‘It Doesn’t Save Me Any Money’: People Are Sharing The Frugal Lifestyle Tweaks That Simply Don’t Work For Them

When it comes to personal finance, there’s not a lot of advice that’s really one size fits all. Everyone’s income, expenses, priorities, and circumstances are different, so what works for one person might make absolutely no sense for someone else. But all too often when people give money advice, they share what they’ve found useful without considering if it even applies to the person they’re talking with.

Recently, u/i-push-the-button asked people to share the frugal “tip” that drives them nuts because it simply won’t work for them, and their responses were honestly so relatable. Here’s some of what they had to say:

1.“‘Just quit eating out.’ Listen, my wife and I try to make meals stretch and cook at home… But we have kids! Four of them!! All with different schedules. We use fast food as a tool rather than a lazy way out. It can be very difficult feeding everyone and running all day with practice, school, pick up, and games.”

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2. “I hate it when people are like ‘if you save ten bucks a day/week/etc you’ll have X amount by the end of the year!’ Like bro, I’m living paycheck to paycheck, if I don’t run out of money after rent that’s a major victory for me.”

3. “I hate the one where people say go outside for free exercise. Summers, where I live, hit 120° F. I’m not jogging in that. Our summers hospitalize and kill people every year. I work from home and already have a hard enough time establishing work/home separation. I’ve tried and it seems a gym membership is my only option.”

4. “Change jobs and move to a low-cost-of-living area. I’ve spent 20+ years in my film career. I have rent control. No, I’m not moving to live in a dull city with no job for me.”

Tired woman runner taking a rest

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Tired woman runner taking a rest

5. “My pet peeve is telling me to shop at Costco because it’s cheaper. I live alone so the portions of fresh things are just too big. The membership and driving to a separate store doesn’t save me any money.”

6. “Cheap shampoo. My hair looks like shit with that stuff and I get sores on my head.”

“If there’s one thing I refuse to be frugal on, it’s beauty products. Lotion, shampoo and conditioner, soap. Even makeup, to a degree. The last thing I need is a rash or breakout from cheap stuff.”

7. “Googling coupons! Love the concept but the ones I find are always fake and unusable!

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8. “Gardening. If you don’t have anything to garden with, it’s a little pricey. Also, if you don’t have the knowledge, the trial and error are costly of money and time. In-season produce bought at the farmers market is so low-cost that I can’t seem to bring myself to garden.”

9. “I’m a financial planner/stock broker/I deal with money. I absolutely loathe the fucking statements made by every firm — save for retirement, even if just a little helps. Literally, that’s not a possibility for some people. If you don’t have enough money for rent or food, you are at a deficit. How can those people save anything? Also frankly the switch from pensions to the impetus being on the individual to save was a step backwards. Most people have little to no financial literacy and aren’t even aware they should be saving for retirement.”

10. “Farmer’s markets are another frugal tip that is distinctly not one-size-fits-all. All of the ones I’ve been to in my home area are at least three times the price as Kroger for what’s intended as boutique and higher quality goods.

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11. “That 50/30/20 is a valid budgeting strategy. No one talks about what to do when your debt payments are 50% of your take-home income.”

12. “One tip that doesn’t really work for me is to stop using delivery services and buy my groceries at different stores based on coupons, etc. I buy the same stuff weekly from the same online-only store that offers free delivery for purchases at just about my standard base weekly shop cost, and the few dollars I may save by buying at physical stores with coupons is just not worth the time and hassle I would have to spend getting everything home myself.”

13. “Pay with cash. I don’t mean making sure you have the money in the bank for big purchases, but literally having bills on you at all times and only buying things with cash rather than card. People who preach this say you spend less when you have to part with physical money, but I have found that to be the opposite with me.”

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14. “Anything concerning energy and being uncomfortable. Yes, I can always put a sweatshirt on. Yes, I can always take clothes off. But no AC meant I couldn’t comfortably cook. Turning heat off or down in the winter meant arthritis flair-ups, and I was miserable, cranky, and hated life. Either means poor quality sleep.”

15. “Thrifting. When I buy clothes, I’m on a mission. I need a classic white blouse in my size. And that’s it, I’m not wandering around to see what else looks interesting. You’re not going to walk into a thrift shop and find that.”

16. “The advice that you should acquire moving boxes by driving around town and begging for boxes at liquor stores and grocery stores is a huge waste of time and will only create a ton of agony when you’re trying to load a truck with a bunch of irregularly shaped dilapidated boxes that don’t easily stack on a dolly. Quality moving boxes from a hardware store only cost about $2 and will make moving day a breeze. They’re also going to hold up well to be used for subsequent moves, so store them under a bed or in the back of a closet.”

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17. “Vinegar is not a cure-all for cleaning or health. Useful? Yes. It will not clean my windows or relieve my diarrhea. I don’t care how many mommy blogs praise the ‘power’ of vinegar. Just give me the ammonia-based glass cleaner and some of that chalky pink bismuth.”

18. “Get your own chickens for cheap eggs. Cries in $20 bags of feed.”

19. “Not buying expensive coffee/drinks. I see tons of people going, ‘Just stop buying your expensive Starbucks and after a year you’ll save enough for a house,’ or some stupid shit like that. I don’t even buy that stuff in the first place, where is my house then? General advice to save money you never had in the first place.”

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20. “Meal prepping. Eating the same thing over and over makes me literally sad, then I avoid my own cooking which was a huge investment of time, money, and effort. I just make enough for two days at most. I’ve switched over to cooking things that take less time and less shopping with smaller portions.”

21. “Line drying the laundry. First off that would only be possible about four months of the year here. You also have to work around the weather and it’s very time-consuming. Many items feel stiff and don’t get the lint and pet hair removed from them. All for a pretty meager savings.”

22. “Selling low price items on Marketplace. If it’s going to take multiple messages back and forth with multiple buyers and occasional no-shows, what was the point? My time is worth enough that I don’t sell anything for less than $20 and I don’t see anyone selling $5 items really getting ahead when you factor in what else they could be doing with that time.”

Clothes hanging outside in the balcony in Cascais, Lisbon, Portugal - November, 2023

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Clothes hanging outside in the balcony in Cascais, Lisbon, Portugal – November, 2023

23. “Buying a large amount of something (large bucket of fried chicken, for example) because it’s cheaper but then not using it. It took 12 years and a lot of wasted food to convince my husband of this: It’s not a bargain if no one uses it, even if it is cheaper.”

24. “When people show you side hustles that are only successful if you have a following on social media.”

25. “I cannot get rid of my vehicle. I feel like a lot of frugal advice is directed at people that live in urban or suburban centers. It’s almost an hour round-trip for me to go to a grocery store that isn’t Dollar General.”

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26. “Honestly? Traditional budgeting. I hate it. There’s always some need I don’t account for, or I forget to keep track of spending and overspend in some area, etc., etc. I ultimately just started operating on a system where every time I get a paycheck, I immediately buy all the things I absolutely need — groceries, put some into a separate account to save for rent, etc. and then I decide on an amount of money I want to have remaining in my account by my next paycheck (usually I like to have a $400–500 cushion in my checking account). Then I just make sure that whatever I buy until then doesn’t cut into that decided-upon amount of money, and if it does, I don’t buy it until my next paycheck. After all, if all my actual basic needs were paid for when I got the paycheck, anything that cuts into the cushion would be a luxury that can wait. It’s worked for me so far, way better than keeping a spreadsheet or using an app has.”

27. “Any advice to repair/make something yourself that conveniently leaves out the fact that doing so requires hours of work, specialist tools, and/or skills that take time and dedication to develop. Sure, it might be cheaper to resole my own shoes and make my own washing powder and change my own oil, but it’s going to either take ten times as long or I’m going to do a shit job of it. At that point, it’s worth the money.”

28. “Cheap toilet paper. I would rather splash out an extra couple of bucks on Charmin than wipe with something that feels like tree bark. You have to use twice as much anyway.”

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29. “I sometimes buy the pre-cut veggies in the produce section, especially onions. I know its so much cheaper to cut your own veggies, wash the knife, wash the cutting board, throw away the scraps you cant save for stock. But I tell ya, sometimes I just can’t muster up the energy and sometimes that produce goes to waste or I end up using it beyond its prime and thus I enjoy it less. I already don’t eat meat or dairy so sometimes it’s just better.”

30. And finally, “Just invest half your paycheck so you can retire early as a millionaire. I wish I could, but it’s not happening.”

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