Friday, June 6, 2008

The foibles of saving money

I did a good or a bad thing, depending on your view: I signed up for Amazon Prime and then went looking for bargains. This was not my original intention. Initially, I signed up for Amazon Prime because I needed to ensure the books I ordered for my nephew's birthday arrived before the party. I did not find anything at garage sales that would work for a four-year-old boy so I fell back to my default position: books. More specifically, Transformer books since he was well into Transformers. There were two "I Can Read" Transformer books on Amazon so I ordered them and signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime. (I also ordered some olive oil since I was running low and the price seemed better than what I paid for my last bottle.)

As advertised, the books arrived in plenty of time for me to sew a reusable gift bag and give it to my nephew for his birthday. (In contrast, I did not finish sewing and clothing the doll that was a gift for my godson, born one week and two years after his brother and shared the same birthday party.) I was thrilled that my nephew liked the books so much, he paged through them after opening then had one of his aunts read one to him.

Since I had just gone grocery shopping two days ago, I decided to comparison shop for toilet paper on Amazon. Whether I divided the price per sheet or per roll, the toilet paper I purchased locally was a better deal than online. However, I decided to try a few more items I buy regularly. I figured I may as well use the Amazon Prime membership to full advantage and get items shipped to me quickly.

I have worn contact lenses for the last 18 years. While I love them, I was recently switched to the Acuvue Hydroclear lenses to supply more oxygen to the eyes and to help with the end-of-day dryness issues I had. My favorite brand of cleaning/disinfecting solution is Alcon's Opti-Free Replenish Multipurpose Disinfecting Solution, and I had just purchased a pack of two new bottles as I was running low. Amazon had the same solution available in a package of four at $2.24 less than I would have paid in store for the same quantity. This savings does not seem impressive, but since contact lens solution is covered under my Flexible Spending Account, money taken from me pretax, I calculated I saved nearly $10. That was enough to make me purchase a year's supply!

After further exploration, I found that Amazon carries the Gillette for Women Sensor Excel replacement cartridges. For $2 more than I paid for five replacement cartridges locally, I could purchase 10 replacement blades. In addition, there was a special that if I purchased $39 or more of Gillette products, I could use a code to get $10 off my purchase. Therefore, I ordered four razor replacement cartridges and bought four boxes for a bit more than the price of three.

However, I plan on discontinuing my Amazon Prime account after receiving my shipment since I use Amazon only occasionally. While I liked saving some money, I was required to pay a large sum up front. My total was just under $100 after the virtual coupon was applied, a big bill for items that I will use over the course of a year (or longer for the razor blades). This large purchase does give me some price protection and means I can apply money I would have spent on these for a different area, such as gasoline or savings. Since this purchase was outside my spending plan, I will borrow from savings to pay the credit card bill with the intention I will pay myself back using money from the spending plan. Planning and execution are two different things and I am guilty of not paying myself back for purchases like this.

Do you spend a large sum of money to save over the long run?

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