Feb 25, 2009

Recent incidents where I spent some money and it was bad

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!


Anonymous said...

I don't think you are doing any worse than I am lately! Menu planning has also gone out the window for me. I lost the habit when I was really sick, and I'm still a little uncertain about eating lots of foods - but I'm trying to get back in the habit.

It's just a good reminder that we have to keep reassessing what we are doing. Just because something works well (or you do it well) at one time doesn't mean it will be that way in the future. So thanks for that.



Christina said...

I can relate! I have three picky eaters and sometimes leftovers disappear into the back of the fridge until it is too late... and I buy fruits and veggies all the time, and then get busy and forget to process them (and eat them). It's something that I have to work on.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I completely relate to being annoyed at throwing away food. That's an pet peeve that has always nipped at my heels.

I've always wondered if it's because we have a family of 2 1/2 and all the recipes are made for a family of 4. But then I realize we're just too spoiled - "oh I don't want to eat the same thing as yesterday, let's order out".

With the economy in its current state, it's just not tenable for us to be that way. If you figure out any tips and hints, by all means, pass them along!

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

One thing that's helped us with food waste is our small fridge. When I remodeled our kitchen, I replaced our old standard-size fridge with a 10cu ft model from Vestfrost. It's small, so I have to keep track of things or there won't be room for milk & eggs.

I also have a regular leftovers night where I pull all the leftovers from the previous few days and the family gets to choose their meal (like the scene in The Incredibles:-).

I love that you spent money on the beauty tools you enjoy--the right razor, the good haircut, it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea for that bag of broccoli...

I've found that if I set cut veggies out on the table before dinner while I am cooking, the boys, who are whiny and hungry, often will snack at it, even if they may not normally do it. Follows the same theory as they use at the daycare -- veggies first, then main entree, then yogurt, then fruit. Follows the path of what they are less likely to eat to what they are most likely to eat.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry, sometimes these things happen. Of course you could have stopped yourself but in reality, it's so infrequent it probably doesn't matter. Unless your sanity requires it, move on and save as your normally do :)