6 of the WORST Frugal Living Hacks Ever

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By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and The Flat Broke Cookbook 

Everyone everywhere is trying to save a buck lately. And with the increased cost of living it’s no wonder – heck, a dozen eggs could practically serve as a dowry for a young Victorian-era lady. But not all ideas are worthwhile, and some are downright dangerous.

In a few interesting threads (here and here) on Reddit, contributors shared the advice that they thought was the very worst in Frugal Land. Some of them could work in certain circumstances, but most, you may find, are not really worthwhile.

“If you can afford rent, you can afford a mortgage.”

While that might have been true once, with the ever-increasing mortgage rates it might not be true any longer. What’s more, unless you have a hefty emergency fund, the cost of home repairs and appliances can require a huge chunk of money that you may have to pay using debt.

This isn’t always the case – if you can afford to buy your home outright, you may be better served by purchasing. But if it’s a tight squeeze, you may be better off renting for a while longer.

“Buy a hybrid car.”

In theory, a hybrid vehicle would eventually save you money. But to get from now (the point of purchase) to then (the point of savings), there’s a whole lot of money in between. Hybrid vehicles tend to cost more significantly money than gasoline-powered autos, for starters. And don’t even get me started on the high cost of repairs. A battery replacement on a hybrid vehicle can cost anywhere from 2000 to 8000 dollars. Despite the fact you only need to replace it every 150,000 miles, you could pay for a new-to-you used car at the high end.

“Brush your teeth with X.”

There are all sorts of tips out there for ways to save money on toothpaste. Some folks suggest using just baking soda, others use coconut oil, and still others only use water.

I suppose it’s cheaper but only until you get the bill from the dentist. If you watch for sales, you can find a decent quality toothpaste at a very reasonable price. I always stock up when they’re on sale. Read this article on the importance of preventative dental care.

“Move somewhere cheaper and commute.”

I often see advice about moving someplace cheaper, and that can be a wonderful solution in certain situations. But…not in all situations.

Are you leaving a great job to move someplace without the same work opportunities? You might want to rethink that with the job market as it is. Are you planning to commute for work and school and just live an hour outside of town? Um… prepare to spend a fortune on gas PLUS loads of time as the commute gets longer when more people have the same idea. When you spend more time on the road, you have less time for cooking, meal-planning, yard work, and other types of activities that save you money.

“Missing out on life/hygiene to save a buck.”

We know that on occasion, broke happens and you simply cannot afford to go to an event that costs money, whether for gifts or transportation or admission. And sometimes we can’t afford to maintain things like hair color or professionally manicured nails or a stylish wardrobe.

But that doesn’t mean you have to step back from life completely. Have you ever met someone who avoids weddings, birthdays, showers, and holiday events just because they don’t want to save some money? I sincerely believe that’s no way to live. Sure, you don’t have to accept every single invitation that comes your way but for people you truly care about, I think that it’s worth the expenditure. We have all sorts of creative ideas for gift-giving on this website, as well as thrifty menus and other treats. Life is way to short to go full-on hermit in the name of saving money.

As far as your appearance goes, it’s one thing to skip the expensive trips to the salon or new clothes, but it’s entirely another to avoid cleanliness and personal hygiene. Unless your situation is truly dismal and you no longer have running water or a home, you can almost always afford to stay clean, if not fashionable.

Please understand that we’re not talking about extreme scenarios here – we’re talking about the lengths that some folks go to in order to save money when they could afford to spend a little and embrace life (and smell good while doing it.)

Anything health and safety related

There are some places you just shouldn’t cut corners. Don’t drive a car with bad brakes for “as long as possible.” Don’t get cruddy windshield wipers. Don’t go to work when you’re too sick to be there (or when you’re likely to spread your illness.) Don’t skimp on checking out that questionable lump or spot. Don’t resist getting emergency treatment for something that could become severe or even life-threatening.

With things like these, it’s just not worth the risk to save some money. Either you’ll spend it now, or you’ll spend more later, or even worse, something terrible will happen due to your neglect. Your safety and well-being are worth the extra money. If you can’t afford to fix your vehicle, then take public transit or join a carpool. If you need urgent medical care, go to the hospital and set up a payment plan afterward. Please don’t put yourself at risk.

What do you think are the worst frugal living hacks out there?

Is there a piece of money-saving advice that you just hate? Is there a frugal living trick that you think is dead wrong? What is it, and why do you think it’s a bad idea? Let’s talk about the worst frugal living hacks in the comments section.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

6 of the WORST Frugal Living Hacks Ever
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

11 thoughts on “6 of the WORST Frugal Living Hacks Ever”

  1. Not skimping on dental care isn’t frugal – you’ll pay far more for your health issues than toothpaste. And heart issues typically don’t go away.
    Commuting – no one can make more time (or land). Once it is gone, no getting it back. And far too many base their decision on best case commute time. Never factoring for weather, traffic, events, and/or a change in shift. Even if your job pays big bucks, the time is gone.
    Buying a house isn’t hard (provided you have a down payment and credit score). Maintenance can be a bankruptcy event. Insurance (which you should have even if you pay cash for your house) and taxes never go away either. And your kids may *not* want your house, even if in the most pristine condition so don’t think of it as an estate plan.

    1. I used to buy the best toothpaste brands available. But for the past 5 – 6 years we only use salt to brush our teeth and just don’t have dental problems since then. Don’t get me wrong, we still buy tooth paste once in a while, but never really use it. Salt was proven to be better than most toothpastes for us, family and friends.
      But when it comes to frugal living, we all had our moments. Meat was mine. I would go to the cheapest butchery, and buy the cheapest cuts, till one day;) Now I will find better cuts of meat at special prices and buy bulk at butcheries I can trust.
      Another bad idea is to buy a second-hand cheap car. It will cost more to keep it running than to pay more for better quality. But to not have the money must be very very difficult. I always say that we are all stronger than we think. May your strength shines through in these days….

  2. Putting off repairs to your furnace or plumbing or other critical home repairs can be a costly mistake. If your furnace dies in the middle of a blizzard, on a weekend or holiday, those repairs will cost MUCH more if you have to call a repair person out then.

  3. My pet peeves or frugality that’s not worth it:
    1. Not flushing the toilet after every use. It’s just gross and un-sanitary. Who wants a bathroom that smells like urine?
    2. Telling people to take showers instead of a bath. I did a test to see if a shower actually saves water and in my case it didn’t. First, I noted the level on the tub where I usually filled to. Second, the next day, instead of filling the tub from the faucet, I turned on the shower and ran it the same length of time my shower would take. The shower actually used more water. I deal with at least 2 kinds of chronic pain on a daily basis and a bath helps enormously. Sometimes a shower is painful on my skin (the shower is never set to “jet” or a hard stream), but sometimes I have no choice if we’re traveling and have to use the shower. A hot tub would be wonderful, but they’re expensive. Baths are a much cheaper alternative, even if I run a full tub.
    3. No pets (unless a person is honestly struggling just to feed their family). Pets have a way of humanizing us. Frankly, I don’t trust anyone who can afford a pet, but doesn’t have one just to save money.

    1. Pets are good for your health. Be it walking a dog or petting a cat, you tend to relax and release endorphins.
      We’ve taken in two dumped cats in the past year. There is a special place in hell for those who dump/mistreat animals. Both are excellent pets (but trust me, it was anything but frugal providing them the initial health care they needed). Matter of fact all of my pets were dumped by cretins. Their loss, my gain.
      IMHO, if you can’t take care of a pet, don’t have kids.

  4. Skimping on pet food quality. A cat or dog who is fed really bad food, such as food that contains a lot of corn or other fillers, is going to have higher vet bills and may have other health or even behavioral issues. It’s a situation where a person needs to research the best balance between quality and cost. There are foods in existence that are pretty good in terms of quality but don’t break the bank. But feeding really cheap stuff can lead to heartbreak.

    1. I only feed my dog commercial dog food while traveling. At home, I use homemade. Basic recipe is as follows: 1/3 meat, 1/3 veggie 1/3 grain. I omit the grain and use 50/50. I have an elderly (17-1/2 years old) tiny dog and she is thriving. Avoid salt, garlic, onion, grapes and chocolate, as usual. My go-to for veggies is canned pumpkin. Applesauce enough works well, too. Doing the simple calculation of price per lb of commercial dog food -vs- homemade food will give you a general idea of what is best. This recipe is very flexible. You can prepare a huge roaster full and freeze in the correct portions, etc. Use your best judgements. 🙂

  5. Just thought of another one and it also involves personal hygiene/health. Some sites say only wash your hair about once a week. Surely this was started by someone with dry hair. Mine isn’t. If I cut back to even every other day, my scalp gets very itchy. I asked my doctor about it and his advice was simply to keep washing my hair every day. I don’t use expensive shampoo, and get every single bit out of the bottle, so it isn’t costly to wash it daily.

    I’ve even read where some recommend that you stop shampooing your hair altogether. Speaking as someone who has a family member that used to wear dreadlocks: just don’t. This is bad advice and very unpleasant for those around you. And no it doesn’t look okay.

    It’s just bad hippie advice.

  6. I am old enuf to remember the 14% mortgage rates of the 1970’s. With the US dollar (and other currencies) being trashed, that might look small this year. When mortgage rates dropped, buyers were able to refinance at half the rate, which meant either half the payment, or a much shorter time to paying off the loan in full.
    Buyers “qualify” for a home mortgage payment of about a quarter their income, typically. With a high interest rate, the dollar value of the house will be less–your payment is all interest. With low rates, you can afford to pay twice as much for a house. Across a whole marketplace, that means house values are high in low interest rate times, and lower in times such as 2023-2024.
    Then you don’t owe as much when refinance time comes.
    This is upside down to the thinking of many. It can pay big to get a good financial education.

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