Have you ever done something that you weren’t exactly proud of in the name of saving money?
I’m not talking about anything illegal here. Bank robberies and embezzlement are clearly wrong.
But sometimes we find ourselves doing things that aren’t 100 percent honest to save a few bucks.
Today I’m going to share a story of a time I did something that I wasn’t exactly proud of to save money, and I’m also going to out a few of my fellow bloggers for their own frugal fails.
My Embarrassing Saving Money Story
It was the dead of August and we were right in the middle of a blistering heat wave. Temperatures were in the upper nineties and we even hit one hundred degrees a few times.
Of course, this was the perfect time for our central air conditioner to die.
We scrambled to get a couple of repairmen to take a look and they all agreed that our air conditioner was done.
Even worse, they wouldn’t be able to come back and install a new one for a week.
We toughed it out the first night but it wasn’t pleasant. The ceiling fans helped but there’s only so much they can do when the heat is that overwhelming.
When we woke up the next day the house felt like an oven and the sun baked us all morning and afternoon.
We were covered in sweat and as I looked at the dog laying on the floor next to me I could see she was straining to breath. I was seriously worried about her health (not to mention the rest of us!) and knew we had to do something.
I called around to friends to see if anyone had an extra window air conditioner we could borrow but most have central air and the ones who did have window units were using them.
My sister offered to let us stay with her but she had no room to fit us all and we would have had to leave the dog home alone because my brother-in-law is painfully allergic. It just wasn’t going to work…especially for a week.
So Jeri and I decided we needed to buy a couple of window air conditioners. One for our bedroom so we could get a good night’s sleep, and one for the family room so we could be comfortable during the day. The kids could camp out downstairs in the family room and be comfortable at night too.
But we needed to get some good sized air conditioners and they don’t come cheap. We were looking at several hundred dollars for no-name brand units.
Considering we were already dropping almost $5,000 on the central air conditioning and we have credit card debt too, I wasn’t crazy about spending another $300-$500 on something I only needed for one week.
Then I thought of my favorite store: Costco. They have a very generous return policy and have a reputation for taking back almost anything.
So we decided to pick up two air conditioners at Costco knowing we were going to return them just a few days later.
We brought home the ACs and I opened them as carefully as possible so they wouldn’t be scratched or damaged. An hour later the temperature inside had already dropped several degrees and we were a lot more comfortable.
Once our central air conditioning was up and running I carefully packed up the window units and returned them to Costco for a full refund. The woman at customer service asked if they were broken and I said “Nope, I just don’t need them anymore.”
I didn’t lie or make up a story about why I was returning them. And I did take them back in perfect condition so they could easily resell them to someone else.
Still, my conscience tugged at me and I knew was taking advantage of Costco’s return policy a little.
Embarrassing Money Stories From Other Bloggers
I’m not the only one with a funny money story. I asked a few of my blogger friends to share their experiences too:
ForeignBornMD had some epic fails while trying to save money on sporting equipment:
Our local used kids consignment store had a big sale for baseball pants ($1/pair!). Unfortunately, the only size left was 2-3 sizes too big for my youngest son. I bought it anyway and tried to hem the length and waist – he wore it one time and looked like a clown! I tried to make him use a t-ball bat we found at a yard sale – didn’t know there was a difference. “Mom! This is so embarrassing – the coach said this bat is for little kids and I can’t use it”
Slow Dad from Some Things Don’t Change brings new meaning to the term “re-gifting”:
Many years ago my brother gave me a really bad paperback book for my birthday. I couldn’t finish it, it was that bad. So for his birthday I wrapped it up and gave it back to him. He returned the favor that Christmas. This has been going on, backwards and forwards, for nearly 20 years now. I found out recently that he didn’t even buy the book to begin with, he found it left behind on the bus.
Olivia from Birds of a FIRE almost DIED because of her refusal to buy a pair of snow pants!
Ms 99to1percent learns what happens when you keep too little in your checking amount:
In order to save the maximum money possible, we keep very little money in our checking accounts so we don’t spend/waste it. So, one day, I went to some grocery store, bought very few things for $20, and my card got declined because of insufficient funds!!! Hubby’s card also got declined one time at a Dollar store for like $2. So embarrassing!
CashFlowCat may or not be guilty of swiping free soda from McDonalds. Thankfully for her those records are permanently sealed.
Mr JumpStart used a Christmas gift exchange to put some extra cash back in his own pocket:
Recently I was buying gift cards at a local restaurant for a $25 limit Christmas gift exchange. They had a deal where you got $5 extra for each $25 purchase. The restaurant would give me $30 in gift cards ($25 cards with separate $5 bonus cards). I used the $25 cards for the gift exchange, and kept the $5 cards for my own use.
Jason from Winning Personal Finance spends way too much time looking for the perfect coupons:
I often spend time trying to find a coupon code or cash back for an inexpensive item I’m buying online. Sometimes I look back on it an realize that I spent 30 minutes trying to save 10% off of a $20 item. The math of that works out to be about $4 an hour. Having an extra $2 is nice…but if I used all my time to save/earn that hourly rate, I’d be in big trouble. The worst part, I’m not always successful and sometimes just waste the time without getting an additional discount.
Rybo from Hard Come, Easy Go had no qualms about bumming from his classmates:
I bummed dimes from other kids in high school to pay for my lunches so I could use my lunch money for gas. Nobody cared about a stupid dime, so it was easy to do. Not ethical, I know. I shake my head now when I think about it.
Do you have any embarrassing money moments or times when your frugality overrode your better judgement? If so, drop them in the comments section below.