As I was looking through flyers this week and marking down in my meal planner which bargoons I should pick up, I started thinking about whether this was worth it. The cat food we buy is usually $0.58 a can and I can buy it this week for $0.50 a can at a discount department store. I did the math and realized that even if I bought enough cat food for a year, I would be going out of my way to save less than $30 over the course of an entire year. Besides, would the store manager be called in to authorize the purchase of $180 worth of cat food and honestly, where would I store it?
Hunting for sales, tracking of prices, meal and pantry organization, maneuvering between stores – is it worth it?
Saving $0.08 a day on cat food might not make or break a budget. But I think of it as a drop in our bucket.
Part of being frugal is being smart. There’s no point in saving a pennies on cat food if you need to drive to the next county. Just like it would be silly to use a coupon for a product you don’t use or would have bought a cheaper equivalent anyway or buying something that you could do without simply because it’s on sale.
For example, through a previous employer, we have a membership to a certain big box, bulk store, which shall remain nameless. We’ve moved away from the area and it is about an hour’s drive away. It is time to renew the card (or not) so Thomas and I headed to the big city. Our card is still good for another month and this store happens to carry the best deal on a crib mattress that I could find. That savings made the card worthwhile for the last year. Looking around, I found the medication that Thomas takes for his allergies cheaper than I had found before. I had been paying $20 for 90 generic pills (about $0.22 a pill). The big box store is selling the same medication, same dosage for $14.50 for 126 pills (about $0.12 a pill). Over a year, the difference is about $36.00. Renewing the membership is $47. As long as we find a few more things worth buying and bundle the trip to the store with another errand in the same area, the membership makes sense for us.
The smart shopper knows the difference between saving money and being mislead to think they’re saving money. Price books, budgets and any number of ways that we creatively organize our lives and our money is the proof that these drops in the bucket make it worthwhile. What makes it worthwhile is a parent that can stay home, a life without debt, or just being better stewards with our gifts.
And the two choices I made this week – savings on cat food $30 and medication $36 – is the equivalent of a meal at a restaurant for two, a day’s work at my last job, or half of our Christmas shopping. Those drops are worth it.
Linked to Life As Mom – Frugal Friday.