Frugal fanatics! It’s time for a reality check. We all know the classics when it comes to saving money: “Reuse, reduce, recycle,” “Clip coupons,” “Buy in bulk,” and the list goes on. But guess what? Some of these age-old frugal tips just don’t cut it in today’s world.
One Redditor asked, “What “Classic” Frugal Tip Doesn’t Apply Anymore?” Thousands of users shared their opinions, and we have hand-picked the top tips for you.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Knitting and crocheting, along with weaving and other fiber arts.”
Someone else added, “I decided to pick up crochet as a cheap hobby… boy was I mistaken. BUT— I want to try unraveling old clothes I don’t wear anymore or buying the cheapest thing I can find to unravel at the thrift as a way to save on yarn prices.”
Sure, there are tons of online tutorials and patterns out there, but unless you’re some kind of knitting prodigy, you’ll probably end up with more “yarn spaghetti” than a cozy blanket.
Ah, the classic coupon clipper! Don’t get us wrong; coupons can still save you some dough, but it’s not as simple as it used to be.
One Redditor stated, “In my area, couponing is worthless. No store doubles coupons or allows multiple coupons stacking on the same item. Since most coupons these days are jokes, ie buy 5 cans Campbell’s soup and save 50 cents ( total, not each), it’s a complete waste of time and energy. I can buy the store brand every day cheaper than a brand name coupon.”
Someone else replied, “Canada has never allowed coupon stacking for as long as I can remember in my life, so it always boggled my mind when I saw Extreme Couponing or how America goes apes*** for coupons then.”
First off, fabric isn’t cheap, people! Sure, you can find bargains here and there, but quality material? That’s going to cost you a pretty penny.
One said, “Sewing your own clothes is now a lot more expensive than just buying new ones.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “Fabric is pretty expensive compared to the past, but the biggest deal is, it’s not made that great half the time. Very frustrating. It used to be a frugal hobby and life hack. Not so much anymore.”
4. Black Friday Sale
A Reddit user wrote, “Waiting to buy things on Black Friday. Everything goes on sale constantly throughout the year.”
Someone else added, “Worse, they not only lie about the original price, they raise the actual price too!”
Another responded, “The big box stores also specifically manufacture more cheaply made products just for black Friday, instead of putting things already in inventory on sale. It’s pointless to shop BF anymore.”
Oh, and let’s not forget about the dreaded impulse buys. With online shopping, it’s all too easy to click, buy, and regret later. You start with that discounted blender, and suddenly, you’ve got a cart full of stuff you didn’t need in the first place. It’s a trap, people!
5. Long Distance Night Calls
One Redditor stated, “Call long distance after 9 p.m. for reduced rates.”
Someone else added, “I called Grandma every night at 9, too! She wasn’t a long-distance call away, but I had no sense of time so I’d call her at all hours. Finally, she set 9 as the latest I could call her. Gosh, I miss her”
Plus, who even uses landlines anymore? If you’re under the age of 30, you might be scratching your head, wondering what a landline even is. And for those of us who do have landlines, it’s more for decoration than actual use.
6. Beater Car
One said, “The old tip is to buy a beater car for 500 dollars and ride it into the ground. A 500-dollar car is in the scrap heap these days.”
Someone else replied, “This is a big one. I’m an old hand at buying cash cars, and I’d say the bare minimum in most markets for a drivable beater is $4k. Maybe $3k in some places, but you have to be really careful and know how to spot the warning signs of an imminent breakdown.”
Today’s vehicles are packed with technology, safety features, and fuel efficiency, making those old beaters look like relics from the Stone Age. Sure, you saved money upfront on that ’92 Junker, but you’re paying the price in fuel costs, repairs, and your sanity.
Nowadays, banks are more interested in profits than people. You’re just a number on their spreadsheet, and they’ve got algorithms to calculate whether you’re worth their time.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “The bank that you normally deal with will give you a better rate because they value your business.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “Seriously. No bank values customer loyalty these days or even customer satisfaction! They literally don’t care if people like their products and services; they’re just there to exploit us relentlessly. It boggles my mind. It’s all about the shareholders apparently.”
Modern dishwashers are efficient, no doubt about it. They use less water than older models, and they come equipped with all sorts of fancy settings to save even more. But here’s where the plot thickens – those pesky pre-rinses!
A Reddit user wrote, “Modern dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.”
Someone else added, “This is really accurate. We tested this at our former apartment. The apartment manager got modern dishwashers for each apartment, saying it would save on our water bill. A full load in the dishwasher took close to 8 gallons; by hand, it was 3 gallons.”
9. Thrift Stores
First off, thrift stores aren’t the hidden gems they used to be. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, everyone and their grandma now knows about these places.
One Redditor stated, “The best value in clothes shopping is not thrift stores anymore. Used clothes are starting to be overpriced, and Marshall’s and TJ Maxx still have great prices on new clothes. I went to Lululemon looking for men’s shorts.
Wouldn’t pull the trigger for $70. I stopped at Marshall’s and left with 2 pairs of shorts at $9.99 each that were 95% identical to the Lululemon shorts. At a thrift store, I might have gotten pre-worn shorts a little cheaper, but the difference has shrunk to the point that it doesn’t make sense to me to buy pre-worn.”
Another responded, “This doesn’t stop the fact that clothes are made with worse quality nowadays, even clothes from many of the classic brands. Meanwhile, thrift stores are becoming more and more expensive, to the point of being unreasonably priced.”
Let’s start with the obvious- skyrocketing rent and housing prices. Rent prices have gone bananas, and saving on housing now means sacrificing location, space, or safety.
A Reddit user wrote, “Don’t spend more than one-third of your take-home pay on housing.”
Someone else replied, “It’s impossible to find affordable housing because public policy is to make housing a good investment. Good investments appreciate value, so housing is expensive. Imagine if we did this with cars.”
11. Credit Cards
Back in the day, the no-credit-card mantra made sense. People were skeptical of plastic, and credit cards had high-interest rates and tricky fees. But hold on to your wallets because the financial landscape has shifted, and the no-credit-card rule doesn’t hold water like it used to.
One said, “”Don’t use a credit card”. No, “use a card responsibly”, never spend a penny in interest, and get 2% back per month.”
Someone else added, “This. I’ve been using credit cards for decades, and they’ve always paid me to use them. I just paid for some car maintenance with points I earned back from purchasing airfare using my card.”
12. Chuck Roast
Chuck Roast used to be the underdog of the meat counter, offering decent flavor without breaking the bank. But as the demand for affordable cuts has grown, chuck roast prices have crept up!
A discerning Reddit user commented, “When I was a kid, pot roast made with chuck steak was considered to be a “hearty dinner for the working class.” You know how much chuck roast costs nowadays? I saw Chuck Roast at the store yesterday for 9.99/lb. I can’t imagine making a $40 pot roast.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “I made a pot roast and didn’t need to put liquid in there. As I was braising it, all this liquid was coming out of the meat. I swear the supermarket chains soak the meat in salty water to make it heavier. I have to remember not to buy meat at the big box supermarkets.”
13. Canned Soup
A Reddit user wrote, “Canned soup for backup meals. This is $4-5/can (Canadian) and barely enough calories to sustain an average adult.”
Someone added, “Seriously, a little over three years ago, the standard price for a name brand can of non-condensed soup was about $ 1.50 USD (often less on sale), and now they seem to go for $3 minimum. It’s insane, and I hate it since a can of soup with toast used to be one of my go-to cheap comfort meals.”
Canned soups used to be a somewhat passable substitute for homemade comfort food. You’d slurp down that chicken noodle or tomato soup, and it was okay. But nowadays, our taste buds are craving more exciting flavors than a lukewarm hug from a can.
14. Cheap Gas
One said, “Shopping around for gas that is cheaper. Particularly traveling well out of the way to save a few pennies. My aunt used to travel 15 miles to another station because it was 3 cents cheaper than the one maybe 3/4 of a mile from her house.”
Someone else replied, “The next county over isn’t far and can be $0.30 cheaper, but my tank only takes 10 gallons, and I prefer to fill up at 1/4 – 1/2 full. $3 isn’t worth even a short drive.”
Many gas stations now offer rewards programs that give you discounts, cashback, or free snacks with your fill-up. So, instead of zigzagging across town in search of the mythical “cheapest gas,” why not stick with a station that rewards your loyalty with goodies and discounts?
A discerning Reddit user commented, “I moved to a new city, stayed in cheap hostels to save money, and had people to talk to daily. Cheap hostels? The cheapest place I stayed in has tripled in price since then and that was to stay in a dorm. It was only 4 years ago. Forget about bohemian life changes at pre-COVID prices.”
Someone else added, “Man, in 2012 I went backpacking and stayed in a bunch of hostels around Europe that were like less than €10 a night. Most were like €6-8. It was incredible. I looked up the exact same hostels today, and they’re €40-50 for the same dorms.
It’s outrageous. I traveled very comfortably on €1000/month back then. Not a hope you’d swing that nowadays.”
While some hostels have stepped up their game in terms of cleanliness and amenities, others are stuck in a time warp. Sleeping on lumpy mattresses with questionable linens and sharing a bathroom with a dozen other travelers might sound adventurous, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
16. Turning off the Lights
A Reddit user wrote, “Being super stringent with “turning off the lights when you leave a room!” Assuming you aren’t using old incandescent bulbs, all the modern LEDs use negligible power.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “Drives me nuts when people give the advice of “unplugging lights and phantom toasters” when trying to save on the electric bill. No, turn your climate control up about 5 degrees, hang dry your clothes, and use less hot water. Small appliances and lights use like $20 a year max.”
And speaking of electric bills, they’ve become more manageable thanks to better technology. Smart thermostats and insulation mean that even if you leave a light on occasionally, it won’t break the bank like it would have in the past.
17. Saving Water
One said, “Conserving water to save on the water bill. It’s almost entirely flat fees anyway. We recently moved out to sell our house, and it’s been a whole month of next to no water consumption. We saved maybe $20 going from using as much water as we wanted to almost none. It’s all flat fees.”
Someone else added, “Yup! Especially if you live somewhere where the price per unit of water is really low. I live near a major city – their water is like $5-6 per unit, but mine is $1.25. We get a discount on the sewage fees if we use less water during the winter months, so I’m more conservative with water then. But not in the summer!”
With smart home devices, you can now install sensors and timers that control water usage more efficiently than in the past.
18. Fast Food
Fast food was the go-to option for those tight on cash or just craving a quick bite. But nowadays, those dollar menus have become more like five-dollar menus.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Fast food meals, while unhealthy, were always a frugal option. Not anymore. Everything’s expensive.”
Someone else replied, “I’m spending $8 at McDonald’s almost no matter why. At that point, I’ll just spend an extra $1 and go to Chipotle and not feel like absolute after eating it and not be hungry a few hours later.”
In many places, renting has become an expensive affair. Landlords are charging premium prices, and it’s not uncommon for renters to feel like they’re pouring money into a financial black hole.
A Reddit user wrote, “”Renting so you can buy” This is a phrase I haven’t heard in a while from someone under 60. It could imply renting a cheaper apartment than you could nominally afford, moving out of your parent’s place early, renting in the city while rising up the pay ladder, etc. But it used to make sense.”
Another responded, “I’m glad when people told me that; I decided to stick with living with my parents instead and save to buy. Now I pay less in my mortgage than I’d pay renting. Everyone that I know that moved from their parents early to rent are still renting 10+ years later and don’t have enough savings for a down payment anytime soon.”
20. Buying In Bulk
Buying in bulk, they said. It’ll save you tons, they said. The trouble with this classic tip is that it tempts you to buy more than you need. Sure, you’ll have enough toilet paper to last through the apocalypse, but your closet space and wallet might suffer.
One said, “Buying in bulk doesn’t guarantee savings. The larger packages of things like cereal often cost more per ounce. It varies from item to item, but the stores are counting on you buying the bigger package, assuming you’ll save money.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “This one drives me crazy. I consider buying about 6x the amount of something, and it’s basically the same price per ounce.”
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