Budgeting/Essays & Confessions

6 Times Being Frugal Has Backfired On Me 

By | Saturday, May 30, 2020

Like any good daughter of an accountant, I love scoping out a great deal every chance I get. Clearance groceries with looming expiry dates, two-for-one offers, cheap flowers at the farmer’s market…in a way, it’s almost become a challenge to me: How can I get the job done by spending as little as possible? 

But alas, sometimes being cheap has its downfalls. Yes, it’s possible to be too frugal. Sometimes saving money comes at the price of your time, energy, or mental health. Here are six times being frugal has backfired on me. 

Catching Early Morning Flights 

You know that feeling when you’re planning that long-awaited vacation and your eyes keep shifting between the 11 AM flight and the 7 AM flight? You know the 11 AM flight will remove a lot of stress: You’ll be able to wake up at a decent hour, still enjoy breakfast, and then calmly find your way to the airport.  The problem is, it costs $100 more.

But in the interest of saving money, you book the 7 AM flight anyway. This is a trend I know all too well. Ultimately, in my attempt to save a few dollars, I’ve had to wake up ridiculously early. So early, in fact, that the city’s metro system isn’t open yet, forcing me to take a taxi or an Uber, neither of which are as cheap as a transit ticket. Then there’s the issue of arriving at my destination too early — when my accommodation check-in isn’t till 3 PM and I really want a shower. So now I’m tired, unable to freshen up, and lugging a wheelie suitcase along cobblestoned streets, more often than not taking refuge in a nearby café and begrudgingly spending more money on things I don’t want. It was worth it though, right?

Insisting on Walking 

Just like Elizabeth Bennet, I prefer to walk. Six miles to the bus stop with a backpack weighing me down? Let’s go! Four miles to the beach when I’m dripping and sticky with sweat and low on my water supply? Bring it on! One mile back to my sister’s apartment when it’s nearly midnight, dark outside, and I’m alone? No problem! Looking back, these are all very silly things I did to save a few bucks on transit. In some cases, I even jeopardized my safety and my health. Ironically, I usually end up getting lost on my walking adventures, forcing me to end up catching the bus anyway and spending the same amount as I would have taking it in the first place — only I’m more sweaty, tired, and full of blisters!  

Purchasing A Second-Hand Bike 

In many cases, buying second hand is no problem at all but every once in awhile, you’re bound to get unlucky. Unfortunately, this happened to me when I bought a second-hand bike. Pleased and proud of the deal I found, I happily returned home with my new purchase, eager to hit the road. Much to my dismay, however, I discovered that the seatpost was seized, meaning I could barely reach the pedals. Not the biggest issue when I was zipping along, but as soon as I came to a stop, I would topple sideways like a felled tree due to the fact that my feet couldn’t touch the floor. I eventually got it fixed, but that cost money, too, and who needs the hassle and the skinned knees for the sake of a few dollars? 

Skimping on Winter Boots

Who needs really good winter boots to traverse the snow in Finland when you have layers of socks? Not me, apparently. On a past trip to the snowy frontier of Rovaniemi, I risked taking a leisurely walk through the snow-clad woods of Lapland, armed only with my regular boots and layers upon layers of socks. I refused to buy new boots for this trip. The result: having to cut my walk short and suffering near frostbite because of it! There are some things that are worth spending the money — a pair of winter boots on a snowy hike is one of them.

Booking a Non-Direct Train Ticket 

When given the option to book a direct train or a long, winding journey that stops in every town along the way, I usually pick the long, winding journey. In addition, I also pick the hard-seat instead of the sleeping cart. There are apparently no exceptions to my rule as I’ve been known to choose the extended journey instead of the bullet train, even when it’s a grand total of twenty-four hours. With a stiff neck, cramped legs, and the stale smell of mingled sweat and different people’s food on my clothes, I finally arrived at my destination. 

Sorting from Low to High

These days, we do a massive percentage of our shopping online and I love this for one specific reason: the sort function. Before I’ve even bothered to glance at an item, I need to make sure that the cheapest option is secured firmly at the top of the list. If I’m honest, I rarely go past option one. Even with clothing, I sometimes buy items based on price rather than quality. This has led me to be the proud owner of a wardrobe full of clothing characterized by missing buttons, frayed hems, and faded colors. Great financial decision that was!

Looking back, I see that I made some pretty silly decisions.  But the lessons I learned from these experiences are far more valuable than the money I ended up saving or regrettably forking over.  And while I still appreciate saving money when I can, I hope to be a smarter saver going forward. 

Kazandra is a Vancouver-based writer with a passion for travel, people, and all things literary.  Read more of her work on Things I Learned Growing Up, a blog filled with unfiltered stories to inspire your own journey.


Image via Pexels

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