We all love a good deal and finding new ways to save money. But tread carefully because often what looks like a sure, inexpensive thing is anything but. Examples range from tinkering with your car to taking care of your sick cat, from bulk spending to putting a deposit on a dress and letting the store keep it for a time.
Here are some examples of what appear to be guaranteed cost busters, but in the end, you may find yourself paying for your wayward frugality.
Raising your insurance deductible
It sounds smart on the surface, but the increased financial exposure makes this a bad idea, said Andrew Schrage, founder of personal finance and education blog Money Crashers.
You may be saving $10, or even $100 a month, but that won’t begin to pay for fixing your wrecked Camaro, or your flooded house—and your rates will likely rise.
“An unexpected event can force you to pay hundreds or thousands more, depending on how much you agreed to increase your deductible,” Schrage said.
Living paycheck to paycheck provides you with no cushion if a financial emergency crops up—and they have a habit of doing just that. Without a cash reserve, you could be forced to take a high interest loan or put the expense on a credit card, which may carry high fees. It’s best to hold some money back from each paycheck and put it in a savings account so you are not caught in a costly financial bind.
Skipping the doctor, dentist to avoid copays
A recent Consumer Reports survey found 43 percent of respondents did just that, exacerbating their health problems and leading to hefty medical bills.
To curb the pain in your mouth and wallet, shop around for a smart bargain, consider visiting free and low-cost clinics, or check out a local dental and hygienist school for free or discounted care.
Going the DIY route
Whether it’s painting the living room yourself or putting a new carburetor in your car, you should think twice; you’re looking at twice the time and a nonprofessional job. The end result may mean the expense of a car that still doesn’t start and a room that needs a twice over by a skilled professional painter. Yes, you can do many jobs yourself, but it is often the best route to leave the big ones to people who make their living taking care of these projects.
Turning to layaway
If you think you are going to save money shopping, don’t look to layaway.
Layaway isn’t a debt-reduction plan; it’s a marketing ploy that gets insecure shoppers to think they’re saving upfront when they’re really racking up late fees and interest. Remember, stretching out payments isn’t responsible if you can’t afford them in the first place.
Dining on McNuggets
Fast food sure tastes great and is cheap, but it is often high in calories, fats, oil and other artery-clogging contents. Bankrate.com found 72 million Americans could save on doctor’s visits, health insurance premiums and groceries if they simply ate better.
Overspending on bulk items
One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing to buy in bulk is that they think they’ll use something up, but they end up throwing most of it away, said Parker Hurlburt, vice president of research for Acosta, a retail sales and marketing firm.
Another mistake, whether at a warehouse club or your local grocery store, is not comparing sale prices to bulk prices.
Shirking Fido’s health
Possibly the worst mistake pet owners can make is not coughing up cash for their pet’s preventative care.
Avoid the heartache—and cost of an ER visit—by brushing your pet’s teeth, splurging on the healthier, vet-recommended food, and following up on routine check-ups and exams.
Your pet will thank you.
Resources: Moneycrashers.com, Business Insider, BankRate.com, Consumer Reports