Frugal Fails & Frugal Finds Graphic

Frugal Fails & Frugal Finds 5

Not all money-saving adventures work out the way we plan.  This post is my admission of some of my best frugal fails & frugal finds.

It’s happened to all of us.  We get all excited about a new idea or plan.  We jump in head first.  And our idea bombs.  Not only does it not save us money, it can actually end up costing us money.

Sometimes it’s a DIY project gone wrong, other times it just takes some time to learn a new skill that will save us money in the long run.

This post may contain affiliate links which simply means if you click on them and make a purchase, we get a few pennies for our pickle jar.  See full disclosure.


Joint Effort

I have joined forces with a spectacular group of bloggers to provide you with a pile of ideas as well as laughs.

We are each offering up a list of three frugal finds and frugal fails.

As you read our ideas, we hope that you will find some new frugal ideas for your own family.  You may also find a few things you may want to steer clear of and save yourself some aggravation.


Frugal Finds

I have given a lot of thought to what items I have used to help my family save money as well as make some extra money for our household.  I really wanted to offer suggestions of things that I use time and time again.

Although, one-time money savers are great, the things you find yourself doing over and over are the real money savers over time because the pennies add up.


DIY / Shop Used

I put these 2 items together although they could be separated.

I put them together because for this purpose they DO go together.  When we purchased our home, we got a great deal because it needed some work.  Not major stuff, just cosmetic changes, and updates.

We chose to do many of these updates ourselves to save money.  Thankfully, my husband is pretty handy with tools and I am tech savvy enough to find YouTube videos to walk us through the stuff we don’t have a clue how to do.

Besides doing the labor ourselves, we also saved tons of money by shopping for our supplies via interesting routes.  We scoured places like Craigslist, Facebook Yardsale sites, and Estate Sales for interesting building materials.

We also became regular shoppers at the local Salvation Army Re-Store.

Our best find was enough Allure Traffic-Master plank style flooring to do our entire house for over 50% off.  The best part?  It was brand new in the original boxes!  Can’t beat that.  We are still working on getting it all put down but we’ll get it done.

Side Hustle

If you have read any of my articles on side hustling, you already know I am a huge advocate of online selling.

I push it so hard because I KNOW it works.  I have done it.

I have tried nearly every online selling platform but I continue to go back to the old, faithful eBay.  Why?  Because it has consistently made me money since 2002 when I started selling on the platform.

If you don’t like eBay, fine.  Try another platform.  There are tons.

If you don’t like selling, try another side hustle.  I have written lots about hustling.  Find something that works for you and do it!  Put in the work and bring some extra money into your household.


Menu Planning

It’s no secret that food is the largest household expense that is easily within your control to change.

When we first got serious about budgeting, it was sickening to see how much of our budget was spent eating out.

We put the brakes on that real quick.  Once we got the takeout budget under control, the next large expense was groceries.

While I don’t get too extreme on this, I do take the time each week to go through the sales ad and see what meat is on sale.  Then I plan my menu around the meat to create an idea of a menu for the week.

Many times, I have the side items available in my freezer or pantry and just purchase a few items to fill in for the week.

Just this simple step has helped me to dramatically decrease my food budget.


Frugal Fails

I left this section until last so you could have a few laughs before you stopped reading.

I will be honest and say that my fails may not be your fails.  We all have our own strengths and weaknesses so just because I failed doesn’t mean that you will.


DIY Hair Cuts / Color

I must be honest here and say that hair, makeup, and fashion are not something that I really care very much about.  My hair is usually up in a ponytail and my makeup routine consists or trying to cover up the dark circles under my eyes. (Thanks, Mom for that hereditary trait)

However, as most women, I occasionally get a wild hair and decide that I need a change.  Somebody should really slap some sense into me when I say that.

My major fail came from deciding that I wanted to color my hair auburn red.  I’m a natural dirty blonde.  My cheapness would not allow me to pay to have this major change done correctly by a stylist so off to Wally World I go and buy a box of hair dye.

It looked perfect on the box.  That gorgeous dark auburn, you know the one.

This is the look I was going for: 


This was more like the actual outcome of my time spent as a DIY hairstylist.

Not exactly like the color on the box.  I think I might have been a little ahead to have just paid for that change.  It certainly cost me a lot more money to get that mess out of my hair and get back to my plain old blonde ponytail.



Probably the most important piece of advice I could give to anyone who is trying to become financial stable is to START.  Start saving NOW.  Even if you think the amount is too small to matter, it’s not.

Up the percentage in your 401k, open a Vanguard fund, buy some CD’s, JUST DO IT!

Don’t wait until your older.

This is the largest mistake I see that I made in my younger years.

Coumpound interest is a wonderful thing.  Us e it to your advantage.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this chart from to see the benefits of saving early.

You can see the huge benefit of starting early even when the amount you invest is less.



Many frugal living websites tout the benefits of using coupons. I must admit to having a period with a coupon binder and stockpile.

However, I found that when I got so wrapped up in using coupons I actaully ended up wasting money.

I bought items I didn’t need or want just because they seemed like a good idea or I was to get the ECB’s. (CVS shoppers will get the reference)

I ended up with a “stockpile” of junk that my family didn’t use.  Much of the stuff was not very healthy or was prepackaged.  Even with the coupon, prepackaged food often costs more per serving than home made food.

I do still use coupons from time to time but only for items I was planning topurchase anyway.

The days of a stockpile at my house are over.  I use those shelves for eBay inventory.


Trial & Error

With most frugal ventures, the most importatn take away is to do what works for you.

You have knowledge and exxperience that I may not have and vice versa.

The best advice is to keep plugging away.  Try something and if you fail, at least you know you tried.


Keep Reading

If you liked this article, be sure to check out similar posts from my friends.

The Frugal Fit Girl

I Heart Frugal

Food and Finance Blog

The Kay Saga




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About Susan

Susan is an Early Childhood educator who is passionate about personal finance. She is slightly addicted to eBay. She is an avid thrift store shopper who hopes to "retire" by 50.

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5 thoughts on “Frugal Fails & Frugal Finds

  • Alex

    I completely agree with you on not waiting. It can be so easy to get into financial paralysis by analysis. Just jump in and do it. There’s no better time to start saving, budgeting, or paying off debt than now!

    • Susan Post author

      Absolutely! It is so easy to just get the process going. The momentum will continue to build. The first step is the hardest and it builds from there.

  • Mustard Seed Money

    My wife and I love to get gift cards off cardpool. However, I once stocked up a restaurant and later switched jobs. It took a lot longer to use the gift card than anticipated and almost felt like a burden to actually use it. So we have cut way back on doing stuff like that.

    • Susan Post author

      I understand why people do that but I am really terrible at using gift cards so I tend to steer clear. If it works for you, do it. We all have our little tips and tricks that are specific to our own lifestyle. That’s why it is so helpful to share. Something you may see as perfectly normal may be something another person hasn’t even thought about.