Recently I bought some hot dog buns to eat with a pack of smoked sausages I cooked one night. But there were only four sausages, and obviously eight hot dog buns. I was feeling particularly stubborn that week and didn’t want them to languish in the freezer until I finally decided to throw them away (as usually happens with extra hot dog buns), so I decided to buy some hot dogs. I’ve been trying to buy the more “natural” version of some things lately and so sprung for the more expensive Applegate Farms hot dogs (for which I at least had a coupon). I made chili one night and sent us each with 2 chili dogs for lunch the next day, thus using up the hot dog buns…but leaving me with two hot dogs. And thus a phrase was born: the frugal fallacy.

For those not up on their logic terms, a fallacy is a mistaken belief, especially one based on an unsound argument, or a failure in reasoning that renders an argument invalid. I think my frugal failure was the second. I wanted not to waste food, so I bought more food to use the first food up. And the second food cost more than the value of the remnants of the first food. Invalid.

Now, since we have to eat, it was definitely not a total waste to have bought the hot dogs. And, we enjoyed them! But I just thought it was mildly amusing when I realized that, by wanting to be frugal and use food up, I had spent more.

Another example I could see of a frugal fallacy would be buying something just because you have a coupon for it (which I’ll admit, I’ve sometimes been guilty of), or driving out of your way to get a deal (using extra time and gas in the process).

What do you think? Do you think the frugal fallacy is a real phenomenon? Have you been guilty of this particular lapse in logic?

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman