This post really got me thinking earlier this week. In his blog post Cheap Things You Never Use Are No Bargain, J.D. Roth talks about how he’s paid a lot of money trying to lose weight:

As you know, I’ve struggled with both diet and exercise for decades. I’ve had success now and then, but mostly I’ve failed. And I’ve spent a lot of money to fail. I’ve purchased weights and DVDs and exercise balls and gym memberships and fitness machines and fancy shoes and, well, a lot of Stuff. Most of this has been a waste of money. Why? Because I never use it.

Eventually he figured out that buying all these things weren’t helping him lose weight at all. So he tried something else:

… [I]nstead of buying new Stuff, I started finding exercise equipment for free (or cheap). For example, when my neighbors decided to simply give away their exercise bike, I took it. And when they gave away their other exercise equipment, I took that too. But you know what? I saved money, sure, but I was just as fat and sedentary as I always was — and now I had a lot more exercise equipment taking up space around the house. Free Stuff is still Stuff.

He ended up finding a gym that helped him lose weight and keep it off. The catch? This gym is $200 a month. Some might say that this is a ridiculous amount, but it works for J.D. and he’s lost 35 pounds because of it. He says it makes the $200 worth it. And since he can afford it, and is actually getting results by making this investment, he sees it as frugal.

I agree with him and his final decision. It’s quite common to opt for cheaper alternatives and a lot of the times these cheaper alternatives end up costing more in the end. To me it all boils down to mindful spending. I think it all ties together.

A simple example: I decide I need an eyeliner. I purchase a very cheap eyeliner for $2 that does not last so I keep reapplying it and going through it quickly. So I go back and purchase another eyeliner, this one a little more expensive at $5. It lasts two hours more than the last one, but is not as long-lasting as I hoped so I keep reapplying that one as well. So I go back and purchase one for $10 that lasts all day and doesn’t need to be reapplied. In the end I spent $17 when I could have just spent $10. I lost money, time, and I created more clutter storing all these items that I never used or didn’t work.

I’ve applied the above example to other things I’ve ended up losing money on: candles that don’t smell, shoes that don’t last, pens that give out after three uses, fake jewelry that goes bad after a couple of uses, and many many many more. At the time I’m saving money by going for the cheapest option, but in the long run that money goes to waste. Instead of making small investments I wasn’t mindful with my spending.

I think this is a tough lesson to learn. I compare it to breaking a bad habit. I’m the type of person constantly on the lookout for sales, saving an extra dollar, and trying to make the right choice when I shop, but I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes I have to get past that initial hesitation and consider making an investment that won’t end up costing me money or time in the long run. And that’s an investment worth making every time.