The 5 Worst Ways to Save Money

There are many ways that people save money. From clipping coupons to not eating out, the possibilities are endless. However, there are some good ways to save money and there are some bad ways to save money. We’ve all seen people go too far in their quest to save and it ends up making them look cheap.

Here are 5 ways people try to save money that just are not worth it. They either are ineffective or have negative consequences that outweigh the savings.

Staying In and Watching TV

When presented with the option to go out, some people decline with the idea in mind that they’ll save more if they sit on their couch. It’s true, they won’t be temped to spend money on drinks or food, but what they don’t realize is that they’re also missing out on experiences which brighten their day and interactions that lift their spirits. It’s hard to put a price on human interaction and the value of going out with friends, but in my opinion, it’s a no-brainer.

Skimping Out on a Bill

When you do go out with friends and buy a sandwich and drink, don’t just pay for the actual price of your food, but throw in extra for tax and tip. Sure, it’s very likely that someone else will pick up the extra two dollars, but if you cheat people out of money, it will come back to bite you. It may seem like you’re being smart at the time, but is your friends harboring ill will towards you worth it? And trust me, everyone knows who was short.

Passively Looking for Great Deals

When there’s something you need and you find a coupon, your action is rewarded in a lower price. But when you constantly check sites for great deals, and when the items you see are for things you don’t really need, you could get yourself into trouble. You’ll very often see such great deals that you’ll be more prone to make purchases. If it’s not something you’re already looking for, no matter how great of a deal it is, you’ll spend more if you buy it. While you may think you’re saving, you’re actually spending more.

Eating Fast Food

That burger may only cost you a dollar and those fries and soda may fill you up for cheap, but you may be costing yourself in the long run. Eating unhealthy food may have future consequences that include higher medical costs. It may cost an extra dollar now, but making food for yourself at home could benefit you in several ways.

Consumer Traps

When buying bulk means you have extra you won’t use, it’s not really such a great deal. When “get one free when you buy 4″ means you’re buying 4 when you only wanted 2, it means you’re wasting money, not saving it! Think really hard before you get that “great” deal that’s making you think you’re such a genius.

What other saving tactics are effective but simply not worth it?

25 Responses to The 5 Worst Ways to Save Money

  1. Kyle C. says:

    I like that you included watching TV. TV is a giant time suck of uselessness. While it certainly may be cheaper than going out the lost opportunity to being doing something to improve yourself or your financial situation probably costs more than that outing.
    .-= Kyle C.´s last blog ..Wealthy Bloggers – March 2010 =-.

    • JoeTaxpayer says:

      @Kyle C.,
      TV in lieu of socializing, I agree is bad. TV as a passtime while i’m running on a treadmill, I’ll take. I saved by ‘not’ joining the gym. The treadmill was a quality one, 14 years old this year, and still going strong. I tried reading while running and almost killed myself. TV it is. Books on tape didn’t work either, I needed to pay attention to follow a book.

  2. Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for the include in your short carnival! I like the balance in this article. Sure this tactics can save you money, but somethings are more important such as integrity and social interaction

  3. Little House says:

    You’re so right about the fast food. There was an article recently on MSN about all the crap (like preservatives and high sodium) in fast food products. It’s much better to spend a little bit more and eat healthy. Fast food may be a cheap option if you only look at the price, but you’ll pay for it later on!

    Also love the TV comment. I recently sold my TV, I never watched it. Now, I just watch movies online for my entertainment and have no access to cable tv (I’m sure many people would find this weird.)
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Amazing Home Makeovers =-.

  4. Daniel, thanks for including me in your short carnival links. On your first worst way to save money: I am one of those people who decline to leave the house and stay at home, although it’s not to watch television since I stopped watching television regularly about ten years ago. I personally find that I need time to rejuvenate at “home base” while going places and spending time with people tends to wear me out and I’m exhausted the next day. I have to leave home four days a week to work and that’s plenty of human interaction for me. I think some people thrive on the interaction with others to the point where I sometimes wonder about the trend to buy such huge houses. They are hardly ever home so why not just live in a smaller place?
    .-= Mrs. Accountability´s last blog ..Double Check Your Tax Return =-.

    • Daniel says:

      @Mrs. Accountability, So you’re staying in for the right reasons which is totally different and I 100% approve! You’re not using it as a way to save money, you’re staying home to refresh yourself and you’re actually helping rather than hurting yourself.

  5. Keith Morris says:

    I do my fair share of TV watching, but you don’t have to spend any money to go out with friends. There are plenty of social things to do that don’t cost anything.

  6. myfinancialobjectives says:

    Good points. If I could add to a few of these, you could:

    Invite friends over to watch TV :)

    Buy in bulk if its obviously necessary (i.e. toilet paper, tissues, soap, toothpaste, etc).

    Fast food I completely agree on. I eat Sub Way if I need something fast, a lot of food, and cheap. $5 for a foot long loaded with veggies! Can’t beat that!

    Good post!
    .-= myfinancialobjectives´s last blog ..The Ultimate Motivator: Compounding Interest =-.

  7. I really like the list even if I indulge in a couple of the items. :-)

    Houston’s a big place and most of our friends live at least 30 minutes away, so we hang out Fridays-Sundays. My husband and I watch TV in the evenings Mondays-Thursdays since it just seems too annoying to waste half the evening driving.

    We also eat fast food at least once a week…since that is way better than the minimum 5-6 times a week we usually did last year, I call that progress. :-)
    .-= Budgeting in the Fun Stuff´s last blog ..Do You Have Unclaimed Cash with the IRS from 2006? =-.

  8. I wholeheatedly agree with the TV bit, not only do you waste you life, but it also imfluences your thinking in ways that it shouldn’t. We all need to think for ourselves now.

    I’m in violation of the Fast food rule you’ve identified. But you are right on that one too.

    The great thing about life is that if we take action today, tomorrow can be better!
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..What I Have Learned To Date From Blogging! =-.

  9. Forest says:

    The junk food advice is priceless…. People really don’t think about their health in the long term scenario and in the USA medical costs are a big factor of budgeting.
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..FREE DOWNLOAD -Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin =-.

  10. sahmCFO says:

    When I first started using coupons I would use them with reckless abandon. Not realizing many times there were better deals sometimes without a coupon. Or I’d buy junk that we never usually eat BECAUSE I had a coupon, and it would go to waste!
    .-= sahmCFO´s last blog ..Don’t Count Your Money Until it’s “There” =-.

  11. Jenny says:

    I agree on all of those. Also, for parents-to-be, making serious decisions about the birth based on how much money will be spent or saved. This could include an elective induction on Dec 30th in order to claim the child on one’s taxes for that year, a hospital birth when you wanted a homebirth, or a homebirth when you wanted a hospital birth (this one’s mostly for people with a very high deductible or no insurance at all). With my second daughter we wanted a homebirth, but our insurance wouldn’t cover it. We saved up and spent a serious chunk of money to have one anyway, and are so glad we did. We probably saved money in the long run because, for one, saving all that money before the actual birth taught us some valuable lessons about just how thrifty we could be!

  12. Matt @ Dividend Monk says:

    Good post. I especially like point #1. I don’t pay for cable, and instead just use my tv for rented movies on occasion.
    .-= Matt @ Dividend Monk´s last blog ..Coca Cola (KO) Dividend Stock Analysis 2010 =-.

  13. Christina says:

    Consumer traps…before I fall for it but now I think twice if I’ll grab it or not. I really to agree with you on this.

  14. One of the worst ways you missed is living without health insurance. A lot of young people do it and it can have disastrous outcomes.

  15. Michelle says:

    I have a friend who goes out all the time and never tips. She will leave a dollar on a $20 tab and claim that she “doesn’t know better.” It is so annoying and most of the time I increase my tip to make up for her cheapness.

  16. As silly as it sounds, how many of us have let a bill sit there, thinking that we magically won’t need to pay it? I still do this from time to time. How weird…

  17. Great post! I prefer to stay in over going out, but we enjoy hosting friends and family at our place so we keep the social interaction aspect. I’ve got a couple more ideas for you — 1) Spending more than you planned online to score free shipping. If you planned to spend $30 but the minimum requirement for free shipping is $50, many will add more to their cart to reach it. It’s better to pay $8 for shipping than it is to fork over an extra $20 for “free” delivery. 2) Buying more because you have a coupon. As one commenter pointed out, buying something just because you have a coupon is a bad idea. It’s also a problem if you cancel out the coupon savings by purchasing more than you intended.

  18. Balance. That is the key word. Nothing worse than someone that believes the idea behind being financially savvy is to hoard money. That is just as bad as the person that only lives for today and saves absolutely nothing. The key is to identify your long-term goals, develop a plan that supports that (accounting for travel entertainment, etc), and work toward your plan everyday…leaving some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and savings discipline.

  19. Karla Twomey says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Great Post! Thanks you. The point that struck me was about passively making purchases. I used to coupon a lot and I ended up with things in my pantry we didn’t even like. But hey, it was $0.42. Still a waste! If I see a coupon for an item I regularly purchase, I try to clip it but I don’t use coupons so much anymore.

    Anyway, thanks again for the post.

  20. Rita P says:

    Any thing in limit is good and watching TV for relaxing with time limit is always better. The more you get addicted, you will be wasting lot of time. Eating fast food will be definitely harmful in a longer run on health, instead it is always healthy to eat a home cooked food. Just because you have a coupon, you need not buy an item which you are not going to use in short span.

  21. Yuen Tuck says:

    Neat post, you’ve turned the savings paradigm on its head. Totally agree with the saty at home and watch TV thing. Read a book, go for a walk, get on a bike, cook a meal with fresh ingredients – hell, even have a conversation – but turn the TV off.

  22. I usually spend my money on eating fast food. I know this is not good both for my health and for my pocket. I am trying to slow down a bit on this habit and cook foods at home instead.