My husband likes to remind me that there's frugal and then there's foolish. It's hard to tell the difference because companies and products want to market themselves, so they claim that they are essential. However, there are foolish ways to be frugal, and many of them end up costing more money in the long run. Take a look at where I've learned not to cut costs.
Investments such as a new roof, a new furnace, or new windows aren't the place to save money. Inexperienced contractors offer price quotes that can't be beat, and there's a reason; you're paying for their mistakes.
One Pennsylvania woman saved two thousand dollars on a new roof by going with someone who would do it 'on the side.' After the roofer was paid and work began, she learned that disposal of the old roof was not included. She ended up renting a dumpster herself, cleaning up the area surrounding the house where the old shingles had simply been thrown off the roof, and paying the dumping fees. In addition to that, there was no guarantee, and she ended up replacing the roof within ten years.
Windows are another area to spend the money for a professional. Have the professional measure the windows accurately and custom order the exact size that you need. Windows are the number one place for draft leaks in a home, and poorly installed windows can cost hundreds of dollars worth of fuel down the road.
The professionals offer guarantees on both workmanship and products. It's worth the money for long term projects.
It's easy to skip some routine maintenance around the home in order to save a few dollars, but it's not always wise. While skipping a carpet cleaning one year isn't a problem, ignoring an oil burner is. Oil burners need to be cleaned regularly and filters need to be replaced. If not, they can 'back up' risking the health of everyone in the home and damaging everything inside of it. Even the newest burner gets dirty, and all furnaces, regardless of the type, need to be cleaned regularly.
Similarly, central air units and window air conditioners need to have filters replaced, cleaned, and maintained in order to work at their peak efficiency and to guarantee the health of everyone inside.
Car maintenance is important as well. Basic needs such as regular oil changes and replacing air filters can extend the life of car. Cars which run on low oil risk permanent damage which can be the costliest of them all. Have tires rotated and fluid levels checked regularly, or better yet, learn to do it yourself and save twice.
Insurance is costly, whether it's life insurance or car insurance. However, both are essential. Without insurance, a home can be completely lost without a penny's reimbursement. Even if it's a basic policy plan, invest in home insurance. Similarly, purchase life insurance for each member in the family simply to cover funeral costs. Funeral homes demand immediate payment in the thousands, and not everyone has the arrangements prepaid.
There are ways to save in each of these areas, and the budget savvy consumer can find them. However, these are not the areas to find simple savings solutions. Buy generic cans of vegetables, shop in thrift stores, and cut coupons, but don't skimp in the areas that count.
Would like to add that you can learn how to maintain things in your home. My mother learned how to take care of her heating system by watching the Public Service repairmen over the years and asking lots of questions. She kept it going for 50 years, until her death! A few years before she died, she had a great compliment when the Public Serviceman came and said, "Someone has been taking very good care of this furnace!" It was HER.
Good advice -- many people find out these things after it's too late. The old adage "If it sounds too good to be true,..." is accurate. And, one reason to always get lien waivers from anyone who has worked on your house -- it states that they've been paid in full. Great protection.
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