12 Frugal Things That Are Not Worth The Effort

There’s nothing wrong with peso-pinching here and there. In fact, we urge it. It gives you some extra cash to save or an additional budget which you can allocate to cover other expenses. However there are times when peso-pinching can do more harm than good.

Here are 12 instances when being too frugal can backfire:

1. Buying a second-hand car vs a new one

The general rule is, unless you can’t afford a brand new model, stay away from used cars. Sure it sounds like a bargain, and you’ve checked the mileage and did a test run. But an older car breaks down faster, and you’ll be keeping up with maintenance costs sooner. Problems may (and they usually do) crop up after using it for a while which you may have missed during your test drive. And former owners may neglect to tell you the car’s been flooded (that’s why they’re selling it!). Unless you know about cars or have a trusted mechanics to verify things for you, it’s always better to stick to brand new vehicle, especially when they come with warranties.

Quick tips
You can get better deals when you wait for promos. Dealers often offer huge discounts during Christmas season.

2. Going for generic antibiotics

It’s tempting to buy generic, but save those for your maintenance meds. The doctor prescribed those for you because they were tested to work best. But you’ll end up spending more if you insist on buying generics now and later on find out that you’re still sick. Value your health more, and don’t be penny wise, pound foolish in this situation.

Quick tips
Ask your doctor if there is a cheaper brand for the medicine that will work just as well.

3. Playing doctor

Playing doctor is equally destructive. A common cold can be pneumonia brewing. Listen to your body when it tells you it’s time to seek professional help. It is always cheaper to cure diseases while it’s still in the initial stages. The worst thing you could do is to ‘google’ your symptoms and administer treatment without seeking a doctor’s advice.

Quick tips
If you don’t have health insurance, go get one. Health maintenance organizations offer affordable plans that can save you thousands in hospital bills. You can check out individual plans available here.

4. Cutting corners in home-building

Your safety is paramount. We live in a typhoon path where an average of 20 storms per year batter homes on every corner of the archipelago. You want your home to be your family’s sanctuary when this happens. And for that you need a good solid foundation with strong walls and roofs.

Quick tips
Save on interior instead. You can refurbish old furniture, and update fixtures. Old (sturdy) plywood can be made brand new with some paint.

5. Do-It-Yourself: plumbing and electricity

DIY projects are excellent money saving alternatives. However, there are cases which calls for professionals, such as wiring electricity and installing plumbing around your home. Call for licensed plumbers and electricians instead of having to DIY. Leaking pipes will add unnecessarily to your monthly water bill and poor wiring can cause fire.

Quick tips
To ensure you don’t get rip-off, do your homework by getting a few quotations from different people, and compare prices. Choose the one that gives you the most value for your money.

6. Doing away with extra leg room (and food) for long haul flights

While budget airlines are perfect for short flights that last from a few minutes to an hour or two, you may want to consider paying extra for a 15-hour long flight. You’ll probably sleep half the time. But the other half will be spent eating, going to the comfort room, reading or chatting with your seatmate. And you wouldn’t want to be cramped in your seat (and starving!).

Quick tips
Make sure to also check flights from international airlines. They sometimes offer promos and slash rates that end up cheaper than budget airlines.

7. Choosing connecting flights vs continuous

If you can get a continuous flight especially for overseas travel, then take it. This reduces the chance of losing your baggage, especially if you’re transferring to a different airline. You also don’t have to worry about missing your next flight if the previous one gets delayed or cancelled.

Having to rebook particularly when you purchased a flight without that option, can cost you thousands of pesos.

Quick tips
Rack up on frequent flyer points to get free trips! If you have no choice but to take a connecting flight, then spent a little bit more on travel insurance to protect yourself.

8. Scrimping on accommodations at shifty locations

While it’s fine to look for cheaper alternatives in big cities, it is better to invest in better accommodations when going to remote locations. If possible, settle for 3-star accommodation at the minimum. You don’t want to gamble with your security.

Quick tips
If using Airbnb, make sure to read through the comments section. A complaint about the neighborhood should be a red flag. If staying at a questionable hotel, ask if it is possible to inspect the room first. Check if the locks are working on both door and windows.

9. Buying cheap shoes

A P500 pair can disintegrate when it rains (mine did — like it was made of paper!). A good pair of shoes protects your feet from the elements and saves you from blisters whenever you want to walk to save on transportation costs. And it will last for years. Shoes you buy for P3,000 which serves you for ten years will still come out cheaper than buying one for P500 every year for ten years!

Quick tips
Wait for end of season sales to get quality shoes for less.

10. Taking public transport or walking for late night trips

If you find yourself having to travel past midnight, opt to take a cab. Always take your safety into account. While cabs may not be safer than taking the bus when you consider the risk, services such as GrabTaxi, GrabCar and Uber will afford you an extra layer of protection. These services gives you access to valuable information such as the name of your driver, the vehicle’s plate number which you can forward to your family or authorities in case of an incident.

Quick tips
Watch out for promos and freebies to get discounts and free rides.

11. Cutting back on food

Save on everything else but food. Having said that, what we really mean is, don’t cut back on the quality of the food. If there’s anything to reward yourself with your hard-earned money, the first on your list should be food. However, when people try to save, the first thing they cut back on is food. You can cut back on expensive food, but don’t give up on healthy food and opt for instant noodles just to save money. You need nourishment to be able to work and earn more money — which means, buying food is a good investment.

Quick tips
If you really want to save on food, cook your own meals instead of eating out. It will save you hundreds of pesos per day.

12. Holding off to buy a new fridge (or new appliances for that matter)

If your fridge or TV is reaching its 20th birthday, you may want to consider buying a new one. New appliances are built to be energy efficient. This can save you thousands on your electric bill in the long-run.

Quick tips
Wait for the holidays to get great deals and huge discounts. When paying for appliances with your credit card, always ask if they have 0% interest option.


The first thing to consider is whether you can afford that extra stretch of luxury. And if you do, never take your safety and long-term savings for granted in exchange for a couple of pesos which are definitely, not worth the effort.

When is saving bad for you? Find out here!

Marc Adrian: