Frugal Friday: My Frugal Fails

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?

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6 thoughts on “Frugal Friday: My Frugal Fails

    • I recently read about hanging gardens in a magazine–I believe it was Yoga Journal, of all places. I definitely want to try it because I hate buying fresh herbs or bagged leafy greens from the grocery store, and I can’t buy them locally in the winter. I will be sure to let everyone know how it goes. Thanks, Becca!

  1. I’ve had plenty of minor fails, but the one that comes to mind is losing a good coupon while I’m in the store. Oh, and not returning a rebate on an item that was only cheap enough to buy because of the rebate.

    My biggest wins are homemade household products like laundry soap, body wash, and wrinkle releaser. Saves a ton!

    • LOL. I’ve done those, too. It’s especially bad when the only reason you put something in your cart or bought something was because the coupon or rebate made it such a good deal.

      I made liquid hand soap a while back, and that was a great frugal trick. I haven’t tried laundry detergent yet, but a friend of mine gave me what sounds like a good recipe. Where do you find your recipes at?

      • I usually just google what I’m interested in and look around till I find one I like. Laundry detergent is 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 1/2 small bars of ivory, grated. Wrinkle releaser is 1 cup distilled water and 1 Tbs of fabric softener in a spray bottle. Body wash is three bars of dove soap and six cups of water, cooked on the stove for about half an hour, stirring often until it is all liquid. Let it set up for 24 hours and then funnel it into bottles. It’s much cheaper than a bottle of dove body wash but still have the quality.

        I’ve not tried homemade hand soap, but I recently got a foamer bottle to stretch what I buy. All the homemade hand soap recipes seemed expensive to make.

      • Thanks, Kirra. Your body wash recipe sounds similar to what I’m using for hand soap. I basically use whatever bar soap is on sale. I will try the laundry detergent recipe as well. 🙂

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