Oh the frugal lies we tell!
Frugal lies are the twisted justifications we tell ourselves, or others, to justify our spending. I have been known to tell (and actually believe) frugal lies from time to time.
A few of my favourites include:
- “I stockpile to save money.”
Mathematically it makes sense to stockpile. The logic behind it is that you acquire a large number of goods at a reduced price to save costs long-term. The reduced price could be the result of a sale or buying in bulk.
There are a few problems with stockpiling that many of us don’t consider. The first problem is that your hard-earned money is tied up in consumer goods for an extended period of time. That money may serve you better by paying down debt or adding to your savings. Remember: stockpiling when you have credit card debt is just foolish!
Another problem with stockpiling is the increased possibility of waste. People tend to use more of what is abundant and food can spoil before it is used.
Stores tend to run sales in 6 to 8 week cycles. Get to know those patterns and you can still save, without the need to hoard 80 packages of toilet paper.
- “I’ll only order an appetizer.”
There are so many restaurant lies! From “ordering from the kids menu, drinking water only, kids eat free nights, we will take home leftovers for tomorrow” …yadda yadda. I have told them all. The bottom line is — it is less expensive to prepare your own food and eat at home or take it with you. There was a time when our family was spending over $700 a month at food establishments. A few local restaurants knew us by name and the local pizza shop sent us a Christmas card every year. Now I try to meal plan and if we are going out we pack a cooler. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be to kick the restaurant habit and our bottoms and bottom line have appreciated it!
- “It only costs $1.00.”
Oh the joy of the discount dollar store. I have had some great luck at discount stores and I have found a few products that I like and use regularly. But the temptation to drop other things in the shopping cart can be great. People can turn into mindless shopping zombies in discount stores. “Oh look they have (insert item here) and it is only a dollar or so. I did not realize I needed some of these, but now that I see them and they are so cheap, I might as well buy them.”
I would suggest writing down or taking a mental note of these items you want to buy and then check you list at home. If it is something you really need you can buy next time.
- “But I have a coupon, it’s on clearance or it’s a great deal.”
The big bargain lies. “I got a great deal, I couldn’t pass it up, and it was 75% off….blah…blah.”
I hate to pay full retail price. Sometimes it can be hard to pass up a deal but it can backfire in a number of ways. Here are a few of my missteps –
I have purchased items that were more expensive than what I would normally spend because the higher priced version was discounted. The math does not add up but psychologically, some primitive part of my brain only sees the “savings.” I have also bought things that I don’t need, ill-fitting clothes, questionable accessories, out of fashion shoes, all because they were a fraction of their original price. Sigh. The best remedy for these lies is to stay out of retail stores. Bargain hunting is an expensive hobby.
- “I saved so much money on X, I can afford Y.”
This is not always a lie but it is tricky. If you do not have a defined spending budget then chances are you don’t really know if your grocery “savings” can translate into a new shirt. You also don’t know if the $300 savings on your new TV means you can buy some nice steaks for dinner tonight. It is important to understand that this lie uses spending to justify more spending. What a neat psychological trick. The best remedy for this lie is to make a budget and track your spending. Only then will you know if you can move money from one spending category to another.
Like I said, I have fallen into these traps and still do. It is important to look at them so that you have a better chance of recognizing them when they strike. They all pale in comparison to my favourite lie, which is “ I should buy this because I deserve it,“ but that deserves it’s own discussion.
What is your favourite frugal lie?