“Instead of using coupons, I buy things on sale” is a statement I hear often from people who think I waste my time clipping coupons. My response is, “Why not do both? If you use the coupons for things that are on sale, you can save even more.” In most cases, the “instead of” excuse makes little sense to me. (One exception that I could understand was when my mother-in-law said, “Instead of using coupons, I buy store brands.” After all, store brands are usually cheaper than even name brands on sale with coupons.)
The “instead of” excuse is used for more than just coupons: “I focus on earning more instead of saving more.” (This one is often worded, “I make enough that I don’t have to worry about saving.”) Once again, I respond “Why not do both? Earn as much as you can and save as much as you can.” If you work 80 hours a week and don’t want to spend your time off clipping coupons, that’s fine, but find some other ways to save. You can’t guarantee that your high salary will be around forever, and you may one day wish you had focused on saving more.
Funny, I never hear the opposite statement — “I focus on saving instead of earning.” I do occasionally hear “I focus on saving more than earning,” but it’s not used as an excuse for not earning. Instead, it’s an acknowledgement that the speaker’s saving skills are stronger than his or her earning skills. Those who focus on saving over earning (and those who focus on earning over saving, as opposed to earning instead of saving) recognize that both are important for financial health. Many of them, particularly those who focus on saving, know that time spent saving can occasionally be more profitable than time spent earning.
As I already mentioned, I am a coupon clipper. Two weeks ago, I combined coupons, sales, and rebate offers to buy about $25-30 worth of products (based on what I would pay on sale, not the regular retail price). In two hours, I spent $5 out of pocket (the rest was in store credit and coupons) and made back $32 in store credit and rebates. Allowing for $5 in gas to drive ten miles or so to four different stores, I saved about $12 per hour on merchandise and made $11 per hour for future spending. An hourly rate of $23 tax free is good money in my house.
Those who hate coupons or who make significantly more per hour than I do can apply this principle to any saving method. If you spend fifteen minutes calling one of your service providers to ask for a better deal and wind up saving $100, you have saved at a rate of $400 per hour. Better yet, if you spend fifteen minutes convincing yourself not to buy that $400 gadget you want, you have saved at a rate of $1600 per hour.
If you find yourself rationalizing your avoidance of saving with a statement like, “I do something else instead,” think about your reasoning. Is it actually possible and worth your time to save and do that something else — combine saving methods or spend time both saving and earning? If so, stop making excuses and get saving!
Image courtesy of babasteve