For some reason, the word "frugal" has always made me cringe. Growing up, it was usually accompanied by my parents telling me that whatever I'd asked for was too expensive. Thus, it became a pejorative term, one I despise to this day. And yet, as a recently minted adult, I live a frugal life with my husband. With our trusty budget by our side, I now use the word "frugal" with reckless abandon.
But frugality still isn't always a good thing. There are times when being cheap just isn't worth it. As someone who still loves a good splurge, this fact is music to my ears. Here are six times when it doesn't pay to be frugal.
1. Life Insurance
If you're married, and especially if you're married with kids, life insurance is a must. And while we don't recommend splurging on whole life insurance, we do recommend a sizable amount of term life insurance. For instance, for an extra $12 per month, my husband and I could go from having $250,000 in life insurance to $500,000 in life insurance. If the worst case scenario hit, and one of us were collecting on a life insurance policy, would we really feel like it had been worth saving that extra $12 a month? We don't think so.
2. Healthy Eating
When I first met my husband, he was living off frozen burritos and ramen. And while his grocery bill was a fraction of my own, his health was a different story. From mono to strep throat, he was getting sick far more often than I was. Once we got married, we put a few extra dollars into our grocery budget to ensure we'd eat a balanced diet and have a constant supply of fresh vegetables and fruits. But now, we spend much less time at the doctor, which means fewer copays and medical bills. And we still find deals by buying in bulk, taking advantage of coupons and discounts and shopping at inexpensive grocery stores. In the grand scheme of things, eating healthy might mean you'll save in the long run while (fingers crossed) adding a few years to your life.
Putting money away for retirement isn't much fun when your paycheck is already being drained by taxes and other financial obligations. But if your employer offers a 401(k) match, you're leaving free money on the table if you don't contribute. How does it work? Let's say your company offers a 6 percent match at 50 percent. That means if you put in its maximum (6 percent), it will contribute 3 perfect of your total paycheck each and every month. If you're not contributing or you don't know where to start, do the right thing today and contact your human resources department and claim that free money.
4. Toilet Paper
This is a serious one, folks. We all use toilet paper every day. And the difference between the plush stuff and the single ply is stark. And while their prices also vary, at the end of the day, neither costs that much. So when our daily comfort or discomfort is at stake, why settle for discomfort? It's an easy choice -- say no to single ply.
5. Car Maintenance
When my husband and I have auto work done, you better believe we try to find the best deal. But what we don't do is avoid car maintenance all together. Getting your car's oil changed, tires rotated, brake pads checked and any other routine maintenance may seem like an unnecessary cost. But in the long run, they can save you big by avoiding the need for larger fixes or replacements. And keeping a record of your car's routine maintenance can be a great tool when it comes time to sell your car.
6. Gifts for Others
While it's important to budget how much you can spend on gifts, it's also important to make sure you don't sacrifice generosity in the process. If you splurge on "gifts" for yourself, but skimp on gifts for everyone else, it won't go unnoticed. While we've had to slash our gift-giving budget some years, we make up for it by creating homemade or more thoughtful gifts. So if you're going to go frugal in this area, do it in a thoughtful way.
10 Ways Your Dog Can Cost You Tens of Thousands
6 Times When Being Frugal Doesn't Pay
There are startup costs associated with getting or adopting a dog that you probably won't need to pay for again in years to come. Some you may need to replace on occasion after wear and tear (like leashes and dog bowls), but most are not regular costs. These can include adoption fees ($100-$500), spaying or neutering ($35-$200), food and water bowls ($10-$40), collar and leash ($20-$100), dog bed ($25-$200), crate ($20-$250), training ($30-$300) and fencing (if your yard does not already have one) (up to $2,500).
You'll want to make sure to choose high-quality food that's right for your dog's size and age. ($250-$500 per year)
Again, based on your dog -- and your own personal preferences. This range covers everything from basic Milk Bones to gourmet carob cookies and can include dental hygiene treats like Greenies and Dentastix. ($100-$200 per year)
Not just for fun, these are necessary for your pet's mental stimulation and exercise. If your dog is a "tough chewer," you may need to invest in toys that are designed to be especially durable. ($20-$200 per year)
This will depend greatly on your dog's breed. Short-haired dogs may only need the occasional bath, while higher-maintenance breeds can require regular grooming to keep up appearances. Do it yourself if you're up to the challenge, or take your pooch to a pro. ($50-$1,000 per year)
Dogs make messes, whether that's tracking mud onto your new carpets or getting sick on your new shoes. You'll want to have some stain and odor removers on hand for the unexpected. ($10-$100 per year)
You should take your dog in for an annual (or biannual) checkup as your vet recommends. This can include an office visit fee, vaccinations blood work, fecal exam and dental cleaning as needed. ($500-$1,000 per year)
All dogs should be on preventive medications like heartworm medicine and flea and tick prevention. ($200-$500) Depending on your dog's physical condition, you could also wind up paying for additional nutritional supplements (up to around $100 per year).
Anything can happen, and with the way dogs tend to get into stuff, it often does. Whether it's an unforeseen illness or an accident, chances are you may be making an emergency vet visit at least once in your dog's life, and the cost can add up to the thousands when you count in things like X-rays and emergency surgery. You may want to play it safe and invest in a pet insurance plan to help defray potential costs here. ($500-$5,000 per year)
Most of us are out of town at least once a year, whether it's for a vacation or a wedding. If you're a frequent traveler, this number will obviously be much higher. Boarding is the cheaper option, but hiring a pet sitter to stay with your dog in your home (or take your dog into theirs) may be worth the extra TLC in your mind. ($200-$500 per year)
Acknowledging that all these numbers are ballpark figures, you'll average $500 to $5,000 per year on your dog.
The lower end of the spectrum ($500) assumes that you skip a lot of these expenses: you don't buy pet insurance, don't pay for emergency vet care costs, don't give nutritional supplements, don't pay for grooming, don't buy treats, don't pay for boarding and you have a very low-cost veterinarian. If you do purchase everything on the aforementioned list, but pay the lowest end of the spectrum, your price tag reaches $1,880 per year, excluding first-year costs. And if you pay the high end of everything on this list, including a major emergency vet bill, your costs reach $9,100 (although this situation is extremely unlikely).
Considering the average dog lifespan (again, this varies greatly by breed) runs around 10 years, this means the total lifetime cost of your dog could be anywhere from $5,000 to the tens of thousands.
Sound like a lot? It is, and you need to be prepared for that. But don't get caught up on the negatives. Because there's one other number we haven't yet mentioned: Lifetime value of a dog's undying affection, amusing shenanigans and eager companionship? Priceless.