10 Things You Should Never Do to Try to Save Money

May 5, 2020

While it’s a good idea to be reasonably frugal, and there are a lot of great and practical ways to save money, it’s possible to take things too far. Certain money-saving ideas may sound good initially but then they tend to backfire. Here is a list of 10 things that you should not do to save money, as they may cost you more money in the long run than they save you upfront.

Don’t Skip Routine Medical and Dental Checks

Nobody likes doling out cash for co-pays and meeting deductibles, especially when you’re feeling good. But simple examinations can detect a host of medical conditions that if left untreated can turn into more debilitating diseases that could be far more expensive to manage, such as skipping regular dental checks. If you end up developing gum disease, you’ll be paying for deep cleanings the rest of your life to prevent losing your pearly whites. You could also be putting your heart health at risk. When it comes to your health, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Don’t Neglect Feeding the Meter

It happens more often than you think, and maybe it’s already happened to you. You park in front of an expired meter, thinking your errand will be only a minute or two, so you gamble and skip feeding the meter. When you return to your car, you find a big fat parking ticket glued to your windshield, making you feel like a fool, not to mention $50 dollars lighter.

Don’t Build Unpermitted Structures

File this one under, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” You’re ready to add a bathroom, bonus room or even a second floor to your lovely home. Sadly, each of these improvements, expanding your home’s square footage, is likely to increase your property taxes. Of course, if City Hall never finds out about your modifications, because permits were never pulled by you or your contractor, you might be able to avoid the tax collector. But then, you’ll be the owner of an unpermitted structure whose square footage won’t count toward your home’s overall square footage, which could hurt you financially when you go to sell. Also, if you later need to file an insurance claim, say, a pipe burst in that new bathroom you added, your insurance will be asking you, “What new bathroom, how can we insure (and reimburse you for) something that technically doesn’t exist?”

Don’t Rush Abroad to Get Discounted Plastic Surgery

According to VeryWell.com, an estimated 750,000 or more Americans will seek healthcare outside of the United States in the next year. They do so for a variety of reasons, such as saving money, turning a medical procedure into a mini-vacation, or obtaining a surgery they want that is not permitted in the United States. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has often sounded the alarm over foreign-obtained face lifts, tummy tucks and breast augmentations gone bad that later require a second corrective surgery. The 2018 April issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), suggested that complications from plastic surgery procedures performed in other countries posed “a substantial public health problem in the United States.” If this threat leaves you undeterred, at least do your due diligence. Ask the foreign health provider about contingency care if something were to go wrong. Does the hospital have an ICU, does it carry medical malpractice insurance, etc.?

Don’t Drive Across Town to Save a Few Pennies Per Gallon on Gas

Is it really worth it to drive half-way across town just to save a nickel or even a dime a gallon to fill up your gas guzzler? And then when you arrive, you take your place behind a dozen other cars idling in line. These trips will burn both your gas and time and add to global warming. Fight your cost-savings battles elsewhere.

Don’t Use Someone Else’s Internet

With cable bills skyrocketing, you may have already joined the now millions of Americans who have successfully cut the cord on their cable bills. But think twice about also cutting your home internet to save a few more bucks, even if your favorite coffee shop down the street offers free Wi-Fi. Using unsecured networks at your local hangout could expose you to malware and identify theft, which can be especially troublesome if you’re keying in passwords or credit card information to do online shopping or banking.

Don’t Always Accept the Lowest Bid

If you’re ready to launch a remodel project, don’t be eager to accept the lowest contracting bid. Sure, the low bid will get your attention, but do a little more digging to see if it is legit and stands up to scrutiny. For starters, check the contractor’s references, carefully read through their proposal and contract, and ask about the quality of the materials they use. Keep in mind the adage that billionaire investor Warren Buffett swears by: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

Don’t Be a DIY Hero

The internet is littered with thousands of stories and videos of do-it-yourself disasters. If a project is outside your bailiwick, you’re better off hiring a pro. For example, trimming a tree without the proper tools and equipment (like a long extension ladder) could not only kill the tree, it could kill you. Similarly, if you’re not a professional plumber, improperly installing a water heater could literally explode in your face. As for refinishing your floors, if you lose control of that 100-pound plus sander, you might end up with more sandbar-size ripples on your floor than you’ll ever find at the beach.

Don’t Buy a Cheap Case for Your Smart Phone

Don’t buy a case for your phone because it is priced right and looks cool. Buy it because it is going to hold up to the constant pounding, punishment, and abuse that all smartphones invariably take. Today, smartphones costing up to $1,000 have more technology in them than Apollo 11 that rocketed to the moon and back, so they are clearly investments worth protecting.

Don’t Take Too Many Red-Eye Flights

Red-eye flights are usually cheaper because of their off-hour departure and arrival times, so you might be tempted to think that by flying in the middle of the night, you’ll have one less hotel or Airbnb night to pay for? All true, but the downside is, you’ll likely be walking around town the next day like a zombie. Or if you arrive at your destination before the rest of the world wakes up, you might find it difficult to hook up a car rental or catch a bus or train to your ultimate destination. Ask yourself if all that possible inconvenience is really worth saving $50 on your airplane ticket, especially if you’re on a tight, sight-seeing schedule.

Maybe the final words of wisdom when it comes to trying to save money are to “look before you leap.” Before you’re seduced by offers of cut-rate insurance, free trial subscriptions, and discounted batteries from dollar stores, think about what you are really getting for your money. Think about the long-term consequences. Have you really found yourself an incredible deal or a just a deal that could blow up in your face — like highly advertised tires you bought at a heavy discount that prematurely fail and end up cutting your vacation short.

Think of alternative ways to help pay for the quality you need and want

Don’t risk quality and your personal safety for price. Rather, think of alternative ways to help pay for the quality you need and want, like possibly accessing some of your home’s wealth with a home equity loan or a reverse mortgage, if you have the good fortune of being 62 or older. That way, you’ll never have to sacrifice safety for the poor judgment of selecting a substandard product or service that ultimately fails to do the job.


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