This is the third installment of my thoughts on spending. In the first part, I highlighted some incidents where it was good that I didn’t spend money, and in the second part, I discussed some incidents where it was good that I did spend money. Today I discuss some times when it was bad that I spent money.
An easy incident to highlight is Valentine’s Day. Marc and I spent $60 on a pre-Valentine’s Day lunch. Lunch alone is easier for us to arrange than dinner, so we often celebrate special occasions over lunch. Normally, I wouldn’t begrudge $60 or more on a good meal. But in this case, it was $60 we didn’t have to spend because my parents had given us a restaurant gift card for the holidays. I just didn’t keep track of how much I was ordering, and so we went $60 over the value of the gift card (including tax and tip). It pains me to think of how just a little more care could have saved us a bunch of money.
It also pains me to admit that I frequently throw out food we didn’t eat. This is largely because I’m not very good about menu planning anymore. (I used to be. I’m convinced that I will be again someday. But that day is not today.) Partly it’s because the boys leave me with plenty of leftovers. Partly it’s because I’m not a very good steward of leftovers and using them for subsequent meals. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that I regularly buy food that we don’t eat and end up throwing out. Right now, the fridge contains a bag of broccoli and some lettuce that I must toss in the garbage.
A final example is from a transaction I did at Walgreens last week. One of the free after rebate items this month is Revlon Creme Lip Gloss, which is $9.99 all month. There are $2 manufacturer coupons, which would have means you only have to pay $7.99 to get $9.99 back as a rebate. But last week, Revlon items were on sale for buy one, get one free – and this was a particularly good deal with the lip gloss, because it meant that you could use two coupons. So, I realized that I could swing by Walgreens on my way home from the dentist, pay $5.99, get $9.99 back, and make a $4 profit. And, I had a $6 Register Rewards coupon from buying a Gillette Fusion Gamer razor. But, the register considers Register Rewards to be manufacturer coupons, and the register requires that a customer purchase at least as many items as manufacturer coupons used.
In this case, I planned to use three manufacturer coupons (2 $2 off coupons and one Register Rewards), so I needed three items. I was thrilled that the store had the lip gloss in stock, so I grabbed two and picked up my usual “filler” item – a pack of Walgreens brand travel tissue, which is 29 cents and something I’ll use – then headed to the register. Where I realized that I had left my $6 Register Rewards coupon on my desk at home. Depending on how you look at it, my mistake cost me $6 or 29 cents plus tax (since I will still be able to use the Register Rewards coupon on another transaction). But this is a perfect example of how not planning ahead costs money.
I work so hard to save my family money that it’s painful to acknowledge the ways in which I waste it. But mistakes are inevitable. I just need make sure I keep them to a minimum!