Piggy banks in grass

Frugal habits that are actually costing you money

Are your penny-pinching tactics actually the reason why you go over budget each month? This is where shoppers make their biggest mistakes

By Tiffany Loh, 11 January 2016
Frugal habits that are actually costing you money

We all have a few money saving moves up our sleeves. After all, who doesn’t want to cut costs where they can?

It’s easy to lose track of time, so what was initially a small fix can quickly grow into an expensive problem

But without careful monitoring, thriftiness can backfire and frugal habits can end up costing more in the long run.

Here, we dispel popular bargain hunting tricks and reveal the smart shopping strategies that work.

Frugal habit #1: Buying the cheapest option without consideration

It’s smart to be conscious of cost, but there’s a difference between finding a low-cost product that does the same job as a branded version and buying the cheapest low quality alternative, simply because it’s the cheapest.

Frugal solution: Next time you make a purchase consider the cost per wear or cost per use. When it comes to big-ticket items, research product and customer service quality before you buy and you could save yourself from booking return collections.

Frugal habit #2: Not calculating how much your time is worth

When making quick decisions, it can be easy to go with what seems to be the cheapest option without assessing whether it is worth the extra time it takes.

Frugal solution: Figure out what your time is worth to you. If you have a lot on your to-do list, it might be worth coughing up the extra £8 for the fast train to Grandma’s house. Especially if childcare charges a late pickup fee of £10.

Frugal habit #3: Waiting for last-minute deals

Who doesn’t love to score a steal at the eleventh hour? But admit it, watching prices yo-yo gets exhausting. Don’t even get us started on the heart palpations we get when prices sky rocket and don’t fall back down.

Frugal solution: If you have a family reunion out of town on a certain day, do your research early and lock in flexible travel and accommodation as soon as possible. Leave it too late and you risk your preferred hotel being booked out, so you end up staying miles away and forking out for a hire a car.

Frugal habit #4: Doing it yourself

People can be split into two camps: those who can correctly identify a Phillips from a Pozidriv head screwdriver and those who can barely pull a wooden panel from the flatpack, let alone work out where it should go.  

Frugal solution: Yes, it would be wonderful if we could all prove to ourselves that we can assemble a table. But DIY isn’t for everyone, so you should think about whether the four-hour struggle is worth it. Would it be more efficient to pay a neighbour, if he can build it in a quarter of the time?

Frugal habit #5: Putting off appointments

From health check ups to car maintenance bookings, appointments are scheduled for a reason. It’s easy to lose track of time, so what was initially a small fix can quickly grow into an expensive problem. You’ll regret it when you have to dig deep to see a private dentist for an emergency root canal.

Frugal solution: Put yourself first, everything else can wait. Your health and safety is a number one priority, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Frugal habit #6: Stocking up when items are on sale

Hands up if you’ve gone overboard at a sale and then had buyer’s remorse. Reaping the discounts was fun at the time, but what’s the point when you bought three tops that will be no longer on-trend by the time you get around to wearing them?

Frugal solution: The sales are usually around the same time each year so breakdown your shopping list into the following categories: everyday needs, regular use items (essentials and splurge products), big-ticket dreams and presents to buy. This will curb your spending and help you budget.

Frugal habit #7: Cutting back on nutritious food

When times are tough it may be tempting to cut back on fresh produce for less expensive snacks and processed replacements. But these foods are often high in simple carbohydrates, meaning they are quickly broken down by the digestive tract, so you’ll get hungry more quickly and crave more of this less nutritious food.

Frugal solution: Your health is more important than a small grocery bill saving. Go shopping with a friend and buy larger quantities to get more for your money and divide your groceries between the two of you.

See more ways to manage your cash flow at Asda Money here