photo by Rebecca Barray at WANA Commons

As many of you know, I’ve been attempting to turn over a new leaf and embrace frugal, simple living this year. It’s not exactly that I was being frivolous before, but that, since my husband and I have really articulated our financial goals (paying off student loans, saving for a house down payment, etc.), we’ve been really determined to make the most out of our money.

We’re a few months into our frugal living adventure, and I’d like to share some of my “frugal fails”—experiments in thrift that went awry, sometimes even having the opposite effect.

Here are a few of my frugal fails.

1.)    Wasted food: True, maybe papayas or squash were on sale this week. But if the items bought on sale go to waste and end up in the compost pile or the trashcan, it’s still a waste of money.

Solution: Meal planning, so that I don’t buy tons of produce or other foods that won’t be eaten. Hands down, meal planning has been the best way to save money at the grocery store.

2.)    Wasted time/energy on coupons: I’m still getting the hang of this whole couponing thing, but I’ve spent way longer than I needed to sorting through coupons (sometimes in the frozen food aisle) and trying to decipher sales. For example, I might have a coupon for Cheerios, but if Frosted Flakes are on sale, even sans coupon, they might be the better deal.

Solution: Extra research on sites like Money-Saving Mom, where I’m learning how to better use coupons (combining them with sales, for example). There’s an art to couponing, and it’s not learned overnight. My biggest lesson, so far, has been to sort out which coupons I’ll need before I get to the store. Meal-planning and list-making help with this process. I also read through the sales fliers that the grocery stores post on their websites, thus helping me to combine my coupons with sales discounts.

photo accessed at stock xchng

3.)    Not fully utilizing my garden: I currently only have a tiny container garden on my balcony—enough space to grow cherry tomatoes, peppers, and some herbs and flowers. I neglected to plant a fall crop of lettuce, cilantro, and other cool-weather-loving plants. I already have the seeds, containers, and potting soil, so I missed out on an opportunity for homegrown produce. I also neglected to dehydrate some of my herbs, which could’ve saved me from having to restock mid-winter.

Solution: I always have seeds leftover, so when I plan out next year’s gardening, I’ll account for that and expand my growing season. I’m also looking into Window Farms, so I might try growing some herbs indoors. Thus far, my mischievous kitties have thwarted my attempts to have houseplants, but a hanging indoor garden might be a feasible solution. If I decide to try it, I’ll be sure to chronicle my attempts. 😉

What about you? Have you ever attempted to be frugal only to find that you ended up spending more in the end?