Breaking The Rules of Frugality To Save Money


frugal living, breaking rules, frugality

Take good care of your possessions, and repair them when they begin to show wear. Delay the purchase of new things, by making the things you have last as long as possible. The longer something lasts, the more value you get from it. These are the basic fundamentals of frugality and saving money. One could even call them frugality rules.

But rules are meant to be broken, right?

My wife has a wall hanging that includes tea light candle holders. She likes to use battery operated candles in it because she usually wants it lit during gatherings at our home and actual tea light candles don’t last very long.  After over a year of use, the batteries in her candles had wore out, so while shopping at a local craft store we were also on the lookout for new batteries.

We found them at the checkout counter, a package of two batteries costing $4.99. Needing six batteries I quickly did the math and came the the conclusion that new batteries would cost about $15. I scrunched my face with disapproval, thinking that was waaaaay expensive just to get six little candles lit up again.

Then I noticed that they had packages of the actual battery operated candles (complete with batteries!) on display nearby. I shook my head as I read the price tag: $6.99. Replacing the batteries on the candles we already owned would be DOUBLE the cost of just buying new candles.




The only justification I could come up with was that the batteries already installed in the candles were inferior to the new brand name batteries. But honestly, the batteries in the original set of candles lasted over a year. There’s no guarantee that the $15 batteries would last long enough to make up for the cost difference.

I broke one of the basic fibers of being frugal, and still saved money. Sometimes rules can be used as a guide to help you achieve your goals. But true success is being able to recognize when you dump the rules and think outside the box.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Have you ever encountered a situation where buying new was actually cheaper than repairing something you already had? How much did you save?

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Aren’t actual tea light candles insanely cheap if you buy them bulk? I seem to recall buying a ton of them at Cash & Carry and not even thinking about the price, it was that low.

  • I find this is almost always the case with small kitchen appliances, toaster, blender, mixer, coffee maker, etc. Unless you have a particularly high end one, it is cheaper to just buy a new one than even getting one looked at, let alone fixed, and that’s if you can find a general repairman anymore.

    And the times I’ve opened something up to try and fix it myself (or talked the boyfriend into it), it has most often been a plastic part that has broken, and the parts are never sold separately, making it pretty much impossible to repair.

  • Wow, I just bought a pack of those batteries for my digital kitchen scale. Now I’m going to look for packs of tea lights and steal the batteries.

  • My rule for frugality is to buy the best one possible so it may last longer. I wanted to repair the sole of these shoes I’ve had for a couple years. Went to the shoe repair shop and the cost to repaid the sole was more than the sale price of a similar one at Macy’s. So I chose to buy new.

  • @No – Yes, they are really cheap….BUT then you have to worry about an open flame, and replacing them if they burn out (which doesn’t take very long). With the battery operated ones, you’re almost guaranteed they’ll last the whole event, with no fire hazard.

  • @Jason – Durability is definitely something we consider as well….in this case since we have no idea how long the stand alone batteries would last, we went with the entire candle product. We’ll see how long these last ! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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