Are our frugal tricks really saving us money?

I was shopping with my friend once and she was about to fall for that old, if you spend an extra $X, you’ll get a coupon for $Y off in the future. That doesn’t save you money! You’re buying stuff that you don’t want or need!

Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking we’re saving money but it turns out to be not as much of a savings as we thought or perhaps not worth the effort required. This reminds me of when I helped my boyfriend move and he hadn’t planned ahead so we had a smaller truck than what we needed and only got the help of one mover. As we were driving on our second trip back to the new apartment at 2am, completely exhausted and demoralized, I asked how much he thought we saved by moving ourselves and he estimated a few hundred dollars. It wasn’t worth it! 2am!

Perhaps, like my friend, we don’t want whatever we saved money buying. We buy cheap clothing that we don’t like. We buy stuff because it’s cheaper than what we expected. Or sometimes we just delay a purchase that we had to make anyway.

I have been thinking about my “money-saving hacks” and I have to wonder if they’re really worth doing. If the money saved isn’t worth it, and you don’t like doing it, that’s a waste. I don’t have a TV, but that only saved me a few hundred dollars over several years.  And it’s not that I think I should have a TV. And I’m sure it saves me time and money from not watching more commercials than I need. But I keep telling myself that it’s such a cost savings when it really isn’t.

I think the first step to budgeting is checking your purchases to make sure you are spending your money in ways that make you happy. But sometimes when you get really frugal, you start to enjoy the high of saving money. And you might trick yourself into thinking you’re saving more than you really are. Maybe you enjoy the high but you have to ask yourself if there’s any real savings there. Are you getting stuff you like? Are you spending too much time looking for savings? If it’s not a significant savings, is it really worth the effort?

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