Oh, the avocado toast.

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As the world starts to worry about a recession and impending fiscal crisis, you’re bound to see countless advice pieces about how to save money. Yeah, sure, cut back on your Starbucks and avocado toast, I guess, but that’s not the kind of stuff that really makes a dent.

We, courtesy of u/Maximum-Gas-3491 over on Reddit, compiled a list of things you may have thought were frugal but actually were not.

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1. Cat litter

For me, it was realizing that the Aldi cat litter was not the best deal, as I could scoop the Walmart cat litter much more easily and it would last a lot longer. Also the Walmart brand training underwear vs. name-brand pull-ups from Costco. (Training pants vs. not using training pants is a different story…)


2. Do the math!

Buying in bulk. I was very surprised when I figured out that sometimes you pay more per ounce! Gotta do the math. lol


3. Grow your own food

I always expect growing my own food to be more frugal than it actually is.

It can be frugal, but if you’re buying soil and fertilizer, in your specific case it probably isn’t. I enjoy doing it and I don’t let the costs get out of hand, but I definitely tend to spend more than I plan at the start of the season .


4. DIY Laundry

Making Laundry detergent did not work for me. It was a Pita and Clothes became dingy.


5. Cheaping out

Buying the cheapest toilet paper or trash bags never works out for me. With the butt napkins more gets used per wipe because it’s so thin it turns practically to powder. With trash bags the savings gets eaten up by how many times I have to double up because a bag rips.


6. New fridge

Keeping our old fridge. When we replaced it with a new energy efficient one our electricity bills went down so much that it paid for the cost of the fridge in two or three years.


7. Amazon may, or may not, be the best price

I gotta say that for 99% of items, Amazon is NOT the cheapest place to get it.

Amazon used to be the cheapest, but their prices today are just meh.

eBay and AliBaba are the cheaper options, but EBay is by far wayyyy less sketchy.


If you’re in a hcol area, it often still is cheapest. I shop around my local stores online for prices before any purchase on Amazon.


8. Big warehouses

For me it’s membership warehouses. We just don’t shop that way and bought a lot of stuff we didn’t use or went bad. I know it works for a lot of people, but not for us.


9. Bowl covers

Reuseable stretchy silicone bowl covers and reuseable food storage bags have been two of my biggest disappointments. Neither perform as advertised and are a nuisance to clean and dry.

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10. Just get the brand name

Literally no dish soap works as well as Dawn and I don’t understand it


11. Just not a great deal

Owning chickens for eggs. Lol.


12. Sewing

Making your own clothes. Starting costs are expensive. Certain fabric is expensive. Certain thread is expensive. It’s still cheaper than store bought if you’re like me and seem to have an expensive taste, but it’s more expensive than I thought it would be.


13. The healthy hobby

all my friends growing up smoked cigarettes but I thought it was a waste of money so I bought into magic cards and warhammer 40k instead


14. Liquidators

There is a grocery liquidator by my house. Their prices are amazing.

However I am much more likely to impulse buy there because you never know what they’re going to have and once it’s gone, it’s gone . My grocery spending went UP significantly when I started shopping at the “discount store”


15. Windows down

Rolling down the windows instead of using the ac in a car. Yes at a slow speed this saves a bit on gas but at highway speeds its more efficient to use the ac.


16. At home manis

The amount of money I have spent trying to do my nails “professionally” at home, is embarrassing. In my defense, I could not have predicted so many things were not how they seemed…it just lead me down this rabbit hole to try a simpler better method. First with acrylic, then the gel, then the poly, then the special light, then the better drill then the different tips, then the slick whatever, then more of this & that … until…i’ve got two tool boxes full of finger nail “stuff”…I think id have a coronary if I added all that expense up, all in the name of saving 60 bucks a couple of times a year. I pretty sure that was not a frugal win. It just can’t have been.


17. Sustainable brands

Buying clothes from sustainable brands. Those clothes are supposed to last longer but my normal clothes also last quite long. Maybe it makes a difference in 15 years or so.. I’ll just stick with treating my clothes carefully.


18. Couponing

Literally any couponing for stuff you weren’t already planning to buy this week. If I look through coupons, I’ll be buying name-brand crap discounted for more than store brand I usually buy. Plus, coupons mess with my impulse control (“but it’s on sale!”) and leave me with inventory I might get sick of.


19. Points

Travel points on credit cards, I wished I had used a cash back card instead. Travel often for work, but doing a lot less flying now.

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20. Cheap paint

When I painted my house I bought the cheapest paint I could find. It took three coats and the stuff was like water and super difficult to ‘cut in’ around the windows and bottoms of the walls above the trim. Gravity was enough make the paint run. I had to do super thin layers.

I’m currently painting a rental I own and I bought good paint. It is saving me time and ends up costing almost the same as one coat is pretty much doing the job. It’s also a night and day difference how easy it is to ‘cut in’ with.

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*First Published: May 25, 2023, 1:35 pm