Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
Every now and then, well-meaning plans to save money simply fail.
You think you are following the frugality playbook to turn this against you. This is when trying to be cheap ends up being expensive.
It happens to the best of us.
Here are 10 situations where trying to nip pennies can end up costing you money.
1. Let meal prep go to waste
By preparing your meals in advance, you won’t be tempted to grab a fast food outlet or order takeout whenever you don’t feel like cooking. But there’s always the potential to waste a week of chopped veggies or a Tupperware full of chicken breasts if they’ve gone bad or you just can’t stand eating the same meal multiple days in a row.
It’s just throwing money in the trash.
The same can happen when you try to be frugal by buying in bulk, but end up throwing away half of what you bought because it’s too much.
The cure: Meal preparation a few days rather than a whole week. Store foods properly and freeze what you won’t be eating soon. Use sauces and spices to add variety to staples like chicken and rice.
2. Spend a fortune on ingredients for dinner
Cooking at home is usually a much cheaper option than eating out, except, of course, when you go too far with food shopping and getting 10 unique ingredients for each recipe.
When you add up, you realize you could afford to dine out after all.
The cure: Choose recipes that include ingredients you already have at home or that are inexpensive. If you need to buy new ingredients, make sure you can use them in multiple recipes.
3. Buy stuff just because it’s on sale
Sometimes the thrill of saving money can cloud your judgment. You load your grocery cart with BOGO items, grab clothes from the sale aisle, and shop for Groupon deals – without worrying too much about whether you really need or want it all.
You can easily end up blowing your budget looking for deals and discounts.
The cure: Before you buy something that is on sale, ask yourself if it’s something you really want or if you are just buying it because of the offer. If the sale price was the regular price and there was no discount, would you still want it? Do you have a plan to actually use what you buy? Is it in your budget? It’s okay to pass up a good deal sometimes.
4. Drive everywhere to find the lowest price on gas
Sure, you can save 10 cents per gallon by filling your tank at a gas station across town, but you’ll waste gas on the round trip.
The cure: Use a gas pricing app, like GasBuddy, to find the cheapest fuel prices along your normal driving route. Take advantage of fuel rewards programs and discount gift cards as other ways to save money on gas.
5. Go without a car only to spend more money to get around
Car payments, insurance, gasoline, maintenance… it all adds up. Giving up your vehicle seems like it can help you save money.
However, if you call Uber every day and rent a car every other weekend, those costs could be even higher.
The cure: Before you travel without a car, plan how you will travel and what the costs will be. Research public transportation options in your area. Consider carpooling or cycling to work. If giving up your car isn’t the best option, you can still save money by swapping out your current vehicle for a vehicle that is more fuel efficient or has a lower payout.
6. Buying a used car without doing your due diligence
You will lose money in depreciation just by driving a new car out of the lot. This is what we are always told.
Buying a used car isn’t much better, however, if you only go for your check engine light to come on. Buying used means your vehicle may not be in peak condition. And if you buy from a shady seller and don’t take the time to really examine the car and dig into its history, you could end up in a financial pit.
The cure: When buying a used car, where you shop is important. You can find certified used vehicles at legitimate dealerships that have been carefully inspected and may come with some type of warranty coverage. Consult the Carfax report for accident history and information on past maintenance. Carry out a thorough test drive and try to have your mechanic inspect the car, if possible.
7. Sign up for free trials and forget to cancel
It makes sense that a frugal person would take advantage of the free trial offers. And for the first week or 30 days, everything is fine.
The problem arises when you forget to cancel your free trials before the free period ends and end up being billed for things you never intended to pay for.
The cure: If you can cancel a free trial immediately and continue to enjoy the service until the end of the trial period, please do so. Otherwise, set calendar alerts to remind you to cancel before you get charged. Sign up for a free trial with a virtual credit card is another way to avoid ending up in a loop in automatic payment after the free trial ends.
8. Waste time and money on DIY projects
Say you drop $ 20 on equipment and supplies at a craft store to make an interior decor piece that you could get at HomeGoods for $ 30.
You think you are saving money except your completed project looks nothing like what you wanted. It goes straight to the trash. On top of that, you’ve wasted hours trying to do it yourself, and we all know time is money. Of course, the bigger the project, the more money you could lose doing it badly.
The cure: Don’t overspend on supplies, and for ambitious home projects, know what to do DIY versus what requires a professional.
9. Replace Cable TV with a Bundle of Subscription Services
Tired of paying over $ 100 for cable, so you finally decide to cut the cord. But in its place, you sign up for Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, HBO Now, Showtime, Sling TV, and more – until what you pay for TV and movies exceeds your old cable bill.
The cure: Ask yourself what content really matters to you and limit yourself to a few streaming services.
10. Get credit card rewards and get into debt
Rewards credit cards entice you with perks like cash back rewards or points to use on future purchases. Store cards hook you with the promise of saving a percentage every time you swipe.
But if you keep a balance on these cards, what you pay off in interest could easily nullify the rewards and savings.
The cure: Check out these questions to ask yourself before getting a new rewards credit card. If you get a new card, treat it like cash and only charge what you can afford to pay.
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