Here in the personal finance world, many of us dispense information about saving money, living frugally, cutting back on expenses…anything to help you manage your money in the best way possible. I know I do it, and some of my favorite blogs do it. It’s information that most people need but unfortunately, a lot of the tips given are ludicrous. They may amount to small savings, which is good and I’m sure that lots of people need those small savings (after all, little things do add up), but when you think about the tips from a practical standpoint, they’re not always the best route.
A few of the ones that I can’t stand:
- Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Fine, vampire electricity is a real thing. But going around my house every single time I want to leave or every single time I come home is a nuisance. Do you know how difficult it is to get to some of the power cords? Also, I hate resetting clocks. Almost every appliance in my house is attached to a clock. Instead of unplugging everything. I’d rather just turn things off. For instance, we sleep with a fan even in the dead of winter. When we’re not asleep or in the room, we turn the fan off. Simple. Fan’s not running, we’re not paying for it. But as for the power strip that holds the cord for our TV, the Wii and the Blu-Ray player, I’m not turning it off every time I leave the house. It’s impossible to remember so I’m not even going to try. I’ll pay the extra $.74/month (or whatever it costs).
- In the event of a job loss, cut back on everything. Sell your house. Live like a pioneer! I concur that when times are tough, it’s important to think more discriminately about your finances. If you have expenses that can go, then let them go. But to suggest that you take a weed whacker to everything is irresponsible advice. People have contracts that it costs money to get out of. People need the internet for job hunting or job creation and may not have access to free sources of internet (check rural areas. It happens). Public transportation may not exist and a car is necessary to get around. As for pulling a kid out of daycare entirely, really think about this before you do it. Kids need routine and to upend them entirely from that is not fair. I suggest negotiating with your daycare provider or moving the kid to part-time, if possible.
- To save money on groceries, cook everything from scratch. Yes, cooking from scratch is healthier and in many instances, cheaper. But not all the time. Like the time I tried to make my own bread. Besides the gastric distress I found myself in as a result, it cost a fortune to buy the ingredients (approximately $20). And, if I wanted to buy a bread machine, that’s another $100 or so right there. I understand that in the long run, it might save a ton of money but we don’t eat enough bread to reap the benefits. So I went back to spending my $2.50 on a loaf of bread. It’s less expensive and my stomach is much happier. If you’re going to cook everything from scratch, more power to you. But I don’t believe that the “it’s cheaper” is an absolute.
- Coupons are the best way to save money ever!!! No, they’re not. Coupons are not the end all and be all of saving money. They are cumbersome to clip and keep track of us, especially expiration dates, they are often not available on the items that I use and I can typically find a better deal on generics. Plus, the fine print is exhausting. There are times that coupons come in extremely handy, especially if one store that you frequent accepts coupons from other stores. My grocery store often gives out $10 off your next purchase coupons and I like these (as long as I remember to bring the coupon and it’s not expired). But to say that coupons are, exclusively, the only way to save money is just bad advice.
- If you need extra money in a hurry, have a yard sale. Oh, I think I hate this one the most. I have never had a yard sale nor do I plan to ever have one. For starters, not everyone has enough stuff to sell that would make a yard sale even remotely profitable (I know I don’t). Then there’s logistics…getting permission from the HOA, finding a good time to have it, making contingency plans in the event of bad weather, advertising. Not to mention pricing the items and having to worry about haggling with customers. It’s just not worth it to me (and probably numerous others). Because by the time the yard sale would be ready to go, the need for the money would have passed. I do suppose it’s a better suggestion than using a payday loan company, though.
Some other money saving measures that are foolish and make no sense (as provided by readers and friends):
- Make your own laundry detergent. Who has time for this? Is it even worth the effort?
- Save $x (insert small number) per day. Right, because everyone has even that small amount just lying around.
- Brown bagging lunch or cutting out lattes. What if you already bring your lunch and don’t drink coffee?
- And my favorite:
What is your least favorite money saving tip?