Feb 27

5 Ways Saving Money Could Leave You Losing Money

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You have the best of frugal intentions when applying these common money-saving strategies but, in truth, they are actually costing you more.   You are led to believe that you are getting a great deal when you really just aren’t.

Retailers use various strategies to make you think you are getting a deal, when it is really them that’s making all the money (at your expense).  Here are a few examples:

Special Sales (that aren’t in fact ‘special’ at all)

5 Ways Saving Money Could Leave You Losing Money

5 Ways Saving Money Could Leave You Losing Money

There seem to be a lot of stores that always seem to be having a sale on.  This is quite common in retails stores in particular.  I am not talking about the end-of-season sales that are always a part of the retail business, but rather, the stores that always seem to have sale signs in their windows.

In effect, the ‘sale’ price is actually their ‘regular’ price. You go in thinking you are getting a great deal, while in reality you could get the same price tomorrow, next week, or next month.  Don’t be fooled in to spending more money here. Do you research and have a good idea of what a ‘fair’ price is before you buy.

Cheap Oil Changes

You see an oil change advertised for a great price and go in to a garage you have never been to before.  “It’s just an oil change”, you say to yourself. “They can’t screw this up”.

Well, you take a seat and about half an hour the mechanic comes through the service bay door.  He is rubbing his hands with a rag and asks to speak to you for ‘a minute’.  He then goes on to list a huge slew of problems that you never knew about and tries to convince you that they need to be fixed right now.

The best way to avoid this is to find an amazing mechanic and to use him or her exclusively for all of your auto care needs.  If you do not yet have such a relationship.

Limited Time Offers on Stuff You Never Use or Need

About every couple of months or so I get a flyer in my mailbox advertising an “Exclusive Limited Time Offer” from my local cable company.  The “amazing” cable deal requires me to also sing up for home phone and internet service in order to be eligible.  The thing is, I haven’t had cable TV in seven years and I’m certainly not going to sign up for it just so I can “save” on something I don’t want or use.  Consider Netflix if you haven’t already.

Bulk Food Purchases

Bulk food purchases can save you money if it offers you a genuine discount.  Bulk items do not always come with a reduced per unit cost. The other thing to ask yourself is whether or not you will actually use all of the bulk item before it expires.  You will be hard pressed to actualize savings on a bulk purchase if you routinely end up throwing a lot of it in the garbage.  Calculate your potential savings carefully before committing too much cash to a large bulk purchase.

Free Apps and Games

There are some terrific free apps and games out there.  The problem is that many of them are just good enough to make you want to use them more and more and to add more and more of the ‘locked’ features.  These features invariably end up costing you money.  I run into this quite frequently with the ‘free’ games that my daughter plays.  She can only build one type of cake or play with one of a number of characters unless I pay for an upgrade.  These ‘free’ games and apps are glorified trailers or ‘teasers’.  I do not download them anymore and I have deleted the ones that I did have.


Most people enjoy taking advantage of opportunities to save money.  The problem is that many of these ‘deals’ are actually cleverly crafted efforts to actually get you to spend more money.  Consider lifecycle costs and whether or not you will actually get the level of usefulness or enjoyment from the purchase that you think you will.  Put your ‘sale’ blinders on and evaluate each purchase for its own merits whether it is on ‘sale’ or not.  caveat emptor

Are there any other ‘sales’ that you know of that actually end up costing you more?  Are there any sales that actually do offer great savings?  Leave a comment below.

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Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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  1. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    I get annoyed every time I see a Macy’s or Kohl’s ad for a sale. It’s just silly because every weekend is a sale. And Macy’s “biggest sale of the year” has the same prices as every other one it holds.

    Good point about doing the math on bulk items. There are things in Costco that draw me in. But then I realize that it’s the same cost (or more) as finding it at the grocery store on sale. And I don’t have to worry about using it all up.

    Freemium games have always puzzled me. I never understood why someone would pay for extra play rather than wait 24 hours. Seriously.

  2. Jason

    Thanks for your comment, Abigail.

    I also find those so-called ‘sales’ really annoying as well. Osh Kosh and Carter’s have a continuous sale – do they think that people don’t notice?

    Costco is a great example of bulk stuff sometimes being more expensive. They do offer some items at a good per unit price (the Kirkland brand stuff is normally really good quality at a good price), but a lot of their stuff is actually more expensive than buying smaller quantities on sale (like boxes of tissues, for example).

    I appreciate your reply and look forward to connecting with you again sometime very soon.

    Cheers, Jason

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