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7 Frugal Hacks That Aren't Actually Frugal Freedom In A Budget
Budgeting Saving Money

7 Frugal Hacks That Aren’t Actually Frugal

Are you always looking for the next frugal life hack or frugal habit to save you money? Some of them are legit and save a ton of money, but others actually end up costing you more money.

Today I’m sharing 7 “Frugal” habits that actually cost you more money.

Fresh Produce

This frugal tip may come as a surprise to some if you’ve read my blog for any length of time (Ahem 10 Things I Don’t Buy To Save Money).

I am not a fan of “pre-cut” produce because the markup is insane. But if buying pre-cut produce means that you will actually eat it and it doesn’t go to waste, then it’s worth it.

I personally am so guilty of buying a fresh pineapple or cantaloupe before they are ripe enough to cut, so I put it on the counter to cut in a couple days. Then days turn into a week and it is complete mush with mold growing.

how to save money on produce

Now I’ve completely wasted that money.

I don’t know if it’s just me or you can relate but the healthiest version of myself always goes to the grocery store. I have EVERY intention of eating 15 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (slight exaggeration) but to be honest I struggle to even eat ONE serving a day.

How to save money:

Try buying frozen produce instead. The price is comparable to fresh produce and will stay fresh until you are ready to eat it.

Cutting Cable

“Cut cable and switch to streaming service, it will save you money”. Yes, canceling your $70 cable package and switch to a $6.99 Hulu subscription.

But the problem comes in when you start with just Hulu, then add Showtime, Discovery +, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime and all of the other streaming services.

You went from spending only $70 a month on cable to now spending over $100 on streaming services. All of the little packages are very affordable but add up very quickly.

How to save money:

Do some research on the streaming services and the channels/shows they offer and pick one or two.

Here are my favorite services: 

  • Hulu: Save $20/month for 3 months on Hulu + Live TV, now with Disney+ and ESPN+.
  • Showtime: 30-day free trial, then $10.99/month (also get $2 cash back with Rakuten)
  • dish: Enjoy 2-year price guarantee, DVR with up to 2,000 hours of recording space, and 99% signal reliability. (also get $75 cash back with Rakuten)
  • discovery+: The only streaming service with the greatest real-life entertainment from your favorite TV brands – including HGTV, Food Network, and more! Enjoy unlimited access to the greatest real-life entertainment, plus exclusives and originals.
  • Roku: Thousands of hours, and counting, of content from the top names in music, movies, sports, and television. (also get 2.5% cash back with Rakuten)
  • Amazon Prime Video: Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime with a 30-day free trial. 

This is also why it’s so important to have a written budget so you can see how much you are spending each month in your subscriptions.

I have a subscriptions box in my budget so I can see exactly what we are spending and re-evaluate throughout the year.

Honest moment:

My husband and I have been guilty of signing up for a subscription service to watch one show and then forget to cancel it months later.

Add an event in your calendar to cancel the trial or subscription after you expect to finish the series.

Click here to get the same budget I’ve used to pay off my debt, pay cash for our wedding and save $50k in a year!

Shopping at the Dollar Store

We all love the Dollar Store, there are certain items I ONLY buy at the Dollar Tree: greeting cards, gift bags, and tissue paper.

They are the best deal around.

But not every item at the dollar tree is a good deal.

Pay attention to cost per ounce compared to places like Amazon, Walmart, or Target. You can often get a better deal by buying the regular sized item verses the tiny version at the Dollar Store.

Another reason why the Dollar Store is not saving you money is the quality is often very poor unless you are finding the name brand treasures.

How to save money:

Invest in the real deal, it will end up saving you more money over time because you won’t need to replace it as often.

Know what a good deal is and not a good deal at the Dollar Store.  

Couponing

Couponing saves so much     money, right?! Not always.

We’ve all seen the people on YouTube and the extreme couponing shows that get all of their groceries for free and wonder how the heck they do it.

Unless you have made it your full-time job to find all the couponing deals they don’t often save much money or could actually cost you more money.

Many times when you use a coupon there are two requirements that I have an issue with.

First, you need to buy the name brand.

I’ve found that I can often get the generic product for cheaper than the name brand is with the couponing discount.

For example: If there is a $1 off coupon on Hidden Valley’s Ranch Salad Dressing. The Hidden Valley’s brand dressing costs $3.58, with the coupon bringing the price down to $2.58.

But the store brand is only $1.97 for the same size.

Using the coupon would actually cost you $0.61 more!

Second, with coupons you often need to buy multiples to get the deal. Do you really need more than one or are you just buying it because “it’s a great deal”?

This is another example where you end up spending more money in the long run.

This is also why I like the Fetch Rewards app more than Ibotta. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Ibotta app but I like that Fetch Rewards doesn’t require you to “pre-clip” the coupons and you get a minimum of 25 points on every receipt regardless if you take advantage of the Special Offers or not.

>> Click here to download Fetch Rewards and get 2,000 points ($2) when you scan your first receipt.

>> Click here to download Ibotta and get $10 when you scan your first receipt.

Watch Fetch Rewards vs Ibotta

Buying In Bulk

Did you know that buying in bulk is no longer always cheaper?

For years, if you bought the larger version of something it was almost always going to be cheaper per ounce than a smaller version of that same item.

Marketers have caught onto that’s how our brains think and now it’s important to do the math to see which one is actually cheaper.

I have found that many times ALDI is the same price or cheaper per ounce than the big warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s.

Another way that buying in bulk is not saving you money is if you are buying more than you can consume before it spoils or expires, then you need to throw it away.

How to save money:

Use this handy FREE Cost Comparison Printable to keep track of your favorite items to see which stores have the best prices.

Not Buying Quality Items

Have you been guilty of buying an item (especially clothing) just because it was on sale or “such a great deal”?

When I was in college, I had a spending problem and would buy clothes JUST because they were on sale.

“How can I turn down this shirt, its only $6.99?”

Did it fit me well? Nope.

Was it quality material? Nope.

Was it on sale? Yup.

And that was all that mattered to me.

This is where Impulse Spending (free impulse spending checklist printable) is important to get under control.

Those items are not a great deal if they are going to get stretched out and you can only wear it a couple of times.

Or even worse, you can’t even wear it until you lose 10 pounds.

Repeat after me:

“I no longer buy clothes that will only fit my ‘future body’, but I buy clothes that make me feel confident right now!”

Not buying quality items isn’t just for clothes, but also tools, household items, basically anything that can break.

Yes, it may cost you more upfront, but its important to invest in quality items, especially as you move out of the scarcity mindset and can afford quality.

Life hack:

Budgeting helps you to get out of the scarcity mindset much faster than winging it.

DIY Crafts

Have you ever seen a home décor item and said to yourself “I could make that.. heck, I could make it for cheaper than this!”?

I’ve been so guilty of this over the years and 95% of the time, it ends up costing more than the original and has a crooked letter.

I should’ve just bought it, saved myself the time, supplies, and stress from it not looking just right.

If you are an avid crafter, you are the exception to this but for the fellow average person, it’s not saving us any money.

More ways to save!

  • CIT Bank: BEST High-yield savings account; your bank shouldn’t be charging you money. Instead, YOU should be making money off your money!
  • Ladder: Get a quick, free quote on term life insurance, affordable, online term life insurance. No exam! No waiting! No hassles!
  • GetUpside: Earn 20 cents per gallon on gas cash back when you download the app and use code FIAB20.
  • Fetch Rewards is a free grocery savings app that rewards you just for snapping pictures of your receipts. That’s it. Really. Free gift cards on groceries on thousands of products every day, no matter where you get your groceries. Just scan your receipts and get gift cards from retailers like Amazon, Target, Ulta, Applebees. Use code QHKBH to earn 2,000 points ($2)!
  • GoodRx: Free app that provides you savings of up to 80% on your prescriptions (even if you don’t have insurance). $5 sign up bonus!
  • Rakuten: Get cash back on online purchases and automatic coupons and savings with their browser plugin… and remember, you have to make a $20 purchase to get your $20 for free!
  • Blooom: FREE 401(k) or IRA analyzer, Let the experts take a peek at your retirement account. Get real advice on how it’s doing and how it could be performing better.
  • Lively: A modern health savings account. Prepare for tomorrow by making smart decisions about finances and healthcare today. Lively HSAs are free for individuals and families, so you never have to worry about hidden costs.
  • Build Wealth by Investing in Index Funds Course: I’ve teamed up with my friend Jeremy from Personal Finance Club to teach you everything you need to know to invest in index funds! How to open an account, how much to invest, and how to choose an index fund. You’ll gain the knowledge and confidence to optimally invest and build wealth for decades.
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