Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Importance of Reevaluating

I still have my fair share of unfrugal habits. For instance, I watch (and pay for) TV, I drive 20 miles to and from work every day, and I sometimes go out for food because it's more convenient than cooking. But these are conscious decisions I've made. For the past year or so, I've prided myself in my mastery of conscious spending. That is, until I realized yesterday that I missed something.

It all started on Tuesday when our weekly bundle of grocery store coupons came in the mail. My grocery store was running their "5 for $25" special on meat, where you can get any 5 specially marked meats and pay $25, with each additional item being $5 as well. My fiance and I are huge meat lovers, so whenever they run this special, I go to the store as soon as the deal starts so I can have the best selection and of course choose the most expensive pieces of meat to get the best deal. (I scored a couple packages that were marked at over $9!)

The booklet had many other deals in it, including a coupon for a free bottle of Vo5 shampoo and conditioner. I was running low on shampoo and conditioner, and even though I don't typically use Vo5, I wasn't going to let a free bottle of shampoo and conditioner go unclaimed.

I've been using Pantene for at least 8 years. If you asked me why, I'd tell you it's because I like how it makes my hair look and feel. But the truth is, I haven't even tried most brands of shampoo and conditioner. When it comes right down to it, I buy Pantene out of habit, not because I've tried several brands and liked Pantene the best.

When I got to the hair care aisle, I went straight to the Vo5 and picked up a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner, paying no attention to price - it's free after all, why should I care about price? As the check out woman scanned my items and I watched all the discounts ring up, I was feeling pretty good about myself... until the Vo5 rang up. $1.09 each was the original price. My initial reaction was a surprising one - "it figures they'd give you a coupon for the cheap stuff." I caught myself. Here was an area that I hadn't even considered before. I still had expensive taste in shampoo and conditioner.

I always buy the big bottles of Pantene, which are 25.4 oz and cost $6.99. The Vo5 bottles were 15 oz and cost only $1.09. That comes out to a difference of $0.20 per ounce. I haven't tried the Vo5 products yet, and perhaps I'll hate them and never buy them again. But what I will do is look for other options and break my habit of buying expensive hair products just because I've gotten used to them.

Moral of the story: once you think you've gotten control of your spending, don't become complacent. There may be certain items you overlooked, certain things you think are important to you just because you've been using them for so long. You don't have to give up all your unfrugal habits, but always look at the price of every single purchase you make, you may be surprised to discover how much money you could be saving.


  1. Great advice, it's very worthwhile to keep a monthly expense log. The hidden costs definitely do add up.

    I post one every month on my blog just to keep me honest. Upon closer examination, I do tend to find extra items that eat away at the bottom line. Items I would otherwise overlook.

    For me, I'm guilty of going out and spending too much on coffee. It's a bad habit, especially since I know I can get a fresh cup at work for free. Something about work coffee... it just isn't as good. I'll have to work on it some more!

    Take care!

    1. Yep, keeping track of everything is so important!