Woman looking sad and holding money

Sometimes we have the best of 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

Aisle of bulk nuts and seeds in grocery store
Image Credit: James Mattil via Shutterstock.

A user in a popular online forum said, “I was very surprised when I figured out that sometimes you pay more per ounce! Gotta do the math.”

Another user agreed and said, ”100% gotta do the math; even with smaller sizes, the one pound can be cheaper than the two pounds. Why? Who knows, just get that calculator out.”

2. Growing Your Own Food

Container garden on patio
Image Credit: vaivirga via Shutterstock.

Someone said, “I always expect growing my own food to be more frugal than it actually is. It can be frugal, but if you’re buying soil and fertilizer, in your specific case, it probably isn’t. I enjoy doing it, and I don’t let the costs get out of hand, but I definitely tend to spend more than I plan at the start of the season.”

3. Making Laundry Detergent

Ingredients to make homemade laundry detergent
Image Credit: ju_see via Shutterstock.

Someone shared, “Making Laundry detergent did not work for me. It was a pit, and clothes became dingy.”

Another user agreed and shared, “I made my own laundry detergent once and swore I would NEVER do it again. Felt like it took hours to grate all the soap, and it didn’t end up that much cheaper.”

4. Upgrading Old Appliances

Appliance showroom with wall-to-wall appliances
Image Credit: Serghei Starus via Shutterstock.

“When we replaced our old fridge with a new energy efficient one our electricity bills went down so much that it paid for the cost of the fridge in two or three years,” a user shared.

5. Buying on Amazon

Laptop screen showing Amazon Prime Day deals
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Someone shared, “I gotta say that for 99% of items, Amazon is NOT the cheapest place to get it. Amazon used to be the cheapest, but their prices today are just meh. eBay and Alibaba are the cheaper options, but eBay is by far way less sketchy.”

6. Membership Warehouses

People shopping in a warehouse club
Image Credit: a katz via Shutterstock.

One user mentitoned, “For me its membership warehouses. We just don’t shop that way and bought a lot of stuff we didn’t use or went bad. I know it works for a lot of people, but not for us.”

7. Reusable Silicone Items

Bowl of fruit with silicone reusable covers on top
Image Credit: Space_Cat via Shutterstock.

“Reusable stretchy silicone bowl covers and reusable food storage bags have been two of my biggest disappointments. Neither perform as advertised and are a nuisance to clean and dry,” someone said.

8. Cheap Dish Soap

Person putting dishsoap on a sponge
Image Credit: Subbotina Anna via Shutterstock.

One person noted, “Literally no dish soap works as well as Dawn, and I don’t understand it.”

Someone else agreed and added, “YES! I was raised poor, so I always thought Dawn was just a brand mark up but “how different can they be?” They are incredibly different from cheap dish soap brands.”

9. Making Your Own Clothing

Woman sewing fabric together
Image Credit: Vladimir Kazakov via Shutterstock.

Someone said, “Starting costs are expensive. Certain fabric is expensive. Certain thread is expensive. It’s still cheaper than store-bought if you’re like me and seem to have an expensive taste, but it’s more expensive than I thought it would be.”

10. Rolling Car Windows Down

Girl smiling in backseat of car with window down
Image Credit: Milles Studio via Shutterstock.

Someone shared, “Rolling down the windows instead of using the air conditioner in a car. Yes, at a slow speed, this saves a bit on gas, but at highway speeds, it’s more efficient to use the air conditioner.”

11. Travel Point Cards

Couple travel hacking with a credit card
Image Credit: adriaticfoto via Shutterstock.

A user said, “Travel points on credit cards; I wished I had used a cashback card instead. Travel often for work, but doing a lot less flying now.”

12. Knitting

Two women sitting together and knitting
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot via Shutterstock.

A user said, “Knitting. I thought, “Oh! I’ll knit my own sweaters!” But even with Walmart yarn, you can spend a fortune. For the last sweater I knit, I bought a very nice yarn, about $120, plus round needles in a specific size, etc. The sweater was nice, but it wasn’t $150 nice, and that’s not counting the labor I put in.”

13. Second-Hand Shops

Racks of clothing in a thrift store
Image Credit: Daisy Daisy via Shutterstock.

A user shared, “Going to second-hand shops or Goodwill. The clothes are the same price as new now. And a lot of the time, that same shirt is cheaper at Walmart new.”

14. Campers and RVs

Camper set up in RV park
Image Credit: Arina P Habich via Shutterstock.

One user replied, “Camper/RV instead of staying at a hotel. I bought a used camper. The thing is that they are made cheaply and from the inside out. To fix/change anything is a giant task.”

15. Shredding Blocks of Cheese

Cutting board with cheese block and shredded cheese
Image Credit: Oksana Mizina via Shutterstock.

“For years, I thought that buying block cheese and then slicing/shredding it myself was more frugal than buying pre-shredded. One day, years later, I decided to check the price per pound and found that shredded costs the same as a block,” someone said.

16. Milk in Coffee

Barista pouring milk in coffee
Image Credit: ImYanis via Shutterstock.

A user shared, ”Using milk in my coffee instead of creamer. I thought I was saving money, but the amount of milk it takes to lighten my coffee the way I like it meant I was burning through milk like crazy. I went through 3/4 of a gallon a week on coffee alone.”

17. Buying a House

Modest house with well-manicured lawn
Image Credit: Imagenet via Shutterstock.

“We bought a house so we wouldn’t throw money away renting. We ended up selling two years later to relocate for a work opportunity (to be fair, we didn’t anticipate this happening when we originally bought). Paying closing costs and realtor commissions took away any of the financial benefits.”

This article was inspired by this thread and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cents + Purpose – photos for illustrative purposes only.

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