3 Thrifty Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

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By the author of the online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture

Oops! Ya, it isn’t always easy being a Frugalite. And being perfectly thrifty doesn’t always come naturally to everyone. As I found out in the past year, even a seasoned money-saver like myself has a few areas to improve on. Here are a few Frugalite lessons I learned the hard way. I share them in the hope that you can benefit from my mistakes (umm, I mean learning experiences)! 

Buying Before Doing

I love thinking about new ways to share information with people interested in self-sufficiency. I have my website, my free course, my blog, and much more. I started hearing that podcasts were the new “thing” and that a podcast would reach a lot of folks and be helpful to them. So, what did I do? All excited, I took a small intro course, did some research, and bought all the equipment required to launch the podcast. (Not top-of-the-line stuff, though, because I am a Frugalite, after all! I bought “middle of the road” quality, which is what I usually do in most things.) 

Have I started my podcast? Umm….nope. Would this normally be an issue? No, the money I spent on the microphone, special headphones, special audio cables, and professional ring light (in case I need video), would not normally be an issue. However, we are in a time of historic inflation, and I probably could have used that money to buy something else….like a dozen eggs…..or a piece of cheese. 

Will I EVER have a podcast? Yes, probably, someday!

Lesson Learned: I got an insight into my personality, which is highly enthusiastic. And, I like to do things right. This means that I can be overly focused on equipment out of the gate, rather than on just starting it. So, in the future, when I feel that enthusiasm rising, and I reach for my credit card, I will take a deep breath and STOP. I will start with what I have, even if it isn’t “perfect” and upgrade the equipment as I am able or, even better, once the initiative has shown some promise. 

Paying When NOT Using

I had been enjoying my online ballet subscription, and it was really quite a thrifty deal at only $20 per month for unlimited usage. However, a tragic loss in our family last year left me sad and without the energy for exercise for several months. I often thought about doing the ballet classes but was having trouble keeping up with my gardening, in addition to my heavy work on the farm.

Because the fee was relatively small, and I really liked the instructor, I let this charge ride on my account month after month. The rubber really hit the road when I got the email that the monthly charge was going to increase or else I had to pay for the year upfront. I simply couldn’t do it, and I couldn’t rationalize paying an increased fee when I had only used it once in the past six months. 

Lesson Learned: I had no commitment to pay long-term. In retrospect, I wish I had canceled when I had not used it for a month….that will be my new practice. I could have saved some money that would have really come in handy this year!

“If I Don’t Like It, I Can Sell It Later”

OK, I’m going to be clear upfront: I don’t do this all the time! My Frugalite pride is on the line here. However, I think that I can be most helpful to others when I am totally honest with myself. Truth be told, this is a story that I have told myself a few times in the past few years.  Here’s why I have stopped doing this. The first reason is that I have found out through trying to SELL some of these items that my ideas of what is valuable are quite different than the larger market. 

A good example of this is the two handmade solid red oak matching corner shelving units made by a local furniture maker that I bought from my cousin’s daughter-in-law. The artistry on these pieces was exceptional, with wide thick solid oak boards, and invisible joinery on the shelves. Beautiful! However, after numerous attempts to sell them online at what I thought was a reasonable to low price, I contacted a local antique dealer. She said they couldn’t buy them from me for any decent price and make any money themselves. The market was simply not there for these solid wood pieces. She gave an example of a solid mahogany table in their shop that they could not sell for less than $120. I was completely shocked. 

So, while I had bought these items thinking I could easily resell them if they didn’t suit the eco-cabin, I was wrong. While I can’t really understand it, I guess many people prefer modern plastic-coated chipboard furniture that is more disposable in nature. That was around 6 months ago. I think with inflation and the financial hardships that folks are facing, the market on “extras” like nice furniture is severely reduced. 

Lesson Learned: Especially in dire financial times like this if I need to count on reselling something, that alone should give me pause. I can probably live without it! On the local resale pages, even brand-new items rarely sell for more than half of the retail price. People who price them above that are sometimes scolded in the comments. I will not consider any resale a “sure bet” in the future.

A Frugalite Never Forgets

Yes, I am willing to admit that I have learned some thrifty lessons the hard way.

Did you find the lessons learned helpful? Have you ever made any of the same ones? Do you have your own Frugalite lesson learned the hard way that you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

3 Thrifty Lessons I Learned the Hard Way
Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

12 thoughts on “3 Thrifty Lessons I Learned the Hard Way”

  1. Selling in a secondary marketplace such as Facebook or Craigslist is terrible. Buy something for $500, list it for $100, and the person shows up and asks if you’ll take $50 for it. I tell them I’ll put it in the driveway and back over it before I’d sell it for that. Giving to extended family / friend network or ‘free on the curb’ is a better use of time.

    1. Hi Ted, HA HA HA! You have a great sense of humour! Your comment really gave me a big chuckle out loud. To be honest, it also helped me realize that I wasn’t alone in this experience, which was real nice.

      You might be interested to hear that I had a detailed discussion on the phone with a local auctioneer/antique dealer who specializes in farm stuff. I wondered where the market had gone for many of my farm memorabilia that I wanted to sell. He told me flat out that the bottom has fallen out of what he called the “middle market” in antiques. Nothing is now holding value except the super high end stuff, that he said would always hold its value. That seems true to me. Most of us are struggling to buy groceries, so why would we buy an antique surge milker to display on our front step.

      Anyhow, an absolute pleasure to read your comment. Wishing you the best with any selling that you do!

  2. Well, yes. I can agree with you.
    I bought a $30,000 car, an SUV second-hand car that I thought would last forever. However, after about a month of driving it, I noticed a weird sound coming from the engine. They couldn’t figure out what it was, of course, and the sound was obnoxious. Then during our first Midwest blizzard, I found that it wouldn’t go in the snow. It took me about 3 hours to drive less than 5 miles home. And, since I live on top of a hill, I had to park it and walk on slippery ground up to my house.
    I needed a reliable car, so I traded it in. They only allowed me $8,000 on the car, so boy, I lost a lot of money. Lesson learned: I have now a reliable car that while not an SUV, gets me from point A to point B safely. I will never put that much money into a “want” again.

    1. Oh, my, Marie! I was terribly sorry to read your story about your SUV. If that had happened to me, I would have been both disappointed and really FRUSTRATED! However, I am glad you are safe. That sounds like a white knuckle drive home if I ever heard of one. I hope that your car you have now will be a real gem for you and last for YEARS and YEARS! Thank you for sharing this story, as your honesty could help some other Frugalites, which is my dear hope for the entire post! Wishing you the best!

  3. Several years ago we moved from a 1900 square foot house into a 1300 square foot condo. We needed to get rid of a lot of things! Twenty-five years earlier we had bought 1930s era table, 6 chairs, and a sideboard for $400. I thought we would either have to donate it or put it on the curb. We had used it well—big family dinners, entertaining friends, and hosting club and church luncheons. A young neighbor dropped in for a brief visit, and I mentioned that the dining room furniture would not be moved. She immediately said that her sister and brother-in-law had just bought a house with a dining room and might like to buy it. Her brother-in-law came by, approved the set, paid $125 in cash, and loaded it on his pickup. They are still using it and enjoying it. Pure luck. A dealer would not have paid me that much.

    1. Hi Mary, What a great story! I’m especially glad to hear that they are still using it and enjoying. That makes a great happy ending to the story. Yes, you are quite right that the dealer would not have paid as much. I have to smile when I think of all of the years of good use you got out of that, and you still made a nice amount selling it. Mary, you are a true Frugalite! Wishing you a great spring….is it here yet????

      1. Ice storm last week! Lots of damage to trees and shrubbery. The city is having double shifts to get it all to the site where it will be chipped and composted. Isn’t it great that they put trimmings to good use?!

        1. Hi Mary, Well, I’m glad you’re ok. That is great to hear that they will make good use of those trimmings. That is what Mother Nature is all about. Wishing you the best!

  4. I saw this cute wreath made out of ladies hankies. I wanted it. I had hankies. So, I THOUGHT I’d make it. I got the ring I’d need. I got the tiny rubber bands I’d need. I got some spray starch. Hey, where is my iron? I guess I don’t have one. I told my Goodwill bins shopping daughter I needed an iron and one showed up in less than a week! I laid it all out on top of the washing machine. Whoops, I need to do laundry. Moved it to the spare room where it sits. ??‍♀️ Spring is here so maybe I’ll get motivated to make it for my door? ???

    1. Hi Diane, I got a good chuckle out of your story and your creative emoticons! Yes, I’m sure I have a few project like that lying around here…somewhere…if I could find them…..!!! Thanks so much for sharing! Wishing you a wonderful spring with lots of time to make that wreath, which I can already imagine on your door!

  5. Great article! We can learn so much from our mistakes and if we’re lucky, from those of others.

    My biggest mistakes have always been made when I was in a hurry or panicked into doing something. Others happen when I am afraid to see how bad a situation is (healthwise, financially, automotive, etc) so I put off investigating. That in turn always leads to worse trouble than I started with.

    So if I had one piece of advice to give it would be to take a moment and think, and if you can try to override whatever fear, panic or hesitancy you might have, so you can take a good clear look at whatever the situation is and resolve it more quickly. It can be really scary or uncomfortable but it’s the best thing to do.

    Quick example: Once my house was foreclosed on. I had a good job before which was outsourced, my income dropped, and I didn’t work hard enough to replace the income. I had a real problem with sticking my head in the sand. Thing is, if I had researched more aggressively I might have been able to prove wrongdoing on the bank’s part and possibly gotten out of the situation. (The wrongdoing was there, I was just too freaked out to really pursue it).

    There was a happy ending, ultimately, but it’s a great example of making very poor decisions because I couldn’t get out of my own way. All the best to everyone! You can do this, you can make it, just keep looking for opportunities. Breathe deeply, stay creative, and take care of yourself as best as you can.

    1. Hi Redbranch, Thank you for your positive feedback. I do believe that we can learn from the mistakes of others if we open our hearts and minds to truly listen.

      That is so kind of you to share your encouragement and story with others. During these difficult times, there could be many in the situation you describe. I hope that you story will help someone who is afraid of what might happen to look into their options, and get more information. I’m glad that your story had a happy ending, as you told us. I think it could have another happy ending by also helping fellow Frugalites. Wishing you the best!

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