10 "Frugal" Things That Are Actually A Huge Waste of Time and Money

You may be doing things in the name of frugality that are actually a waste of time and money.

There could be things you’re doing that you think are saving you money but they’re actually costing you more than you realize.

I’m going to share 10 counterproductive frugal habits that might be secretly draining your resources.

1. Spending too much time looking for small savings

You don’t want to waste time searching for the lowest price on something like toothpaste. I used to spend days researching the lowest prices on every small item. All it really did was occupy my time and stress me out.

If you’re shopping prices on a particular item, give yourself a timeframe. Tell yourself that the best price you can find in half an hour will be the one you buy.

Stick to the time frame you set yourself. When it comes to larger items like appliances or a new sofa where you stand to save $50 or more, it’s okay to spend a little more time searching or waiting for things to go on sale.

Just remember, even then, setting a time limit will help you prevent wasting your most precious resource, which is time.

2. Saving old, worn-out items

There are times when repairs can last a long time, but there are also times when you repair something and have to keep putting time and effort into repairing it over and over.

In situations like the latter, you will do better just by spending the money to replace whatever it is. Do your math and see if the cost of repairing the item is close to or even exceeding the cost of buying a new one.

Sometimes you just have to know when to let go. Holding on to something that no longer serves its purpose effectively is going to cost you money in the long run.

3. Driving to multiple locations for small savings

It is counterproductive to drive to multiple supermarkets just to save a little bit of money on groceries. If you research and find that half your items will be cheaper at a store that’s 10 miles away, do the math.

You will be spending time and gas money chasing after small savings that will end up costing you more.


4. Spending too much time on DIYs

Are you spending countless hours on DIY projects just to save a small amount of money? Pay attention to the financial cost and time cost of your DIY projects. Before you start, add up the full cost of your project and compare that to the price of something that’s ready-made.

If you’re saving a small amount of money and spending a large amount of time, it’s probably not worth it. If however, you enjoy doing DIY projects that is a different story. If it brings you pleasure to work on a project, it is probably worth doing it yourself.

Old fridge

5. Holding on to outdated appliances

Technology and energy efficiency standards have changed. You may think you're saving money by keeping an old appliance, but modern appliances are designed to use less energy, water, and resources. Spending the money on a new appliance will save you money on utility bills.

6. Saving tiny amounts of leftovers

I’ve been guilty of this. I’ll save a tiny amount of food hoping that someone will eat it eventually. If it is such a small amount of food just add it to someone’s plate. Otherwise, it will just occupy space in the fridge and still end up going to waste.

7. Keeping unused discount memberships or subscriptions

There are so many memberships we pay for that offer discounts. The cost of these subscriptions may be worth it if you’re using it all the time. But if you’re paying for memberships to get discounts, and you never end up using it, you’re just losing money.

Dinosaur shoes

8. Senseless repurposing

There are times when repurposing can be really practical, but other times people repurpose things in ways that make no sense.

Sometimes people get so motivated to repurpose, they neglect to realize that they will never use it for its new purpose.

Repurposing an item simply for the sake of repurposing is a waste of resources if it's not going to be something that actually serves a purpose.

9. Buying unhealthy food because it’s cheap

People tend to think that healthy food is expensive and unhealthy food is cheap. A bag of grapes may cost more than a bag of chips but the cost is greater in the long run. Eating overly processed foods will affect your energy levels and overall health.

10. Chasing savings versus making money

Spending too much time trying to find ways to save can often take away from time that could be used earning more money. There are 2 sides to frugal living. It’s not just about living within your means, it also includes getting creative with how to increase your means.

A waste of time and money

It is important to understand how to be frugal but not cheap. Sometimes being cheap will end up costing you more and thus these habits are not frugal and not beneficial.

Can you think of habits that seem frugal but actually cost more? Leave me a comment so we can share ideas.

Next, learn about Eating Out on a Budget: 4 Money-Saving Restaurant Tips.

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2 of 4 comments
  • Hope Hope on Apr 18, 2024
    WE/husband mostly sometimes get caught up in the “stockpile-food” mindset that is in line with the SHTF preppers. I get the ‘forever-foods’ (dried rice, beans, etc.) but…BUT…it makes me crazy 🤪 when ‘we’ start accumulating too much of everything else for ‘just-in-case’. We are working on being more self-sufficient (food-wise) by raising chickens and putting in a garden. WE (‘cause I’m not doing it by myself 😉) will be learning about and trying our hand at various food preservation methods. I think you can: can, freeze and dehydrate just about anything….we shall see.
  • Priscilla G Priscilla G on Apr 18, 2024
    When you talk about saving that bite or two of food leftovers. I usually take those few bits put in a qt container in the freezer and when full usually a couple weeks I make a pot of soup or stew with crackers. In my opinion its a free meal.