Most money-saving tips work really well…if you approach them correctly. Here are 4 common myths about saving money that could cost you if you aren’t careful.
4 Common Myths About Saving Money
Here’s the thing I hate about couponing–they almost never have coupons for the items I need. It’s always stuff that I’m not going to be buying, like Pop Tarts or special kinds of cereals.
The thing about coupons is that they’re meant to make you feel like you’re saving money by giving you a deal on something you weren’t very likely to buy in the first place. Which means you’re spending extra money. It doesn’t matter if the coupon saves you $1 or is a buy-one-get-one-free deal. If it’s not something you were going to buy anyway (or something you weren’t going to need in the near future), you’re not saving money. You don’t save money by spending it.
That said, coupons can be great when mixed with other deals…like buying in bulk.
Speaking of which….
2. Buying in bulk
Buying in bulk is all the rage these days, thanks to stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. But buying in bulk is definitely something you have to be careful with. A lot of items aren’t such a great deal.
Items that don’t expire, like toilet paper, dry rice, and beans, are great bulk items. I also like to buy things I use on at least a weekly basis, like diced tomatoes or chicken bouillon. Oatmeal is also usually a good buy, since Zach eats a lot of it.
However, non-essential items like cookies and juices aren’t such a great deal. Plus having them in bulk may mean that you’re consuming them more often than you need to. I’m far more likely to eat a whole box of cookies if I have a whole box on hand. So instead, I just don’t go to the bakery section of a warehouse store, saving me money and calories.
The best way to tell if an item is a good deal is to check out the price per unit, rather than the price you’re paying. It used to be that you had to calculate this yourself, and in some stores you still do. Most stores nowadays, though, have the PPU on the shelf label. I usually find it in the lower left-hand corner.
How do you tell if the PPU is good? Experience, really. Zach and I try to stay familiar with the prices in other stores, so we know when we’re getting a good deal.
Some items that are a better deal in bulk are:
- liquors (really only good if you’re buying for a party, though)
- health and body items (like toothpaste, soap, etc.)
- cleaning items (trash bags, laundry detergent, etc.)
- dry rice
- dry beans
- dry pasta
- office supplies (weird, yeah, but definitely a better deal than Staples)
- light bulbs
- gift cards
- baby items (anything that doesn’t really expire, like diapers and shampoo)
Perishables are only a good deal if you’re going to use them immediately. So unless you can freeze or use them within a couple of days, avoid buying them in bulk.
3. Farmer’s markets
This depends on where you live. When we lived in West Virginia, the farmer’s markets were really nice and definitely saved us money on produce. Where we live now, many of the ones close to us are more of a leisurely commodity. And often times the quality is either the same or lower than store-bought. Farmer’s markets are fun if you need something to do on a Sunday morning, but for us…they’re also a pain to get to. (The only one close to us that I’ve found–and in all honesty, I’ve stopped looking–runs on a Wednesday afternoon.)
As I said, this depends on the area. But make sure you’re aware of prices when you head to farmer’s markets. Most of the stores in our area buy local produce anyway, and buying organic in those stores is cheaper than going to farmer’s markets.
I love DIY. But what I learned about it from just jumping in is that it will most likely not save you money…especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I’ve said it a few times, but the reason I took up knitting was because I wanted one of those big, cozy, chunky blankets. I looked at the price tag and said, “NOPE!” So I took up knitting.
Knitting is NOT a cheap hobby (I think I talked about this in 5 Things No One Told Me About Learning How to Knit). I’m not sure why anyone things it is. Yeah, the needles can be cheap depending on what kind you use and where you get them. But I have spent a fortune on yarn. And I’ve done price checks on how much one of those big wonderful blankets would cost me. Knitting it myself would nearly double the price of just buying it. And that’s using the cheap yarns (I don’t have the money to buy those fancy yarns that come in hanks instead of skeins).
I’ve also spend WAY too much money fixing my screw ups. In fact, there are projects I’ve done that you haven’t heard about because I completely failed at them. I spent about $100 on trying to DIY my own nightstands before I finally realized I didn’t have the tools, the skills, or the room (DIYing furniture when you live in an apartment is such a pain). I could either spend even more trying to fix what I’d done (which wasn’t guaranteed to work and also required new tools and materials) or I could give up and cut my losses. I chose the latter and bought some $30 nightstands at Ikea instead.
What money-saving myths have you debunked?