It’s easy to look back on my history of frugal experiments and see a lot of failures.
Not too long ago, I attempted to fix the toilet on our main floor. After three hours of grumbling and several broken pieces, I wound up calling the plumber, which would have been cheaper to begin with.
Once, I bought some toilet paper in bulk when the deal seemed incredible. The stuff was like sandpaper. Our entire family hated it.
We planted a bunch of heirloom tomatoes one summer. We put up fencing to protect them and did everything we could do to keep them healthy. Just as tomatoes were starting to appear, some sort of blight took them straight to the ground, completely wasting all of our expense and effort.
I got a great deal on some glasses at a Goodwill store. I carried a box of them out to the car. Just as I was unlocking the door, the box slipped from my hands. None of the glasses made it home with me.
A few months ago, I mis-counted how long some leftovers had been in the fridge. In order to be cheap, I ate some old spaghetti. My stomach did not thank me.
Once, I bought a piece of used furniture that had a minor bug infestation, requiring a thorough cleaning.
In reality, the option that seems like the least expensive choice doesn’t always end up working out. Countless things can happen.
Let’s look at some other bad outcomes, though.
Sarah and I both got vicious food poisoning after a dinner at a nice restaurant several years ago, leaving us so weak that we were unable to get off of the floor and climb into bed.
The first smartphone I ever owned was run over by a pickup less than a month after I purchased it.
I purchased a set of workout videos, only to find that I couldn’t do them because my knees wouldn’t hold up.
I bought a great straight razor and a shaving kit, only to find that it left the skin on my face feeling absolutely raw. I ended up going back to my old cheap razors.
I picked up a rather expensive pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes. They worked wonderfully… on my left foot. On my right, where I have a toe that healed oddly after a bad break during my teen years, the shoe hurt quite a bit. I ended up not using them … and the market for even lightly used athletic shoes isn’t a big one.
All of these mistakes and unfortunate outcomes were the result of spending more, not less.
Here’s the reality: sometimes things aren’t going to go like we expect. Sometimes, that might happen when we’re cutting corners, but at other times, you’ll see a poor outcome even if you invested some serious cash into the situation.
Just because frugal experiments sometimes have outcomes that you don’t desire doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying new ways to save money. It just means that your specific choice didn’t turn out well. There might be a lesson you can take away from it, but that lesson shouldn’t have anything to do with the broader idea of frugality.
Frugality works. I’ve failed many times with frugal experiments, but so many more have been successful and become a regular part of my life, reducing my spending and conserving that money for other things more important to me.