Things I’m Too Frugal For

There are just some things in life that I’m not meant to buy. I’ve slowly come to this conclusion over the years as I’ve watched people buy things I’m not at all jealous of. It’s not because I can’t afford them or that I don’t have room for them at home. It’s simply because I’m too frugal.

So I’ve come up with a list of some things I’m too frugal for. This list isn’t exhaustive; rather, it’s just a few common things people buy that I avoid.

Electric toothbrush

My wife mentioned a few months ago that she’d like to have an electric toothbrush. The ones we’re currently using are from the dollar store – 2 for $1. So I’ve been monitoring deal websites for any mention of these and I even checked to see if Costco had any last week. They had a 2-pack for $80, which I guess is a pretty good price for these things.

Then I started thinking. I’ve gotten along just fine and cavity-free to this point using 50 cent toothbrushes, so why would I pay $40 for a toothbrush? Not to mention the replacement heads you’d have to buy. I’ll probably end up getting my wife one. As for me, I’ll stick with my cheapo toothbrush.

Going to the movies

At $10 a pop, these outings aren’t cheap. When I was a kid I remember tickets cost about $4. I guess you could make the argument that you’re paying for the experience of the big screen and surround sound, but you also have to deal with people messing with their phones and grossly inflated concession prices.

The only time I go to the movies is when a family member or close friend wants to go. Even then I’ll suggest alternatives, but sometimes there’s no way to get out of it.

Dry cleaning

What a waste of money. The only reason to dry clean a piece of clothing is if the tag specifically says to. If not, throw it in the wash with everything else and iron it on the other side.

I try not to buy anything that needs to be dry cleaned. That helps me avoid shelling out $4 to clean a pair of pants.

Newspaper subscription

I really enjoy reading the newspaper everyday. I mean, really enjoy it. I love knowing what’s going on in my area and the world. I love reading about business and sports. I even like the smell of the pages.

But when it comes to actually subscribing to the paper, my wallet doesn’t leave my pocket. My employer gets the paper delivered each day and I’ll often read that during my lunch break. I’ll also read at the library on one of my frequent visits.

Besides, there are so many websites that offer breaking news and more in-depth articles for free. Why should I pay for something I can essentially get for free?

Anything at McDonald’s that’s not on the dollar menu

This might be the ultimate example of my frugality. When I go to McDonald’s, I only order items from the dollar menu. I’ve found that it’s generally a better value than what you get from the regular menu (i.e. you get more food for the money.) A filling meal under $5 is right up my alley.

Financial advisers

I debated putting this one on here, but I think it should be mentioned. From the reading I’ve done, most financial advisers look our for their own best interest first. Many earn a commission on the products they sell you, so it’s easy to see why they may recommend a product that makes no sense for your situation if it earns them a nice bonus.

If you’re looking for advice about where and how to invest your money, sit down with a fee-only financial planner. These advisers only collect an upfront fee for their advice, so there’s no conflict of interest. Visit napfa.org to find a fee-only planner near you.

What are some things you’re too frugal for?

35 thoughts on “Things I’m Too Frugal For

  1. I’m with ya on almost everything. I try to always buy stuff from the dollar menu but sometimes I end up buying a sundae or mcflurry haha. I’m also too cheap for magazine subscriptions (unnecessary when you have internet), cable TV (also unnecessary when you have Netflix or Hulu), and I hate going to the salon for touch ups. I’ll only go to get my hair cut or my highlights every 6 months or so.

    • Sounds like you’re as cheap as I am! I’ve been ordering from the dollar menu, not just at McDonald’s but everywhere, for as long as I can remember. My wife likes the McFlurrys too, but I prefer to get ice cream from the grocery store haha. As for haircuts, my wife cuts my hair about every 2 months. I used to cut my own when I lived at my parents’, but at our apartment we don’t have a good setup of mirrors for it. I generally cut the top and sides and she does the back. Saves us about $20 every time!

  2. I used to splurge a lot more, but I’m gradually becoming too frugal for most of these things. Another one on my list is expensive brand name clothing. I am fine shopping at Winners at discounted prices and even then I feel no need to specifically get the better known brands.

    • Brand name clothes are one of those things I just don’t get. I mean, maybe if you’re a teenager trying to impress your friends and fit in. But eventually we all grow out of that. I used to shop at Abercrombie and American Eagle sometimes as a teen, but I’m not trying to impress anyone anymore. I particularly like thrift stores, where you can find barely used clothing for bargain prices.

  3. For the most part, I agree completely, however, be warned not all fabrics can be washed with out complete and total ruin, but most can, educate yourself – and decide. (and of course try to avoid those types of fabrics to begin with)

    • Hi, Lisa! Yes, it can be tricky to decide what can be washed and what needs to be dry cleaned. I’m nowhere near an expert in fabrics, so unless the tag specifically says “dry clean only” I throw it in the wash. If it comes out shredded I’ve learned an expensive lesson!

  4. My one is books; well especially novels. This is hard because I love books and bookstores, but, here in NZ particularly, books are very expensive. So, I go online and order them from our excellent library and within a few weeks, I’m reading it for free.

  5. I sprulge on dry cleaning. Since I ride a bicycle to and from work every day (yes, I live in a snowy and mountainous area and I’ll still ride even if we get 3 feet of snow), I use a dry cleaning service which picks up and delivers my work clothes. It runs me about $35 every 2 months. I justify it as a tank of gas (which would last about a week/week and a half).

    • That’s dedication! Think about how much money you’re saving by not driving everyday.

      Since you bike to work, you more than earn your semi-monthly dry cleaning expenses from saved gas money. And that’s pretty convenient to have your clothes picked up and delivered to you. Thanks for your comment!

  6. I’m too frugal for all the above too. Though since my fiance is in dental school, he goes to conferences that will give out freebies like electric toothbrushes.

    • Hi, Jessica! That’s pretty nice that he gets free stuff from the conferences. It’s interesting because a lot of companies like to give out free samples to try to get you hooked. Razors are a prime example. I got a free razor when I was in college that came with two disposable blades, but if I wanted to continue using the razor I had to buy more blades. Companies make their money on extras and replacements for the original product.

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. Fun read.I use bookmooch for some books, and am recognized by most of the librarians at my branch library. Before I gave up cable, I had “Limited” cable, this is below basic cable in my town from Comcast. Hint-you have to ask for it-they will not tell you about it. It was only $16/month when I gave it up in 2010. Now, I can watch most anything online.
    In addition to napfa, your readers can also visit
    http://www.cfp.net/find/EnhancedSearch.aspx to search for a fee-only financial planner.

    • Hi, DCT! I’m glad you have discovered online programming. Did you know that with a digital antenna, you most likely get local broadcast channels for free? A lot of newer TVs have these antennas build in, so often all you have to do is plug your TV into the cable jack. I receive about 30 channels for free this way.

      Thank you for the financial planner website! I wasn’t aware of this site, but it’s another great resource if you’re looking for help managing your money.

    • I’ve never purchased an app either! You’re right – there are so many good, free apps out there that it often doesn’t make sense to pay for the premium versions. The free apps are getting better every day!

  8. It sounds like you and I have a lot in common. I have never had anything dry cleaned. I just won’t pay somebody else money to wash my clothes. I used to love going to the movies but nowadays it just outrageous.

    • When you put it that way, it does sound silly, doesn’t it? I’m not a fan of paying someone to do something I can easily do myself. When I lived in Turkey I didn’t have access to a washer and dryer, so I had to pay someone to do my laundry every week. It killed me. I felt like I was being pampered, but also a little helpless!

  9. Not only am I too cheap to go to the movies, I’m apparently too cheap to rent them as well. I NOW only rent from the Redbox for $1.27. How sad is this?

    I used to also only buy from the Dollar Menu until I one day looked up the nutritional value of the items on it. I decided that my body is probably worth the few extra bucks.

    • I only rent from Redbox too! And I was a little ticked when they raised their price to $1.20 recently. We subscribed to Netflix’s DVD plan until a month ago, but found that we only watched 1 or 2 movies a month. They would sit around for weeks, and sometimes we’d just ship them back without watching them!!

      You bring up a good point about the dollar menu. I don’t eat fast food often, so I don’t feel bad ordering the “bad” stuff when I go.

  10. Great tip on where to find reliable advisors! I try to do the dollar menu, too. And movies are WAY too expensive nowadays! There’s a service I use that lets you know when there’s free prescreenings in the theaters in your area, so I use that now if I’m going to go at all.

    • Hi, FF! Yes, movie prices have gotten out of hand. Last time I went a ticket cost $10. You could get an entire month of Netflix for that price, and still have $2 left over!

      I have to reveal my ignorance: I’m not familiar with prescreenings. Is that when they show the movie before the release date?

  11. I think it’s all about what is important to you and what you value, and how it adds up in the long run. For instance, I’d buy a good electric toothbrush, because I’ve had gum surgery in the past, and it’s expensive! Having a good toothbrush (for some people) can save their gums. I’ve always been a die hard fan of movies. Although I’ve cut back on only seeing ones I really want to see in the theater, I consider it a pretty good form of entertainment for myself, and I rarely eat out or go to bars or anything like that. As far as McDonald’s, I wouldn’t eat anything there is they gave it away for free.

    Although you may only go once in awhile, I’m very concerned overall with how fast-food chains cater to low-income areas where I live (and likely all over the US). Because it’s considered a “value” people go, and yet in the long run there are so many health problems associated with it. (But that’s a long ranty blog) 🙂

    Anyway again, all about perception! 🙂

    • Hi, Tonya! Thanks for your comments.

      You make a really good point that we should consider what we value most. To me, that’s part of the definition of frugality. Frugal people aren’t afraid to spend money on the things they value deeply (movies, in your case.) On everything else, we cut back significantly.

      It’s funny how fast food markets itself. Sure, in the short run it’s a tremendous value because you can get a quick meal for very little money. But in the long run, as you say, it’s a big issue on many fronts. Those who eat fast food regularly don’t often think of their long term health. I know people who eat fast food 5 times or more per week. Then, by advertising on kids TV shows and developing the cartoon characters, they’re roping kids in from a very young age.

      The truth is we’ve become a culture of convenience. So much so, that fast food has found a significant role to play in our daily lives. When you combine our need for quick food with kids shouting for a frosty and fries in the back seat, it’s easy to see how fast food could play an even bigger role in our lives.

  12. I agree with the movies. I usually wait for the DD but sometimes still want to go to the theater. When I do, I buy gift cards for the movies at the grocery store. I get cash back for grocery purchases on my credit card, so in essense, I save on the cost of the ticket!

    • Buying movie gift cards is a really good strategy! I know at Costco and other places you can buy tickets in bulk for a discounted price. I’m not sure which cinemas they’re valid at though.

    • Hi, John! I agree with you about movies. I like to watch them from the comfort of my own home. You can get a Redbox movie for about one-tenth of the price of a movie ticket. That’s a deal!

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