Kim over at Eyes on the Dollar had a great post the other day called When Frugal Fails. It was about a poor choice that she made in the name of saving money that ended up costing her more in the long run. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had many a frugal failure that has watered down our efforts to get out of debt. What’s frustrating about the Frugal Failure is that it’s most always preventable; however, in order to prevent a frugal failure one must recognize the “pre-thinking” associated with making a frugal failure mistake.
My Longstanding Frugal Failure: Not Being Organized
How many times has not being organized caused a frugal failure in your life? There have been numerous times that we’ve not been able to find something around here which has led to us needing to buy another one to replace an item that was in the house……somewhere. Swim goggles, sunscreen, diapers and wipes that I’ve had to purchase and ridiculously expensive convenience stores because I’d forgotten to get them at the big box store earlier in the week – the list goes on and on.
Not being organized has cost me more money than I care to count, and I’ve worked hard in the last 2 years to become more organized and stop those preventable frugal failures from draining my bank account. What about you: has not being unorganized diluted your frugal efforts?
Moving Too Fast
Another big frugal failure for us, although we’re working on it, is simply moving too fast. We’re rushing around trying to get two hours’ worth of work done in an hour and a half (sound familiar?) and next thing you know we’re having to spend money we wouldn’t have had to spend had we (okay, “I”) slowed down a bit and made a plan.
With kids, the most common frugal failure in this area comes in the meal genre. We’re rushing too fast, don’t think to pack snacks, and an hour into our errand-running spree everyone is “starving”. What do we do? Of course, we hit the local drive thru or the Walmart snack aisle to get some expensive (and horribly unhealthy) food. I’m getting better: we now skip the drive thrus and just get $5 or so worth of snacks, but I’m working toward the day when we’ll leave the house fully stocked with an array of frugal and healthy snacks to keep us from the first-world definition of starvation while on the road.
Not Thinking Long-Term
The most vivid short-term thinking mistake that I can remember off hand (although I’m sure there are dozens more that I’ve blocked out emotionally because they were too painful 🙂 ) had to do with a Christmas morning gathering. It was a half hour before “go time”, and I was prepping the camera and the video camera (no combo cameras back in those days) for the big event. We had 25 or so guests arriving for a Christmas lunch and gift opening when I realized that the da*n camera battery was dead!
Now, here was the clincher: Earlier in the week I’d been at the local big box store, and batteries had been on the list, but in my attempts to be frugal, I decided to wait and make the battery stock up purchase till the following month.
And then, here I was, party pending, all big box stores closed due to it being a holiday, and very few options in site. I sent my step dad up to the 24-hour pharmacy on the off chance they carried the particular camera battery I needed. They did: at twice the price of the big box store battery, but I was screwed. I could choose to skip pictures that year, or pay twice the price and have the Christmas memories stored forever. Of course, we bought the batteries.
Being Afraid to Ask
Here’s another frugal failure that I am slowly working on beating. Case in point: My biz account and our personal checking account are at the same credit union. I love our local credit union, for many reasons, but one thing that thoroughly annoys the crap out of me is that it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between the biz checking account debit card and the personal checking account debit card. Even the numbers on the card are nearly identical. For the second time in less than six months, I accidentally used the biz debit card instead of the personal debit card this week, overdrawing the account as it was a big purchase and costing myself $40 in fees.
I called the credit union, asking (semi-passive-aggressively) if they could help maybe by getting me a biz card in a different color or style, and hoping that they’d offer to refund the fees. “Sorry,” came the curt answer from the customer service rep. “Nothing I can do.”. I hung up, ticked off and still $40 poorer.
A day later, I was reliving the phone call with the credit union rep as I checked our accounts online, and realized that I was still mad: both at the customer service rep and at myself. I contacted the credit union online since I was online looking at my emptier checking account anyway, and recounted my experience with the phone rep, the fees and my frustration with the identical-looking cards. A short while later I got a message back with an apology, saying they’d refunded my fees and were sending out a different biz card for me to use.
Now, the other gal said there were no other design options, so we’ll see if I simply end up getting yet another identical debit card to get confused with my other two, but hey, at least I got my 40 bucks back. 🙂
The take-away is that those of us subject to these types of frugal failures could likely save ourselves a lot of cash if we’d be willing to identify and conquer the 4 money-wasting mistakes above. so don’t give up on trying to beat your frugal failures to the curb.
What’s your story? Do you fall prey to any of these frugal failures?