Frugal Fail

Some days, you just plain frugal fail.  It happens to all of us!  You start with the greatest of intentions, but slip ups happen.  It’s been one of those weeks for us.

The First Fail

My first frugal fail happened when I met an old friend for drinks.  We met at a local brewery to catch up, which seemed like a worthwhile expense to me since I hadn’t seen this person in about a year and we both share a love for good beer.  The first frugal fail of the night was not asking how much the beer was – they didn’t post prices but I just assumed they were the typical $5-$6 that most breweries were.  Wrong, the beers ended up being $7.  I also didn’t expect tax to be paid separately, typically in MN breweries will include tax in the price that they post, so if a beer is $5, you will pay $5.  When you include tax, the beer ended up being around $7.75.  Ouch, good thing it was especially good beer.  The next frugal fail was deciding to go for that second round.  We ended up staying at the brewery for a couple hours, so a second beer felt natural.  This was before I realized how expensive these drinks were.  At the end of the night, I walked out with $18.50 less to my name.

While I would never regret time spent in good company with good beers, I definitely could have frugalized this.  We could have met up at one of our houses to share some homemade brews.  Or I could have opted to only have one beer instead of an indulgent two.  Another option would have been to go to an equally awesome but more affordable brewery.  At least this reminded me that I need to ask about pricing if I’m uncertain, also that it is best for your wallet and your health to stick to one beer.

The Second Fail

The next frugal fail this week was – gasp – paying to go out to eat.  Frugal readers, I am truly ashamed of this one, but I promise you it was an accident.  It was a night where we had a family obligation that kept us from eating dinner until around 8:30.  We knew we would be tired and hangry by then, so we planned on using a gift card to go out to eat.  We also conveniently had a coupon for the same restaurant, so we could maximize the effectiveness of the gift card.  Well, we forgot the gift card at home and didn’t realize it until we got to the restaurant.  By that time, we were both totally ready to throw in the towel and ended up eating at the restaurant anyways.  Luckily we still had the coupon, which buffered the cost a bit, but we still threw down $30 on one meal.  Yikes.

Is the roughly 50 dollars extra spent this week going to derail our financial goals?  No, but it is a good reminder how quickly it all adds up.  What if we did this every week?  That would be a rough $200 a month, or $2400 a year out the door.  If you invested that money in a low fee index fund with a conservative expected return of 5% in the long run, that $200 a month would turn into $30,000+ over the course of ten years.  Interested how I found those numbers? Check out this handy calculator.  

When these setbacks happen, don’t get too hard on yourself.  Frugality is a lifelong mission and reaching your financial goals is going to require a long term commitment.  Use the slip ups as an opportunity to learn a lesson so that you don’t make the same mistake in the future.  I’d recommend taking some time to remember your financial goals, and use the calculator mentioned above as motivation.  Once you’ve done this, put the frugal fail behind you and keep moving forward.