Cheap In Erie: Consider cost, convenience when weighing savings

It’s OK to sometimes not take the time to clip coupons, as long as you don’t get out of the habit of looking for ways to cut your costs.

As a single mom who works full time, I sometimes dread the effort it takes to save money.

There are days that I just don’t want to cut and sort through a stack of coupons before going to the grocery store. I’d rather spend 30 minutes having a picnic with my daughter and her dolls on the living room carpet. Or nights that I don’t want to devote to surfing the internet for deals on our next big purchase. I’d rather be sleeping.

I admit that sometimes, I don’t invest my time in saving money.

I don’t search for the lowest price or the highest coupon or the best deal, I just buy.

I try not to feel guilty if I make an unplanned stop at the grocery store on the way home from work and pick up a few items without a coupon for any of them.

Some days, I allow myself to buy the smaller container of cat litter, even though it costs more per ounce, because I’m too tired to lift the bigger one into the shopping cart and then out of the cart and into the trunk and then carry the litter from the car to the house.

Saving money can be a balancing act and I’ve decided that occasionally it’s OK for convenience to outweigh cost. That’s as long as it doesn’t become a habit that wipes out our bank account.

So far, I’ve been able to stay away from single-serving snack containers in favor of buying bigger boxes and portioning them out into my own smaller containers. I haven’t paid $1.48 for a 2.2-ounce cup of Cheez-It white cheddar baked snack crackers. That’s 67 cents per ounce. But I will hand over $4.54, possibly less if I’ve taken time to clip a coupon, for a 21-ounce family size box of Cheez-It. That’s 22 cents per ounce.

I have a stack of plastic containers with lids that each originally held 4 ounces of baby food. I cleaned them and keep them in a cupboard and now fill them with Cheez-It crackers or Apple Jacks cereal (without milk) or my 3-year-old’s other preferred snacks. The containers are the perfect size for stuffing in a diaper bag or purse or even a coat pocket.

A bonus is that because I repurposed the baby food containers into snack containers, I’m not out any money if one of them gets lost or damaged. If I ever run out of them, I’d consider making a one-time investment in purchasing a reusable snack box or two.

I’m not saying there won’t come a day when I’m too busy or too tired to shake small amounts of crackers out of a big box and will instead buy some of the more expensive individual packs.

I won’t beat myself up over it if it’s a one-time thing, and I will vow to return to my money-saving ways the next time. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a coupon already clipped for the crackers.

Dana Massing can be reached at 870-1729 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNmassing.


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