Friday, May 23, 2008

Counting the Cost of Free

Do you ever think about the fact that just because something is "free", it's not really always free? You still have to spend the time and energy to clip the coupon and go to the store to get it. You have to spend the gas money (lots of it these days) to go to the store. And you have to pay sales tax on everything you buy, whether it was free or not.

If you are already going to be in that particular store where you are going to get your free item, then you might as well go ahead and pick it up, as long as it's worth the price you'll pay in sales tax. If it's something you'll never use or give to someone who needs it, you might as well not even spend a few cents of sales tax on it. If you make a special trip just to get a particular "free" item, then you need to figure in how much you spend in gas as well. I guarantee you if you forego the free stuff you don't really need and put everything you would have spent on sales tax and gas in a jar, it will add up very quickly, and you'll be surprised how much you can spend on "free" stuff.

Another consideration is your time. Sometimes it's just not worth it to spend the time. Your family is more important than all the free things you bring home to them. For example, I was planning on stopping by Ingles on my way home today because I was going to buy some more vitamins and use the overage to get something free as a treat for our family. It wouldn't have cost me any more in gas because I was driving right past there anyway. But baby boy was tired and not feeling well, and I knew I had some housework to get done before DH got home from work. So I decided that it would be more loving of me to get baby boy home to his bed and let DH come home to an orderly house than to drag baby boy to yet another store to get something I didn't really need anyway.

I do like a good deal, but only if it's truly worth it.

Let me say, though, that I am not opposed to buying things I don't need if it's under the right circumstances. That usually occurs at CVS when I buy things that are money makers so that I can use the extra money to buy things I do need. This concept is outlined clearly by Gina at Mommy Making Money.

Count the cost! Never buy something for the sole reason that it is "free". Is it worth your time, energy, gas, and tax money? If it is, go for it! If not, just wait. A better deal will always come around.

1 comment:

  1. Good post! I think this is something a lot of people are starting to think about especially with the cost of gas going up.
    I've got little ones so my time is limited and I like my shopping trips short and sweet.
    I think there is a balance that can be found though.


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