Five Frugal Fails

by Katy on October 18, 2016 · 75 comments

Late library books

Although I keep a close eye on my spending, It’s not uncommon to mess up and end up paying the dreaded “stupid tax.”  They don’t necessary make it into my Five Frugal Things posts, so occasionally they warrant their own blog post.

  1. My husband and I garbage picked a 9-foot tall artificial Christmas tree while we were dropping our older son off at college. Unfortunately we left the stand behind and I ended up having to order a new one from the company to the tune of $30.99 for the stand and $20 for shipping. (I tried to see if a regular live-tree stand would work, but it didn’t.) The worst part is that my husband saw the stand, but didn’t think to grab it! We’ve decided to keep the tree instead of selling it, as it will pay for itself in two years and then save us $25 per year after that.
  2. I stupidly mailed off one of my eBay sales before receiving payment. I’ve done this a few times in the past without incident, as I’m basically lazy and would rather send everything at once than in bits and pieces. However, the buyer received his watches and now refuses to respond to the multiple invoices that I’ve sent. This was super bad judgment on my part as has resulted in a $44 (plus shipping) lesson for me to learn. Man, that was really stupid of me!
  3. My husband and I have all of our monthly bills on autopay, which truly is the best thing since sliced bread. Well . . . except for the water bill, which we always end up paying late. Although the late fee is a mere 97¢, it’s still a stupid waste of money. Luckily, they just started offering an autopay option, which my husband eagerly signed up for. This means we can finally relax knowing that every single one of our bills will be paid on time again.
  4. I baked up a batch of my special ginger snaps to mail to my older son, and even created my own mailer from bubble wrap, a paper grocery bag, staples and packing tape. (It wasn’t pretty, but it was functional.) I assumed the shipping would be cheap, but since the package weighed 1-pound, 0.2-ounces it cost $7.15 to mail it off. That 0.2-ounces? It probably added an extra $5 to the postage! If only I’d eaten a couple of cookies before packing them up. I guess that’s the price I pay for having a modicum of self control.
  5. I let my library books go overdue, and I now have a $8.75 bill on my account.

Now your turn. Do you have any frugal fails to confess to? C’mon, please tell me that I’m not the only one who screws up once in awhile.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

hmbalison October 18, 2016 at 2:58 pm

You are so good at finding bargains most of the time. I appreciate your willingness to show your frugal fails, too. What is it about water bills? I’ve paid my bill late more than once!


Jess October 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Actually, you have to pay priority mail rates for anything over 13oz, so it was 3.2 oz of cookies that did you in, not .2. Serious bummer about the eBay thing though – can you file a claim?


JoDi October 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I used to pay the stupid tax in the form of library late fees so often that I used to say that I rented books from the library rather than borrowed them! LOL I finally stopped that quite a while ago, and when the library went digital with accounts and added the ability to renew online it made it so much easier!


Denise October 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I could short-circuit this post and just post my bank statement which would highlight the idiocies I’ve indulged in over the past few weeks.

1. I am moving house tomorrow (Wednesday). As I type, it is. 11.50pm in England and I have just cleared out my freezer and dumped the food into the food waste recycling bags to be collected tomorrow. Why (other than I am an idiot?)? Because I didn’t think about eating down my freezer early enough to get through my food. Fail…

2. Instead of waiting three days for delivery from a store of items I needed, I went and bought them at lunchtime on a workday. Fine, it saved me the delivery charges…but I didn’t reckon with “too many bags, too few hands” syndrome, which meant that I had to get a taxi to the railway station. In Friday evening rush-hour traffic. 50 minutes (to do two miles) and £40 later, I get to the station. I live on a branch line and the last direct train left ten minutes ago. Fail, fail….

3. So then I have to take another bloody taxi from the mainline station to my house. Another £15. But hey, I saved £4.75 on delivery for that stuff I bought at lunchtime…fail, fail, fail.

4. And another doozie. Because I am disorganised, I keep on forgetting to buy a monthly car parking ticket for the railway station car park. So I ring an automated phone line, which has stored my debit card details, every Monday morning, to pay for five days of parking fees. Three times in the past two months, I have forgotten to ring up, and have returned in the evening to a parking ticket. Only £50 a time in fines…fail, fail, fail, fail…

5. And the absolute tin hat??? Yesterday, I got on the train in the morning. I forgot to pay the parking – but at 8.31am, halfway to London, I remembered. Fandabadozy, say I to myself: I pulled those chestnuts from the fire. Pheweee. Except that when I got back to my car last night? Another sodding ticket. Digitally timed at 8.29am. Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail.

TWO minutes = £50, and no, they won’t show me leniency as “we have no proof that you didn’t return to your car just after being ticketed and then pay.”

So: beat that for a concerted run of stupidity. And Katy, I laugh in the face of your measly $8.75 in library fines. Pah. I’ve got £200 in parking fines.

Unsurprisingly, all of this idiocy has left me close to zero in my bank account and I get paid on the 25th of the month. Inescapable conclusion: I am an idiot. And my sister has put a note in my calendar to remind me to buy a monthly ticket at the car park.


Brenda October 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm

You are funny and I love your writing! Maybe you need a fun blog???


BJS October 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm

What Brenda said! I love transparency in people and think you’re great, Denise!


Caroline October 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm

What Brenda and BJS said! It’s like “Bridget Jones 4: Moving Day”


tonya parham October 19, 2016 at 9:02 am

I love you.

Will you be my across the pond bestie?

I, too, often feel like a complete moron for the ways in which I fail ever so epically.


Denise October 19, 2016 at 11:05 pm

I am touched, truly, by these lovely comments. And I’d love to be your “across the pond bestie”. I can fulfill that ever-useful role of “the moral of how not to do things!”.

Anyway, off to work now to prove to the world that another village has lost its idiot.


Is it a need or a want October 20, 2016 at 11:03 am

You are my ” Astro twin” .
Saw a friend this week and she mentioned she was thinking of going to a restaurant run by an organization I support.
I said I had been there. It was great. I had the most expensive lunch of my life that day.
A speeding ticket caught by radar on the way there and on the way back.
Over $500.00. I cannot believe I just wrote that out.
She used both hands to pick her jaw up from the floor.


Denise October 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Ouch. Really. Ouchingtons. You win.

Rebecca October 18, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Order some USPS flat rate padded priority mailers. They are not available at the PO. Also get some regional rate “A” boxes, also not available at the PO. They ship to you for free.

I often put a small box into the flat rate padded mailer and save quite a bit over making my own. The regional A box will save you lot for same zone shipping.


Andrea October 18, 2016 at 3:22 pm

1. Go to this link.
2. Click on “Become a shopper.”
3. Once you sign up, you’ll see why I gave you the link.
4. I cannot say more because it would be against the IC agreement.


Kendra October 18, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Totally had one today. My office does a once-monthly birthday potluck, and the birthday people get to decide the theme. This month’s theme was Oktoberfest, and I signed up to bring soft pretzels, beer cheese and sauerkraut. I can make all of these things cheaply and well at home.

Last night at 11:30 p.m. I realized that I hadn’t made any of these things. It was too late to start them, so I bought them today. Spent $12. Making them would have cost less than $5. Oh, well.


janine October 18, 2016 at 4:02 pm

I am so relieved to hear that others fail! My husband is the heavy library user in our family and he renews (mostly) online, but I used to rack up hefty fines.

A friend found what she considered to be a great give away of clutch-type purses on Craig’s list. She called and asked if I could drive – and I agreed. The time of the pick up was changed and we needed to find an obscure street in the industrial district. It started to rain – so hard you could not read the street signs. We traversed through the street after getting lost a number of times and never found the place – stopping frequently to ask directions to a street number which did not exist. Then she asked me to pick up her son – did I mention that this was downtown during rush hour? No merchandise. Half a tank of gas later we were on our way home. Fail!

I can’t seem to kick the soda habit. I can go for stretches without a cola, then the urge hits. Instead of buying a two-liter bottle often on sale for 99 cents, I stop at fast food stands and indulge.


Gina October 19, 2016 at 3:12 am

When the cola urge hits and you can’t deny and stop at a fast food stand, order an iced tea instead. There is less caffeine and eventually your cravings will fade. I’m 5 years without soda and still have cravings sometimes, especially when I’m sick or hear someone in my office pop the tab of an ice cold can in the morning. But the couple of times I’ve given in, they taste disgusting and make me feel sick within just a few sips. Your tastebuds will change over time without it. Hang in there!


Karen October 19, 2016 at 8:21 am

This tip really works. Posting frugal fails is an excellent idea! We continue to learn from one another!


Isabelle October 18, 2016 at 4:03 pm

* I know I’ve mentioned this before but my gym membership is a total frugal fail. I’ve paid for it in full (close to 1000$ for the year) and I did use it well at first, but since summer I’m going only once or twice per week, sometimes not at all. What a waste! And I have all that I need at home (dvds, ball, weights, elliptical machine, etc) and a super cheap gym at work (50$/year!). And pre-paid yoga classes, zumba classes, trampoline classes and aerobics classes at different places. So….. lots to choose from once my membership expires!
* The amount of money I’ve spent for junk food throughout my life is insane! It’s something I’m working on, but it’s not easy (like all addictions)
* I also gave a lot of money to the public library for late fees throughout the years, it became a running joke at home…


BJS October 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Mine is the same as it’s always been with me … I love to eat out. I feel like all my genes are frugal ones except the eating-out gene. I understand logically how expensive it is and how much I can be saving by not doing it as much (and have done better since reading this and The Frugal Girl’s blog), but I still have a weakness for it.


janine October 19, 2016 at 4:21 am

I’m with you! Didn’t mention it in my comments, but this is absolutely my worst fault. Love to sit back, relax, and let others cook and wait on me.
Not terribly expensive except that it all adds up to an appallingly large number of dollars! One good thing – this week my son and I are indulging in $1.50 hot dogs at Costco when he has his day off. If only every place had their pricing structure!


BJS October 19, 2016 at 7:12 am

Having $1.50 hot dogs out with your son sounds heavenly to me on many levels!


Brenda October 18, 2016 at 4:40 pm

I love you for this!!
1- carved pumpkins last night, it is warm around here so they will probably rot before Halloween gets here. My sis and i never get to do a whole lot together because we work opposite each other and she suggested doing it together with our kids. It bothers me to buy more pumpkins closer to the date, yet our roasted seeds are already gone, and it is fun, so I need to let go and enjoy that we did it together!
2-library fines are over 8 bucks, too!! I’ve been using our other cards but need to suck it up and pay it.
3- I’ve been good about cooking dinner, and taking lunches to work but I so want to buy lunch at the cafeteria tomorrow! I can never go a whole week with bringing my lunch. I feel like I’m getting away with something by not eating at my desk. Crazy I know!
4- gave a bunch of stuff away, things I bought at thrift stores for cheap and had all these great ideas but never did anything with them. I thought I often do what i intended, but seeing them all in a pile makes me think maybe only half of what I buy I actually use. Glad they are with someone who can use them and they are out of my sight with the nagging thought why did I waste money on these??
5- I tried washing a down comforter instead of taking to the dry cleaners. I think I’m wasting a lot of my time, it’s not really working and I’m going to have to take it to be dry cleaned before I completely ruin it and have to buy another.

Wow- feels good to get all of that out! Sometimes I feel like a fraud listing my 5 frugal things when other things in my life are not as frugal, but we are all a work in progress and doing the best we can! Thanks Katy for a great post!


kathleen October 18, 2016 at 5:01 pm

#2…sometimes libraries offer fine amnesty around Thanksgiving if you bring in a canned good. If you’ve waited this long, I’d wait and see. 🙂


Brenda October 19, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Good idea! Thanks! Although my current load of books are still riding around with me and waiting to go back to the library so paying a fine probably wasnt gonna happen to soon anyways! (Note to self: Just take them back already!)


Shae October 18, 2016 at 6:55 pm

#4!!! I suffer horribly from “but I paid a lot of money for that so I can’t get rid of it.” And yes, it just sits there mocking me! LOL! So not only did I waste money on the purchase but it takes up valuable space. Now most of clothing is thrifted too so I always get my money’s worth in 1 or 2 wears!


AFS October 18, 2016 at 7:32 pm

My downfall is the same as Brenda’s #4
I have SO much fabric and SO many patterns
it really doesn’t matter that they were supper cheap. If I don’t use them its wasted money.
At least its an improvement over when I worked at a fabric store and brought home my paycheck in the form of fabric.


tonya parham October 19, 2016 at 8:44 am

I understand, I sometimes feel like a fraud putting in successes when I fail so much but it’s good to write the positive MOST of the time.

Still seeing other’s mistakes like this makes me feel better! (at least occasionally!)


cathy October 19, 2016 at 9:28 am

I wash our down comforters exclusively at home. Is the problem lumpiness after drying? If so, it’s probably not fully dry. You can also throw a tennis ball in the dryer to help it dry and re-gain the loft.


Marilyn October 18, 2016 at 4:41 pm

I have been guilty of LOADS of frugal fails over the years. Here’s my latest: I had a coupon for “One free meal with purchase of one meal” at a local restaurant. We rarely eat out and we like this particular restaurant, so I persuaded my husband that was a deal too good to pass up. I ordered a $14 dinner and my husband ordered another $14 dinner. I thought one of the dinners would be free. Problem was I did not read the fine print. The coupon was limited to $6! That made for an unhappy surprise when the bill arrived. I am kicking myself for being so careless.


Sandra October 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm

I just did two really stupid things:

1. My library lets you renew your books online AND they send you an email to remind you to either return the books or renew them. Apparently I did neither and now have $5.00 in fees. Arrrggg! So silly! All I have to do is click a few buttons!

2. I have to park in a parking deck for work. I’ve parked in this one spot many, many times, but the other day I got a $25 parking ticket. Why? In this particular spot there is a line at the end of the spot where the back tires are. My tires were ON the yellow line, not over them. Right on them. Too bad, too sad. Ticket. I was so angry! But it is what it is and $25 later I will not park in that spot again.

So in total there’s $30 that I may as well have lit on fire and threw in the gutter. Since I recently hurt my leg that money could well have gone toward doctor bills but life sometimes just works out that way.


Caroline October 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Confession is good for the soul!!

This weighs on me; we pay gym fees every month for a club we only use for its outdoor pool when it’s open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Somehow if I could pay the full annual amount over the summer months we use it I swear I wouldn’t feel so badly. Katy, at least your fails are infrequent. I am going to make an effort to go to the indoor pool this winter.

#champagne problems amiright?? and I only drink $5 Trader Joes Prosecco cut with homemade $!@*% seltzer, never even buy champagne for Pete’s sake!! PS, their “Secco” with screw top cap no less is quite tasty, going to drown my frugal fail sorrows now. 😉


kathleen October 18, 2016 at 5:16 pm

I think I get the booby prize.

Since our 40th anniversary a few months ago, we’ve been talking about going back to the first little town we lived in to look around and see how it has changed. We decided to go yesterday. It’s a 4 hour trip one way. It was just as much a dump as it ever was. We couldn’t find even one of the four houses we had lived in there (we only lived there 2 yrs, but the housing choices were so bad that you started low and moved into a better one as they came available…we probably couldn’t find them because they fell down years ago…lol). We stopped to eat on the way home. And the piéce de résistance? We got a ticket…in a SCHOOL ZONE! I want to fight it, because the signage was sub-par in this little dump town, and it seemed like a speed trap, but hubs wouldn’t even go around the block to look at signs and take photos.

Waste, waste, waste!!! On the up side, we are completely happy that we moved away from there when we did. 🙂

So you see, girls, older does not always mean wiser.


kathleen October 18, 2016 at 5:19 pm

And by waste I mean gasoline, meal out, TICKET, and time. Ugh.


Gina in KY October 18, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Oh, how I know the frugal fails lately…

Here’s a HUGE one: A while back (apparently over a year ago), I had this thought to put a small amount in this saving account at my local bank (long story, but my main bank is in another state and this one was a “sister” credit union making it easy to cash checks and move money back and forth as needed). Anyway, I stopped putting those small deposits in and the money in there just sat (me stupidly thinking it’s a savings account). Well, the inactivity caused the bank to deduct $7 a month and eventually the amount fell below the minimum amount, so they also took $5 a month. In total, I lost about $100 before I opened up what I thought was their dumb life insurance spam mail and learned I had a “dormant” account and it was now below the minimum required to keep a savings account. Like Sandra said: I could have just throw a Benjamin in a fire and called it the same thing. 🙁

Oh, and I have about $12 in library fines to pay. I reason these by saying I am helping the library buy new books, music and movies.


tonya parham October 19, 2016 at 8:40 am

Yeah, I don’t worry too much over the library late fees either because I know they use it to buy things I will later check out!


Alexia October 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Unpaid item claim through the eBay Resolution Center. I have done this and got my money, though admittedly I had not sent the item off yet. Good luck!


Lucy October 19, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Yes, this! Even if they already have the watches this can work. Guilt can be a wonderful thing.


Alexia October 19, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Oh, it’s more than just guilt. If they get too many unpaid item strikes they can be suspended. Katy can get the final value fee paid to eBay credited back to her if they don’t pay. And while it won’t help Katy right now, future sellers will be alerted that this person doesn’t pay reliably. You can set your listing to block bidders that have 2+ unpaid item strikes.


Barbara October 20, 2016 at 4:59 am

I’ve had two slo-o-ow pay buyers on Ebay this week. It seems to be a growing trend, from what I’ve read on the comment boards. One guy took a week to pay and then demanded to return at my expense or receive a partial refund once he received the item (due to a technicality in the listing). Filing an unpaid item case also prevents your buyer from leaving you negative feedback if they never pay.


Jennifer October 18, 2016 at 5:32 pm

I was super lazy this weekend and did not take lunch to work either Saturday or Sunday. Ate mediocre hospital food both days.

Husband and I went and grabbed dinner at Panera tonight. Totally had dinner planned and he was less than thrilled.

Our 10 year old apparently left his googles at the swim meet on Sunday. That meant a new pair before practice today.


WilliamB October 18, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I’ve had a number of food fails in the past few weeks. The wasted food includes 2 peaches, a plum, and a whole jar of spaghetti sauce … to which I’d added happy meat. That last ~still~ bugs me. It’s going to bug me for a long time. Meat, dammit. I wasted meat. And not just any meat, happy meat. Bought on deep sale but still.



Krystal October 18, 2016 at 9:09 pm

Oh god, I love this subject so much, and I am beyond THRILLED to keep it to only 5, based on your model.
1. I picked up a secret shopping gig for some extra cash and dining-out experiences, but I TOTALLY MESSED UP on my first outing, and couldn’t submit or redeem it, so I had to go again. Which means, I wasn’t able to submit my first attempt for reimbursement. There’s $48 I wasn’t planning on spending this month!
2. I paid $2 in late fees for my husband at the library when I went to pick up his book. Even better? I have a book that’s 2 weeks past due that I’m only 2/3 of the way through, and I refuse to return until I finish. So that will be a shiner of a late fee when I do return it.
3. I haven’t gone over in my grocery budget every month, all year. You think I would have learned by now.
4. I spent $280 on skincare products this month. I’m not even sorry.
5. I own, maintain, repair, insure and license a car. Get with the times, Seattle.


Jade October 18, 2016 at 10:25 pm

I changed our holiday dates and had to pay approx. $500 in flight charges (flights and accommodation had gone up, booking fees). Money down the drain.

I have regular frugal fails. At least attempting to be frugal most of the times takes some of the sting out of the fails… well sort of. :0


Lynda October 19, 2016 at 12:44 am

Weekend away meant I was exposed to temptation in the form of:
A pile of vintage car magazines – like an encyclopaedia – with awesome illustrations which I can use for crafting. (Someday)
A magnificent fabric store that sells by the kilo (addit to the SABLE stash…)
Several magnificent musicians, all selling records (record deck not reconnected yet, it was disconnected when the decorator worked on my flat 3 weeks ago…)
And a craft centre that had the loveliest fabric pincushions shaped like potted cacti with the pins as spines. No, I didn’t need it 😀

Wait: there’s more! I didn’t take my big backpack and decided to take a taxi home from the train station. I had forgotten that there was a half marathon in aid of a local hospice resulting in road closures and a taxi fare twice what it normally is…

Oh, and then I fell asleep and missed the book club meeting. Of course I’d bought the book !!!


Mand01 October 19, 2016 at 1:42 am

1. Failed to check the receipt and later discovered I’d been charged triple for a wedge of pumpkin.
2. Two weeks later I have not yet cooked said pumpkin.
3. Our electricity bill was twice our usual amount, because we had fallen into a bad habit of automatically turning on the heat each morning.


Bee October 19, 2016 at 2:05 am

We all all of unfrugal mishaps. I know that I have had many. Thankfully most are small. But I have a big one this week…
I am spending the weekend in Asheville with my big sister. We are sharing a hotel room. She made the arrangements months ago, but I didn’t look over everything until last week. She chose a hotel that was ridiculously expensive, but it was too late to cancel. The trip will cost me twice what I budgeted. I am kicking myself, because I should have paid attention. After all, I know my sister well. I guess I won’t eat much. 🙂


lauren October 19, 2016 at 8:07 pm

You may want to rethink the eating thing, or discuss it before your first meal together of the weekend – if you guys are splitting the room she might assume you’re going to split everything right down the middle and while you’re eating eggs, you might wind up paying for her steak! (just as an example)


Bettypants October 19, 2016 at 3:57 am

This is my favorite post EVER. I really hope you consider putting 5 Frugal Fails in regular rotation. It makes me feel better about my f-ups. What a jerk that ebay buyer is.
1. I bought three pounds of ground round on sale, intending to freeze it in smaller portions. It got pushed to the back of the fridge and I forgot about it for two weeks. I had to toss the whole thing after seeing the date on the pkg.
2. My son claimed he needed a percussion kit to practice on at home. Instead of looking on CL, my husband rented one from the local music store for $30 a month. It’s going back.
3. My yogurt coupon didn’t come off my bill at Kroger, and I just didn’t feel like standing in line at customer service.
4. I bought a pair of leather Born sandals at a garage sale, to sell on ebay. When I got home, I realized there was a huge crack in the sole of one, and I had to throw them away.
5. Our shower faucet has been leaking for some time now, and I haven’t done anything to fix it. I’m knowingly wasting water.


Ellen October 19, 2016 at 4:33 am

I have done that with a ebay sale, mailed it before getting paid, and never got paid! All my emails to them went unanswered! I was so mad at myself , how stupid! I hope karma caught up with them.


Roberta October 19, 2016 at 5:31 am

I have something up on ebay right now (thanks to your encouragement, Katy!) and I will definitely wait until I receive payment before shipping!

My FF is a parking ticket. I stopped by Goodwill to pick up a Halloween costume for my son (he’s going as Bowie’s Goblin King!) and got a $42 parking ticket. I fed the meter, but not enough. So, so sad!


Mand01 October 20, 2016 at 3:52 am

I hate parking tickets- I always feel like I might as well just burn my money. Where I work is a parking ticket zone- most of my colleagues just accept they will get a ticket a week. I refuse to pay $50 a week in tickets; I’ve been pretty vigilant and have only had three in five years. Each one is burned in my memory with the rage of a thousand suns. No hyperbole…
Great costume idea, BTW.


Gina October 19, 2016 at 7:24 am

Thanks for sharing your frugal fails Katy! I’ve never seen you share them before and it’s a nice reminder that even the “expert” trips up occasionally. I was shocked in your last post to see you had let those free dozen donuts expire. I wondered why you wouldn’t take them to work and leave them in the break room or offer them to your neighbor who is always so helpful.

I have an ongoing frugal fail that makes me feel guilty daily. Downtown Parking. I work downtown in a busy city and I live in the neighboring state (only 10 minute drive across the bridge). I could take the bus (ugh! The ride is filled with drug users and transients. I’ve actually seen people shoot up and huff on the bus! And I was followed home by a transient who grabbed my arm and tried to force me to go with him, until a police officer showed up out of nowhere and saved me. Plus it’s a long walk home from where the bus drops off in a neighboring city)…so I refuse to ever ride the bus again due to the scary/dangerous nature. No amount of cost savings is worth THAT! I could drive a bit out of my way and park + ride a trolley across the bridge (but I have to leave my house a full 45 minutes earlier to fight traffic in that city and find parking and walk to said trolley which is not always on time and does make me late for work regularly AND adds on over an hour to my commute home, sometimes longer). SO I’ve been choosing to drive into downtown and park in a garage …which costs $4 more each day. I beat myself up about this daily…thinking, that’s $20/week or $80/month I could be putting toward other expenses. My friends argue that safety + convenience + my time is worth $4/day. I agree with them mostly…but still feel guilty. I am parking far away from my office. Closer parking would be $10 +/day. So, I try to justify it by telling myself I AM SAVING. Still…frugal fail.

Plus, I nearly always eat lunch out one day every other week. I just can’t stand to eat a packed lunch daily without feeling deprived. And there are so many delicious options downtown. I do keep it semi-frugal and don’t allow myself to eat at the high-end restaurants. Still, it’s impossible to get anything edible that won’t give you food poisoning (yep, I’m talking about you gyro food truck) under $10.

I worked many years somewhere that I received a free lunch daily and an assigned parking space…so it’s been really hard for me to get used to spending money on these things…even three years in. Others tell me to consider it a job related expense that is unavoidable and move on. I’m trying.


tonya parham October 19, 2016 at 8:34 am

I think you have to have a balance when it comes to parking in cities.

First, it’s not frugal if you are hurt, attacked, or raped. That would cost not just emotionally but literally as well, with medical care and perhaps down the line, therapy.

Second, in parking further away and walking, you are getting more exercise which has long term frugal benefits like lower weight, lower blood pressure, lower stress levels. Yes, it’s $80 a month but it’s also less than many medicines you might end up on if you weren’t getting that long walk everyday.

Third, if you took the trolley and added an hour to your commute, that’s time taken away from home and doing things that are frugal like making your own meals or hanging out clothes or any number of things.

We all have limited time, resources, and energy, You sound like you have given this a lot of thought and while I won’t say just get over it, I think it’s good to think about why we do the things we do and investigate if they are, indeed, the best things to do. It sounds like you have given it much thought. That’s good. Now, give yourself permission to choose a middle path– not too dangerous, not too time consuming, not too expensive– and look for ways in which you can save in other areas.

As for lunch, I think a meal out twice a month is a pefrectly acceptable compromise as well. I’d probably go once a week! I think you have a wonderful middle of the road approach. I salute you!


Gina October 19, 2016 at 9:46 am

Tonya – Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I’ve read it a few times and you make so many good points. You’re absolutely right about the bus and the effects short term/long term if something terrible happened.

And I had not thought about the exercise and health benefits of my long walk twice a day! It is kind of a nice way to start the morning actually, and I hadn’t considered that either. And YES, you’re right, riding the trolley DOES eat away at my morning and evening frugal routines. That extra hour in the evening totally zaps my energy and leaves me not wanting to do much of anything when I get home.

I love your advice to “give myself permission to choose the middle path”. This is such wonderful advice! I am going to give myself permission to park and stop fretting over it. I’m going to put my name on the waiting list for monthly parking, which will save me $20 a month once there is an opening. And thanks for thinking my bi-weekly lunch out is an acceptable compromise too! Sometimes we just need validation from someone else that our decisions are ok. I appreciate your taking time to comment and help me work through my internal struggle. Thank you!!!


cathy October 19, 2016 at 9:45 am

I agree with Tonya Parham. Back in April, you posted that comment about the big fireworks show on the waterfront (still the best in the country!) so I’m guessing about the bridge you have to cross to get to work. Unless something else in your life changes, I’d just budget the parking as one of life’s expenses. Just because there’s a cheaper alternative, doesn’t make it the best choice. Be safe and concentrate your frugality in other parts of your life.


cathy October 19, 2016 at 9:54 am

I just scrolled up to re-read some comments and realized there are two Ginas who commented! So I’m thinking you’re a different person. I still think you should give yourself permission to drive and not have to employ the absolute cheapest driving/parking situation.


Gina October 19, 2016 at 10:17 am

Yes, I think you were thinking of Gina in Kentucky…although, I’m a Gina who lives in KY too! I think Gina in KY might have a bridge to IN or TN. The bridge I drive goes to OH. We have a large fireworks display too that spans both sides of the river, closes the bridge for the waterfall display, etc.

Thanks again for your advice it really gave me a new perspective.


Gina October 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

Cathy – Thank you for your reply. I had not considered that, “Just because there’s a cheaper alternative, doesn’t make it the best choice.” I just beat myself up daily because I’m not making the frugal choice…which I just assumed was the best choice. But there is so much more to it than financial cost. Thank you and Tonya for helping me to see that. I am going to just budget it in monthly as you suggest and consider it the best and safest choice…and concentrate my frugality in other areas. I love this thoughtful, sharing, caring community! Thank you!!


lauren October 19, 2016 at 8:13 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Tonya.. and also want to add… if you think about all those years you worked with free lunch and free parking, combine that with what you’re paying now.. but then divide your years of working altogether.. it kind of pro-rates it 😉 You could have been paying for both the whole time!


Gina October 19, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Thanks Lauren. That’s true about calculating the freebie years (13) with my current expenses. Good way to look at it and not feel so guilty!


Amy K. October 19, 2016 at 8:06 am

I had been beating myself up over fails and missed opportunities, so this is so very timely and refreshing! Kids totally didn’t put library book due dates in their calendars, and completely ignored the emails. I think they owed about $6 between them. I had a bunch of birthday treat coupons. Didn’t drag myself out to some of the places and they expired. Boo. My older daughter had an after school meeting I forgot about. She texted to remind me, which was awesome on her part…but then I realized I didn’t pack her enough food/snacks. You know kids, ravenous after school. So I quick went online and set up a lunch account for her and dropped ten emergency bucks in there. I texted her back thinking “Mom to the rescue!” Turns out, they can only just get a whole lunch tray. There’s nothing they can buy a-la-carte. I said she could get a tray and then save parts of her lunch for a snack, but by that point, they stopped serving. Ugh! Not only a money fail, but a planning fail and the kid was quite hungry…I know it won’t kill her, but…


tonya parham October 19, 2016 at 8:17 am

I think this post was something I really needed as I feel like I’ve not been very frugal at all lately.

1. I didn’t return my library books on time (they are, in fact, still in the trunk of my car and I just don’t want to make the trip) and once they are returned tonight (on my way somewhere else) I will probably have a fine of a couple bucks,

2. I ate out yesterday at the new Indian place. Then, for dinner, I picked up Subway because I wanted the missus to enjoy her time home alone and not have to cook for me. I’d planned to make soup before class to eat after. I didn’t. I watched tv with her instead.

3. We got a sectional for free from a friend. It didn’t fit together in our living room but it looked good enough, When we moved here, we had a cat who lived outside and had been pretty feral. She was pretty chill living on our porch but when we moved here, the missus wanted her to come in. And she was fine and stayed in a room mostly to herself and our other cats mostly avoided her. But, I brought her out of the room. She installed herself in the living room. Which was nice– for a time– she literally wouldn’t leave the couch.

I heard her meowing a few times the other morning and thought she wanted me to come pet her. Well, I was working in the other room and I went and looked in on her and she was fine. I returned to work. When lunch time came, I went and made lunch and sat down with her. The moment my butt hit the couch, she peed all over it and all over me. I hate to say this– but I literally just flipped out! I screamed. I yelled. We keep a sheet on the seat of the couch anyway because it’s easier to keep litter, fur, and possible cat vomit off with a sheet on the cushions. I ripped the sheet off, hoping I could stop it before it went in the cushion. Nope.

I literally chased her back to the other room (I guess she didn’t want to leave the living room to go pee) where she had stayed before. She won’t have anything to do with me now (it’s been a week– and I can’t say I blame her, I was pretty loud and it was awful that I chased her) and even after taking the other cushion off– that section became cat central. I caught our male cat Eddie peeing on it– he’s had so many urinary issues he had to have his penis removed– and I feel fairly certain other cats started peeing on it too.

So, yesterday we just took the whole section out of the house and put a litterbox where it had been. It’s the only thing I knew to do. I’m not sure I could deal if Eddie started in his Feline IC issues (he’s had spells where he pees on our bed but has had none since we moved into this home) and am determined to make sure that he’s got no reason to go outside the box.

Still, this was an epic fail on so many levels. I lost my favorite seat in the house. I lost the trust of the cat I had worked for a year to gain. And, if I’m honest, I don’t want her to come out into gen pop if she’s staying on the couch holding it until she’s about to burst. Finally, this just seems like a waste of a good couch. It’s in the garage but I don’t know if it can be salvaged and I’m afraid the other pieces will get peed on, too, even though they weren’t peed on to begin with.

And, no, I didn’t hit her–but I did traumatize her by yelling at her and trying to catch her and chasing her back to her room. I feel like a complete asshole and also feel rather ashamed since it’s just a couch. Still, I have moments like that where I so completely over react– my mind just explodes with the emotion of the moment…

4. I signed up for Happy Herbivore meal plans back in the summer. I thought it would be good to have someone else meal plan for me– especially since I want to be 100% plant based. I thought it was fine but I felt it was a bit steep in price. I didn’t make enough of the recipes to justify the cost. My debit card expired and I didn’t put my new info in. I didn’t think it would be a good use of $19.

Well, I changed my mind– because I tend to throw money at problems (weight too high? buy a meal plan!) rather than just do the work. So, I decided Sunday, I HAVE to be 100% plant based so I will do the meal plans and be 100% compliant for a month and see how it goes. Because, it doesn’t work if you don’t do it.

When they charged me, they charged me twice because when my card expired before it was “past due” which is not true since they charge you for your upcoming month when you begin. So, I ended up paying $38 because on some level, I’m too lazy to plan my own meals! I disputed the charge and they seem to be perhaps willing to refund one of the charges but I am so put out with myself that I just am enraged I do these sorts of things–even in knowing I am doing them!

5. I ordered some Scrub Mommies off QVC Sunday. It was a good price but it’s still more than just using old orange/produce netting which is free.


Gina October 19, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Tonya – I had an elderly cat that started having urinary issues the year before he passed away. He lived to 21! There’s a great product called Natures Mircle that completely removes the urine smell. It’s made with some sort of natural enzymes. It saved the carpet and our favorite chair (both the cat’s and mine!). If you can’t find Nature’s Miracle, look for one with enzymes – most all pet stores carry it.

And you’ve just suffered a set back with the cat – she will eventually trust you again. She realizes your feeding and sheltering her. Cats are sooo different from dogs. I always think that dogs are easily domesticated – but I’m not sure any cat is completely domesticated. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had it since a kitten (like my male cat) or adopted a feral (like my female cat – and the male’s mother). Cats have some deep-rooted wild instinct that can never be tamed. I kind of admire them for it! But it can be frustrating for sure. The feral female used to go on a wild rampage at night tearing things up – like one morning when I woke up to find she decided she didn’t like the wallpaper in the dining room – so she ripped the majority of it off the walls. Sigh! I’m pretty sure the first year she thought her name was a curse word because I would use it loudly when I found her latest destruction. Slowly but surely she started to behave better…but I still ocassionally find something she has destroyed. And the male loves to tear up the carpet pile with his claws, chew wires and wood. They’re untamable!


tonya parham October 20, 2016 at 7:24 am

Thank you so much!!!!

I’m getting some of the Nature’s Miracle today! Once you said that I realized I had seen that stuff in PetSmart but didn’t realize what it was! DUH!!! Thank you thank you thank you!

We have 8 cats– all indoors and they all get along very well. The new cat that stayed outside is sweet as she can be and I want her in here, but at least two of the cats who were already here rather hate her. She’s very sweet– to the other cats and too us– they come after her and she just cowers. So, that’s part of why I feel rather bad–she didn’t MEAN to pee, she was just excited and had been holding it for a long time, I guess.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if they could talk to us, just even for 5 minutes a week to give us an update? (“Eh, mom, I hate this new litter! I’m going to pee in the floor if I have to keep using it! And it would be really good if you could pet just under my chin!”) Wouldn’t that be helpful!? LOL And probably frugal because then you could avoid trial and error purchases!


Gina October 20, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Yes! It would be great If they could talk even if for just 5 minutes a week! Your sweet cat will come around to trusting you again. Timid cats take more time and patience. Good luck with the Nature’s Miracle!


Sheila October 19, 2016 at 9:07 am

Sure love these frugal fails, because I feel like I’ve had so many lately.
1. Looked through my credit union checking account and am mortified at how much shopping I’ve done lately. Admittedly, some of it has been at Goodwill and other thrift shops, but it still all adds up.
2. A lot of my spending has been eating out with friends. The latest one was for 2 friends and we were celebrating their birthdays. While I fished around in my “gift pantry” for gifts, the happy hour set me back $30 which was probably twice what I would have normally would have spent.
3. I offered to make cookies for friends, thinking that I had all the ingredients, but discovered that I was missing the dried cherries. I get them at Trader Joe’s and while their prices are pretty reasonable, I can’t seem to leave without buying loads of things I didn’t have on my list so I’m holding off on going. Last time I went I spent something like $60. I guess my only consolation is that I’ve been super frugal up until this month . . .
4. Bought some beautiful pots for outside plants but the total was over $200. Was talking with a friend about how nice her pots are and she mentioned the same nursery has a great 50% off section, argh! This after I hesitated for ages, not wanting to spent the money.
5. Not working as much as I have been, which results in less $$ coming in, but I’ve just not been that motivated.


JD October 19, 2016 at 9:35 am

I’m late to the game but I can relate. I can really relate to the E-bay guy — we got stiffed on a service my husband did for a company, $200 worth, a few years back.
I bought a gift recently because there was only one left on the shelf and I knew it was what the recipient truly needed. If I had just taken the chance and waited, or checked the other stores in the area to see if they had it, I could have let my husband buy it with his veteran’s discount. That’s money gone.
I splurged a while back and bought a small ceramic coated frying pan which was great for a few months. Now, everything I cook in it sticks. I should have continued using my cast iron skillet, even though it seems so big for some things. At least now I can warn my family members not to waste their money. I’d not seen any ceramic pans at Goodwill, so I assumed no one wanted to get rid of his or hers and they must be good. Wrong.
I let a dollar off coupon expire before I remembered to go buy the cheese. Argh.


K D October 19, 2016 at 11:28 am

1. Despite my best efforts my 20 year old only likes food out and/or processed food. Generally she buys her own food but sometimes we buy it for her.

2. We almost never open the windows. Generally either the air conditioner or the furnace is running.

3. My husband’s term life insurance policy expired a couple years ago. Instead of shopping for a new one I’ve paid the inflated amount they demand to keep it active.

4. I have not shopped around for automobile insurance for many years. We have GEICO and when our daughter earned her driver’s license we should have checked rates, instead of just paying.

5. Sometimes when I see a real bargain I buy it even though I don’t need it or even have a use for it. Then I give it away. OOPS!


Ashley S October 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm

I love this post! Makes me feel so much better knowing others screw up too. And people like your ebay shopper are exactly why I now only use Facebook to buy and sell (Craigslist in my area is lacking, to say the least).
My fails:
– I am breastfeeding and use a pump. I keep forgetting to run it for a few minutes after each use to dry the tubing out, resulting in having to replace the tubing twice due to mildew issues :/ It’s been and ongoing issue as I live on the OR coast and mold is always an issue here, especially right now with a mixture of rainy and warm days. I did buy a used pump for $25 and planned on only using the new accessories that I got from the hospital for free, but somehow mixed the used pieces in with the new, so I chucked it all and replaced everything but the motor for another $25. Still cheaper than the $200 the setup would cost new, or formula feeding for that matter.
– I didn’t notice that one of the glass bottles I got at Goodwill had a significant, sharp chip in it until I had already washed it. Into the recycling it went.
– We have once-monthly recycling pickup, and I forgot to set ours out this week, which will mean it will be piling up in my garage the next month. It won’t cost me anything, but does make for an annoying pile.
– Food waste. Always an issue at my house, but this week I passed out in bed with baby twice without putting dinner away, and woke up to leftovers that had to be tossed. It happened a third time as well, but DH caught on to me and saved it before he turned in.
-And I can totally relate to the project supplies that add up! I’ve been giving away lots of things lately as my house and garage seem to be bursting at the seams! I consider the peace-of-mind an even trade, though I would still rather have the cash in hand.


Mariana October 19, 2016 at 3:49 pm

How about a late $25 fee on my TJ max card? I called and pleaded and they did not take it off of the bill 🙁
I use this card twice a year and forgot that I used it two months ago.


Kim @ Extra Organised October 20, 2016 at 1:20 am

Ah, the “stupid tax”. A bit like the “lazy tax” where a company will charge you a premium as standard unless you contact them every year to make sure you’re getting the best price. This seems to be a thing in Australia now so no more setting and forgetting of expenses. I bet you wouldn’t be paying a lazy tax on anything!


Barbara October 20, 2016 at 5:02 am

I loved this post! So good to see that someone we all admire also messes up from time to time.


Jill October 20, 2016 at 7:28 am

I think I might be doing better at the fails lately than the wins. Here goes:
1. I forgot to renew my library books – even though I can conveniently do so online – which resulted in a $2.40 fine.
2. I’m short so I have a hard time finding petite size pants at thrift stores. I use coupons and buy them on sale retail. I bought 2 pairs in the spring and though they fit I didn’t love them but lost the receipt somehow and now can’t return them. Not sure if I will try to sell them at consignment or just wear them.
3. Haven’t found time to make it to consignment and had some fall items to sell which they won’t take now – they’ve moved on to winter and Christmas. Boo!
4. I haven’t kept up with my ebay listings.
5. Been traveling alot – which is great – and have been eating mostly out of the cooler but have spent a little too much at restaurants also. Need to get back home and eat in my own kitchen.


Ethel October 21, 2016 at 6:22 am

I know I’m late to the game, but I feel like I was made for this post, lol.

1. Paid $6 in library fines this week.
2. Had a friend in town and ate out for two days straight…expensive local places too. My poor wallet 🙁
3. Bought way too many groceries and have not eaten enough of them (see #2). I’ll probably have food waste at the end of the week.
4. I eat out at least 3 times per week (this is not including #2). I’m just going to say it. I regularly eat out. Maybe saying it will help me stop?
5. I can’t think of anything else, but I know that there are more. So many more.


LisaC October 21, 2016 at 11:53 am

1. Cleaned out the staff fridge at work, found 4 containers of veggies that I’d forgotten, and a weird colored (because it was old) container of hummus. Yuck.
2. Didn’t take down our trees last winter, and now one is leaning after the storm. Now I have to pay top dollar to get it removed before it falls on my house.
3. Friends paid for our drinks last time, so this time we insisted on paying the check. Thought I was paying for two glasses of wine, didn’t know they ordered a whole bottle, and a nice bottle too. Lesson: check before you offer! They are good friends though, so in the long run its ok.
4. Ran out of ink and sold some things on ebay. Will have to pay postage at the post office instead of printing it at home.
5. Still buying bottled water, even though I have containers to fill at work. I keep forgetting to bring them home to fill. Water at work is yucky.


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