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Frugal Gone Bad: When Saving Money Isn’t Worth It

June 8, 2010 · 1,353 comments

in Personal Finance

I think everyone likes to save money, and God knows I love a good deal.  I have spent plenty time in my life trying to make each dollar last as long as possible.  However, in some cases, it just didn’t pay off.

Here are some examples of where my attempts to save money ended with bad results:

  1. Going to a discount place to get my oil changed. I have always gone to a great place to get my oil changed.   However, it did seem a little pricier than some of the discount places.  So, I was out and about one Saturday and thought I would give a different, cheaper oil change place a try.  Well, things all seemed to have gone well.  They replaced my wiper fluid, checked the pressure in my tires, etc.   Two days later, there was smoke pouring out from under my hood and there was just a horrible burning smell.   I pulled into the closest auto repair place and it turned out some cap was not put on properly during my prior oil change and fluid of some sort (transmission fluid maybe?  I can’t remember) was spewing everywhere.   Even though not tightening a cap properly probably can happen anywhere, I never trusted anyone other than my reliable oil change place again.
  2. Store Brand Dryer Sheets.  I am incredibly sensitive to all scents, so I have to use dryer sheets that are ‘free’ of any perfumes.  Whereas I have tried frugal ideas of reducing static cling such as throwing tennis balls into the dryer, that just didn’t do the job as well.  After complaints from the family about static and wrinkles, I decided to go back to using dryer sheets again.  When I compared the price of Bounce sheets to the Off-Brand version, I found Bounce was quite expensive.  So I proudly purchased the off-brand dryer sheets and marched home to do my laundry.  Everything seemed fine, at first.  Then a few days later, my son started getting uncomfortable rashes that he had never had before.  Through process of elimination, I realized it was my inexpensive dryer sheets that causes his skin problems.  Those went in the trash and I went back to my Bounce Free sheets.
  3. Dental Floss. This was one of my dumber moves… I am a religious flosser, as my teeth have had many issues over the years.  Since I have some crowns, I need some good, sturdy floss.  So what was I thinking when I bought off-brand dental floss?  I used it once and it started shredding instantly.  It took me over an hour to get it all out, and I had a dentist appointment the next day.  The hygienist commented how part of my gum was all swollen and generally a mess.  I then explained my dental floss fiasco and gave the hygienist a good laugh.  On the plus side, she game me some extra floss to take home…
  4. Toilet Paper.  I don’t think I need to expand much on this one.  However, I recently bought an abundance of lower-level-brand toilet paper because I had a bunch of sweet coupons for it and it was on such a great sale that it was basically free.  However, my family did not appreciate this cost savings with as much zeal as I did.  As a matter of fact, I don’t even think I am allowed to clip coupons for that brand anymore.
  5. Lawn/Tree Service.   We had moved into our current home and there were several rather ugly trees and deep-rooted bushes that we wanted to get rid of.  I called and got several estimates, and chose the company with the lowest price (how hard is it to take down some small trees?).  Whereas nothing disastrous happened, I was an idiot and paid for the full service up front, and they couldn’t complete the job in one day.  They said they would come back to finish up some bushes, and they didn’t.  I called and called, fought and fought and after 3 months of frustration, they finally returned to finish the job.  In the end, I saved probably 50 dollars, but it was totally not worth all the anger I endured.

I am sure my family could expand further on my ‘bad ideas for savings’  if I asked them to.  However, to save myself from further embarrassment, I will leave the list as it is for now.  Please keep in mind, I am not saying that the items mentioned above should be avoided by everyone.  It just did not work for us.

Anyone else out there have any similar stories?   Have you tried to save money in a way that came back to haunt you later?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 8, 2010 at 11:10 am

I use coupons for oil changes but I now avoid the one place in front of our Kroger’s. Not only did they take more than an hour, but they came back and quoted $300 for a gasket that was leaking. I told them I’d have it looked at by my mechanic and they said it could probably wait (punks). I did have it looked at by my mechanic a few days later anyway and he laughed…he said I have a cheap car (for anybody who doesn’t know, I drive a Chevy Aveo) and some things will ooze but I shouldn’t worry about it. 2 1/2 years later and that gasket is still fine…

I am also not allowed to buy any tp except for Charmin…I don’t care at all, but hubby is emphatic.

Oh, here’s one. I bought a bag of frozen tilapia fillets from Kroger’s and we loved them. I found them at Walmart for $1 less per pound and in a big box, but they ended up being fishier. We made ourselves finish the box before buying any new Tilapia. That meant we went from having healthy fish once a week to fish once a month when we could convince ourselves to eat it. Silly.


Kris June 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm

BFS – Isn’t a reliable mechanic priceless??

Was the Tilapia the same brand from Walmart and Kroger? That would be strange if it was the same everything except the store that sold it.

How did you season that fish to make it tolerable? 🙂


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Same brand, different packaging.

We simply added more of what we usually use – citrus rub and lemon juice. We wrap fish in aluminum foil after rubbing in the citrus combo and squeezing on lemon juice. Then we throw them onto the indoor electric grill for 5-7 minutes on each side (for a small-medium fillet). It’s yummy with rice or fresh veggies!


Money Reasons June 8, 2010 at 5:47 pm

On the oil change front, I use to go to a 30+ per change place and once they left the upper cap off, ironically, nothing happened (this was an old blazer suv), and when I went back in for the next change, it was discovered that the cap was off. They acted like I did it, even though their record showed that they were the last company to change the oil. I was very frustrated!

Now I just go to walmart and they change my oil for about 20 bucks.

When I was younger I use to change my oil myself, but now time is more limited!

Oh, if you do change your own oil, you can take the old oil to walmart and they claim that they will take if for free.


Kris June 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I don’t think Walmarts in our area even do oil changes. Or maybe they do and I just never noticed.

I think I pay 30 for my oil changes on my crossover vehicle. But, it is worth my piece of mind. Plus they give me and the kids a tootsie pop when we leave. 🙂


Kevin@InvestItWisely June 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Interesting post! Yep, sometimes we do the silliest things over a few bucks here and there, yet throw away thousands on vacations, cars, etc… without thinking too much about it.

IMO there’s a few things you shouldn’t be frugal with; one is your health, and another one is food. Now, I’m not talking about eating out at restaurants, but the food you buy to bring home. If you’re buying one brand just because it’s 10% cheaper, but neglecting to see if it perhaps has some trans fats or something else that’s no good, then you’re doing yourself a disservice…

I’ve heard of some families in the US that buy fast food instead of shopping at the grocery store because it’s faster and cheaper! Now, that is crazy… surely can’t be too healthy 😉


Kris June 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Kevin – You are very right about not being frugal with food and health. Actually, I am not frugal at all when it comes to food as I spend the majority of our weekly grocery bill on fresh fruit and vegetables. However, it is usual seasonal produce.

I also cringe when I hear about how often some parents of little kids go to McDonalds and such. I overheard a conversation once where a mom was giving a choice of McDonalds or Wendys because Burger King was the night before. She then told her friend that he picks which fast food restaurant they go to EVERY NIGHT. I wanted to scream.


frank June 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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Good Luck


Letter Tray November 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

oil change needs to be done as often as possible to maintain the good performance of any kind of machinery ~’:


Gardening Expert Blog January 11, 2013 at 6:28 am

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