I’ve learned a few things in my sojourn on the earth: Dust always returns. The bank’s numbers are usually right. Money-saving gimmicks are often more trouble than they are worth.
A few weeks ago, three friends and I had dinner at a local restaurant. Two of my dining companions had brought coupons, which they wanted to share equally among the four of us. One coupon offered $5 off a $25 purchase. Another coupon offered “Buy one entree and get a second one for half price.”
As we buttered and ate our complimentary dinner rolls and drank our glasses of iced water, we strategized. How could we obtain the most benefit from our coupons while ensuring that all four of us spent approximately the same amount of money? Cell phone calculators were activated. The server made two trips to our table to take our orders before we perfected our money-saving scheme.
Finally, we ordered and ate our meals. When the time came to pay, we flashed our coupons. The server’s countenance visibly wilted. “I’m not sure I can divide the bill up this way,” he said. My friends and I looked at him with irritation and disbelief. “Why not?” one of us asked.
Then we all began talking at the same time, pointing to various plates and bowls on the table and explaining the specific requirements of our coupons. The poor man eventually took our coupons, our checks, our money and our credit cards and headed for his register. For all of our effort, each of us saved little more than a dollar or two.
Clipping coupons, chasing sales and taking advantage of special offers rarely save me money. Odds are that having a coupon will require me to drive out of my way to visit the particular store that offered the coupon, only to find at checkout that: 1) The coupon expired yesterday. 2) I am 75 cents short of making the minimum required purchase and must add an unwanted magazine or pack of gum to my cart at the last minute. 3) The coupon I so carefully studied and clipped is still lying on my kitchen island next to the crumbs of the bagel I ate for breakfast.
Last week I called a service provider my husband and I have used for several years. I explained to the person on the phone that since my husband has retired, we have less money to spend and needed to cancel that particular service. The representative quickly asked, “Could you and your husband afford this service if I lowered the price from $50 a month to $25 a month?”
“What?” I almost screamed into the phone. “If this service is available for $25 a month, why have I been paying $50 a month?”
I wish stores, restaurants and service providers had ONE FIRM, FAIR PRICE for every item, required no coupons or bulk purchases, and had no sales, blue light specials or reduced rates for qualifying customers. The price of the blouse or steak or pest control service is $39, no matter who buys it, when it is purchased and whether or not other items are paid for at the same time.
I never seem to grab the brass ring when it comes to money-saving gimmicks. Stop the merry-go-round. I want off.