Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pound Wise, Penny Foolish

It seems it's that time of year again where my pet peeve is really being peeved.  Yes, I can save a ton of money by combining deals at the store, or entering sweepstakes and contests CONSISTANTLY (like 400 or more  a day)  all year long.  (To put that in perspective, that 400 equals 146,000 giveaways entered each year.)  Yes, I won a Wii a few years ago, but that doesn't mean that 4 weeks before Christmas you can tell me you want to win a Wii before Christmas to give to someone.  (I've won one since they came out.  Yes, I still enter for them because I have someone I had wanted to give one to.)

Just because I refuse to pay more than 25 cents for a tube of toothpaste doesn't mean I can get you your dream vacation free.  Although, my mother and I did a get away in March and spent a total of $20 for an overnight trip.  I had a gas card I had won to pay for the gas used.  Then we used gift cards to eat out, hotel reward points we earned from a credit card for the motel.  In March 2009 we went to Williamsburg for a few days and got a hotel room for $60 for four nights -- or $15 a night.  Notice this is the off season for Williamsburg.  (It was miserable, too, by the way.  Cold and rainy!)

I called this post "Pound Wise, Penny Foolish".  The saying "Penny Wise, Pound Foolish" basically means you pinch pennies in small things, but don't care in the big picture.  For instance, say you decide to "save" money by deciding to cut out buying toothbrushes and toothpaste.  That might save a little now (if you don't shop like I do and get these free anyway) but in the long run you'll be spending MUCH more on dental bills.  (Not to mention having bad breath all the time!)

But think about how you shop.  For instance, let's say you regularly buy toothbrushes that, say,cost $5.29 each.  (See yesterday's post.)  Toothbrushes can often be "bought" free with no combining of coupons, just watching for deals where you receive dollars back at the register good at that store.  If you change your toothbrush when recommened (every 3 months), and if you have a family of four, that's almost $85 a year saved on toothbrushes.  It doesn't seem like a toothbrush can add up to almost $100 a year, but you can see where it can, and that's one reason I do shop like I do. 

We haven't bought coffee since 2008.  Granted, we're not huge coffee drinkers, but I've gotten a lot free over the years, and we almost never buy coffee out.  A $5 cup of coffeee will cost you $100 a month if you stop 20 times (every weekday) to buy one.  That's $1200 a year, and if you have done this since Jan 1, 2008, you have spent almost $3600 on coffee.

One big splurge I had last year was a trip to Russia.  I have friends who work with a church there, and as soon as they got the assignment to Russia, I planned on visiting them.  I had 4 years to save for this trip, and it took me all four years to save $1300.  (See, I don't have extra expenses that I can easily cut out like a $5 daily cup of coffee.)  Even at needing to save $325 a year for this trip, it was hard for me to save that much because I am "penny wise".  In the end, it was worth it.  I spent 2 weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia.  I stayed with my friends, and we ate at home as well as occassionally eatting out.  I had to very much plan ahead for this trip, and it wasn't something I could start thinking about a few months before I wanted to leave.

Bottom line is, save on the small things.  If you've been spending money on the small things, try to put it away for the 'big ticket' items.  Don't think you should look for bargains ONLY on cars, vacations, electronics, etc.  Savings begins with the small things, even if it's turning out lights when you leave a room.

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