.  The cheapest I saw ground beef this week was $3.99/lb.  Every so often, a great $0.99/lb. sale comes along that could save you tons of money.  Instead of buying just one package, stock up!  Most recipes I have only need 1 pound of ground beef at a time.  I invested in a digital kitchen scale and a FoodSaver and now when that amazing sale comes around, I buy at least 10 pounds, if not more.  Do the same with any awesome meat sale.  Just buy in bulk, break it up into portion sizes appropriate for your family, date, and freeze.  You’ll be glad you did!

Pass Up a Good Sale

So many people just toss out those flyers that clutter up your mailbox every weekend.  Not frugal people.  They know that the absolute best deals for the week will always be on the front page.  In the retail game, these awesome sales are called “Loss Leaders”.  They aren’t created to generate profit for the stores on their own.  Their purpose is to get you into the store to buy that and then see more items you want and spend more money.  Do not feel bad if you go to the store and purchase absolutely nothing but that great deal that was on the front page of the flyer.  They want your money.  I personally like keeping mine.

Forget that Goodwill Exists

There are so many craft items on Pinterest and other places on-line that are focused on upcycling.  Perhaps you saw an amazing recipe that uses a cast iron skillet but you don’t own one.  My first stop for items such as these is the Goodwill store.

Donations of so many things go to these stores.  From books to clothes to kitchenware, there are so many good things in the Goodwill.  The next time you find yourself wondering if you should buy something, go see if the Goodwill has it first.  It’s like a year-round yard sale!

Waste Leftovers

There is an entire ad campaign going on right now focused on food waste in the United States.  Approximately 40% of our food ends up in the trash.  That’s 40% of your food budget.  Let’s say your food budget for the month is $500.  That’s about $200 dollars of money that you are simply throwing away each month if you are wasting leftovers or other food you buy.

Leftovers can be lifesavers to some.  I plan into our meal plan for the week for a “Leftovers Day” when essentially we graze in the fridge to see what is there from the past few days and choose what to reheat for supper.  Or you can plan for leftover use.  Make a whole herbed, roasted chicken one day, and then use all of the leftover meat to make shredded chicken sandwiches or a casserole with chicken meat in it.  Your budget will thank you for it.

Use a Coupon Because you Have It

I learned the hard way that just because it’s a great deal if you aren’t going to use the item you buy, it’s still a waste of money.  Many coupon wannabe’s go over some of the larger blogs stock-up lists and think that they have to get everything on their list that they have the appropriate coupons for.  Don’t do it!

Having a stockpile of 25 cans of refried beans in your pantry even if they were only $0.25 a can is still wasting $6.25 if you hate refried beans, never eat them and end up throwing them away because they expire.  The exception is if you are purchasing to donate to a local food bank or other charitable organization.  In this case, you can claim the purchase price before coupons on your taxes.  Check with your tax professional to find out more.

For more tricks to making the most of your shopping trips, check out my 7 Things to Do Before Heading to the Grocery Store post here.

Let Produce Rot

Think about the last time you purchased a bag of prepared lettuce for salads.  If you didn’t use it within a few days of bringing it home, then odds are that you ended up throwing it away.  Lettuce and fruit are my two biggest “wasters” if they are forgotten in the fridge.  City Spouse loves grapes, but I know that after a few handfuls, he is going to forget about them and end up letting them go to waste.

With grapes, I only buy a few, not the entire bunch when I buy them.  There is no rule saying that you have to buy the stems (and waste money on purchasing that when you are paying per pound). Same goes with all produce.  Unless it’s a plastic container with a specified weight and content, make sure you are only buying what you need and then make sure to use it in a timely manner.

Shop Warehouse Stores Exclusively

Large scale warehouse stores and clubs have amazing deals.  But just because it’s in bulk and at what seems to be a great price, don’t forget to do a little research.

Say you are at the club and remember that you need ground beef.  You are already here so you run over and buy a big package at $2.99/lb.  That same week one of your local grocers has a loss leader on their flyer that ground beef is $0.99/lb.  Don’t overpay for the meat just because you are already there.  You can still make another trip the next time you are out (say after a dentist appointment or other errand) and get the sale price on the meat you need.

Purchase Paper Products at the Grocery

If it’s not a food item or on sale, I avoid purchasing paper products of any kind at the grocery.  Why?  Because I can almost always guarantee that it’s overpriced compared to the dollar stores.

I buy almost all of my paper plates, plastic silverware and other paper items at the dollar store down the street to me.  I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but I know around here, you can’t go more than a couple of miles without seeing one.

But like warehouse stores, beware of overpaying.  The dollar stores may seem cheaper but you have to remember that sometimes it’s not if you are buying a smaller size container than you would be elsewhere.  Make sure you research price per ounce or per piece when you are supplementing your purchases at the dollar store.

Buy From Vending Machines & Buy Lunch at Work

These are two separate items, however, I am lumping them together because they are so similar in reasoning to avoid it.  Even at your place of employment, the goal of vending machines is to overprice items to make a profit.  You are essentially paying for the convenience of having the item readily available to you.  Same with lunches at work.  The food is overpriced compared to if you would buy everything and pack it with you.

Sometimes it is necessary to buy lunch at work.  If you forget your lunch, I would rather you buy something to eat than go hungry.  Try to remember how much that work purchased lunch or vending machine item cost you, though.  A simple granola bar at my work is $0.85.  I can buy a box of 8 for $1.88 on sale at my grocery store.  That’s a markup of over $0.60 on just one granola bar!!  See how quickly that convenient food makes a dent in your wallet?

Have your own frugal habits?  I would love for you to comment below with ways that you stay frugal on a daily basis!

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15 Things Not to Do When Trying to Be Frugal- Country Mouse City Spouse A lot of people think that frugality is just in your DNA. It's something you have or you don't. You can learn how to be frugal by changing your mindset about certain things and by learning the tricks of those who are inherently frugal. These are the top 15 things I recommend NOT doing when you are learning to be frugal.

Trying to Be Frugal? 15 Things NOT To Do

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