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Are You Falling Into These 4 Frugality Traps?

Aug 24, 2007
I love being frugal. Saving money is a constant goal of mine. But there are a lot of challenges to this, and traps for the unwary.

Most of these traps relate to failing to think about the long term. It's easy to say that this item costs less than that item. But does the difference really justify buying the cheaper item? Not always, and that is what you have to think about.

Trap 1: Cheap or better quality?

There are times where being frugal means spending more rather than less. Think about how long you are going to be using the item. If you're buying generic rather than name brand foods, in most cases that makes good sense, especially since sometimes the two are made by the same company. Just different labels.

But other times you are buying things that you want to last. Then paying a bit more now means you will not be paying more later.

A simple example would be the cheese slicer I bought the other day. The wire on the old one had broken and we couldn't find a replacement wire. So off to the store for a new slicer.

One model had replacement wires in the box with it, while another cost a dollar less but had no replacement wires or obvious way to replace the wire. The wires themselves felt about the same. So I bought the one with the extra wires so that we won't have to buy another the next time the wire breaks. And in my experience, they do break.

Trap 2: Overbuying

This is the danger of the warehouse store and the really good sale. You buy more than your family can use because darn it, it's just such a great deal! How could you possibly go wrong?

In a lot of cases stocking up isn't all that bad. You just don't want to stock up on things that will go bad on you or take up more storage space than you can spare for it. As you shop, pay attention to when the food will expire.

In the case of clothing, think about whether or not all the stuff you are buying will really be worn. It can be especially easy to overbuy for babies and toddlers, who just look so cute in everything. Just try to remember that overbuying is why resale shops have so many clothes available with the tags still on them or clothes that look like new.

Trap 3: "But it's on sale!"

Similar to overbuying, buying something just because it is on sale is a big mistake. Think instead about whether or not you really need it. All too often, you won't really need it.

Trap 4: Giving in

There are a few ways to give in. One is to go shopping while hungry. It's said that you will buy a lot more food if you grocery shop while hungry. Your hunger just makes it easier to give in to temptation.

But if you're shopping with the kids, it's easy to give in to their ideas. "But Moooooommy!" If you're a mom, you know the rest of that routine. Just remember that you are the example for your kids and that if you buy everything that they want, they'll never understand why you talk so much about spending your money wisely.

Being frugal is smart. But taking frugal down to cheap can be a huge mistake. Whenever possible, make the most sensible decision, not just the cheapest at the moment one.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs about being a work at home mom . She offers more tips to help stay at home moms save money at http://www.homewiththekids.com/moneymatters.htm
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