3 Things We Fail to Do to Save Money

Mr. FAF and I are a frugal couple. We try to save money in every possible way we can from bringing food while traveling, keeping a low grocery budget, to wearing free clothes.

However, there are three major things we fail to do to increase our savings.

I feel a bit guilty sharing this with you, but it will help us better face our financial weaknesses.

1) Not shopping at Macy’s

I am the only one guilty of this. Mr. FAF generally would wear whatever is comfortable (i.e. free T-shirts, free jackets, 10 year-old clothes).

I also wear clothes from even more than 10 years ago and mend socks and clothes with holes in them.

But when I see a really beautiful dress at Macy’s, I’ll just come up with all the excuses to buy it.

There are nice dresses at other less expensive stores too. But there’s something so formal, classy, and beautiful about Macy’s dresses (i.e. Calvin Klein) that I can’t resist.

This is how it usually goes. I often walk to the shopping mall nearby on the weekends when I’m bored, especially prior to starting Frugal Asian Finance. I think of it as a workout and a change of atmosphere.

I find the mall more interesting than walking outside because there’s more to see. Also, they have AC in the summer and heating in the winter (I know I’m so spoiled).

When walking around, I’ll see some pretty dresses. I’ll tell myself to try them on just to see if it looks nice. If the dress doesn’t look good on me, I’ll put it back on the rack.

But if a dress takes my breath away, the first thought that pops into my head is: “This dress was made for ME.” And then I’ll think about how I’m still young and should enjoy my youth and look beautiful for Mr. FAF to be proud. And then I bring the dress home.

One time I bought two dresses for $100/each. The happiness lasted for a couple of months and then disappeared. However, to be fair, I still get compliments on those dresses whenever I wear them.

My maximum budget for a dress is $100 if it’s extremely beautiful. But I want to find those within the $10-$20 range. Normally, $35 would be the max I’m willing to pay for a dress that I like.

I’ve searched for dresses at thrift stores a couple of times but haven’t had much success. I guess I just need to keep looking.

Solutions

— Sometimes I regret spending $200 on those two dresses, but it’s a constant reminder to me that I shouldn’t do that again. It’s been working out great so far, and I haven’t bought any dresses that expensive since. Mr. FAF once bought me a $300 Ted Baker dress, and I told him to return it.

— I try to practice self-control when I’m at the mall. Sometimes I’d intentionally leave my wallet at home to prevent impulse purchases.

— I recently bought a $25 dress for events such as cocktails and weddings from Amazon. I was pleasantly surprised with the fit and design when I got it. I usually don’t have much luck buying clothes online, so it was a good price for such a nice item. From now on, I will look up dresses on Amazon as well. I can return those that I don’t really like since I have Amazon Prime.

2) Not eating out

I’ve written about how Mr. FAF and I love eating out although we’re still paying off our mortgage. I realized that we’re most vulnerable to this trap on Friday nights.

It’s the end of a work week. We want to try something different from what we cook. We want to be in a new ambiance where we can enjoy delicious food. And after going back and forth, we decide to head out to a restaurant.

Sometimes we successfully curb our urge to eat out on Friday nights. But it resurfaces on Saturday, and we give in. Our two most favorite and most expensive eat-out dishes are hotpot and Korean BBQ which usually cost around $50-$60 for two people.

I know we can eat hotpot or Korean BBQ at home. But sometimes it’s nice not having to shop for all the hotpot items and prepare them or not having the BBQ smell permeating the whole house for a couple of days.

Eating out is a big joy in our lives. 

Solutions

— Mr. FAF and I have decided to buy ingredients for hotpot and Korean BBQ to eat at home. That way we can still have a change of atmosphere by going to the grocery store. But we can also save money since preparing the ingredients by ourselves is cheaper. Also, if we have leftovers, we can save it for the next day. At all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, they don’t let you bring leftovers home.

— We have also decided to learn more cooking from Youtube and looked at inexpensive cooking classes near our house. Mr. FAF has been more diligent about this than I am. He’s a much better cook. But I know this is an area I desperately need to improve to be a better wife and mother and for my own sake.

3) Not finding/cutting coupons

I’ve heard about moms saving hundreds of dollars on groceries each month just by cutting coupons. But there’s something so depressing, time-consuming, and boring about this task that I just can’t bring myself to doing it.

If we get a coupon book from Costco, I’ll go through it to see what they have. But I don’t actively go out of my way to buy newspapers or look online to see what discounts I can get. Also, we usually just buy fresh meat, veggies, and fruit, which I don’t often see coupons for.

Solutions

— The good thing is that most of what Mr. FAF and I eat are not processed or frozen food for which there are a lot of coupons, so we’re not missing out on many good deals. But we try to keep an eye out for the Sale sign at Costco and the grocery stores to cut costs.

Conclusion

I sometimes have a hard time balancing saving for the future and living life a little. There’s one voice inside my head that stresses the importance of being frugal for a better future. There’s another voice that tells me I’m still young and should enjoy myself when I can.

I want to please both voices, but I sometimes end up making one happy while disappointing the other. However, there’s one thing I know for sure. Those two voices do need a compromise in many cases to live with me in peace and happiness.



26 thoughts on “3 Things We Fail to Do to Save Money”

  • I know there are folks who swear by coupons, but I have found that cutting coupons can actually lead to more spending (not saving!) because I’ll buy things I wouldn’t normally buy or that are still expensive (but its $4 off!).

    • I totally know what you mean since I almost fell into that trap before. I’d see coupons for something I didn’t really need and was tempted to buy it just for the discount. I’m glad I ended up not buying it. ^.^

  • I hot pot and KBBQ at home too! It was so expensive. It’s $50-60 bucks for two people too and you literally still cook all the things yourself! We don’t go out for that kind of stuff anymore, I think I can make it better at home. It’s all about the dipping sauceeeeeeee! <3

  • I’ve never been big into the couponing – my mom was though when I was growing up and I helped her a lot. We saved a bunch of money on stuff, and it was always on things that we’d have purchased anyway.

    Now though I tend to buy less expensive food anyway (non-processed food is almost always less expensive from my experience) so like you I keep an eye out for sales and things like that.

    For eating dinner out we’re normally pretty good on that during the week, but our huge pitfall days are Saturday for lunch. During the week, we prep all of our lunches (on Sunday) so we never have to worry about going out to lunch at work and having that added expense, but that leaves two days – Saturday and Sunday – for which we don’t have lunch planned.

    We normally do errands on Saturday morning which turns into early afternoon, and a lot of times that ends up with us going out to eat somewhere for lunch. It’s not super expensive, but probably $75 a month if we do it once every weekend. Sundays are easier because we can buy stuff on Saturday to make on Sunday, or have left-overs.

    For a solution I’m thinking that we’ll start to be more conscious about eating a good breakfast at home. I make some killer eggs, so that and some fruit would be a pretty inexpensive (and healthier) meal. If it can hold us over till an early dinner or have a mid-afternoon snack, that’d be a win in my book.

  • Don’t feel bad about not couponing… I’ve written on my own blog how couponing is actually more dangerous than helpful most of the time. You’re absolutely right: fresh fruits and veggies rarely have coupons for them. The CDC did a study which showed that coupons influenced shoppers to make unhealthier food choices. Since most of the more “valuable” coupons are for high-mark-up items like sports drinks and processed sugary stuff, people feel like they are saving a lot of money and “winning” but they’re really just ruining their own health.

    I think coupons are just a ploy to get you to buy more of the product anyways. Every time I see someone showing a picture of their “haul” of 25 bottles of body wash, I just feel confused. I’ve been using the same bar of 99-cent soap for most of a month.

    I also don’t fault you for eating out sometimes. I’m big on eating out too, especially Asian food, which I can never make taste quiiiiiite right if I cook it at home. (I’ve been making congee with some success, though, which is the ultimate frugal food!) Here in New York I have access to a lot of delicious kBBQ, hot pot, and mala tang, which I don’t feel guilty about partaking in, as long as I do it moderately!

    • Hi Meow, thank you for your encouraging comment! It’s great to have research that shows that couponing might lead us to unhealthy choices. It doesn’t always happen, but we can at least be more aware of what we buy.

      It’s interesting you mentioned New York because I am typing this response to you as Mr. FAF and I are on a road trip to the big Apple city. I’m actually typing in the car and looking at Hudson river right now. I will write about it more in my frugal wins post next week.

      I’m glad you can enjoy the great food New York has to offer! ^.^

  • Not eating out is a tough one for me. I work from home, so I generally run errands around lunchtime so I get a break and so I don’t have to do them on the weekends when it’s more crowded. It’s very easy to pick something up to eat at my desk when I return, even when I know I have food in my fridge.

    • I know what you mean. Mr. FAF and I don’t work from home, but we also want to go out and try something new and delicious although we have food in the fridge. >.<

  • Good, I’m not the only one wearing clothes bought 10 years ago! 😀

    Actually, in this area I’m pretty frugal. I tend to only buy quality clothes, even if they cost a pretty penny, because I know they’re gonna last for years! Also, I’m lucky I prefer to be comfortable, rather than ‘modern’ or whatnot.

    As far as couponing goes, don’t stress too much over it. I truly believe time is money, so if you can manage to stay within your food budget without wasting a ton of time to search for coupons, then that’s ok!

    I use them on occasion as well. If the stores I shop at give them away, fine, if not, I’ll buy the food anyway since we gotta eat!

    • I’m glad you found quality clothes that will last your for years. There are times when we do need to invest in things that will yield us a good return. 🙂

  • I use coupons here and there but it’s not worth it to spend too much time on it. Like you said, most of the coupons are for processed foods or name brand stuff (and we often buy generic). I go to Target a lot and use their coupons/Cartwheel app but I just check to see if there’s a coupon for what already plan on buying.
    We don’t eat out as often with 2 little ones but we do sometimes buy takeout which we can cut down on. But sometimes it’s nice to eat food that would be more difficult to cook…plus there’s the convenience factor.

    • I think you have a great strategy for using coupons: just look up coupons for what you really need. I think part of the reason why we don’t use coupons is that I’m a bit lazy to even install an app and look up deals. >.< I'm with you on ordering food that's difficult to cook and for convenience. Sometimes Mr. FAF and I attempt to make something, and it turns out to be something totally different. @_@

  • I am guilty of #1–that’s why I avoid clothing stores like the plague! 🙂 When I worked in Atlanta across from a major mall in Buckhead, I would wander the mall during lunch hour all the time. Luckily now I live in the middle of nowhere so I’m not as tempted!! 🙂

    • I know what you mean! It’s so tempting to just go for a walk and look at stuff and then end up buying it! It might not be so exciting to live in the middle of nowhere, but it definitely helps with our budget.😃

  • Oh, I love a good dinner out! I know it’s going to cost 5x as much as a dinner at home, but food always tastes better when someone else cooks it 😉
    The solution that works for me is to just cut my clothing budget and wear the same 3 dresses in rotation to my weekly dinners out!

    • Oh my I feel the same way! There are a lot of dishes I just can’t make (well) at home like roasted duck or dumplings. It takes a lot of time to cook those dishes too. I love your solution! ^.^

  • Maybe I’m just getting old, but I can’t eat out anymore. WHenever I eat out, I immediately feel bloated the next day. My face puffs up like crazy. Eating healthy at home = lean jawline. Eating out = fat neck. 🙁

    • Oh no I’m so sorry to hear that eating out causes you so much trouble. It probably saves you a lot of money anyway. Your comparison of ‘eating out’ to ‘fat neck’ really made me laugh! 😀

  • Have you looked up to see if your grocery store has an app? It’s much easier to “clip” coupons that way, and they usually offer pretty good deals. I believe Whole Foods has one, and I’ve used the Safeway app to get coupons and targeted deals, with discounts sometimes even better than paper coupons.

    • I know! A coupon here and there can definitely add up before you know it. That’s one key reason why I feel guilty for not couponing. But oh well, I will try to save in other areas. >_<

  • I’d say don’t worry about it! We all have areas in our lives where we find it easier to save and some where it’s worthwhile spending. My approach is to find a healthy balance that makes you happy. If you’re frugal in most areas and then there are some things that are worthwhile to you then go for it. For my husband and I it’s outdoor gear. We spent thousands on tents, boots, kayaks etc even while we had a home loan because it was important to us. In other areas of our spending we were ruthless. Not couponing though. We don’t have coupons in Australia!

    • Thank you, Eliza! It’s great to hear that you and your husband enjoy camping together. I went camping 3 years ago for the first time and absolutely loved it. I’ve suggested to Mr. FAF to try that this summer. Mr. FAF’s never gone camping before, so he’s a bit nervous ;).

      We’re also very frugal in most areas too! The 3 frugal fails that I mention in the post are probably the biggest items we fail to save on. But you’re right. I shouldn’t stress too much about it. We prioritize, conquer, and enjoy life at the same time!

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