Saving money may always seem like a good idea, but sometimes penny-pinching can be a costly mistake. There are many good frugal living tips and making modest lifestyle changes can save you money, but if you’re considering saving with one of the three methods below, take a little time to look at the big picture first.

  • Buying something because it’s on sale. Timing purchases to coincide with sales and using coupons are practical ways to save money, but buying an item just because it’s on sale may not be a good idea. Rather than fixating on the large sale sign, consider whether or not you need something before buying it. Even an inexpensive purchase is a waste of money if you won’t actually use the product.
  • Skipping health checkups. Missing regular dentist visits because of the bill or unpleasant experience may be a mistake. You can get a filling for small cavities, but left untreated you may need a costlier crown, root canal or tooth extraction. If you think something may be wrong with your general health, avoiding the doctor because of the cost of a checkup could be a costly mistake. A report commissioned by Cancer Research UK found that for some cancers, early diagnosis can significantly increase life expectancy and decrease treatment costs by as much as 75 percent. If the cost of seeing a doctor is prohibitive, you can look for a low-cost community health center that offers services on a sliding scale based on your income.
  • Missing recommended car maintenance. Just as preventive visits to the doctor can help keep your long-term healthcare costs down, regular car maintenance may save you money. Check your owner’s manual to see how often the manufacturer recommends that you change the filters, belts, oil and other liquids. An oil change may cost $25 to $50, but going too long without an oil change can decrease your engine’s life or lead to engine failure. To save money, look for coupons or learn how to change your vehicle’s oil at home rather than avoiding the small upfront cost of an oil change. You may also be able to save money on vehicle maintenance by learning how to change your air filter, fix a chipped windshield or change brake pads.

There are many great ways to save money, but sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. When considering ways to reduce expenses or increase savings, look for long-term wins. Think about whether or not you need something before buying it, regardless of its price, and weigh the benefit of making it harder to spend your savings. When it comes to your health and your possessions, remember that maintenance often costs less than repairs.

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