Skip to main content

10 Times Being Cheap Can Cost You More in the Long Run

5 minute read

By Katie Ormsby

Choosing the cheapest option is a good way to save money, right? Not always. In fact, penny-pinching can often cost you more in the long run. You get what you pay for is an old adage for a reason, after all.

Being thrifty can be smart, but it can veer into cheapskate territory. Eventually, saving a buck by sacrificing everything from quality to your well-being can backfire. With this in mind, here are 10 times frugality can fail.

Skipping Routine Medical Appointments

While co-pays and deductibles can be pricey, ignoring routine health care can cost you more in the long run. For example, skipping dental appointments for too long can lead to pricey measures like deep cleanings, crowns, and implants.

Beyond the financial price of putting off medical care, it can also cost you your health and well-being. Prevention and early detection are good for your bottom line and your health. That’s why an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Replacing Cable With Too Many Streaming Services

Although cutting the cord can save you money, the cost of tv streaming services can quickly add up. Originally, many folks replaced cable or satellite with Netflix. But Netflix is far from the only game in town these days. And the streaming market is becoming increasingly segmented.

CNET says, “one-quarter of American households subscribe to nine or more streaming services.” Before you know it, the total cost of your streaming subscriptions can rival your old TV bill. Depending on what you watch the most, combining a traditional TV subscription with limited streaming subscriptions might cost less. Crunch the numbers!

At the very least, take inventory of your streaming service subscriptions, add up the total cost, and cancel any you hardly use. According to CNBC, “Consumers spend an average $133 more each month on subscriptions than they realize,” and 42% pay for a subscription they forgot about.


Buying a Used Car Without Doing Research

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price people pay for a new non-luxury vehicle is about $44,000. So, buying a used car can make a lot of sense financially. However, buying a used car without doing your due diligence can cost you.

That’s because not all pre-owned vehicles are created equal. For instance, CarsGenius recommends looking into the recall history and average repair costs for a vehicle, as well as avoiding cars from discontinued brands like Saab or Suzuki.


Skimping on Your Insurance Coverage

Even though it may be tempting to cut corners on your insurance coverage, that mindset can cost you more at the end of the day. That goes for all of your insurance policies — health, dental, auto, home, etc. Cheap policies can be worth little.

Some common cost-cutting measures like raising your deductible can backfire. “If an emergency arises,” Money Talks News says, “your wallet and bank account could be turned upside down by out-of-pocket costs and exorbitant deductibles.


Buying Something Just Because It’s On Sale

Ahh, the thrill of a sale. But bargain shoppers should be careful — sometimes, deep discounts can persuade you to buy something you wouldn’t otherwise. Remember: a sale is only a good deal if it’s something you actually need or want.

Don’t let 70% off clearance banners push you to load up your cart with things that’ll only gather dust. Loading up on discounted stuff just because it’s cheap is a quick way to blow your budget. Ask yourself if you’d still buy it for the regular price.


Putting Off Car Maintenance

Just like skipping routine medical appointments can cost you, putting off routine car maintenance can come back to haunt your wallet. While you keep that money in your bank account for now, you run the risk of getting a much pricier bill if something goes wrong.

Additionally, putting off routine car maintenance can be unsafe. You don’t want to wind up in an accident or on the side of the road with a broken-down car because of something your mechanic would’ve addressed during a routine car maintenance appointment.


Buying Everything at Warehouse Stores

You can save at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club, but don’t get carried away. That’s because buying in bulk should involve some strategy. If you can’t eat that 10 pounds of oatmeal before it goes stale, then you aren’t getting an amazing deal.

When shopping in bulk, keep the expiration date and per-unit price in mind. That way, you get in the habit of assessing whether or not you’re scoring a useful deal. Also, make sure you have adequate storage space for all of your bulk warehouse purchases.


Driving All Over Town To Find the Cheapest Gas

When gas prices soar, it might be tempting to drive all over town, searching for the lowest price. However, all of that driving for a marginal price difference wastes the gas you already bought.

Instead of doing the legwork yourself, fire up a free gas app to zero in on the lowest price in your area. Drivers can use handy gas apps like Gas Guru and GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas prices in town.


Buying Cheap Consumer Goods

You get what you pay for can be incredibly true when it comes to cheap consumer goods. While it isn’t always the case, cheap items tend to be cheaply made. As a result, they break or wear out quickly.

If you have to replace items frequently, then they cost you way more than the original sticker price in the long run. Spending a bit more initially on thicker towels, for example, can pay off if they last years.


Couponing Things You Don’t Need

Couponing can lead to similar temptations as sales. For that reason, you can apply the same logic — don’t buy something just because it has a coupon. That mentality can lead to buying things you won’t even use.

If there’s a coupon for something you need, then that’s great! You saved money on something you would have paid full price to get. But pass on coupons for items you won’t use. Those coupons lead to waste.


The Bottom Line

Sometimes efforts to save money can wind up costing way more money in the long run. Unfortunately, that’s true for even the most well-intentioned of money-saving efforts like couponing and shopping sales. Of course, looking for opportunities to score a good deal is admirable and worthwhile.

Just make sure you are getting a good deal. Things like cutting corners on maintenance, purchasing cheaply made goods, and buying discounted items you don’t need can cost you more money at the end of the day. Penny-pinching can also compromise your health, well-being, and happiness.


Katie Ormsby



How Social Media Tricks You Into Spending More Money Young woman spending money on social media Save Money

How Social Media Tricks You Into Spending More Money

We’ve all been there before. You’re telling a friend about how you need a new pair of boots and scrolling through your Instagram feed. Then suddenly, like magic, an ad for some boot company you’ve never heard of appears on your timeline. Later, you’ll wonder how Instagram knew to serve you up the right ad […]

Read More about How Social Media Tricks You Into Spending More Money

8 minute read

How To Tell If Your Retirement Is In Jeopardy Young couple worried about finances Save Money

How To Tell If Your Retirement Is In Jeopardy

One of the most common financial concerns for adults these days is retirement. It comes up over and over again. For anyone concerned about money, retirement is a very big problem to confront. Current (and future) generations of working-aged Americans aren’t exactly fairing well, when it comes to retirement savings. Some studies have shown that […]

Read More about How To Tell If Your Retirement Is In Jeopardy

7 minute read

Things To Watch Out For When Shopping At a Dollar Store Save Money

Things To Watch Out For When Shopping At a Dollar Store

It’s true that dollar stores have improved greatly in recent years. Most dollar stores now carry name brand items in some cases. You can likely find a wider selection of grocery-type items too. However, just because dollar stores have improved their offerings doesn’t mean that they are always a good idea. Indeed, there are some […]

Read More about Things To Watch Out For When Shopping At a Dollar Store

7 minute read

See all in Save Money