Home > Personal Finance > 4 Money Saving Tips That Don’t Work

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We all want to save money, and there’s a wide world of information out there trying to help us. But: all savings tips are not created equal. Know your own spending habits and priorities when evaluating tips. To start, we’ve got ten tips that may make you spend more than you save.

1. “Don’t spend any money.”

If you want to stop spending so much money, a bad way to start is by promising yourself that you’ll stop spending money, full stop. It’s not possible. Instead, focus on actionable goals, like that you’ll stop spending money on fancy coffee. Lofty goals are useless if they aren’t sustainable!

2. “Join Costco to save on bulk items.”

Okay, so maybe you’ll save a few cents per square of toilet paper. But for the privilege, you’re paying an annual fee and exposing yourself to products that you never would have bought otherwise. That 3 pound bag of Craisins is such a deal until you realize that Craisins have never been on your shopping list. You’re out $10.

3. “Consolidate your credit card debt.”

Transferring credit card balances from high APR cards to a lower one is a great tool to pay less interest on your debt, but it only works if you cut up the cards that you pay off. If that zero balance on your Visa is too tempting, leave your maxed out credit balances right where they are or close the old account, pronto.

4. “Sew your own clothes”

DIYing your wardrobe is a great goal, as long as it’s your goal to have some fun and make some unique clothes. If it’s your goal to save money, move along: fabric is expensive and there’s no money to be saved here.

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  • Jana

    Many of these are great points, but my experience has shown that a few of them are not true for my family. We save at least $150 a month (usually significantly more) by buying basics like milk, eggs, bread, peanut butter, coffee, laundry detergent and chicken broth at Costco. Our annual membership is $100, and obviously we save enough in just one month to make that membership worthwhile. I shop with a list and never purchase anything that is not on my list, no matter how appealing it may be in the store. As with any shopping, comparing prices, avoiding temptation, and making wise decisions is key.

    Similarly, I have saved money from deal-a-day sites and other discount shopping sites by watching for deals that come from merchants/restaurants, etc. we already patronize. Just as with regular coupons, you won’t save money if you purchase something you normally wouldn’t . . . wisdom and common sense go a long way here.

    Also, I save significantly on the cost of clothing for myself and my daughter by sewing simple tops, skirts, shorts and dresses. I also used to think that sewing clothes was more expensive than purchasing them, until I learned how sales at my local fabric store work and started comparing fabric prices online. I’ve learned to only buy fabric on sale or clearance (or when I have a coupon), and never pay more than $5 a yard (most tops and skirts use 1-2 yards, dresses 2-3 yards). I also buy patterns when they are on sale for $.99. Therefore most of these garments end up costing me less than $10 and are well-constructed and durable, and are much more attractive than what is offered at local retail stores (this is especially true of the clothes I sew for my daughter). This is a considerable savings by anyone’s measure . . . only thrift store clothing would be more economical. My basic sewing skills also allow me to tailor, refasion and mend ready-to-wear clothing, making our clothes last longer and look better. Finally, by purchasing fabric when it is on sale I am able to sew practical and beautiful gifts for family and friends inexpensively. And by improving my sewing skills, I am also developing an area of expertise that will allow me to supplement our income at some point, if needed.

  • Linda

    One of the biggest supposed money savers are family plans with contract cell phone companies – total waste of money and someone is always getting shorted when it comes to minutes. I had a family plan with Verizon and even with a corporate discount, I was still paying nearly $200 a month with even more fees for a family plan of only 1400 minutes between 3 people and data plans. It was not worth it and I still had to purchase phones and insurance. I decided that prepaid, no matter the reputation in terms of network, had to have better price options then this and it took some time to find the right fit. I eventually bought 3 phones and plans at Target for Net10 prepaid because I didn’t want to loose the Verizon network and be without a contract. Now, I’m have the $50 unlimited plan and my two kids are on the $25 plan so I’m paying $100 total – no fluncation. Saving $100 makes prepaid a much better option and a realistic money saver for families.

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