After being in the finance community for years, it taught me one thing, there is a lot of bad advice out there.
I’ve read posts that encourage people to open up more credit cards to boost their credit score (even if they have poor credit card management), learn how to fix cars themselves (can be incredibly dangerous if someone has no experience with cars), and so on.
Don’t waste your time with money-saving tips that are hurting you more than helping you.
1. No spending month
A no spending month or no spending year (which is a bit drastic) can lead to deprivation.
This is basically like 100% eliminating a food because you’re trying to lose weight.
You start to crave the food more and more, and when you’re done with the “elimination period” you overeat the food and binge.
This might work for some people, but it’s rare.
What to do instead: Instead of no-spend money or no-spend year, create a budget instead. Your budget will teach you how to spend wisely and stick to savings goals. Ask your mind questions and figure out why you are overspending.
Tip: Are you overwhelmed by finances? Are you sick of managing 6 six money apps? Cinch takes care of everything all in one place. Cinch monitors your credit score, if you have missed payments or unauthorized use, to how much insurance you need, and a lot more.
2. Buying cheap clothes
On FITnancials, I often talk about shopping at thrift stores or buying used products.
While this saves money and can be good for the environment, there are some things that are better off not buying used or for a “lower price.”
What to do instead: Pay more for a higher quality item that will last longer. It can be hard to find high-quality clothes in thrift stores, so when possible, spend a little more for clothes that last longer. Stores like Forever21 are known for pumping out cheap, low-quality clothes also known as “fast fashion.”
Fast fashion is bad for the environment and your wallet. Your spending money on clothes that are made to break apart fast to get you spending regularly.
Tip: Use Ebates, an online service that gives you cash back on purchases you make online. Get $10 in your account by signing up here.
3. Ditching insurance
Insurance isn’t cheap, and once 2019 hits, there will no longer be a health insurance fee for not having insurance.
However, it is unwise to go for years without being protected.
Unfortunately, anything can happen at any time, and being unprotected can end up costing you thousands, potentially hundreds of thousands.
What to do instead: Figure out your options. Since I work from home, I opted out to sign up with a health share ministry instead of regular insurance. Liberty Healthshare costs me $150 per month, and I’m covered up to 1,000,000 after a $500 annual unshared amount as long as it isn’t a pre-existing condition.
4. Using coupons
Use coupons on things you usually buy.
Just because a good coupon or sale comes up doesn’t mean you should buy an item you wouldn’t buy otherwise.
What to do instead: Use Ibotta to save money on groceries, toiletries, and other things you usually buy.
Ibotta is a free app that gives you cash back for making purchases on things like groceries, clothes, toiletries, and much more.
It’s silly not to use Ibotta if you’re a regular grocery shopper and also have to buy things like clothes, toiletries, and pretty much anything else you’d find at a store like Walmart or Amazon.
If you sign up now, you can get $10 in your account by using my link here.
5. Shopping during Black Friday or other sales days
Branching off on #4, it makes no sense to buy something just because it’s on sale.
What to do instead: Save Black Friday for things you need. Did your TV break or are you in need of a new laptop? Wait for Black Friday to roll around to get a new one and take advantage of the big savings.
6. Ignoring your car mechanic or check engine light
Your check engine light came on, and the last thing you want to do is visit a car repair shop.
Waiting to get your car checked until it breaks down can lead to even more problems down the road, literally and figuratively.
One car part breaking can lead to others breaking and make what could’ve been a cheap part to fix very expensive.
What to do instead: AutoZone offers free car diagnostic checks. Once you get a diagnostic check, you’ll receive a printed handout of what the possible reasons are for the engine light being on. Find a reliable car mechanic in the area by checking Google reviews first.
Tip: Trim helps you negotiate cable and internet bills, analyzes and gives you spending updates via text, and will find and cancel unwanted subscriptions for you. Trim users saved over $1,000,000 last month alone.
7. Only using cash
Using the envelope system or paying with cash only can save a lot of money. However, there are drawbacks to this.
When you physically hand over cash to a cashier versus paying with a credit card, you tend to spend less.
Physically seeing cash being handed over makes spending more real than just swiping a credit card.
What to do instead: If you’re responsible with credit cards, use them wisely and then pay them off immediately. Credit cards have rewards such as cash back that can help you instead of hurt you if you’re not responsible with credit cards, its best to stick with cash for now.
Related article: 10 Things You Are Doing To Make Life Harder Than It Needs To Be
8. Buying in bulk
It may seem like a smart idea to buy in bulk to save money, but this can lead to buying more than you need.
This can lead to waste, throwing expired items in the garbage, and wasting your hard earned money by thinking you’re saving by buying more.
What to do instead: Buy only as much as you’re going to use.
Tip: Here is a good list of items you shouldn’t buy in bulk.
Take #9 on a case by case basis.
Unfortunately, warranties have many hidden rules in the fine print that make the warranty not worth it at all.
Best Buy asked me if I wanted an extended warranty on my laptop I bought last year.
I didn’t buy it.
My computer broke 6 months later, and I contacted the manufacturer and found out a warranty came with it, with no extra purchase. I got it fixed for free.
What to do instead: Make sure to read the fine print and see if it is worth spending the extra money on.
10. Cutting your hair yourself
I once wanted to save money, so I cut my hair. I ended up regretting this later.
I did not like how my hair looked for months, and having thick hair with a blunt chop made it very heavy and hot during the summer.
I ended up getting a haircut eventually, and it was not worth how uncomfortable my hair felt in the Texas heat.
What to do instead: Visit a local school salon. Most major cities have a salon school that teaches students how to style hair, nails, perform skin care services, and more for a fraction of the cost of a regular hair salon.
Tip: Cushion is an app that refunds bank and credit card fees. You can expect refunds on things like late fees, overdraft fees, monthly service fees, account maintenance fees, ATM fees, credit card interest charges, late fees, and more!
11. DIYing things
DIYing certain things can end up costing more money than buying things already created and ready for purchase.
Stay away from DIYing these things unless you’re skilled in the area:
- Plumbing, car, and certain home repairs
- Wedding dresses
- Tree removal
- Skincare treatments (don’t use toothpaste!)
What to do instead: Some things simply shouldn’t be DIY’d.
Tip: Here is a list of things you should actually make yourself instead of buying full price.
12. Not using credit cards
Credit cards can have great sign up bonuses and cash back rewards.
Here is a great article on how to use credit cards responsibly.
What to do instead: Learn how to responsibly use credit cards without letting them take advantage of you.
Tip: Check out your credit score for free using Credit Sesame and get updated reports of your score.
13. Buying a home instead of renting
Sometimes it makes more sense to rent a home instead of buying it.
When renting a home, you are usually not liable for any house repairs that can potentially cost thousands of dollars.
What to do instead: Wait to buy a home until your credit score is higher or for when you actually need a bigger space.
14. Paying the bare minimum on credit cards
Paying the bare minimum may seem smart since you’re paying your bill, but making extra payments can decrease your utilization rate, which can simultaneously increase your credit score.
What to do instead: Pay what you can when you can to take advantage of credit card rewards. Stop on top of bills by not allowing credit card bills to add up.
15. Shopping at the dollar store
The Dollar Store has hundreds of items that are worth buying, but certain things shouldn’t be purchased at the dollar store.
Cheaply made items will wear out sooner, and you’ll end up buying the product over and over again.
What to do instead: Figure out which products you should and should NOT buy at the dollar store.
Tip: Here is a good list that’ll tell you what you should and shouldn’t buy at the dollar store.
Are you interested in real work from home careers? Check out this great list.
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➡️ What to read next: 11 Best Personal Finance Podcasts For Achieving Financial Freedom
What are some money-saving tips you don’t agree with?
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