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1 Aug 2008

Wow! You saved more than you spent!

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by Jesse Mecham

Last week I stopped by the grocery store on my way home from work with the specific task of buying some things that we needed, which also happened to be low-price-leaders for the week. Armed with my “club card” and with an iron will to only buy the true bargains that we truly needed, I entered the store like a man with a mission.

Attack! . . . Dodge! . . . Swerve! . . . Attack again!

I quickly and systematically went to those parts of the store with the best deals (that I also needed). I grabbed 10 lbs of Nectarines for $1 a pound. Then I went for the tomatoes, but as I was loading up the bag I realized that the 10 lbs for $10 was exactly that – if you buy anything less you pay $3.27 per pound! Sneaky little devils.

But I couldn’t use 10 lbs of tomatoes, so they didn’t get me – I swerved just in time. Next, on to the roast for $1.49 per pound . . . you get the picture. A couple times they almost got me, but each time I escaped. I felt pretty proud of myself on the way to the register.

You see, I only enter that particular store when on this kind of mission, and I never buy the other outrageously priced stuff while I am there. I try to beat them at their game, and I felt like I had.

The funniest comment I have heard in a while

So the lady at the register rings it all up and tells me it comes to $30.47. Then, as she looks at the receipt she proclaims, “Wow! You saved more than you spent! Great job!” She said it in all sincerity and with a look of true amazement in her eyes. As I walked away I looked at the receipt and, sure enough, it said that I had spent $30.47 and saved $44.89.

Does anyone else find that comment as funny as I do?

I didn’t save more than I spent! I spent! I spent wisely, but I still spent. I have always found it funny how these stores put the “savings” at the bottom of the receipt. Do they think that I would have spent $2.98 per pound on their nectarines if they hadn’t been on sale? I wouldn’t have, and so I didn’t “save” all the money that they indicated. I spent what I had planned to.

They could have just as easily said that the nectarines usually sell for $15 per pound and I “saved” $140 on the nectarines alone! What a joke. But the funniest part to me was the lady’s sincere awe that I had just saved more than I had spent. I laughed about it most of the way home. (I know, this is the kind of thing that only members of the ABA (Addicted Budgeters Anonymous) would find funny – it’s a warped world that we live in).

So . . . what’s the point?

I cannot count the number of times that I have listened to people tell me about the incredible deal that they just got on _________. As I listen, it almost always becomes apparent to me that _________ was something that they never intended to buy when they went to the store. That’s not a great deal. That’s you getting duped out of your hard earned money, buying something that you never intended to buy.

I don’t care if ________ normally costs $100 and you just got it for $25 – you just spent $25! You didn’t save $75, you spent $25. (The exceptions to this would be, 1. You turn around and sell it for more than $25 or, 2. you were already in the market for this item and needed to buy it and found a great deal. In these two cases you actually saved/made some money).

So, the next time that someone is trying to convince you of the great deal that is being offered – of all the money that you are “saving” – stop and think. Does spending = saving? Usually not.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)


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