Saving money is great, but not if it is at the expense of your long term financial future and well being. As much as possible you have to consider the long term effects of your decisions on yourself and those around you. Otherwise, you might find yourself paying a hefty price for your “savings”. But what do I mean? Here are five of the worst ways to save money.
1. Neglecting Your Health
Poor health can not only lead to high medical bills, but it can also cut careers short and leave us unable to care for our families. While there is no possible way to prevent every single illness or accident, regular checkups and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way towards improving our odds of staying fit and active for decades.
Unfortunately, in the USA, if you are without health and dental insurance, getting regular, high quality preventative care can be out of reach. If this is the situation for you, be proactive and look for community resources that can help you get the care you need. In many areas dialing 2-1-1 can get you free assistance in finding these resources. Don’t wait for an emergency to find out about what help is available for you.
Do your research and find ways to eat a healthy diet and exercise on a budget. While a ramen noodle diet might get you through a financial crisis, the ultimate price is far too high if you keep it up long term.
2. Always Buying “Cheap”
I think most people understand that always going with the cheapest option without considering quality is a mistake. Not only does it cost more in the long run, but you can wind up cheating yourself out of things that you might really enjoy.
This hit home for me a few weeks ago when I bought tickets to a musical for myself and two of my boys and went for the cheapest seats. I didn’t do it because I couldn’t afford better ones, but because I felt I shouldn’t spend that much. I spent the entire show wishing I’d spent $50 extra for a better view and felt closer to the action.
Bargain hunting is great, but remember it’s about getting the best value, not about spending the absolute least amount you can.
David Note: Same thing with brand names, as Vered mentioned last week!
3. Neglecting Maintenance/Upkeep
I understand the temptation to forgo or put off maintenance on homes and vehicles, especially when there doesn’t seem to be a problem. I don’t know about you, but even when I plan and save, it always seems to pop up when I’ve got more fun ideas for what to do with my money!
Still, I suck it up and get that transmission fluid changed when my manufacturer recommends it be done and spring for the annual HVAC cleaning and check-up. You can look for ways to do it yourself and save money, but don’t ignore it all together and hope for the best. In some cases, neglecting maintenance can put your safety at risk, not just your bank balance.
4. Cheating Others
We’ve all got our own lines when it comes to taking advantage of deals and driving a hard bargain. I can see how certain terms and restrictions can be open to interpretation and how one person idea of a smart business decision can be another person’s idea of taking total advantage.
However deliberately circumventing the rules and lying are never okay and doing it is just as bad as shoplifting. My rule of thumb is if I wouldn’t happily admit to my mother what I did to save money; I shouldn’t be doing it at all.
5. Never Giving
We all have times in our lives where we can’t afford to give and might even have to receive. The problem comes when you never, ever feel like you have enough to share and be generous. Holding on too tightly to what you have doesn’t make you feel more secure, it makes you feel more anxious.
When you can, allow yourself the joy of giving with an open heart to somebody who could use it. Be smart about how, what and when you give, but do look for ways to incorporate generosity in your life.
And if you’re in a position where you need help, know that there is no shame in needing a hand and to make the most of the generosity that you’ve been given.
Do you agree that these are bad ways to save money? What’s the most penny smart, pound foolish thing you’ve observed?