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Sometimes, we have the best intentions to save money and be frugal. We follow all the tips that were taught to us growing up from family or others’ personal experiences, only to find out that we’re actually just wasting time and money. Here are 17 things people thought were frugal but realized they’re really not…

1. Buying in Bulk

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Many people believe that buying bulk saves them money, but the truth is that you really have to know your prices and pay attention to the math. Some are surprised when they figure out that when you buy from the bulk section, you end up paying more per ounce than you would from the packaged version on the shelf. Sometimes even with packaged foods, you might find the smaller package may be cheaper than the larger package (e.g. 2 x 1 lb packages of something is cheaper than 1 x 2 lb package), so you really have to do the math to find the best deal!

2. Growing Your Own Food

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You would think that you would save money by growing your food since you can cut out the grocery store markup, but it’s not as frugal as you’d think. This is especially true if you think of all the essentials you need to purchase to start and maintain your at-home garden. The costs for soil, seeds, fertilizer, planter boxes, and gardening tools can add up quite quickly, and there’s also a cost for your time. What may have seemed like a cost-saving measure initially may now actually be just as expensive as buying produce from the store.

3. Making Laundry Detergent

Ingredients to make homemade laundry detergent
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Making laundry detergent is another case where DIY isn’t always cheaper. Once you buy the different things you need to mix to create laundry detergent, you may need to spend additional time to prep them. For example, some soaps are solid and need to be grated to be effective in a homemade detergent recipe. So, even if the components are slightly cheaper than buying ready-made detergent, the amount of time spent to combine them doesn’t make the savings worthwhile.

4. Keeping Old Appliances

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Is the age-old saying ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ true when it comes to old appliances? Not necessarily. While keeping an old appliance means you don’t have to fork out the money for a new one, you may be spending more on your electricity bills to run these appliances.

Newer appliances are built to be energy efficient, so when you upgrade an appliance, it’s normal to see a decrease in your electricity bill. Those savings accumulate over time, and the cost of the new appliance ends up being paid for in just a couple of years!

5. Buying on Amazon

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Amazon may be convenient, but it is not always the most cost-effective option. In fact, many people find that for 99% of items, Amazon is NOT the cheapest place to get it. There was a time when Amazon was the cheapest, but their prices today are not competitive; eBay and Alibaba are the cheaper options, but eBay is much less sketchy.

6. Membership Warehouses

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Shopping at membership warehouses like Costco or Sam’s Club can potentially save money, but it’s not always a good deal. This is another case where you have to know your prices. There are some items where the warehouse pricing beats retail pricing everyday, but that’s not the case for everything that is sold there. In addition, you have to be sure that buying large quantities makes sense – if you’re just buying something in bulk because it’s cheaper, but then don’t use it before it goes bad, you’re just throwing money away.

7. Reusable Silicone Items

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Just because something is reusable does not always mean it is more cost-effective. Take reusable stretchy silicone bowl covers and reusable food storage bags, for example. While you can use them repeatedly compared to their single-use counterparts, some people find them to be less effective at storing their food and keeping it fresh. Not only that, but they are a nuisance to clean and dry. Sometimes, you have to consider whether the initial investment for a reusable product is actually going to be worthwhile and whether you’ll continue to use the item after you purchase it.

8. Cheap Dish Soap

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Dish soap is one of those things where you don’t want to skimp on quality. The cheap stuff doesn’t work as effectively, so you need to use more of it to get the same result as a brand name soap. Even though it may have been cheaper than the name-brand detergent, because you end up using more, it can end up being the same cost as if you bought the name-brand detergent, or worse, even more expensive.

9. Making Your Own Clothing

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Making your own clothes may seem like a frugal option, but in reality, it can be quite costly. You’ll need to purchase a sewing machine, fabric, thread, and any other items you might need like zippers and buttons. Commercial companies can buy these things in bulk and get cheaper pricing than you will buying these in small quantities.

10. Rolling Car Windows Down

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Some people try to save money on gas by rolling their windows down instead of using air conditioning in the car. While this may seem like a good idea, it only works at slow speeds driving on city roads. When you are driving at highway speeds, rolling down the windows creates drag. The drag forces your car to use more gas to maintain the same speed, so in this case, it’s more efficient to use the air conditioner.

11. Travel Point Cards

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Most credit cards have a perk associated with them that enables you to collect rewards points or cashback. Many people elect for a card that grants them rewards points they can redeem for travel, thinking that this will allow them to travel more at a cheaper cost. But in reality, a card that allows cashback is often a better option because that cashback can be used for travel or something else if you have a more pressing financial need. Many people also don’t travel as much as they think, and don’t use their rewards points to their full advantage, effectively leaving money on the table.

12. Knitting

Two women sitting together and knitting
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Many people think that knitting is an affordable way to create clothing for yourself, especially sweaters, scarves, etc. But in reality, it is much more expensive than you might think. Yarn, even cheap yarn from Walmart, can be quite expensive when you realize how much you need for a project like a sweater. And if you want a nice yarn, you can expect to pay even more. When you consider the specific needles you might need to purchase for some projects, plus the labor time you put in, it’s not as frugal as you might think.

13. Second-Hand Shops

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Shopping at second-hand stores may be a more sustainable way to shop from an ecological perspective, but it’s not always a cheaper alternative to buying brand new. In fact, for basics like t-shirts and jeans, prices at second-hand shops are the same as buying new from another store, like Walmart. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, shopping secondhand for designer or luxury brand items is how you will get the best deal.

14. Campers and RVs

Camper set up in RV park
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Staying in a camper or an RV may seem like a way to save on the cost of staying at a hotel when traveling, but you also need to consider the other costs that come with these options. For example, there is the large upfront cost to purchase a camper or RV, but then there is also the cost of gas to tow a trailer or drive an RV and the cost of routine maintenance. Once you factor these costs in, it can become too expensive for some people to keep up with.

15. Shredding Blocks of Cheese

Cutting board with cheese block and shredded cheese
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Lots of people think that buying a block cheese and then slicing/shredding it themselves is more frugal than buying pre-shredded cheese. You might think that because of the extra processing and packaging of shredded cheese, it would make sense that it’d be more expensive. But, you might be surprised to find that if you check the price per pound, the cost of pre-shredded and blocks of cheese are virtually the same.

16. Milk in Coffee

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Some people try changing to milk in their coffee instead of cream or creamer since milk is cheaper and bought in larger volumes. The challenge with this is that to make your coffee the same way you like it with cream or creamer; you need to use a lot more milk. So, although it might seem like you’re saving money by using milk, if you’re using that much more and burning through it, it’s not saving you any money. You’re better off just buying the creamer and making your coffee the way you like it.

17. Buying a House

Modest house with well-manicured lawn
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It’s commonly thought that buying a house is a better use of money because it allows you to build equity. Conversely, renting can seem like a waste of money because you’re throwing it away with nothing to show for your payments. However, you have to consider what the right option is for you – building equity only works if you’re going to be in your home long-term and can ride out dips in the market. In the short term, buying and selling houses can cause you to lose money if the market drops or once you factor in realtor commissions and closing costs.

14 of the Best Frugal Hacks To Save You Money (That Most People Ignore)

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Most of us want to save money when we can. Why spend money on unnecessary things if you can find an alternate way to achieve the same goal while saving some cash along the way? It’s good to find creative ways to cut back on your expenses and save, but often, there are simple hacks to save right in front of us, but most people tend to ignore them. Here are 14 of the best (and easiest) ways to live frugally that don’t require a ton of effort. 14 of the Best Frugal Hacks To Save You Money (That Most People Ignore)

Avoid These 5 Money Mistakes to Achieve Financial Stability

Woman shaking a piggy bank upside down and nothing coming out
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Financial stability provides peace of mind, freedom from debt, and the ability to enjoy life without constant worry about money. However, achieving financial stability requires careful planning and discipline. And along the way, it’s important to avoid common money mistakes that can set you back as you strive to achieve financial stability. Avoid These 5 Money Mistakes to Achieve Financial Stability

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