Money Mirages: 6 Money-Saving Ideas That Are Anything But

Photo (cc) by warrenski

I remember the day not too long ago when I was at the gas station and watched a soccer mom topping off the tank of her bright yellow Hummer.

And when I say “topping off,” I mean really topping it off. She must’ve squeezed that hose handle a dozen times. Each time she did, the gas pump reacted with one of those obnoxious attention-getting retorts warning her that the tank was full…

Thunk. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Thunk. Thunk, thunk.

Oh, brother.

Maybe I’m being snooty, but I find that annoying, not to mention just a wee bit ignorant. Don’t you?

I mean, come on, people. How much extra fuel did that happy housewife think she was putting in the neck of her gas tank? I’m not a car mechanic, but I’m guessing it was less than a quarter gallon.

I bet she thinks all that extra fuel she stubbornly coaxed into her tank will allow her to go an extra day or two before having to come back to the service station for another fill-up of premium gasoline.

In reality, all of that commotion will probably get her little more than a measly mile or two of extended driving range, assuming she runs her tank bone dry.

Now, a couple miles might prove critical if she were traversing the breadth of the Sahara Desert, but I’m fairly certain this lady lives in Southern California, where there’s a gas station on every corner.

The truth is, a lot of folks unwittingly – and repeatedly – make misguided decisions based upon well-intentioned beliefs. Here are a few examples of common money mistakes people often make in the name of saving a few bucks…

1. Going to a restaurant and ordering the “daily special.” When a waiter comes up to your table and tells you all about the chef’s special, don’t ever assume that just because it’s a “special” it comes with a special low price too. Quite often, it’s the exact opposite – the chef’s special comes with a price that would ruin the appetite of even the most famished of diners.

2. Blindly sacrificing quality in favor of lower prices. Sometimes it makes absolutely no sense to pay extra for quality – like paying $300 or more for ultra-luxurious 1,500-thread-count bed sheets when good quality sheets can be had for $50 or less. Then again, sometimes it does. For example, it’s reasonable to pay extra for high-quality clothing that can be worn many times over several years, as opposed to buying cheaper alternatives that will fall apart after a couple of washings.

3. Buying items in bulk that should be bought in smaller quantities. Buying things in bulk can often result in significant savings, but the truth is, there are also plenty of items that are usually better off being bought in smaller quantities. For example, brown rice has a short shelf life due its oil content. Mayonnaise too. If an item you purchased in bulk goes bad before you can use all of it, the odds are you probably could have saved more money by buying it in a smaller quantity.

4. Always assuming larger-sized packages are cheaper. Nowadays, it’s no longer a given that products in bigger packages are always the best buy. When trying to choose between getting the smaller- or larger-sized item, be sure to check out the unit price of both packages first.

5. Thinking in terms of monthly payments when getting a car loan. Car dealers love to steer price negotiations toward how much money you can afford to pay on a monthly basis. After all, when it comes to negotiating the price of a new or used car, dealers can usually work out the financing such that you can afford just about any vehicle your heart desires. By increasing the loan repayment period, dealers can offer a monthly payment to fit most any budget. Of course, that means you’ll pay more interest over the life of the loan.

6. Driving out of your way to save a few cents on the price of gasoline. Awhile back, I did a complete gas mileage analysis that conclusively shows why driving even a couple miles out of your way to save a few cents per gallon can be a losing proposition. In fact, unless the price differential is significant, you’ll actually save money by buying your gasoline at a nearby station with the higher price – regardless of whether you’re the type that likes to top off your tank. Thunk.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths
8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths

Think you’re ready to buy a house? Don’t fall victim to these rookie mistakes.

Retirees Can Dodge Taxes on These 9 Types of Income
Retirees Can Dodge Taxes on These 9 Types of Income

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things
It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things

Sometimes, the difference in quality makes it worthwhile to open your wallet a little wider.

26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car
26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car

These tools and conveniences help protect drivers from hassles and calamities on the road.

How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month
How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month

In the gig economy, baby boomers are out-hustling their younger competition. You can cash in, too.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?
Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?

A growing number of people are wearing two masks instead of just one. Should you join them?

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.