Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yes, the Pennies Count

The saying used to be "Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves."  Today a lot of people pooh pooh this saying.  After all, what today can you possibly buy for a penny.  It's the dollars that are far more important.

Well no.  It still takes 100 pennies to make up one of those dollars, and I have yet to hear of a merchant who will sell you an item costing $1.19 for only $1 because you don't have those 19 pennies.  But the saying alludes to more than just pennies and dollars--it's telling us that you need to watch small expenses and savings just as much as you do larger ones.

And related to this is the idea that saving even a little bit can add up in the end to larger savings.  Saving 60 cents on a can of tuna may not sound like much, but saving $6 on 10 cans of tuna is not small change.  Okay, so maybe you don't need the ten cans of tuna.  But what if, through reading the circulars and clipping coupons, you saved about 25 cents on each of 13 items--$4.25 is dollar savings.  Multiply that by 4 weeks to the month and you've saved $17 that month.

What brought on this posting?  I passed along some information I received about senior citizen discounts.  Please keep in mind that for retailers, senior citizens may begin at 50+ and go up to 65+.  A number of stores and service/product providers will offer these discounts, the key being that you have to ask for them.  Some providers will limit the discount to certain days of the week--Pathmark supermarkets offer a 5% senior discount on Tuesdays, and you must bring in the coupon that is printed in those circulars that are delivered to your home.

Someone responded to my email by basically saying big deal, they're willing to give you a paltry 5%? What's the big difference if you pay $100 for something or $95 with the discount?  It's this type of attitude that fuels a lot of the budgetting/financial problems you hear about today. 

What's the big deal with "only" saving 5%?  We were away this month.  Thanks to the discounts available, our air tickets and rental car were  $63 cheaper.  The groceries we bought while away were $17 dollars cheaper due to the discount plus an additional $34.30 in sales/coupons savings.  Our movie/show tickets while on vacation gave us a savings of $39 dollars.   One of our restaurant meals was $10 cheaper thanks to a weekly coupon.  Yes, "only" a 5% discount, but it all added up.  We saved $163, and that's an awful lot of pennies added up.

If you don't know if a retailer offers any kind of discount, ask!  What have you got to lose?  And look at what you just might gain.  Don't know about you, but I can think of a lot of things that $5 would pay for.  Actually, I can think of a lot of things that even $1 could pay for.  Besides, it's my $1, and why should I spend it if I don't have to?


Mark said...

I completely agree!

We use coupons whenever possible, and even multiple coupons when possible. Last night I bought a bunch of ice cream using a bunch of coupons and got a great deal. Now we have a freezer full (okay, okay, 12 pints) of ice cream that was quite reasonably priced all said and done.

A few years ago when we were still using lots of diapers (3 kids in diapers), all the major diaper manufacturers were changing their packaging so they had the old ones on sale. First 50% off then later 75% off and even later 90% off. My wife had me drive all over the area to various stores to buy all their stock of the discontinued diaper packages (with coupons too boot). Two weeks later we had a mountain of diaper packages in our garage that lasted us for close to two years. And when all our kids were out of diapers, we donated the remainder to charity. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that those diapers saved us hundreds (maybe even more) of dollars in total.

Reader said...

We've found this to be tremendously helpful too. We want to save for a house. We make enough to pay our expenses and to save for emergencies, but there's not much left for financial goals like buying a house. Since we're not in a situation where we need to make real tough choices in order to cover necessities, we decided to look for where small changes could help small change to accumulate before trying to think about what kinds of major things we could cut. A bit of tinkering with our energy usage reduced our bill by about $30 per month on average- there's $360 we can pocket. A bit of coupon clipping helped us shave close to $1,500 off our annual food bill- week to week, it looked like only a few dollars, but with 52 weeks in a year, it added up. To really go into detail would take forever, but let's just say by shaving a few dollar from here and few from there, we were able to "find" $6,000 by the end of the year to put in our house fund on top of what we were already putting there! We still have only about half of what we need for a downpayment in our area, but coming up with such a significant amount simply from being more efficient about the "small potatoes" has been extremely helpful.