Failing at Being Frugal

Spending (too much) at the craft store

My (former) daughter-in-law is great at crafts. She has made some things that absolutely amaze me. I really want to be able to duplicate the things she makes but I lack three things; patience, talent, and disposable income. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped me from spending money I don’t have on craft items I’ll never use or totally waste trying to create a masterpiece.

The best way to avoid spending too much at the craft store is to access a few things before heading out. Do you have the talent required to make the item you plan to make? Do you have the time to complete the project…ever? Do you have the money to spend on an item that may never see the light of day?

Sometimes the best way to have a cute item to display is to buy it instead of make it.


Making a homemade dinner that costs a fortune

I love to cook and I don’t like eating the very same dinners over and over. If there’s a recipe that uses the basic ingredients I know my husband can eat I’ll try it. But I should consider more than just the basic ingredients. A few times I’ve found myself running from store to store looking for some exotic ingredient a recipe requires that, when I finally find it, costs a small fortune. The real Italian balsamic vinegar runs about $200 an ounce. Now I’ve never lost my mind to that extent but I have spent more on an ingredient than I should have and, since my husband can’t taste things, it’s nothing short of insanity.

To keep myself from turning an inexpensive dinner into something that costs as much as our mortgage payment I check all the ingredients before I decide to try a new recipe. If there is something in the ingredient list that I don’t have and isn’t wildly expensive I’ll consider buying it if I can use it in other recipes I’ve wanted to try. It makes me crazy to see some spice sitting in the cupboard for months because I needed only a half a teaspoon for one recipe that I wasn’t crazy about.

It’s the same for the main ingredients for recipes. If a recipe calls for some seafood I love but it’s way out of my price range I won’t make it. Eating at home is supposed to save money, not cost more than dinner out!

Signing up for a store credit card or a rewards card for the “freebies”

I’ve been guilty of this in my wild youth. Thirty years ago my best friend and I both signed up for J.C. Penney credit cards. It wasn’t because we wanted the cards. It was because, if you signed an application, you got a pitcher and six glasses. They were all plastic. The pitcher and glasses lasted a few years. The payments on the credit card lasted longer. I used that darned card when I had cash in my wallet. I bought things I didn’t need because I had that card. Then, when I was old enough to know better, I did the same thing with another department store card. With the interest I paid on those two cards and the cost of the unnecessary purchases themselves, I could have bought a full set of fine china.  

It’s the same with the rewards cards today. The fine print lists the annual fees, exorbitantly high interest rates, and other costs they don’t tout on the commercials. Now I have one credit card that I use for emergencies and for those times I can’t use cash, like checking into a hotel.

Buying things just because there’s a coupon available

I’m all for using coupons. I think it’s a simple, smart thing to do to save money. But using a coupon to purchase an item you don’t use is a waste. Recently I came across a coupon for a canned convenience food and I was tempted to buy it because the coupon was for $2 off! I nearly giggled at the thought of getting $2 off a single item. Then I remembered I don’t like convenience foods. They’re always more expensive. I don’t like any kind of dinner that comes from a can. They’re almost always really high in sodium and taste like aluminum. And, by buying the item, I wouldn’t be saving $2 I’d be wasting whatever it cost me after the discount.

When I was younger there used to be salesmen that came around to sell coupon booklets. They’d point out the fabulous savings contained in the brightly colored books. I bought one once. It was $10 which was kind of a lot in those days and I spent the entire year trying to figure out how to use them. I didn’t need $15 off a gym membership. I had two toddlers. I got more than enough exercise. I also didn’t need a coupon for $10 off a day at a spa. It would have cost me more to hire a babysitter for the day. Now there are online coupon sites like Groupon. It’s a great way to save on things you really will use but it’s tempting to spend on things you’ll never actually use.

Resale shops, yard sales, and clearance racks can be a money pit

A good way to save money is by shopping resale shops, yard sales, and clearance racks but only if you buy things you’re actually going to wear. It’s easy to drop a lot more than you planned because the prices at these three are so low.

I have a dress in my closet that breaks at least two of my cardinal rules for buying clothes. I found the dress at a yard sale and it really is my style. What it was not was my size. Never, ever buy clothes you can’t wear right now. I also was still in my wheelchair and rarely went outside the house except to the hospital or treatment center. I really didn’t need a dress for a fancy night out. But the sale was right next door and the dress was so inexpensive for its kind that I bought it. I’ve never worn it. If you shop these three ways be sure that you can wear it and that you will wear it.

Author: Elizabeth

I'm a wife, mom, and grandma (known as Bam) who loves cooking, baking, gardening, and all things that go into making a cozy coop for my brood. I have a disability so you may pick up tips on how to do things when some things just don't work right!

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