In moderation, frugality is beneficial. It can help you prepare for retirement, build your savings, and reach your other financial goals. However, when taken to extremes, money-saving strategies can sometimes backfire, resulting in frustration and disappointment. If you’re wondering whether or not to take the frugal route on your next big purchase, ask yourself the following questions.
Is It Worth Your Time?
If you’re thinking of undertaking a big DIY project, ask yourself if it’s worth your time. Your time is valuable. Many DIY endeavors aren’t worth doing because they take so long to complete. For example, if you’re thinking about planting a vegetable garden to save money on groceries, determine how much time you’ll spend caring for it along with the cost of the supplies you’ll need.
Sometimes taking the frugal route ends up costing you an exorbitant amount of both time and money; this is often true around tax season. The tax code is complex, and if you are self-employed, owe a large amount, or have tax debt, it becomes even more complicated. While it costs money upfront, retaining the services of a tax expert can save you thousands of dollars down the road. An independent resource, such as Solvable, can offer advice about the best way to resolve tax debt, navigate the system for you, and possibly find ways to save you money.
Will the Quality Suffer?
Before making the less expensive choice, investigate the quality of the item. Saving a few bucks isn’t a good deal if it’s going to break and you’re going to have to purchase the same item a second time. If poor quality makes the item frustrating to use, it’s probably not a good buying decision.
Keep in mind that quality isn’t always about material items. Quality also extends to services you pay someone else to do. If you opt to save money on a haircut at a low-cost salon and end up with a bad one, you’ll have to pay someone else to fix it. You may end up spending more than you would’ve if you’d gone to a quality hair stylist the first time.
Of course, in some cases, it makes sense to buy a lower-quality item. It depends on what you’re going to use it for and how often you’ll use it.
What Are You Sacrificing?
Ask yourself what you’re sacrificing by choosing the lower-cost item. If you’re sacrificing safety, don’t buy it. A cheap bike helmet from a big-box store may cost less than a custom-fit helmet from a bike shop, but it may not keep you as safe in a crash. Some sacrifices are worth making, and your personal preferences and values will help you determine what you’re willing to live with.
Cutting costs helps you get your spending under control so you can use your money on what’s important to you. However, cost-cutting measures can sometimes go too far, resulting in frustration and regret. Before making your next frugal purchase, stop and ask yourself if it’s a wise decision. Often it is, but sometimes it’s not, so think it through before you buy.