Frugal Fail. Lesson Learned.

We have been a one-car family for as long as we’ve been a family. Then last month, right before our road trip, we bought a new-to-us minivan.

We were going to sell our 2000 Camry, but hesitated. I mean, it would be convenient to have a second car, wouldn’t it? Even though both of us work from home.

You can see the slippery slope here, can’t you?

Well, in an effort to keep down our costs on this not-yet-convinced-we-need-it-or-can-afford-it second car, I called our insurance agent and asked about a reduced rate based on the fact that we would hardly be driving the car. Less than 5,000 miles a year.

Yup, there definitely is a discount. Great! Almost $70 every 6 months. Even better!

But wait, the agent needed to get an odometer reading before initiating the policy. No problem. I ran out to the garage to get the reading. I told him the mileage (nearly 130,000) and closed the door.

Or so I thought.

In actuality, I had just nudged the door almost closed, which meant that the overhead light was left on. For five days. Until we went to drive the not-yet-convinced-we-need-it-or-can-afford-it second car. Which of course wouldn’t start.

The towing company came out to jump us. This our insurance company paid for. The new battery, however, to the tune of $93, was on us.

And there you have it. Epic frugal fail. I wasted $93 by trying to save $70.

There is a light at the end of this majorly SNAFUd tunnel, however. Before I called the towing company, I googled them. (Actually, I swagbucked them.) And lo and behold, they had a $10 off any service coupon on their website. State Farm should be thanking me. I just saved them $10.

I also saved us $10 by swagbucking Firestone and printing off a new battery coupon. And I checked out the prices of batteries online, so when the guy quoted me $105, I knew I was being overcharged.

While this whole dead battery experience has been inordinately frustrating, it did teach me a valuable lesson, which I am glad to be able to share with all of you today: Don’t buy anything without first spending a few seconds looking online for a coupon.

Stay tuned for a post in the coming days about how to get free shipping, free rebates, and other free coupon codes for all your online (and offline) purchases.

In the meantime, make sure you shut your car doors tight.

P.S. I’m linking this post up to Life as Mom’s Frugal Friday carnival and a new carnival I just found out about today — Friday Fails at My Blessed Life. That’s pretty perfect for me, huh?


  1. Every time I read an entry of yours, I become more convinced that we are in fact twins separated at birth. We have had only one car since a few months after we moved here, because we both work from home here. We found that on the rare occasions we needed our second car, the battery was dead from non-use. I say ditch the car. In the 4 years we’ve had only one, we’ve rented a second for a day 2 or 3 times. This summer and last summer we got to have 2 cars bc our friends went to camp for the summer, and it was nice, but it’s truly not necessary.

    • Well, clearly there was something that attracted me to your blog 3 years ago, right? I still can’t get over that! We’re leaning toward your advice, but since the car was a gift from family, it’s complicated.

  2. You need a new battery when you leave the dome light on for five days? That’s pretty awesome to go that long without using the car, think how much money you saved there!

    • @Kimberly – Thanks for finding my blog! Yeah, my dad said the fact that the battery was totally dead probably means it would have died anyway this winter. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but hey, it makes me feel a smidge better.

  3. Ugh. I totally relate and can feel the icky feeling in my stomach that happens when I do stuff like this.

    • Yup! Very annoying! Glad to know (but sorry, too) that you can relate to the feeling — I have it when I lose stuff, too due to my own disorganization.

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