23 Frugal Habits That Are a Waste of Your Time and Energy

Frugal living is great, and everyone wants to save as much money as they can, but sometimes there are frugal tips and ideas that are just not worth the time or energy! These frugal tips are not worth the effort.

Just Not Worth the Effort

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Of course, some people have to practice extremely frugal living because they do not have a choice, but for those who have a choice, which frugal tips do they think are just not worth it?

Someone recently asked on Reddit’s Frugal Community: “I’m sure we are all familiar with the frugal tips listed on any “frugal tips” list…such as don’t buy Starbucks, wash on cold/air dry your laundry, bar soap vs. body wash, etc. What tip is NOT worth the time or savings, in your opinion? Any tips that you’re just unwilling to follow? Like turning off the water in the shower when you’re soaping up? I just can’t bring myself to do that one…”

Here are some of the top responses:

No Hobbies

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“Avoiding hobbies. Life is too short and many hobbies are pretty affordable,” wrote one person. Another added, “And not even looking at costs, hobbies open up the doors to friends, relationships, learned skills, etc. not to mention the joy and relaxation (or rush if you’re into that) they give you.”

Of course, you can always do some cheap hobbies that don’t cost a lot of money but that you will enjoy!

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

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One person wrote, “Making your own laundry detergent. It’s only worth it to make it in large quantities but then you have to store it somewhere.”

This might not even save you so much money! Someone else wrote, “Someone mentioned that in the past and I took a few minutes to do some quick math. I couldn’t find how it would be more economical to make your own versus just buying the brand stuff as needed, and especially if you’re needing to order some of the supplies online and have to factor in shipping costs.”

Related: How to Find the Best Laundry Detergent On A Budget

Doing Everything Yourself

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Is DIY the be-all and end-all? Apparently not!

“Doing everything yourself. There is a lot to be said for paying someone to do work that you could do, but they could do better and/or faster. So I paid someone to paint my house, and I take my car to get the oil changed,” someone wrote.

Know What Your Time Is Worth

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“Know what your time is worth. We have someone come in and help with the housework 1x day per month, just the big stuff, ” wrote one person, “My partner and I both work full time, and downtime is precious. What a team of four people can do in two hours would take us all weekend. It’s worth every penny to me.”

Buying Off-Brand

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“Some off-brand products are fine, some are not worth it,” wrote one person, “I will not compromise on toilet paper or paper towels. I wait until the good kind is on sale and stock up, or I get it at BJ’s, but I am not dealing with sub-par toilet paper.”

Some store brands are great, like Target’s Up &Up brand, but others are not great. Buying cheap products is not a good way to be frugal.

Related: Living Stingy: A Guide to Saving Money 

Not Enjoying Life

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One person did not like the idea of never spending money. “Squelching any available joy for the purpose of saving less than $20. Life is for living. Keep your large expenses low (car, housing), so you can enjoy your day-to-day life,” wrote one person.

Having a balanced approach to spending money is the key to living frugally and happily.

Related: Living Your Best Life: Practical Tips To Live Your Best Life

Extreme Couponing

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“Unpopular opinion: heavy couponing,” wrote one person, although judging by the number of upvotes, I wouldn’t say it was unpopular.

They continued, “I wouldn’t even say it has to get to the “extreme” couponing phase. It just takes so much time, and most of the stores I shop at already advertise “2 for $X” deals without a coupon requirement. Now sometimes I’ll look through ads online and see if there’s something I need on sale (usually an expensive item) and I’ll print out a coupon if I need it, but I haven’t saved enough while couponing for everyday buys. Maybe if you’re a stay at home partner/spouse or have kids it’s different, but couponing for groceries hasn’t made up for the time lost for my house of two.”

Shopping Around

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“Going to 3+ grocery stores in a week,” one person wrote,  “I have two small children, and going into any store is literal torture. I can do Costco one day and Aldi another, and that’s it. I’m not going to a third or fourth store to save $1.50 on blueberries.”

Shopping around might save you money, but it will be a total time and energy waster!

Related: 6 Easy Tips to Save Money and Time While Running Errands

Buy In Bulk

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“This is definitely a case by case basis, but buying in bulk, especially if you don’t have a big family,” wrote one person.

“I used to buy a lot of stuff in bulk because it’s “cheaper per unit,” only to find that I couldn’t finish it in time and would throw some of it out. There are a lot of things, like shelf stable or frozen products, that this doesn’t really apply to. But the general rule of thumb I use now is that if you end up throwing any of it out, it wasn’t worth the “savings.” Also, a lot of times you can only buy name brand items in bulk (at least at my local club store), which is more expensive than buying store brand at Aldi or Walmart.”

Related: 5 Ways To Save Money on Cat Litter 

Being Too Cold

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“I will not set my thermostat so low that I’m cold even with a blanket. Or having to wear a coat or gloves indoors,” wrote one person.

“My heating bill is my biggest expense, and it really stresses me out. I keep it as low as I comfortably can. But I’m not going to freeze my butt off all winter. Being cold is miserable and saps all motivation and positivity away from me.”

There are many ways to try and stay warm even with the heat lowered, but if you are so cold that you have to wear a coat and gloves indoors, then that is too cold!

Related: 10 Frugal Tips for Staying Warm During a Winter Freeze

Unplugging Everything

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One of the frugal living tips that is often talked about is to unplug items that are not in use. For one Redditor, that is too drastic of a step to take.

“Unplugging things like the TV, microwave, and lamps when not in use. Probably saves a couple pennies a year, takes a ton of time, and wears out the outlets,” they said.

Related: How To Lower Your Electric Bill

Reusing Tea Bags

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“Re-using tea bags is nasty. I can taste the difference immediately and not in a good way,” one person wrote. Another added, “I’ll add more hot water to an existing cup, but I won’t dry it out and reuse it. My mom told me that my great great grandpa used to use one tea bag a week. Sundays apparently were the day he got a new tea bag. I’ll be frugal, but not that frugal. The depression was a B.”

The Great Depression was a time when people practiced extreme frugality. Some of those behaviors are great to copy, and some we just need to be grateful that we don’t need to do.

Related: Frugal Living Tips From the Great Depression To Save You Money Now 

Cut Sponges in Half

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“This one is kind of silly but I just cut my kitchen sponge in half for the first time and I will not do that again. Less surface area = longer to clean. Not worth in my opinion,” one person wrote. They added, “But you’ve got to try things and see how they fit you.”

Not everything works for everyone! Some things may save you a lot of money but won’t work for another person. You have to find what works for you!

Related: 30+ Best Frugal Living Tips To Help You Save Money Now 

Saving Soap

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“Scraping together bits of soap to make a bar. To start with, I don’t like the feel that bar soap leaves on my skin, and body wash, on sale, is about $1.49 when you buy 5,” wrote one person.

A better use of time might be finding out great deals on the soap!

Saving Water

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Do you save water and reuse it for other things? One person wrote, “Capturing water as the shower/bath sink is warming up for other uses. I appreciate the people that do this for environmental and financial purposes but remembering buckets, storing buckets/water between uses, making sure kids/pets don’t knock them over… It’s just way too much for our current stage of life.”

It would be great to do, especially to save water for eco reasons, but if it’s too much, then it’s too much!

Related: 10 Eco-Friendly Tips That Will Help You Save Money 

Saving Stuff To Sell

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“Reusing or holding onto unnecessary stuff for later or just in case. Sell it or trash it. The clutter in your home is not worth the headache and eyesore,” wrote one Redditor.

Selling stuff is a great way to make money, but saving stuff to reuse it or sell it in the future can cause even more stress. Besides, clutter can make you spend even more money!

Related: 9 Ways to Get Cash for Your Clutter: Sell Stuff for Cash Fast

Making Bread

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“Honestly, baking my own bread. My bread is $1/loaf at Aldi, and we go through bread like crazy. It’s not as cost-efficient for us and takes more of my time. I do bake a lot of other things homemade though, just don’t find bread worth it,” said one person.

Making food at home is a great way to save money, but sandwich bread is so cheap, and it’s hard to replicate at home. Save your cooking and baking for other stuff!

Getting Cheap Haircuts

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“Getting cheap haircuts (woman). I get my hair cut maybe twice a year, and you can tell when it was done at a midrange salon vs. a Great Clips,” wrote one person. Another added some context, “This definitely depends on your hairstyle/type. I have long straight hair and cut it myself. Definitely not worth paying to have it done. Short or curly hair is another story….”

Whether you have a specific hairstyle or not, some people enjoy being pampered, and having their hair cut properly is a worthwhile expense for them, especially if you only do it very infrequently.

Related: How To Pamper Yourself (Without Spending a Lot of Money) 

Doing One Big Shop

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“Controversial possibly, but I disagree with the ‘big’ shop once a month. If I pop in every other day(it’s near the school run) or every few days then I tend to get something fresher or almost always reduced for dinner plus whatever we’ve run out of. Plus, knowing I’ll be there again soon makes it quick, too and no impulse buys. I’m too bad at sticking to a meal plan when the use-by dates muck it all up, and I end up putting things in the freezer to save them and getting all annoyed and fed up and end up doing a crappy air fryer dinner of frozen chips and nuggets or something,” wrote one person.

Reusing Ziploc Bags

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“I’m not reusing Ziplock bags. No”, wrote one person. Other people suggested other forms of reusable containers, “don’t use zip lock bags. Use cleanable plastic containers. Frugal and anti-consumption.”

Buying reusable Ziploc bags or other good containers is a great way to save money and reduce the amount of stuff you buy.

Related: 5 Sustainable Buys To Add to Cart 

Saving Restaurant Condiments

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“Saving restaurant condiments, etc. Yeah, sure, do save what you don’t use if you do get a takeout — but if you are supplying all your home condiment needs from restaurant scavenging, then the problem isn’t the cost of condiments; it’s how much you are eating out,” wrote one person.

That is a great point! Don’t eat out so much to save money rather than saving condiments from restaurants.

Sewing Your Own Stuff

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“Sewing your own stuff is not always efficient. Once I was at the fabric store, didn’t look at the prices. Grabbed a blended fabric, I thought. Get to the register, $90 for maybe two yards. I almost fainted but it had already been cut. Yes, I know you can buy cheaper fabric but you can also buy cheap curtains, throw pillow, etc.,” wrote one person.

Fabric is expensive, so not everything you do yourself will save you money!

Opting Out of Society

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“Things that ostracize you from your social groups. “Stop being in weddings,” “say no to holiday spending,” or any that threaten hygiene or your appearance being acceptable,” one person wrote.

Frugality is a good thing, but so is participating in society and being a good family member and friend.

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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.