4 Home Essentials You Shouldn’t Skimp On

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Refraining from overspending allows us to focus our money in areas such as our children’s education, charity, and our own futures. Being economical also affords more opportunity for comfort and stability, without the ups and downs of a hand-to-mouth or paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.

The typical American household has a little less than $13,000 annually in discretionary spending, which represents 28 percent of a household’s total spending, according to an Experian report. Some income groups spend more than others on items like entertainment, shopping, and dining out, but in total, we spent a combined estimated $1.5 trillion in 2011.

Source: Experian

Frugal habits like buying an affordable house, driving a modest car, resisting impulse buying, and avoiding paying full price will only increase our discretionary income. Maintaining a mindset that involves protecting and valuing our money and ourselves is, of course, a plus.

Being frugal is a good thing, but sometimes it goes too far. On the website Poverty Living, an author cites instances in which people take frugality to the extreme. These are the types of things you may see on the TLC show Extreme Cheapskates. Here are a few examples from the site and the TLC show:

  • Using reusable cloth instead of toilet paper
  • Eating expired or half-eaten foods to avoid high grocery bills
  • Reusing dirty undergarments to avoid washing them
  • Having several family members take turns bathing in the same bath water to save on water bills
  • Haggling every store clerk and vendor you come into contact with
  • Washing dishes in a child’s kiddie pool, using the same water the children played in to save water

These actions cross the boundary line between frugal and counterintuitive. Considering the unsanitary nature of many of these activities, you may catch a viral or bacterial illness, with resulting medical costs much higher than the few dollars you may save.

Being economical is generally productive when it’s not taken to the extreme. There are, however, some purchases we make where being too frugal may cause problems later on. These are items that shelling out a little extra cash now will save you aggravation, time or money in the future.

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