Posted by Madison on May 27, 2008
I love money-saving tips as much as the next frugal person.
However, there’s a point where convenience and other factors actually outweigh the savings.
Here’s some of the frugal tips I’m not into:
Frugal Tips I Avoid
- Cloth Diapers. We have two in diapers right now and we plan to have more children in the future. When I saw the math that Trent at The Simple Dollar did comparing cloth diapers to disposables… I was sold. However, my husband (who does the laundry!) vetoed the idea when it meant it would add some loads of wash to his already busy laundry schedule.
- Bring a lunch to work. Getting away from my desk and when possible, away from the office for lunch really keeps me going during the day. Sure it would probably be cheaper, but there’s a lot to be said about eating with friends, discussing things outside of work and giving the mind a break.
- Excessive couponing. I stated in my guide to couponing that I gave it up last year. Way too much work and since I did it to the extreme, I made us eat really weird food!
- Subject friends and family to Brring. After a reader told me about Brring, I wanted to give it a try. It was really annoying and while I am frugal, I’ve decided not to subject people calling our house to advertisers.
- Go without a home phone. With small children I don’t care if we never use our home phone, it’s a great piece of mind to know it’s there in an emergency. Cell phones are great, but as long as we have kids, a home phone is a safety issue. However, we do use Vonage to keep our costs down on the home phone.
What are some of the money savers that you won’t do?
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I just found your blog through PFBlogs and had to laugh when I read your post. My husband also does the laundry in our house – and the “laundry man” nixed the idea of cloth diapers as well!
I kept a home phone way longer than I really needed to (it was tied to a DSL I was unwilling to give up). But I finally did. I’m surprised that if you really want it just for security for the kids that you would use vonage. With a real landline even if there’s a power outtage the phone will still work. Also internet problems can prevent your vonage phone from working (even if it’s up 99.9% of the time, if it’s down that .1% when you really need it – was it worth it to save $8/month over a bare bones landline?). Also (and this I’m not sure if it’s still true), in the past even if you tell vonage your address for E-911 the 911 calls are still serviced by a regional call center rather than your actual local 911 center (depending on how populated an area you live in this regional center can cover a very large geographic area), while it’s true that they have your address, there is a slight delay while they pass things off to the proper local authorities that isn’t present with traditional 911. I was very glad to have a regular landline phone during the blackout here in NYC a few years ago (which made giving it up even harder, having actually been through a situation where I used it!). I didn’t switch to vonage though – no landline at all anymore!
I’m agree with couponing and brring. I try to eat at my desk, but I totally understand getting out of the office.
Why can’t you bring a lunch to work but take it elsewhere to eat it, like go to a nearby park or something? Just because you bring your lunch to work doesn’t mean you’re required to stay there during the lunch hour.
Seriously that is one of the easiest ways to save TONS of money, if you are buying a lunch every work day for $10, that’s $2500 a year! My wife and I probably spend $10-15 to supply both of us with lunches for the week. A savings of over $4000 each year (between the two of us)!
I have not gone out for lunch since December. I agree with Matt. The rest of the year I don’t plan to go out (unless the company happens to be picking up the tab). took the money I have saved and bought my wife a 2008 Honda. Between her and I not going out, it will pay for the car. woohoo..(and yes I know buying a new car isn’t the smartest thing, but I adore my wife and wanted her to have it).
I agree with you on all the items listed above. I think everyone has their things that they are unwilling to do when it comes to saving money. The key is to find the combination of things that you can live without. We might all arrive at the same cost savings, but in our own unique way.
@ Dana: Too funny! Not only another household where dad does the laundry, but in the same boat as far as the diapers. What a coincidence!
@ Juggler314: You know I didn’t even think about the internet being down. I was just concentrating on when neither one of us is home and the kids are with a babysitter or the nanny. I’m going to have to think about it some more, you have a great point about the 911 issue.
@MMA: Did you try Brring? I can’t believe how horrible it sounded!
@ Matt & Terry: You two really make me rethink my out to lunch plans! Maybe I’ll pitch the idea to my “lunchmates” and see if they want to save some money with me! Probably just one day a week though…
Oh and Terry, buying a new car for your wife is incredibly sweet!
@ Jeff: So what are the things you don’t do even though it would save you money?
Here’s an idea! Since you may want to cut expenses but not cut down on socializing, try carpooling. I’d say Friday, because many of us tend to be more relaxed on those days and look forward to the weekend. Get together with your best buds at work or those who work close by and figure out a carpool route that works best for the group. It’s fun, different and saves a few bucks. If you don’t like it, you’re not committed. You certainly have nothing to lose and much more to gain.
I had to look up Brring because I’ve never heard of it before. I can’t believe people would actually subject their friends and family to that! I would quickly stop calling a friend if they started making me listen to ads.
I agree with you about cutting coupons. I know that it can save loads of money, but I don’t want to invest that much time into it.
@ Lucy: Carpooling is a great idea. I wish I had some coworkers that lived on my side of town. Do you carpool?
@ Brooke: I even tried signing up with Brring because I was so curious about what it would sound like…. the ads were horrible!
I draw the line at re-using Ziploc bags that have had anything more than crackers in them. I’d much rather just use Tupperware or other reusable containers that can be cleaned properly. Any ziplocs that do get used for raw meat go in the garbage–some people will reuse them–not me!
@ Value: I agree… no reusing ziploc bags! I’m a big fan of tupperware, much easier to wash out.
I think the key to being and staying frugal is to not let yourself feel doomed to a life of deprivation and sacrifice. It’s about being smarter with what we have. So if you get great pleasure from eating out with co-workers–so be it. My indulgence is an occassional Starbucks and an occassional dinner out at a fancy restaurant.
I love the part when you said excessive couponing that makes you eat weird foods. It’s hilariously well-said. When I had my second child, I thought about getting coupons for every thing I plan to buy. It took a lot of time searching for it and then the cutting part. But most of the time, the coupons didn’t fit the meal. I have tons of coupons for cereal but none for macaroni and cheese or biscuit. Then there are tons of canned food that I tasted mostly the preservatives instead of the foods. The kids really didn’t like it at all. So after that, I tried to find coupons that fit the meal better and also taste better.
@ FP: Good point- a feeling of deprivation all the time could lead to being unhappy. We might as well some of the money that we work so hard for.
@ Sherry: I can picture exactly the set of coupons you had… and always missing a key ingredient in a meal!
I am reminded of the “penny wise and pound foolish” people. Some just don’t know which hill to “die on” in order to save money.
When I worked for the government as a co-op student, I bought business cards. My supervisor would not have business cards because the government wouldn’t pay for it. That’s counting nickels and dimes.
The point is that if you’re going to save money, you have to focus on the large and recurring costs. These are what I call the “big chunks”.
The “big chunks” in our lives are housing, food, transportation and discretionary spending. Saving on these is what really matters.
I am reminded of what a man told me many years ago, when there was a difference (in my favor) of 25 cents on a transaction. He said: “Never mind, 25 cents will not make you rich, and it will not make me poor.”
Oh man, I do most of these, and I don’t even think of them as matters of frugality. I always bring my lunch to work (its healthier as well as cheaper, and if I need to get away, I go sit outside somewhere to eat), I cloth diaper my son while we’re at home (daycare won’t take him in cloth, so we use disposable there), and I haven’t even thought of getting a land line. I can see the safety issue related to it, maybe once I get the medical bills paid down I can afford it.
Jessica’s last post: Long time, no write
I’ve been reading the heck out of your site since yesterday, and it’s great. About the lunch tip, though; you can bring your lunch AND still go out for lunch. As long as you’re with some people who are buying lunch, the restaurant should be fine with that.
I hear you Madison, there are some things that I just won’t do in the name of frugality. I’ve basically cut down all my expenses as far as I’m willing to go, and am now getting into some serious budgeting to see where I can trim corners even more. But I’m not cancelling my cable or internet, that’s for sure. 🙂 Besides, I look at it as more of a challenge to see where I can cut back and still live “normally”. For Halloween I only spent $20 on my costume, and still felt good. (that $20 came out of my entertainment budget for the week.)
BTW, I just found your blog today, and have been enjoying it immensely! Well done.
I agree completely with the coupon thing. I want to eat healthy and all the coupons I ever find are for nasty, processed things and products I wouldn’t use even if I was paid to take them home (air fresheners). Is there any way to be frugal on a fresh produce and simple ingredient diet?
I totally bring lunch form home though. Aside from being cheaper, it also lets me control my diet; eliminating the unnecessary fat, calories and sodium found in restaurant food. If you work near a park or mall you can always eat away from your desk. It’s also faster than standing in line and waiting to be served and pay, so you can multi-task over your lunch hour and run errands, jog or just enjoy the sunshine.