"I'd like to live like a poor man with lots of money. " - Pablo Picasso

When Trying to Save Money Can Cost You

By , May 4th, 2008 | 9 Comments »

sale price

The other day my husband and I went to a specific grocery store that we don’t normally shop at to pick up some ice-cream that was on sale. Normally this particular kind of ice-cream (my husband’s absolute favorite) is at least $4 for a half gallon — and that’s on sale. But this particular week it was on sale for only $2.44 for a half gallon at this particular store. We went into the store and in addition to buying the ice-cream, we each picked up a small bottle of soda as a little treat. When we walked out of the store spending almost $8, I wondered why we even went out of our way to pick up the ice-cream at the sale price since we ended up paying almost the normal amount because we picked up extra stuff! That’s when I realized that there are a few ways that trying to save money can cost you more in the end if you are not careful and disciplined.

The checkout aisle at any store is your worst enemy. Why do you think they put all those tempting goodies right next to where you have to wait in line? I’ll admit that these often get me. I get bored and start looking at a magazine and then I’ll want to buy it. Or I’ll pick up a snack if I’m hungry and my husband always wants an energy drink from one of those coolers near the checkout. And then there is gum — I always seem to remember that I’m out of gum when I’m looking at the display (not to mention that I like to try the new flavors). I hate it because a couple of items later, our grocery bill goes up by $5, which doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up over time, especially if you make more than one trip to the grocery store in a week.

The specific store you choose to go to because their prices are lower may also be costing you more. How can that be? While many of their items may be priced below other grocery stores’ regularly priced items, they are usually priced higher than other stores’ sale prices. So you could actually save more money by shopping for sale items at the more expensive store than by buying regular price items at the less expensive store. I’ve also noticed that when I get to a more expensive store for sale price items I usually only buy the items I came for because everything else is so expensive. At a lower price store, I’m more likely to pick up extra items that I don’t need because they don’t cost very much. Thus at the end of a shopping trip at either store, I am more likely to have spent more at the inexpensive store than at the expensive one that has sale prices.

Not only that, but the inexpensive stores tend to be further away from my house, thus I end up having to use more gas to shop at a cheaper store. This can nullify my savings quickly with today’s gas prices the way they are. This also pertains to driving out of your way to find the least expensive gas station, thus using more gas in an attempt to save money on gas. It doesn’t make much sense, but I admit that I’ve done it in the past. The amount I actually pay for a tank of gas seems to register more in my head than the specific amount of gas I’m using to go somewhere, so it can actually seem logical if I’m not careful. And while you’re at the cheapest gas station saving money on your purchase, you can blow it by going inside the convenience store to pick up snacks. Saved $5 on gas, spend $6 on candy and soda. And the gas stations hope it happens that way.

Surprisingly, coupons can also cost you extra money if you’re not careful. I’ve fallen victim to the “Spend $50, get $10 off” coupon. If I find what I want to buy and it only costs $35 then I’ll be running around looking for something that costs $15 so I can get $10 off. After all, that $15 item will really only cost me $5, but that’s $5 too much when I didn’t even need or really want the item in the first place. And when grocery shopping, I’ll sometimes pick up the name brand item because I have a coupon, when the generic brand without a coupon would have been cheaper. Or worse — I didn’t even need the item and only bought it because I had a coupon. It’s usually because I didn’t want to waste my coupon — but instead I end up wasting my money.

Another way you can end up spending more when you are trying to save is by buying a cheaper product and then having to replace it soon after because it broke. Usually when this happens you end up getting the better quality one after all because you don’t want to replace the item once again. I’m not advocating buying the most expensive option of everything you buy, but do consider the quality of what you are buying and how often you plan on using that specific thing. If you plan on having that item for a long time, then you might want to spend a little more for something that will last you longer. This could be true for a variety of items, including appliances, cars, clothing/shoes, and many others.

Saving money doesn’t have to cost you more if you are smart (and most importantly, disciplined). It’s easy to write off those small extra purchases, but if you are really trying to spend less and conserve your money, you have to be aware that those extra purchases can add up and make your saving efforts seem insignificant. So next time you reach for that candy bar or magazine at the checkout counter, think of how many coupons and savings you are nullifying by making that one purchase. It might just help you make the decision to say no.

Image courtesy of Ol.v!er [H2vPk]

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  • appfunds says:

    I just stick to my shopping list.

  • shawna says:

    the point you made about coupons costing you extra – I so do that! And I also justify it the same way – that the $15 item will only really cost $5. Maybe I’ll learn better one of these days 🙂

  • Trent Hamm says:

    I agree with appfunds. Coupons can help, but write the grocery list first and only get stuff that appears on the list.

  • Aryn says:

    I only bring the coupons for the products I need. I also compare the unit price, with coupon deducted, when comparing prices. And, of course, stick to the list! If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the cart.

  • hi there! i just “stumbled” here and wanted to say you have a great blog! thanks for the tips and advice. 🙂

  • fractalbrothers says:

    the glass half full argument would be that you got the cokes for free.

  • Jay Corn says:

    I have been saving money for years on everything from cereal, diapers, tissues, razors, cleaning needs to kids suff and home needs by planning my needs over the next 6 months and watching bargain hunting to stock up for 6 months as soon as the deal appears.

  • Nancy says:

    I too fall victim to the “Spend $50, get $10 off” because what happens is that you end up spending more money than you should, and end up not saving at all. You will start buyin things you don’t need just to save $10. Here’s a better idea, don’t spend $50, keep it for yourself.

  • Aphossa says:

    Next advice:

    Just do not buy the all items from the list and wait a couple of days.


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