These 20 “Savings” Tips Are Actually Scams

Are you one of those people who prides themselves on being frugal and saving money wherever possible? You may be doing something called “False Frugality.” This is when you think you are being frugal but aren’t saving money at all.

False Frugality

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While being financially responsible is a commendable trait, sometimes the things we think are saving us money might actually cost us more in the long run. Being too cheap will cost you money in the long run.

Many people fall victim to a whole host of “false frugality” out there. These are actions that you think are saving you money but really are costing you money in the long run.

The Question

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This is what someone asked recently on a popular frugality forum, “What are some “false frugalities” (where you think you are saving money but actually costing yourself more in the long run) that many people are not aware of?”

Here are some of the answers.

Buy Stuff on Sale

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“People will buy stuff on sale that they will never use. Doesn’t matter how much you save. If you never use it, then it is an expensive purchase,” someone wrote.

If you don’t need it but bought it anyway, you spent money and certainly did not SAVE any money.

Cheap Construction

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There are some things you absolutely should spend money on.

“All construction………….do you want it done cheap? Or do you want it done right?” someone wrote.

Cute Rule of Thumb

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Another added cute rule of thumb:

“It pretty much applies to any work. Cheaply, Quickly or Correctly. Pick 2.

  • Anything Cheap and Quick, won’t be correct.
  • Anything Quick and Correct, won’t be cheap.
  • Anything Correct and Cheap, won’t be quick.”

Buying a House

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This is a pretty controversial topic in the Personal finance world, but I think we can all agree that there is not a one-size fits all solution.

“Rent is throwing money down the drain,” One person wrote,  “Owning a home is not always smart. It can be, but not always. It’s not just the house cost, but costs in taxes, interest, insurance, repairs and maintenance, etc. Then there’s opportunity costs. I know folks who can’t move until they sell, and can’t take better jobs cuz they can’t move. A house can be a big anchor in some contexts.”

Dining Plans

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I lived off-campus during college, so I don’t know the economics of the dining plans, but you should definitely look into it before buying one!

One person wrote, “Dining Plans at college. I literally could go out to eat for every meal for the price of them. And I often did. I saved a ton of money because I don’t eat that much/snack more often.”

3rd Party Booking Sites

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Always shop around for a good deal, but one person says to be wary!

“Surprised I haven’t seen this yet; using third-party hotel booking sites. The sites guarantee you a room and a price but not the type of room you requested. Calling the hotel directly will not only guarantee the room you want, but often they beat the price of the websites. On my last trip, a particular site favored by an Enterprise captain quoted $129 a night, when I called the hotel, they gave me $79 a night,” one person shared.

Good Shoes

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“Shoes. Some shoes cost little but don’t last very long, so you find yourself buying them more often. Shoes used to cost a couple hundred dollars (inflation-adjusted), and you would get them repaired/maintained,” one person wrote.

There are some things you don’t want to skimp on!

Very Cheap Cars

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“Buying heavily used cars, sometimes. There are exceptions, but all of my friends who religiously buy the cheapest car they can find are always having trouble. Very expensive trouble, that sometimes adds up to close to the cost of a new car, or at least a better maintained used car,” one person wrote.

While buying a new car can be a waste and buying a used car is often a good idea financially, make sure you aren’t putting more into the car with repairs than you would by buying a new car.

Home Repairs

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“Professional home repair services. Real companies have insurance, you can sue if things go wrong. Some handyman that someone knows is likely going to do something that violates a warranty, will be judgment proof, and won’t get a permit,” someone wrote.

For big jobs, make sure to get someone legit.

Not Going to the Doctor

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“Not going to the doctor/dentist!” someone said, “Wellness checkups are important. Your prognosis will always be better if something is caught early on.”

Some things should be a priority, even if it costs money. Living a healthy lifestyle is one of those things.

Veterinary Care

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This story broke my heart! A vet wrote, “Veterinary care! It is SO true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Skipping heartworm pills for a month for your dog could result in a life-threatening disease that is very expensive to treat.”

They continued, “I’m an emergency vet, and I’ve seen cats that are literally dying from blood loss because their owner didn’t think it was important to give monthly flea meds. They have the choice of putting the cat down or spending probably well over $1,000 (depending on where you live) on emergency treatment and blood transfusions and the cat could still die. Don’t skip preventative health care and don’t wait until your pet is super sick before going to see a doctor.”

Buy Things That Last

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Sometimes it’s worth it to spend money on items that will last.

One person wrote, “Being cheap with anything you’re going to use a lot or over a long time. Better to spend $180 on a single frying pan that will last 10+ years than buy a $40 frying pan each and every year because they crap out so easily, no matter how careful you are with them. This metaphor, of course, fits the bill for almost any frying pan that is non-stick or costs less that $100 to begin with.”

Pyramid Schemes

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“Pyramid schemes. Yes, they still exist. Yes, people still fall for them (otherwise, they wouldn’t exist). I don’t know how to feel when “friends” try to talk me into going to their pyramid scheme with them. They’re either too dumb to realize they’re being ripped off, or they’re trying to rip me off. “Oh, but I save so much money on my vacation.” Yeah, but you don’t have to go on f**** vacation. That’s like spending 0 on a $500 item simply because it was on sale. You still wasted $300,” someone wrote.

I don’t think this is an example of false frugality but rather just a scam.

Lane Switching While Driving

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Ever wanted to switch lanes? Well, this person says not to.

“Aggressive lane changing while driving. All that accelerating to get into the “better” lane just wastes fuel, and you save a negligible amount of time,” he wrote.

He continued with some stats, “There was a small TV documentary here in Australia I remember watching that did tests on it. They sent two drivers across Sydney in rush hour traffic: one who would change lanes only when it was absolutely necessary (obstructions, turnoffs, etc), and one who was super aggressive changing all the time. The aggressive driver got to the destination 2 minutes earlier, though with 80% more fuel consumption than the other driver.”

Spending Large Amounts of Time

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“Anything that involves spending a large amount of time to save small amounts of money,” someone said.

“For example,” they continued, “Going to every store to make sure that you are getting the best price on a given product. Sure you saved $6 but you spent 4 hours doing it so you are only better off if you value your time at least than $1.50/hour. Is there anything else in your life that you could be doing that would provide you with more than $1.50/hour value?”

This definitely seems like a cheap vs. frugal discussion!

Buying Name Brand

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“In many cases, buying a name-brand product with a coupon is still more expensive than buying the store-brand,” someone said.

Someone added, “Remember, however, while many product’s store-brand versions are fine, there are also many products that have horrible store-branded version that you really wouldn’t want to buy.”

There are some stores where the store brand is great and just as good, or better than the name brand.

Home Brewing Beer

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Have you ever made your own beer? It might not be cheaper, said one commenter.

“Home brewing beer. It’s a wonderful hobby and I highly recommend it, but don’t think you’re going to save money,” they said.

Leasing a Car

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“Leasing a car instead of buying one. I’m not gonna get into the specifics, but it’s pretty much always more costly,” one person said.

Others disagreed, “Due to business tax loopholes, it can be cheaper to lease your car through your business if you own a small business and award yourself this ‘benefit.'”

Speak to a tax professional before trying something like that.

Buying Brand New

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Someone had an interesting take on buying second-hand items.

They said, “buying brand new because you don’t want to run the risk of something breaking/having downtime. Almost all products that leave the factory follow a curve where during the very first part of their life, their chances of breaking are relatively high as manufacturing defects come to light that didn’t show during QA. Then, the chance drops off as the manufacturing defects are weeded out, but slowly starts to rise again as age takes its toll.”

Store Credit Cards

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While credit cards can be a useful tool, they are also very dangerous and can lead you into a lot of debt.

“If you open up a store credit card, you can save 20% on your purchases today”, someone said, “While it’s true that you may save a percentage on your purchases, most store cards have an interest rate of approximately 24.5% or more. Many will also charge you a monthly fee of a couple of bucks whether you used the card or not. Either way, you end up giving more of your money to the store. Department stores generally earn more off the interest from their credit cards than they do from the merchandise they sell.”

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I hope you enjoyed this list of False Frugalities.

This post originally appeared on A Dime Saved.

Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.