First Person: Being Frugal Didn’t Help Me Get Ahead

Yahoo Contributor Network

For years I clipped coupons and tried to stretch my dollars. But it wasn't getting me any closer to my goal of becoming better off financially. In fact, in some cases I felt as though my scrimping and discount shopping trips were actually keeping me from meeting my financial goals.

When the economy was riding high, I used to feel financial peer pressure to use credit cards to buy the best things. Since the Great Recession, I ditched the credit cards. Now I feel guilty anytime I shop without coupons. People frown if you buy things at the regular price instead of waiting for the sales. They look at you funny if you don't pull out a coupon organizer at the register.

Using sales as an excuse to buy more

Even though it seemed like the right thing to do, I found it counterproductive to shop during sales. I ended up buying more things that I didn't really need. I've reduced my spending on clothes by $25 a week by sticking to a budget of $1,200 a year for clothing, including shoes. I disregard sales and just spend what's in my clothing envelope. When it's gone for the year, it's gone.

Wasting time by surfing for deals

Time really is money when you have jobs that you can take. I was spending too much time looking at daily deals on the Internet and clipping coupons the old-school way with scissors. Instead of devoting 3 hours a day to my couponing, I decided to take on an extra freelance gig which brought in an extra $100 a week. For me, it's easier to earn more than spend less.

Blowing our budget on daily deals

I also went overboard with Groupon and LivingSocial and other daily deal vendors, blowing my entertainment budget. My husband and I had to set a limit. We still use the daily deals, but spend $50 instead of $150 a month for entertainment. Sometimes we just split a meal at a restaurant with no coupon at all, which actually means we spend less money than we typically spend with one of our discount vouchers.

Overall, we are spending about $125 a month by being less frugal. And I'm making an extra $100 a month. By taking that $225 a month and investing it in a Roth IRA account through a discount brokerage firm, I'm able to truly get ahead.

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