Updated on 04.08.17

10 Things I Refuse to Do to Save Money

The best part about adopting a frugal lifestyle is that you can always find new ways to save money. We have more options than ever when it comes to cutting the cord to cable or choosing a discount phone provider, for example. And there are always new strategies to try, from DIY to experimenting with new recipes, growing your own food, or sewing your own clothes.

I’m willing to do plenty to save money – even if some sacrifice is required. For example, my husband and I sold our second car to become a one-car family this year. We didn’t really need the second car, we realized, so we banked the $3,000 sales price and quit paying for insurance and upkeep. Another frugal hack I use is buying nearly everything used – clothing, home décor, and kid’s toys. I don’t mind shopping secondhand, and no one in my family seems to mind, either.

Over time, all the little things we do – and don’t do – help us save a lot more. But, you know what? There are plenty of things I simply will not do to save money. Here are 10 savings hacks I will always reject – no matter what:

#1: I refuse to leave less than a 15%-20% tip.

While I love saving money where I can, I refuse to save money at someone else’s expense. You can technically save 15% to 20% off your bill by not tipping (or under-tipping) your waiter, but I would never dream of doing such a thing.

If saving money involves short-changing someone else, count me out. Here’s what I think: If you can’t afford your dinner and a tip, stay home or choose one of the many restaurants where you serve yourself.

#2: I won’t let go of our monthly cleaning service.

Once per month, we pay a cleaning service $120 to deep clean our home from top to bottom. I would really love to have them come twice per month, but $240 monthly seems steep. Alas, we decided once a month was enough and that we would do some “keep up” in between.

I could save $120 per month now by doing all the cleaning myself, but this is one splurge I can handle. The day they come and whisk through my house is easily my favorite day of the month, and I won’t give it up – even to save some cash.

#3: I don’t use coupons that aren’t sitting in front of my face.

I used to spend hours pouring through ads, cutting coupons, and creating a carefully-crafted grocery store strategy. Eventually, I grew tired of all the extra work. I also realized my hourly “rate” for this work was a pittance compared to how much I earn and what my free time is truly worth. Nowadays, I would rather wake up on a Saturday and relax than sit at the kitchen table sorting flyers.

I do use coupons, but only if they’re right in front of me. And when it comes to food, we still save plenty by making most of our meals from scratch and shopping sales.

#4: I won’t feed my family junk food – even if it’s free.

Speaking of coupons, most of them are for food I don’t want anyway. Sure, you can get free cookies and cereal bars and candy, but who needs that?

I’m perfectly willing to spend more money – and forgo free or super-cheap junk foods – to feed my family well. Right now we spend around $150 per week on mostly healthy food, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

#5: I won’t keep the heat and air conditioning off to save money.

My parents were extremely frugal when I was a kid, to the point where they barely turned on the air conditioning during summer. I distinctly remember laying in a pool of sweat in my bed, miserable and praying for air.

I knew that once I grew up, things would be different. Once I was in charge of paying the bill, I would crank up the AC or turn on some heat whenever I wanted.

Now that I’m an adult, I would much rather pay a little more money for utilities than spend the hot summer months sweaty and miserable. Some savings just aren’t worth it.

#6: I don’t skimp on family vacations.

We scrimp and save in certain areas so we can spend a little more in others. One area where I never regret spending money is on family vacations. Our kids are only young once, right? As parents, we want to make fun vacation memories that will last.

While a staycation can be okay, I love taking my kids to new beaches and trying new things. And if it costs a little money, so what? The family memories we make are priceless. The whole reason we live frugally most of the time is so we have enough money for big savings goals that are important to us.

#7: I won’t steal – even something small.

I’m not willing to steal to save money, even something as small as ketchup packets or plastic silverware. I would much rather save up and pay for disposables on my own. I need to save money, sure, but I also need to live with myself. Stealing anything – even packets of Splenda – would weigh too heavily on my conscience.

#8: I won’t color my own hair.

Although I’m a natural blonde, I still have my hair highlighted from time to time. The bad news is, highlights are crazy expensive at salons in my area – usually $120 and up. Fortunately, one of my neighbors does the same work out of her home, and she only charges $85 for highlights and a cut.

I could maybe-possibly-potentially buy a box of color and try to do my hair myself, but I’m a little scared at the damage I would do. Plus, I want to look good!

So no, I won’t attempt to color my own hair to save money at this point in my life. Instead, I fork over $85 for professional help every five or six weeks.

#9: I won’t make my kids go without.

Now that my kids are almost 6 and 8, some of their “stuff” is getting expensive. From school supplies to clothes and sporting goods, it all adds up. These days, they grow so fast I’m buying new shoes every few months!

I could save money by never buying them nicer clothes or by cancelling their gymnastics lessons, but I wouldn’t dare. I would rather make budget cuts elsewhere.

#10: I won’t neglect my home or my yard.

For the months of April and May, the home upkeep categories in our zero-sum budget are absurd. We planted some new grass seed, and we plan to lay down a new layer of mulch. We also plant a vegetable garden and summer flowers in early May. What can I say? I want my yard to look good!

While I save money by buying used stuff and choosing minimalist décor for the inside of my home, I’m not willing to scrimp much there, either. I work at home and I raise my family here. I want everything to look nice so my family can feel proud. And if that means having potted plants and hanging flowers on display – even at the cost of a few hundred bucks each year – so be it.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, saving money isn’t everything. More than anything else, I aim to strike a balance – and for my family to be as happy and healthy as they can be.

And, that’s the best part of frugality in my opinion – it looks different for everyone. Just like someone’s trash is another person’s treasure, everyone gets to choose where to save and where to splurge.

Holly Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer and the author of Zero Down Your Debt. Johnson shares her obsession with frugality, budgeting, and travel at ClubThrifty.com.

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What do you refuse to do to save money? What would you add to this list?

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